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Undergraduate Students - March 2013

The full version of the March CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.

Articles in this edition

Ȇtre Ulant chez Santropol Roulant

Alumni Interview with Winnie Hu: Talk-Show Host Tommy Schnurmacher

Preparing for Life after Undergrad

Survival Guide for a New Job

Labour Market Information


Ȇtre Ulant chez Santropol Roulant

By Stephanie Gutnik, Bachelor of Arts (2011) and CaPSScoop Journalist

If the thought of March has you seeing green (grass, that is), you're not alone.  Spring is so close that we ignore the persistent north wind – instead, crossing our fingers that the current snowfall is the last of the season –  while keeping an eye out for the first person to ditch their parka for a coat of lighter weight. 

This, however, is not the only time of the year that Santropol Roulant has green on the mind.  The environmentally-conscious organization operates a meals-on-wheels program, along with an urban agriculture division, a community bike workshop, and other special events.  The Roulant has blossomed into an organism of its own since it was founded in 1995 (by two waiters working at the Santropol Café), with a mission to break social and economical isolation between cultures and generations. 

The sustainable food cycle managed by the Roulant is quite impressive.  During the summer months, the organization's garden is used to cultivate fresh produce both for meals and for sale at a reduced rate.  Any waste is composted and used later on for the growth of more vegetables.  Not only are meals delivered to the doorsteps of many, but companionship is offered as a side dish.

One hundred volunteer spots are allocated each week to the preparation and delivery of meals, and the number increases when workers are also required for garden maintenance.  There is no minimum time requirement to volunteer; but, due to the high volume of helping hands, there is a maximum limit of three times per week/one shift per day.  The kitchen, deliveries, and garden positions are all up for grabs – and it is said that those who try everything will get the most out of the experience.

Full- or part-time paid internships are also offered for six month periods; depending on the Roulant's needs, these can be found in the kitchen, office, deliveries, or urban agriculture realms.  School credit can also be granted for these positions.  Qualifications for the internships are typically more specific than for volunteering, as the latter accommodates people of any age, educational background, or tongue.  Diversity is encouraged, enthusiasm and passion are essential, and commitment to the team and the cause is a must. 

Santropol Roulant's new office provides an open and welcoming atmosphere to all, and the staff make a point to ensure that the time spent volunteering is a time among friends.  Assistants are given the chance to gather in the volunteer lounge prior to packing and delivering meals, where they can become acquainted with one another (and sample the daily dessert).  Between the uniqueness of the program and the high-demand for positions, the need for volunteers can fluctuate.  The Roulant thus encourages interested individuals to visit their website at http://santropolroulant.org, where one can subscribe to the bi-weekly newsletter for more frequent information.  Any additional questions can be sent to Ben, the volunteer coordinator, at ben [at] santropolroulant [dot] orgben [at] santropolroulant [dot] org (.)ben [at] santropolroulant [dot] org (  )It seems clear that no matter the season, being green “roules”.

Alumni Interview with Winnie Hu: Talk-Show Host Tommy Schnurmacher

By Winnie Hu, U3 Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and English Literature) & CaPSScoop Journalist

Surprise bubbles up when I step through the doors of Astral Media Station on Rene-Levesque. At the center of a spacious lobby was a cluster of bright, yellow couches lit up by LED lights; large clean-cut signs for each radio station owned by Virgin decorated the entire wall of the reception; and the entrance from here to the offices was separated by transparent walls of glass with a pair of sliding doors. Virgin looked like Vogue.

My rendezvous needs little introduction; every morning on CJAD Radio Tommy Schnurmacher greets Montrealers on the Tommy Schnurmacher Show with the latest news from around the world, and then some. A veteran of the business, Tommy has been on air for almost thirty years. He graduated from McGill’s Arts Department with a major concentration in English Drama, and like many Arts students, he considered a career in Law.

So where does journalism fit in? “I started having a little crisis in class,” Tommy explains. He didn’t know what to do with his degree, decided he needed an advisor immediately, and walked out of lecture—as it was midway in progress—to find an answer.  He ended up in the advising office, flipping through files of career descriptions. After arriving at the journalism file, Tommy knew immediately that this was what he wanted to do. The job description fit his personality; he’s argumentative and he had been told he was good at it. Plus, he loves to write.

Taking a sip of his coffee, Tommy looks me the eye and says: “This is a job that requires persistence.” If someone turns you down for an interview, you can’t sit there and accept rejection—even if they reject you twice or thrice. “Sometimes, you need to be creative,” Tommy shrugs, “especially if you want a good story”. Once at the very beginning of his career, Tommy charmed his way into the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth when John Lennon and Yoko Ono visited Montreal. He forged a press pass and bought a box of crayons, knowing that Ono’s daughter was there. Not only did he make it pass security, but also stepped up as babysitter for a week.

Persistence is now more important than ever before. Since the new millennium, journalism has been going through a period of change; some would go as far to say that it’s a dying career. News updates have become instantaneous through social media, and news analyses of good quality can be found on blogs—all for free. While media moguls are scrambling to make profits, journalists must fend for themselves. In order to succeed in this field, prospective journalists need to love and feel excited about what they do—it is the key to persistence.

For those who are looking to test the waters, Tommy advises you to ask your friends about how they see you in the future. If it’s journalism, then try it and find ways to network. Look for a mentor of some kind, so that you can immerse yourself in the business.  If you don’t know whom to ask, then try cold calling. Don’t worry about rejection; persistence is the first step to becoming a good journalist.

Preparing for Life after Undergrad

By Evangeline Seganathy, M1 Masters of Science (Family Medicine) & CaPS Graduate Student Peer Educator

It is almost time for graduation and you have yet to figure out what your next step in life is. With the overload of last-minute work required from your undergraduate studies, you probably are in a panicked frenzy—and, as if that is not bad enough, your applications for grad school or for a job are just added to your endless to-do list! It seems almost impossible to get everything done on time, and the mountain of work is just stressing you out even more. Stop for a second; take a step back and just take a deep breath. No matter what situation you are in there is hope, and you can get through it!

As a McGill undergrad you have many resources available to you that can help with your life planning. CaPs can provide you with tons of information regarding jobs after graduation, internships, graduate school programs, and much more; the career advisors can even provide you with interview prep, as well as CV and cover letter review, which you can benefit from before you submit an application. Attending career fairs at McGill can also provide useful information on prospective careers and assist your networking. Moreover, talking to your faculty and departmental advisors is a great start to discovering what post-graduation opportunities are available in your field of studies.

Ultimately, from personal experience, the best approach is to plan early. Planning early will save you the stress of last-minute work. Some Masters program applications are due early as February, and medical school applications for the following academic year can be due as early as the summer. During your second-last year of undergrad, spend some time to map out a timeline for your final year. Keep your final year of undergrad relatively free in terms of difficult courses: this way, you will have a bit more time to search up and work on your job or grad school applications. Additionally, make sure to mark up deadlines and things to get done; by keeping things in perspective you can work through every item in its due time without feeling overwhelmed. If you put these methods to practice, you will more likely result in obtaining a successful outcome.

Survival Guide for a New Job

By Sarah Cameron, CaPS and MECC Career Advisor

This is it: the semester is coming to a close, and for many of you, that means that your time at McGill will be ending also. For some, you will be starting your career; for others, graduation could mean that you are entering a summer job or internship soon. Either way, beginning a new job is both exciting and nerve-wracking! This survival guide will help you take control of the situation and make this transition go well.

Develop a Financial Plan
Learning to manage your money is perhaps the hardest lesson when you enter the job market. Now that you have a steady paycheck coming in, it can be easy to up your standard of living. But be realistic when doing so; develop a budget before you start committing to high rent, car payments, or expensive shopping sprees!

Orient Yourself

Being new is stressful; it can be easy to want to fit in so badly that you don’t want to “bother” people with your questions. However, in order to be productive, it is important to get a sense of the workplace basics. Find out where the washrooms, lunch room, coffee maker, and other resources are located. Ask your boss if they prefer email, in-person conversation, or telephone communication. Also, make sure to know the procedure for calling in sick and booking holiday time.

Set goals

Entering the workforce should not mark an end to your learning and development. Set yourself some goals and take time at regular intervals to assess your own progress. Your goals can be small (e.g. to figure out how to use the photocopier) or big (e.g. to become the director of your company), and they will no doubt evolve and change. You will likely have several jobs in your life; the key to staying engaged will be discovering new challenges.

Get comfortable

Most of us spend 8 or more hours a day in our workspace, so it is important for that space to be both functional and comfortable. Order some office supplies, bring in a plant or some pictures; ultimately, creating a space that meets your needs and likes is important to ensuring that you are productive and happy at work.

Make friends

One of the most noticeable changes in transitioning from school to work is in the type of people who surround you. Many will shift from a group of students, who have similar academic interests and levels of experience, to a multidisciplinary team of people with different career paths and backgrounds. Get to know your colleagues: their perspective and expertise will expose you to new ideas. Beyond talking about work though, get to know who they are as individuals; you may end up spending more time with your colleagues than your friends, so having a good support network in the office—as well as people to have lunch with, to vent to, and to have fun with—will make the work day go smoothly.

Labour Market Information

By Lisa Lin, CaPS Career Resource Consultant

This monthly bulletin aims to inform you of major news and trends in the Québec, Canada and U.S. labour markets. Your feedback is welcome caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

In this issue

  • Canada sheds jobs, but unemployment rate drops
  • Jobless youth costs Canadian economy $23B
  • Occupational highlight: Journalists
  • And more!

The good news

Canada sheds jobs, but unemployment rate drops

Montreal Gazette, 08 February 2013


Canada’s labour market had a rocky start to 2013, shedding a surprisingly high 21,900 jobs in the month of January. Almost all job losses were full-time and mostly in Ontario and British Columbia.

U.S. jobless claims fall, trend reading at near five-year low

The Globe and Mail, 07 February 2013


The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week and the trend reading hit a near five-year low, a sign the grinding recovery in the labour market remains on track.


Bad news

Jobless youth to cost Canadian economy $23B over next two decades: TD Bank

Financial Post, 06 February 2013


The loss of tens of thousands of youth jobs during the recession was not only painful for the young people involved but will impact them and Canada’s economy for years to come, says a new paper from TD Bank.

Les salaires augmentent moins vite que prévu au Québec

La presse, 12 February 2013


New economic forecasts suggest that wages rise faster than expected in Saskatchewan and Alberta, while Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia are lagging.


Other news

Canada’s triple whammy of data is reality check for economy

Financial Post, 08 February 2013


Canada shed jobs, housing starts plunged and trade weakened. Reality appears to be putting the economy in check.

Statistics Canada – Study: Employment Instability Among Younger Workers


In the aftermath of an economic downturn, young workers may experience difficulty finding their way into career employment. How many young workers are experiencing labour market instability, and why? This study provides a few answers by developing a statistical definition of employment instability, and by identifying which characteristics are most likely to be associated with labour market instability among non-student workers aged 16 to 29.

Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey

January 2013


Following two months of gains, employment decreased slightly in January (-22,000). A decline in the number of people looking for work pushed the unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 7.0%.

Statistics Canada - Payroll employment, earnings and hours

November 2012


Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $911 in November, up 0.5% from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, earnings increased 3.2%.

For past LMI, visit Know Salary and Labour Information http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job-search/salary/

Occupational highlight

Journalists (5123)


Journalists research, investigate, interpret and communicate news and public affairs through newspapers, television, radio and other media.

Job prospects in this occupation are fair.  Having continued to increase sharply until 2000, the number of journalists declined slightly thereafter. The emergence of new job opportunities has not compensated for job reduction in the more traditional sectors. Given that media consolidation, mergers and convergence are expected to hold, the number of journalists should continue to decrease slightly in the next few years.

For a complete profile of this and other occupations, visit Career Cruising http://public.careercruising.com/ca/en

Contact us at caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca for the username and password or login to myFuture  and search for Career Cruising under the tab “Resources -> Career Resources”.

Lisa’s Corner

Work in Non-Profits http://workinnonprofits.ca/ provides access to job postings as well as an organization directory to non-profits in Canada.  Whether you are interested in finding a list of organizations or a full-time job/internship, this site allows you to search by sector (e.g. Arts, economic development, health, public sector, religion, social services, law, international, sports), by  job category (e.g. administration, marketing, programs coordination) as well as by location.   


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