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Undergraduate Students - May 2013

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

Articles in this edition

The Volunteer Bureau of Montreal: A Portal into the World of Volunteering

Five Things You Should Do This Summer

Tips for Making your Mentorship a Success!

Alumni Interview with Winnie Hu: A Send-Off into the Summer

Labour Market Information


The Volunteer Bureau of Montreal: A Portal into the World of Volunteering

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

As the saying goes, time passes quickly when having fun.  If you can't believe that May is already upon us, then the good news is that you must have had a great winter semester.  On the other hand, however, this may also mean that you have not yet had a chance to fully plan your summer.  If you intend to stay in Montreal for additional courses or a job this summer, you might want to fill your free time with a volunteer position; the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal is here to help.

Founded in 1937 by the Junior League of Montreal, the VBM's original mission was to improve the community through volunteerism and charity.  At the time, the organization was composed of well-off Anglophone females, though today it is primarily francophone, with a slightly revised mission of promoting and supporting volunteerism: promotion through informing the public of how rewarding and fun volunteering can be and support by assisting local organizations in recruiting volunteers, as well as providing individuals with training and resources for optimal volunteer management.

The VBM conducts about 1,500 individual interviews per year, in order to act as a matchmaker between volunteers-to-be and organizations looking for assistance.  With a network of 80 community groups and 500 searchable volunteer activities on their website (www.cabm.net) it is likely that  at least one position listed through the VBM will catch your eye.  Opportunities range from tutoring or after-school positions to short-term projects and single events -- all of which potentially respond to particular interests or coursework.  Moreover, the practice of "virtual volunteering", whereby one can complete voluntary tasks from home on their own time, is also on the rise. 

Given the wide range of opportunities available to students, the attributes and skillsets sought from candidates vary from one position to the next.  In general, it is important that a volunteer possesses a desire to help, a positive attitude, and a strong sense of responsibility.  If the position involves working with others, volunteers should also be empathic and attentive listeners; in administrative settings, candidates need to be organized.  Additionally, while language proficiency can be vital to some positions, other roles allow volunteers to improve their knowledge of a language outside of their own.

The best part -- aside from developing soft skills, adding on to your professional network, and potentially improving your strength in another language -- is that May is not too late to apply! Work with special events, outdoor construction, and clean-ups are at a peak; furthermore, those who rely heavily on student assistance throughout the school year will be in need of help when students leave the city at the end of term.

If you are interested in learning more, the VBM is conveniently located near McGill's Downtown campus; students can also get in touch with the organization via telephone (514-842-3351) or through their website.  Best of luck with your endeavours this summer and have a wonderful break!

Five Things You Should Do This Summer

By Rose Gao, U1 Bachelor of Science (Biology) & CaPS Peer Educator

In just a few weeks, final exams and papers will be a distant memory as you enjoy your hard-earned freedom. Although it will be easy to spend your summer at the beach, here are a few tips you can follow to stay on track for next year.

  1. Create a Professional Networking Presence. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, you should create one to start linking to professionals you know—friends and family members with jobs, McGill alumni, etc. Share your job search interests with the people in your online network so that they can introduce you to potential job leads in their professional circles. Follow companies, industries, or products that interest you for the latest company information. For more up-to-date job leads and company research, consider signing up for free Google news alerts.
  2. Visit CaPS. The CaPS office has great (and free!) resources – job postings on myFuture, CV drop-in, mock interviewing, one-on-one career advising, career fairs, etc. For those who are graduating, CaPS resources are still available to you for free for one full year after graduation!
  3. Enroll in Summer Classes. Taking classes can provide great networking opportunities with teachers and fellow students, and could help you get ahead, save money, or lighten your course load for next year. If a class is not offered at McGill, look to local colleges, professional associations, and online learning programs for course listings.
  4. Get an Internship. To increase your chances of getting hired after graduation, consider finding an internship. If the companies that you are interested in do not offer internships, reach out to friends and family who are in the industry – talking to people in an organization may even lead to creating a previously nonexistent internship opportunity.
  5. Volunteer. Another great way to gain experience that you can use in your CV is volunteering. You can learn new skills, such as carpentry, from Habitat for Humanity. You can travel for free on missions with religious organizations. You can even volunteer online through UN Volunteers. Volunteering not only develops your leadership and community service, but also shows how you have used your time, skills, and intellect to make a difference for an organization.

While the next four months can be used for unwinding and relaxing, finding the balance between productivity and enjoyment is important. Start making plans now to make the most of your summer.

Tips for Making your Mentorship a Success!

By Cassandra Ma, U3 Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) & CaPS Mentor Program and Peer Educator Program Coordinator

As you set in place the building blocks toward your future career trajectory, don’t overlook the invaluable contributions that a mentorship can bring.  Having a professional mentor will bolster your career development in a number of ways: broadening your industry network, fostering the growth of your occupational character, and providing you with first-hand advice about navigating the field. Plus, with the McGill Mentor Program already established to connect you with working professionals, it’s never been easier to get your mentorship started!

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your mentoring relationship:

Branch out in your exploration. Try to look beyond the obvious domains when initially seeking a mentor; if you expand your search beyond the domains of your current place of school or work, you will open up many more opportunities! Use social networks and mutual contacts to get connected – if you let people know that you are looking for a mentor to advise you about your career path, the search will be much easier.

Be flexible and patient. Once you have found a suitable mentor, try not to be too demanding in your expectations of their attention; remember that, as established professionals, mentors are very busy individuals! Schedule your meetings in advance, aiming for an in-person session every 1-2 months; between these face-to-face meetings, you can maintain the mentorship conversation through email or telephone communications.

Show that you are serious. Arrive at each mentorship meeting with planned questions or subjects to discuss; although you may not cover every topic within the span of your conversation, having prepared materials will allow you to maximize your time. Additionally, treat these conversations as you would other professional meetings: use proper business etiquette (and language, in your emails) and dress in appropriate attire.

Let them know of your gratitude. As your mentor is volunteering their time and knowledge to assist your career development, show your appreciation for their efforts by thanking them! As well, keep the relationship thriving by reciprocating the help given, if you can.

Alumni Interview with Winnie Hu: A Send-Off into the Summer

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

Every so often, in my stint as a CaPSScoop journalist, someone will ask me “How do I find a job?” or “How do I get experience when I have no experience?” or even, more recently “I’m graduating and my salary is only 13 bucks an hour…” So, as this school year closes, here are some tips and advice for building your career, as I have learned during this past year of alumni interviews.

1. Don’t waste your summer. You have four months and it’s best to use them for an internship or a job, especially if you’re in your U2 year. The problem with undergrad students is that we expect too much when April shoves us into the world. If the internship is worthwhile, don’t let the lack of a salary be a turn off; everyone needs to start somewhere. This is the beginning of experience.

2. If you need a job, tell people about it. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean going around and demanding people to give you work. It’s finding information about a field you’re interested in and asking for advice. Make connections and people will keep you in mind if they want to refer someone to a job or internship.

3. Sometimes, finding a job can feel like a full time job. But it’s important to be persistent. There’s no rest for the job-hunter. However, remember to approach everything with optimism and confidence!

4. Always be professional. Regardless of whether it is during your interview or during your internship, professional maturity can go a long way – not to mention that it will be helpful with cinching that reference letter.

5. Don’t be afraid to try something that’s different from what you’re studying. Your university years are the best time to explore different options and to discover your interest. You don’t have to be your Bachelor’s Degree.

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 (caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.)


In this issue

·         Jobless claims numbers calm U.S. labour market jitters

·         Study: The employment rate in Quebec improved in 2011

·         Occupational highlight: Psychologists

·         Lisa’s Corner: Student Conservation Association

The good news

Jobless claims numbers calm U.S. labour market jitters

The Globe and Mail, 11 April 2013


The number of Americans filing new claims fell by 42,000 to seasonally adjusted 346,000.

Emploi au Québec: amelioration constatée en 2011

La presse, 04 April 2013


According to a study, Quebec’s employment rate increased for a second consecutive year in 2011.

Bad news

EA lays off about 170 in Montreal office

Montreal Gazette, 12 April 2013


California-based video game giant Electronic Arts — dubbed “the worst company in America” in 2012 and 2013 — is laying off staff at its Montreal mobile-development unit.

Canada sheds 54,500 jobs, the worst loss in more than four years

Financial Post, 05 April 2013


Canada’s labour market — sometimes hot, often lukewarm — turned icy cold in March, reflecting what has been the economic climate on the ground for some time.

Other news

Canadian cities falling behind in placing women in top jobs

The Globe and Mail, 15 April 2013


Canada’s largest cities are falling behind major U.S. centres in the proportion of management jobs held by women.

Statistics Canada – Study: Employment changes across industries during the downturn and recovery

April 2013


After the most recent downturn began in October 2008, employment declined by 431,000 over 9 months and took 18 months to recover. However, not all industries followed a similar path of decline and recovery.

Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey

March 2013


Following an increase the previous month, employment declined by 55,000 in March, all in full time. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%.

Statistics Canada - Payroll employment, earnings and hours

January 2013


Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $908 in January, up 0.1% from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, earnings increased 2.7%.

Occupational highlight

Psychologists (3142)


Psychologists assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients, provide therapy and research and apply theory relating to behaviour and mental processes. Psychologists help clients work toward the maintenance and enhancement of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning.

Job prospects in this occupation are good. These prospects apply only to individuals who meet the requirements of theOrdre des psychologues du Québec.

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 (caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca) for the username and password or login to myFuture https://csm-caps.mcgill.ca/students/index.php and search for Career Cruising under the tab “Resources -> Career Resources”.

Lisa’s Corner


Canada Business Network http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/ is a governmental service for those who are interested in starting a business.  Topics and resources include: Checklists for starting a business, grants for financing your business, guides to write a business plan, permits and regulations that apply to your business, locations of business service centres near you, and more.  The site also provides a blog containing useful business tips for entrepreneurs and new startups.

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