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When I was attempting to choose a major for my Bachelor of Arts degree, I was looking for something that would allow me the flexibility to take courses from a wide range of disciplines, while still retaining a specific focus. The IR program was just that! The interdisciplinary nature of the IR program at McGill gave me the opportunity to take courses from many areas of interest, namely Economics, Sociology and Management. In addition, the professors in the program were very knowledgeable and extremely accessible.
As I completed each year of the IR program, I realized how many excellent career options were available upon graduation. After contemplating these options, I decided to pursue the field of Human Resources. HR appealed to me because it is a growing field with many challenges and opportunities to affect change. I was excited by the prospect of being able to play a strategic role in the running of a business and helping a company to capitalize on its human assets.
After graduating from McGill in 2004, I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Seneca College. During my time at Seneca, I had the opportunity to complete a rewarding four month co-op placement with Imperial Oil Ltd.
My degrees from McGill and Seneca, coupled with valuable work experience, helped me to find my current job in Toronto as an HR Coordinator for the financial services firm, Deloitte and Touche. I am enjoying my position immensely and credit McGill’s Industrial Relations program for starting me on the path to a successful career in Human Resources Management.
The Industrial Relations (IR) program at McGill University was an important turning point in my career. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allowed me to hone a variety of skills while simultaneously looking at employment and labour issues from different perspectives. My experience in the IR program has provided me with a strong foundation upon which I have been building.
After gradating from the IR program at McGill University I worked for a Real Estate Resort development company in the Bahamas. During this time, I was an administrative assistant to the project developer. I worked in human resources, drafting concession letters and assisting in financial and accounting projects.
After a year I came back to Canada and started my Masters of Industrial Relations (MIR) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I was awarded a fellowship and did my thesis on arbitral jurisdiction focusing on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Parry Sound v. Public Service Union (2003). The MIR program at Queen’s is an excellent continuation of the IR program at McGill. It is an interdisciplinary program covering a broad range of courses including human recourse management, unions and collective bargaining, labour and employment law, negotiations, labour economics and industrial relations, high performance work systems, compensation, change management etc. The program at Queen’s is both academic and vocational in its teaching approach with small seminar style classes. I thoroughly enjoyed my Master degree further developing my interest in industrial relations.
After completing my Masters at Queen’s I started the integrated B.C.L./LL.B law degree at McGill University. I am currently in my second year. I have a strong interest in corporate, labour and employment law.
After graduating from McGill University in the Industrial Relations Inter-Faculty program in 2003, I was interested in pursuing a career in labour relations. From McGill I was accepted into the Masters of Industrial Relations (MIR) program at Queen’s University. The twelve month program built on what I leaned at McGill and provided many development opportunities. The MIR offered exposure to field leading guest speakers, mock arbitrations, bargaining simulations and labour conferences.
After completing my thesis, I interviewed with several firms and accepted an internship with the Government of Ontario. Since starting in August 2004, I’ve been involved in all facets of labour relations. My first assignment involved advising directly with operation managers on best practices and collective agreement interpretations, as well as representing the employer’s interests through the grievance procedure from initial discussions to interest arbitration. My second internship assignment was with a central agency where I was directly involved with collective bargaining. Over 8 a month period we negotiated essential service agreements and completed a settlement for new collective agreement with the Government’s largest union representing approximately 45,000 employees.
The McGill IR program engaged me as none of my other courses had. By third and fourth year I was fully immersed in IR. I had discovered my passion. I was finally able to utilize my business oriented, analytical nature while still allowing my creative side to play. It never became mundane – the course material varied from technical to mathematical to theoretical to historical – this complexity was always engrossing. The McGill IR program made me realize my dedication to the soft-side of management and the faculty really helped me identify what I needed to do to get where I wanted to go.
After graduation I worked for two years as an Operations Manager where I was able to utilize many of the skills learned in the McGill IR program. I then decided it was time to further my Industrial Relations education. Today I am at Queens University studying towards my Masters of Industrial Relations. McGill has completely prepared me for this practical program – I already have a solid grasp on the material but this program is taking it to the next level. I am immensely enjoying the program and a year from now, my opportunities will be endless. Employment after this program is almost guaranteed!
J'ai gradué du programme de relations industrielles de Mcgill en 2002. Depuis ce temps, je travaille pour Groupe AST, une firme de consultation en santé et sécurité au travail et en ressources humaines. Le programme m'a surtout aidé à mieux comprendre les enjeux des dossiers complexes de relations de travail et à analyser des situations qui nécessitent d'être évaluées de plusieurs points de vue. Ces compétences m'aident énormément dans mon travail quotidien puisque cela me permet d'offrir des conseils plus éclairés à mes clients. Au cours de l'année scolaire 2004-2005, je suis retourné à Mcgill, mais cette fois comme chargé de cours pour enseigner la santé et sécurité au travail (Occupational Health and Safety) aux étudiants du programme. Ce fut une expérience mémorable et enrichissante. J'ai récemment été promu comme chef d'équipe au sein de Groupe AST et j'ai donc beaucoup de défis à relever pour les prochaines années.
It always surprised me that more McGill students did not take advantage of the Industrial Relations program – it is almost as though it was the best-kept secret within the Faculty of Arts! Few students knew about or understood exactly what Industrial Relations was throughout the course of my time at McGill, yet, in my opinion, it was the Major that afforded students the widest array of career options.
I opted to declare Industrial Relations as my Major because the exposure to a variety of courses in Economics, Sociology and Labour Management was appealing and made me confident that I would not be slotted into any one area upon graduation. The small class sizes made it easier for students to get involved and delve deeper into topics of interest and establish lasting connections with classmates.
The opportunities for Industrial Relations graduates are endless. After graduating in 2004, I chose to explore a career in Human Resources. My HR generalist role in a not-for-profit organization led to my current position in Training and Development in the corporate sector. I am now in the process of applying to a Masters program in Adult Education while many of my fellow classmates have pursued further education and career opportunities in Law and Industrial Relations to name a few. It is my belief that the nature of the Industrial Relations program at McGill enabled me to make an informed decision about my future academic and career goals and has put me in great stead.
As an IR grad, there is one thing about the IR program that I would tell any prospective student. The program is probably the most practical major an Arts student can take. To put it simply, because you will be learning about labour from all angles, you will be in a great position to know where all the jobs are. And because your specialty is in labour, companies and organizations in all fields will need your expertise. It opens doors in a lot of places and gives you a better idea of where those doors are.
Since joining and finishing the program, I have worked in Africa and Ohio, and now I am studying for my Master’s in IR at Queen’s University. In Uganda, I worked in the HR department of a UN contractor. The lessons learned in class were applied on an almost daily basis. In Ohio I worked as a Union Organizer for a large health care union. If you are interested in unions, no program will better prepare you than this one. As a Master’s Candidate at Queen’s, I run into other McGill IR grads everyday. At least at Queen’s, the McGill IR program is well known and its graduates are welcomed.
If you are looking for a program that gives you a good opportunity of working in an interesting field, but without losing out on a well rounded Arts degree, I would have to recommend the IR program. But then again, I am biased.
After my studies in at McGill were completed, I felt as though the IR program there provided me with the skills and abilities to further my studies in this field. Consequently, I entered the MIR program at U of T the next fall. The MIR was an extremely rewarding experience that allowed me to better understand the theoretical and practical sides of the field of IR. Due to already possessing a strong IR background from McGill, I was able to enroll in second year graduate courses immediately and feel comfortable with the course material. By taking MIR courses in areas such as research methods, dispute resolution, and compensation I was able to broaden my knowledge of IR immensely. The tight-knit community found in the Centre of IR/HR at U of T featured great faculty, an excellent library, and friendly fellow students, which provided me with a great learning environment. Although I was able to finish the MIR in one year, as opposed to the standard two years, my short time spent in the MIR allowed me to acquire additional skills that will definitely aid me in the job market.
The McGill Industrial Relations program effectively prepared me to face the demands and challenges of large corporations and to think analytically. After graduating, I worked in Houston’s Texas Medical Center where I conducted productivity analyses, analyzed and updated existing corporate HR policies and procedures, conducted statistical analyses of HR surveys, and assisted in the formulation of HR strategic plans. I am currently working in the oil and gas industry to gain some more on-the-job experience and have plans to pursue graduate studies. I would not have been able to successfully perform my tasks at work had it not been for the concepts I acquired from the program.