Future Careers: Tips on where to start
Getting a job straight out of university can be hard, especially if you have little previous professional experience and network. Some helpful tips are summarized below* to help you start thinking about a transition from academia to a professional career.
Tip #1: Get advice from the McGill Career Planning Service (CaPS)
CaPS is very useful to help you prepare for your next professional step. Take advantage of their resources on how to write a cover letter, how to prepare for interviews, etc. CaPS also offers a unique networking service to connect you with McGIll alumni working in various fields around the world. Keep in mind that once you are out of McGill, such services can be hard to obtain, or just outright expensive. Take advantage of this free service available to you.
Here are a few links from CaPS that might be useful (you must have a valid McGill ID to log into the CaPS website):
- CaPS Career Resources: Find here various helpful documents with tips such has "Cover Letter Dos and Dont's" etc.
- First Job: Find here useful tips for your first job, such as what to wear, etiquette at work, etc.
- Job Stories: Find here McGill students talking about their job experience, and some advices about getting a job.
- Career Advising Service: CaPS offer a free advising service for McGill Students. With or without appointment. Check this website for information on how CaPS can help you prepare your transition into the professional world.
- LinkedIn Advice: Do you have a Linkedin profile? Or think about getting one? Click here to find out what to know and what to do and not do with your profile.
Tip #2 : Acquire as much professional experience as you can
Learning is awesome but, sadly, is not everything. Complementing your academic background with professional experience is key. Take advantage of the long summer break to get involved with professors in their research, find an internship, or develop your own field work. Many funding opportunities are available to students - see the SSS resources page and, again, refer to CaPS for other information about funding.
Tip #3: Do your research, be organized
This may seems obvious, but cannot be emphasized enough. Research places interesting organizations or opportunities early to make sure you don’t miss any deadline and have enough time to build knowledge or probe networks. Consider making a table with the name of the organization, missions statement and values, important contact information, dates, website links, etc. In addition, don’t hesitate to directly contact organizations to ask for more information on internship opportunities. Just becuase an internship or job offer is not posted does nto mean one is not available or could be created.
The CaPS Environment and Sustainability Job Portal is a good place to start you research. CaPS provides some useful information on "what is out there": career profile and work area, as well as many other useful tools to find a job in the sector of environmet and sustainability. (Please note that CaPS also has other categories such as Non-Profit and development, etc.)
Tip #4: Practice, Practice, Practice and get Support from Family and Friends
Ask your friends and family, especially those who already have professional experience, to re-read your cover letter, give you suggestions and tips. Prepare for interviews and get suggestions from family, friends and CAPS about how you can improve your oral skills and how to represent yourself as a future committed professional; verbal expression, what to wear.
Tip # 5: Be Spontaneous and Creative
If the job of your dream is nowhere to be seen on website, don’t hesitate to fill in a spontaneous application form. Be aware of your value and skills. Don’t be afraid to suggest creating a new job especially for you because you think the institution to which you apply lack this kind of domain. This is particularly interesting in terms of sustainability-related jobs. Sustainability encompass pretty much anything, yet many institutions still lack such department.
Don’t be scared of rejection and try many different things especially if you are unsure about what you want to do exactly later on in life. Trying different things will likely extend your curiosity and help you be aware of what field interests you and what doesn’t. Of course there are numerous ways to go about finding good jobs and exploring career paths. For more information, try some of the following useful links:
CaPS Career Advice Service: Maybe try scheduling an appointment with a CaPS advisor to help you getting started on your job hunt.
Mentor Program: The Mentor Program is a great way to receive personal help on find a job and generally building up skills and resources that will be useful for career development. Mentors are McGill Alumni from all over the world working in many different industries.
CaPS Jobs: Find here some useful information if you want to work abroad, find a part-time job, take a gap year, teach english and more! Endless opportunities!
* Some of the information presented here has been adapted from material orginally found on McGill's CaPS website, hence the numerous links to CaPS!