I’m going into my second year of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia this fall. After spending a year in the program, one of the skills that I’ve developed is one that many people might not expect — creative writing has helped me improve my interpersonal skills.
My program has connected me with a precious community of fellow writers. Amongst MFA Creative Writing students, there is less inclination to be antisocial simply because of what the writing process encourages us to do: socialize.
While there are dozens of ways to foster communities of writers, an MFA program is probably the most obvious way to build one quickly and sustain it for a long period of time. Writers need a support group to keep them on track and critique their work, teaching each other about their craft in the process. When writers meet regularly to read and edit each other’s work, we not only build our writing skills, but our personal network. A Creative Writing degree encourages you to lean on your peers during the editing process — they’re there to help you produce the best writing possible!
In a creative writing environment, working closely with others is essential. There is yet another assumption out there that writing is best done alone, but I know from firsthand experience that good writing is not done remotely. Writing is best done when peers and writing groups are there to edit and improve upon your work.
Furthermore, the people you meet while working on your Creative Writing degree open your eyes and mind to diversity, allowing you to think more broadly and be open to getting to know people from different walks of life. Meeting as many people as you can and learning from their stories will not only help you develop your fictional characters, but it will also develop your character as you come to understand those who think differently than you.
This may seem obvious, but creative writing requires a healthy dose of lively imagination, especially when it comes to writing fiction. Being in a Creative Writing program not only gives you the opportunity to showcase your own creativity, but you also get to learn the depths and details of your peers’ imaginations. You learn to observe what they notice, whether it’s how they pick up on rhythm in speech, their awareness of colourful and sensory detail, or how they observe the subtle characteristics of strangers. You start to develop an appreciation for the diversity in how people think, behave, and write.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of your peers will write pieces that require you to think outside of your comfort zone. Someone in my fiction class was writing stream of consciousness-type fiction with a supernatural twist and while it took a while for me to get used to it, I started to appreciate the writer’s unique style. I would never have enjoyed work that was so different from my own if I hadn’t been open to different writing styles and thought processes.
While learning about other people’s imaginations will help your writing, one of the best ways to improve your interactions with others is by learning more about yourself. A Creative Writing degree nurtures your self-awareness, which can lead to better communication skills and ultimately, better interpersonal skills.
Writing calls for some introversion, introspection and, often, perceptiveness. As you grow as a writer, you discover things about yourself and pour that knowledge into your work. If you aren’t aware of how you’re growing as a writer, how can you capitalize on that growth and identify career skills you may not have known you have?
As a writer who’s developed a network of like-minded friends in my program, I can honestly say that the assumption that writers don’t know how to socialize is a misconception. While many writers are indeed introverted, they are also amongst the most adventurous, open-minded, and expressive people I have ever met. My interpersonal skills have improved immensely since I started my degree, and I have creative writing to thank!
To respond to this trend, a lot of companies are starting to use applicant tracking systems, or ATS for short. If your resume does not pass the ATS criteria, then it is unlikely that a hiring manager will ever read it. In fact, over half of the resumes submitted online are scanned by applicant tracking systems.
What does this mean for the modern job seeker? You will need to format and design your resume so that it will make it through the ATS and into the hands of a human. To help you with that goal, here’s the definitive guide on how to build an ATS-friendly resume.
One of the advantages of applicant tracking systems from the perspective of an employer is that it can scan and search your resume for specific keywords to ensure that you are qualified for the position. For example, if you are applying for a graphic design position, an ATS might scan your resume for the keywords “Photoshop” or “Illustrator.” There is an incredibly easy way to figure out which keywords to include on your resume – just look at which key skills or requirements that are used in the job’s description and use those. While the ATS is a fairly recent development in application processes, tailoring your resume to the specific job is nothing new. No matter what you’re applying for, it’s always been a good idea to include the same core qualifications and skills to your resume that are on the job description.
As you will notice with the next few tips, formatting is very important when it comes to creating an ATS-friendly resume. Another important step in this online application process is to use common header titles such as “skills,” “work experience,” and “education.” These are the most commonly used header titles in resumes and thus, applicant tracking systems know how to read them and extrapolate the necessary data from each section. If you use non-standard header titles such as “major abilities” instead of “skills,” the ATS may not recognize it. When it comes to your header sections, stick to the basics.
One of the most important pieces of advice with regards to creating an ATS-friendly resume is using a very basic layout. All you need are three headings (skills, work experience, and education) with bullet points for each section. This is the basic format for the modern resume and ATS are designed to read applications with this format. . Adding images, tables, or columns to your resume may hurt your chances of being selected, because many tracking systems cannot read them.
However, if you’re applying for a job in a creative industry, providing a portfolio or examples of your past work can help your application stand out. For these types of positions, there will likely be a section to upload these materials separately, but you can always add a link to your personal blog or online portfolio in the “contact” section if you’re worried an ATS may screen these materials.
There are several things you can do to make your resume easier to read for both applicant tracking systems and hiring managers. When you’re formatting your resume for an ATS, less is always more. Remember to avoid italics, underlined words, and special characters (such as accent marks) because many systems will be unable to read them. Additionally, you’ll want to add a space in between every position on your resume. Spacing correctly can help the system determine where your experience from one job ends and another begins.
Even though it was your high school English teacher’s favourite font, don’t use Times New Roman on a resume. Instead, pick a font that is easier to read on a screen such as Georgia or Garamond, since ATS will be able to process this kind of text more easily. To further improve the readability of your resume, increase the line spacing to 120% of the font size. For example, if are using size 12 font, then you should set your line spacing to exactly 13 points. It may seem like more complicated resume editing than you’re used to, but these adjustment hacks will help you get through the ATS every time!
You may have read that it is best to save your resume as PDF – and this is certainly true if you are sending your resume directly to a hiring manager via email. When submitting your resume to an applicant tracking system, however, you are better off saving your application materials as a Word document (.doc or .docx). The reason is simple: many applicant tracking systems cannot read PDFs and thus will not be able to extrapolate all of the information from your resume.
A single spelling mistake on your resume will all but end your chances at getting your dream job. Not only does this error look careless to a hiring manager, but applicant tracking systems simply cannot process misspelled words, meaning that your resume will be discarded immediately. Thus, it is imperative that you double and triple-check your resume to ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Better still, ask a friend or family member to also review your resume. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes look over your work!
While online application systems have made the competition a little stiffer, these tips can help you adjust your resume so that it will always beat the ATS. Put these tips to use right away and update your resume so that it adheres to ATS criteria. Even if you are not currently seeking a job, it is useful to bookmark this page so that you can implement these steps the next time you are on the job hunt.
This scenario is unfortunately quite common for new grads looking to enter the workforce, but the good news is that there is always something you can do to improve your chances at being hired. Every setback is a learning opportunity, and from your resume to the message on your answering machine, there are dozens of factors which may affect your credibility as a job applicant. Here are a few you can easily fix to frame yourself as the best person for the role.
Your resume and cover letter are always the first things a potential employer will look at when you apply for a job. To start your quest for becoming more employable, edit your curriculum vitaes and cover letters by tailoring them to the specific jobs you apply for, highlighting the most important experience and skills you have that are valued in that industry.
First and foremost, your resume should focus on performance; your accomplishments, achievements, education, and obtained goals that may set you apart from others applying for the position. When you’re discussing your past work performance, don’t just list specific duties you’ve been tasked with in past positions. Instead, describe a situation where you took a leadership role and how the qualities you demonstrated then will be useful to the job you’re applying for now.
If you’re concerned about extended periods of absence on your resume or times where you weren’t working, demonstrate how that frame of time was educationally enriching, or how it developed your career path. If you plan to take an employment break to travel, be sure to set up a blog or look for freelance work. This is a great way to use your holiday to build a portfolio of writing that you can show to a potential employer. If you’re between professional roles, pick up side jobs related to your field or take online courses to gain skills that you can put on your resume.
No, it’s not a rumour. According to recent surveys, about three quarters of employers use social media as part of their screening process when hiring new recruits. It may seem like a breach of privacy, but looking up applicants on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and even personal blogs is a regular step in hiring methods. That doesn’t mean that you have to delete your social media accounts; instead, use your online presence to supplement your application. Employers will likely be impressed by someone with social media-savvy, but make sure they’re still seeing your professional side.
Your first step is to check your privacy settings. By no means should you try to deceive your potential employers, but keeping your personal life semi-private can be a good idea if you only want hiring managers to look at your resume and cover letter. However, if you’re a social media superstar and are applying to jobs that require experience with online marketing, your personal accounts can be a great way to highlight your content creation skills.
If you keep your profiles public, display photos and share posts which are positive and represent the best version of you, such as graduation pictures or shots from your world travels. Be careful to keep photos from parties to a minimum; if you’re using social media to supplement your application, you’ll want to make sure that your online presence is still professional. Keep in mind the tone of your posts as well, since you don’t want to promote anything exclusionary or negative.
At the end of the day, think long and hard about whether or not you want to use your social media accounts to boost your resume. If you want them to help you stand out (in a good way), give them the same critical edit you’d give a resume and cover letter.
Face-to-face communication can cause many of us major anxiety, so prepare for your interview by anticipating potential questions you may be asked. The number one rule to a good interview is researching the company where you hope to work. It’s not enough to want the job in the title; to truly impress an employer, you need to take a keen interest in company itself and learn about its history and culture. Employers are far more likely to hire a candidate who has researched their organization and can discuss their values, mission statement, and programs. This level of effort shows that you’re dedicated to the role before it’s even yours!
To prepare for an interview, think about the books and journals you’ve read pertaining to the industry, and keep up to do date with relevant trends that you can bring up in your interview. Besides impressing your interviewer, your preparedness will help you feel less anxious about the meeting.
Besides dressing nicely and meeting your interviewer’s gaze, it’s important to leave a memorable, positive impression when you close the interview. A great way to do this is by bringing samples of your work or portfolio and even leave a few copies if you can. If you’re really looking to impress, you can even write a mock plan or document about projects you’d like to start for the company.
Following up with potential employers can land you a position, even if you weren’t one of the top candidates. Employers want to hire go-getters, as they want to see that drive and initiative applied to their business should they choose to hire you.
To follow up with an interviewer, send a polite email thanking them for their time early the next morning. Many employers will tell you that they will be in touch should you be selected, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t reconsider a contentious candidate who makes the effort to reach out on their own. Even if you don’t think you did your best during the interview, this could be the act that lands you your dream job!
With these tips in mind, think about application processes you’ve gone through in the past and try to identify areas where you can improve. While being late to an interview or making a spelling error on a resume are embarrassing to think about, these little slip-ups could be the key that helps you land your next job.
Feeling empowered by life’s adversities is an ability with which few people are naturally blessed. Luckily, resilience is a skill that can be learned with practice. Instead of sidestepping challenges, or neglecting studies or work opportunities and focusing inward on our shortcomings, we can adjust our way of thinking for greater optimism, accuracy and success.
How can you turn a challenge into a learning experience? Let me begin with an example from my own life.
During our time at university, my identical twin Hannah and I experienced, as students often do, an academic setback and received lower grades than we had hoped. Unsurprisingly, as twins we are often compared to one another. Sometimes we act similarly— when we didn’t get the marks we expected on our work, we shared many negative emotions; frustration, anger and sadness. However, after a few days Hannah picked herself up, went to have a chat with a tutor at the university and committed to improving her grades and moving forward with her education. In contrast, I found myself heading towards a descending cycle of pessimism, unable to let go of my frustration with the situation.
Hannah and I are similar people who faced the same difficulty. So why did one of us bounce back while the other did not? Why was our response to the same situation so different? Though some of this difference may simply be a result of genetic temperament, personality, and external circumstances, it ultimately came down to one fundamental factor: the way we think.
Years of research have shown that the way we deal with setbacks is influenced by the way we think about them. Doctors Gilham, Reivich and Seligman, who research resilience in children and college students at the Positive Psychology Center, found that cognitive style was the biggest influence on resiliency. Luckily, as individuals we are able to adapt and transform our own mind-sets to cultivate self-awareness and optimism in order to breed resilience and become happier.
It can be easy to rush through our days without noticing the present moment. Yet becoming aware of the world around you and pausing to appreciate the good things in life encourages mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness is key to managing your emotions and building resiliency. If you meet a setback, being mindful encourages self-compassion and helps you put your struggles in perspective. Sure, you might not get perfect marks, but in the grand scheme of things, an education is about learning from your mistakes and improving. Rather than wallowing in your disappointment, mindful thinking can help you assess the situation at hand to find a solution.
It is often the most challenging moments in life which offer us the biggest opportunities to grow and improve. Much like mindful thinking, taking time to recognize the learning opportunity in each setback encourages a higher level of resilience. Didn’t get the job you applied for? Turn that challenge into an opportunity by revamping your resume, refreshing your networking skills to meet new people, and looking for new ways to broaden your professional skills. Ultimately, you’ll find a job that is fulfilling and rewarding. There will be challenges that you cannot control, but instead of dwelling on these, focus your energy towards aspects of the situation that do offer opportunities to find a positive outcome.
Having focus and passion are crucial in order to nurture resilience. Once you find something you’re passionate about, such as achieving a goal, participating in a sport, practicing an art, or even fostering a relationship, you will feel more motivated to tackle a difficult experience. When you’re pursuing work that is meaningful to you, no challenge is too great to stop you from doing what you love. Once you have a goal in mind, you’ll become more resilient without even knowing it.
Quite simply, looking after yourself means you’ll become a stronger person both mentally and physically, making you more resilient in mind and body. If you’re looking for ways to take a break and relax in a healthy way, try going to a yoga class (or take a free tutorial online such as Yoga with Adriene), running 5k, going for a bike ride, playing football, playing an instrument, sparking up Duolingo to learn a new language, whizzing up a 5 fruit smoothie, reading an empowering book or watching a feel-good movie. Do whatever it is that makes you happy so by the end of your break you are ready to tackle the next challenge with added vigour.
After experiencing a challenge, the last thing you want to do is talk to someone about it, but reaching out to others is important in your journey towards reaching resilience.
After finishing my exchange program abroad in snowy/sunny Peterborough, Ontario, and returning back to the routine of “ordinary” life in a rainy northern city in England, I felt really deflated. I’d seen a bit of the world I never knew with the most beautiful landscapes and had shared amazing moments with people I met abroad. When I got home, I was sure nothing could compare to skiing, watching the Blue Jays in Toronto, hiking 7667ft up Sulphur Mountain in Banff, watching the sunset on Vancouver beach or simply eating poutine by Otonabee river.
Yet being insular was one of the most damaging things I could do. I forced myself to go out and met people who had also been abroad and felt the same as I did. After meeting some people who were about to embark on their own study abroad to England, I reached out to them to let them know about some amazing things they could do on their travels. Connecting with new people in the middle of my funk actually helped me recall the great things about my exchange, while remembering that my home country is pretty wonderful. Persevering in the hard times can be truly tough, but being resilient gets a little easier when you realize that there are people who want to help you.
When life gets challenging, learn how to avoid dwelling on your setback. Resilience can be learned and shared, and these simple steps will make you feel a lot better in the long run. Make an effort to nurture mindful thinking and cultivate a mind-set which focuses on progress and moving forwards.
In addition to spending most of your time working outside, the jobs on this list allow you to have a real impact when it comes to creating a sustainable future for our planet. So whether you like to work with animals, plants, rocks, or trees, we’ve compiled a list of five well-paid jobs for those who love the great outdoors.
Do you like to swim? Are you fascinated with the natural ecosystems living in the ocean? If you answered yes to these questions, then you may want to consider a career as an oceanographer.
In addition to a love for the sea, people who are ideally suited to being oceanographers tend to prefer working independently and have a background in the sciences. If you choose to pursue this path, you will also need to be in good physical shape as it is common for oceanographers to spend several hours at a time swimming underwater to collect samples. Depending on your area of expertise, your career under the sea will have you performing tasks such as measuring the chemical composition of seawater, observing local flora and fauna, or determining the best location for building an underwater pipeline.
If a career in oceanography piques your interest, you will need an undergraduate degree in the sciences (such as Biology or Chemistry) as well as a Master’s degree in Oceanography, Marine Biology, Aquatic Biology, or Hydrogeology. The majority of those who work as oceanographers also belong to the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanography Society (CMOS).
Salary: Those just starting out in the field (or water in this case) make an average of $44,000 per year. Once you get your feet wet, salaries rise to $64,000 – $78,000 after several years of experience.
From polar bears to moose, Canada is home to a plethora of beautiful creatures spread out across the country’s vast landscape. If you love animals and want to ensure that Canada maintains its wildlife diversity, a career as a wildlife biologist is your calling.
In a nutshell, wildlife biologists are in charge of conserving wildlife populations. They are tasked with evaluating the impact that development and environmental change has on the growth rates of various species in a particular ecosystem. Some on-the-job duties as wildlife biologist include: monitoring the status of wildlife populations to determine the number of hunting permits that can be given out for each species, supervising habitat restoration projects, and studying animal behaviour in the field. Like many of the jobs on this list, you will also spend some time in the lab processing samples and analyzing the data that you have collected.
If being a wildlife biologist sounds appealing to you, an undergraduate degree will be required at the bare minimum. For most jobs, a Master’s degree or Ph.D. is recommended. Programs such as Wildlife Biology, Zoology, Environmental Science, Habitat Restoration, and Ecology are most applicable for students interested in becoming a wildlife biologist. Additionally, ECO Canada offers Environmental Professional certification, and you can apply to your province’s biologist association to become a Registered Professional Biologist. Obtaining one or both of these designations will give you a leg up on your competition.
Salary: The average starting salary for a wildlife biologist is just over $47,000 according to a 2013 study by ECO Canada. Once in their fifth year of employment, that number jumps substantially to $74,000.
For students who have an affinity towards plants and love spending their time surrounded by delicate flowers and towering, age-old trees, pursuing a career as a botanist might be a great idea.
As a botanist, you will get to spend a considerable amount of your working hours outdoors studying plant growth and function, keeping a close eye on at-risk species, and measuring the effects that rainfall, temperature, and sunlight on the health of an area’s flora. Botany is a diverse subject area, and many who pursue it will specialize in a specific area such as plant physiology or plant taxonomy. Botanists typically spend the majority of their summers in the field and the rest of the year working in a greenhouse or herbarium (a fancy word for “plant lab”).
A career in botany will require an undergraduate degree from a program such as Botany, Biology, Conservation Biology, Ecology, or Environmental Science. Those who pursue a graduate degree will see a nice bump in their salary (see below).
Salary: Although it may not be the highest paying job on our list, botanists with a graduate degree and several years of experience can make up to $68,000.
Did you own a pet rock as a kid? Are you fascinated by volcanoes and earthquakes? Enjoy playing in the mud? If so, you might be well-suited to working as an environmental geologist.
Environmental geologists are tasked with studying the earth and anticipating geological issues, such as mudslides. It is a job for those who care about minimizing our impact as humans on the environment, since this is a key way of measuring the stress we put on the earth and how building and construction in particular alter a landscape. On a weekly basis, environmental geologists collect soil and rock samples, use instruments to record geophysical measurements, study mineral resources, and identify natural risks such as earthquakes and mudslides.
To become an environmental geologist, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in a program such as Geology, Geological Engineering, or Environmental Science. The profession is also regulated in every province and territory except for Prince Edward Island and Yukon. Unless you are working in one of these two places, you will need to be registered and licensed with your local provincial association as a Professional Geoscientist.
Salary: The average pay for a geologist in Canada is just under $79,000 per year with entry level positions starting at $35,000 – $50,000.
If you are passionate about the outdoors and all of your friends call you a “tree hugger” then a career as a professional forester has your name written all over it.
Working as a forester requires a broad range of skills as duties can vary considerably from job to job. The outdoor aspects of this career option include monitoring the overall health of the forest by taking measurements, recording data, and conducting surveys, and developing plans to protect the forest from insects, disease, and fire. You will also have a chance give presentations and educate the public on sustainable practices.
How does one become a forester? First, you’ll need an undergraduate degree, preferably in one of the following disciplines: Ecology, Forestry, Environmental Science, Natural Resource Management, or Environmental Studies. Most provinces in Canada will also require you to be certified as a Registered Professional Forester in order to work. Each province has its own professional foresters association with different requirements (usually in the form of an exam and/or general knowledge assessment) for obtaining your Registered Professional Forester designation.
Salary: The median pay for a professional forester is $68,000 with entry level salaries in the range of $40,000 – $50,000 and those with 10-15 years of experience earning between $80,000 and $90,000.
There you have it! If you’re looking for an egg-citing career where you can work in the great outdoors while helping to protect them, one of these career choices could be ideal for you. Furthermore, these unique careers offer you the chance to have a meaningful impact on the environment, measuring and advocating the best ways to protect our planet.]]>
As you move through your academic career, you will soon find yourself aspiring to get your first industry job or internship, putting the skills you’ve learned in class to use in the real world. You’re ready to go out and start your professional life, but is your wardrobe?
After spending so much time on campus, you have probably acquired clothing that is fit for the classroom and regular outings with friends; jeans, hoodies, and maybe the odd button down are all staples in your closet. When you start your first job, however, it is time to prepare yourself for your new role, and the first step is the proper attire.
Initially, it is easy to assume that all jobs require full business attire, but buying a whole new business-formal wardrobe is an expensive prospect for a new graduate. It might also be unnecessary: there are many aspects to consider prior to making your purchases. Make sure you keep the following tips in mind before swiping your debit card!
Your office dress code will differ depending on your field, the company you work for, and role you are in. Primarily, when you attend interviews you should always play it safe and wear business attire unless otherwise stated. You want to make a good first impression, so make sure you dress the part. Once you have accepted the job, however, think about your role. If you are going to be in a client-facing position (such as a role in Sales), you may need to consistently dress in business attire. If you are working on-site in a technical role, there may be a specific uniform or dress code requirements (such as working in hospitals), and if you work in an independent department, such as IT, you may be able to wear what you feel most comfortable in. It all depends on your role, so give it some thought.
Secondly, during your interview process and first week on the job, pay close attention to what your co-workers are wearing. This will help you determine what is acceptable for your workplace and role. It is also beneficial to help you fit in with the overall company culture while still representing yourself as a professional.
Lastly, if you are ever in doubt, you can ask your co-workers what you should be wearing while you’re on lunch or visit your HR department or supervisor.
Once you have established the dress code, take stock of the items you already own.
Forbes mentions that even if your role requires you to dress up, there may be occasions where you can dress more casually – such as meeting with a long term client for coffee versus pitching an idea to a potential new client. You may not need to wear a suit every day. That being said, consider what you’ll mostly be doing on a daily basis. If you will be working in a casual environment, then some items you already own may be ideal. Other items such as dress pants, dress shirts, sweaters, blazers, button downs, tasteful dresses or skirts and cardigans will be best foundation to build upon.
Once you’ve assessed how work-appropriate the clothing you already own is, it is time to plan what you may need. Considering your student budget, target some of the affordable retailers in the industry. Remember, even discount stores and chains sell inexpensive businesswear! A second piece of advice: invest in articles of clothing that are solidly made and basic in colour (such as dark denim or black pants). Items that are plain and well made are ideal because they can be worn regularly and to a range of events. Black trousers are great for a client meeting if they’re paired with a jacket and shirt, but they can also work for a casual day when paired with a sweater or button down.
The planning stage will help you budget accordingly; simply being aware of what you already have can save you money, since you’re not buying the same thing twice. An additional Forbes article also suggests determining what your priority items are, and where you can splurge and where you should cut back. For example, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a nice suit jacket, blazer, or pair of dress shoes, since these items will last for a long time, whereas you can find inexpensive dress shirts at a number of discount retailers. Think about the items you’ll wear every day, as these are worth spending a bit more. Finally, do a little research online to get a sense of what items you can get more cheaply, such as dress shirts or sweaters, and what stores have clothing priced within your budget.
It is also a good idea to take advantage of student discounts, in-store loyalty programs and weekly promotions (check all those e-mails you delete for promo codes!). Most retailers are keen on providing their customers with value to keep them coming back, and these are all great approaches to help you acquire additional savings.
Most importantly, determine a final budget for your new work wardrobe and how much you should be spending on each item. While you want to look sharp on the job, you don’t want to spend too much. Determine the items you absolutely need, which ones you can save on, and whether you can take advantage of any discounts. Finally, don’t buy everything at once; while you will need to get some basics, you will also buy new clothes gradually as you start making more money. Ask yourself what items you can wait on to purchase.
Dressing appropriately is just a small part of getting ready for your new job, but it can help you feel comfortable and put-together in an unfamiliar role. Regardless of how you prepare for your career, you are about to embark on a journey full of learning experiences that will dictate your future, so might as well look your best!]]>
No matter where you are in your life- a student with big ambitions, a new graduate who’s entering the workforce, or a young professional who’s looking to take their career to the next level, there’s one challenge we all have: closing the gap between our current reality and our dreams.
Yet it’s entirely possible to go the distance if you do one key thing: set goals. Read on to find out how setting and tracking measurable goals can help you build the life you want to lead!
The gap between where we are now and the dream jobs we want to land seems huge. We’re just beginners, wide-eyed and ready. How do we go after our hopes and dreams when all we have is potential? It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Do we need skills to gain experience or do we need experience to build skills? If you’re dealing with this anxious question, welcome to the club!
You are not alone, Mr. or Ms. VIP (Very Impatient Potential-ite). There’s no perfect solution and the secret is nobody really knows everything.
We want to be the best ever. We want to do impactful, meaningful work aligned with our values and ambitions. We want to follow, replicate and improve on the paths of our heroes. Amazing resources are everywhere. There’s beautiful advice from entrepreneurial go-getters, such as filmmakers Komal Minhas and Betty Xie on audacious dreaming and being patient. Still, even with an education and great advice, it can be hard to take that first step towards your goals.
The good news is that the solution to our worries is deviously simple. Forget the current distance between you and your dreams. Thinking about that pesky gap will only distract you with unnecessary worry. Instead of comparing your present self with the person you wish to become, reverse your thought process from fear-driven to confidence-driven. Think from the perspective of someone who already has their dream job: what would you have done to get there? Once you think like someone who has already achieved success, all you have to do is remember the tangible steps you took to bridge the gap. Then recreate the process. For example, what’s the first thing you would have done to get your dream job? You would have taken the most important step and applied.
“No problem can be solved on the same level of consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Thinking from a reverse perspective is helpful for a few reasons. For one thing, it is a form of positive visualization that can motivate you to work towards your goals. Secondly, by considering the many steps you need to take to get your dream job, you realize that achieving your goals didn’t happen overnight. There were false starts, mishaps and failures along the way, but you didn’t just sit at home and cry about it. You went out there, applied to possible jobs and networked using knowledge learned from the TalentEgg Incubator, your peers, and mentors. The path to success is non-linear. You knew that. You’ve already succeeded. You just haven’t realized it yet, but when you do, your dream job will be within your grasp.
“The key is to overcome your fear of what could have been. You worked on things you could change in the moment.”
I myself have closed the gap before. Reverse positive thinking and visualization were the two methods I used to lose 20 pounds in one summer and keep the weight off years later. Before that, I’d never been able to lose weight consistently. I’d be super gung-ho for a week or two and give up when results weren’t immediate.
It’s something we can all relate to, but in my case, I failed because I obsessed over the gap between how unfit I was and how fit I wanted to be. I beat myself up for not doing enough while getting frustrated when my efforts weren’t immediately visible. At the same time, I couldn’t stick to a health and fitness plan because I was never sure which method was the “best” one. I always second-guessed my abilities and gave up because nothing seemed to be working immediately.
Eventually, I tried again in a better frame of mind. I had nothing else to lose, so I played a game with myself, imagining what life would be like as a fitter person. I thought about the actions and characteristics I would embody as someone living a more active lifestyle. What would my habits be, and what would I do every day?
I realized that a fit person would probably eat quality foods, exercise more, worry less about fitness, and live their lives accordingly. A fit person would adjust according to their current ambitions but would actually go eat good food and then exercise. They wouldn’t spend all day on the computer researching what to do, then proceed to do nothing.
Eureka! All I had to do was live as if I was already fit. Do what a fit person would do without worrying if I was fit or not! I quit over-analyzing. I quit over-worrying and overthinking.
I started small. I exercised more, ate quality foods and limited quantities. I didn’t over-stress about the ultimate optimal super-effective way to get where I wanted. I just started walking. And most importantly, I stopped comparing myself with where I wanted to go. I put my head down and focused on the process one step at a time. Every time we invest in ourselves, put ourselves out there or work on our skills, the gap closes that much. There’s no need to focus on the gap. Focus on the next step ahead. Whenever I was lost or unsure, I’d imagine being at the finish line, and I’d recount my steps.
Then I’d keep going.
Of course, work is far more enjoyable when we build relationships with our colleagues. However, it can be difficult to to know how to maintain your professionalism during workplace events. You always want to represent yourself well, as your actions and behaviour reflect your character both personally and professionally, but you also want to have fun!
Before you head off to your company’s annual barbecue to relax and enjoy yourself, take a look at our tips for building professional relationships both in office hours and after hours.
When it comes to a summer barbecue, we’re all in the same social situation. Away from the formalities of the office, how do we know what’s appropriate to wear?
It all depends on how formal the event is. If you’re headed to an upscale restaurant for a company dinner, ladies may want to opt for more formal blouses, dresses, skirts or trousers with a blazer. For a casual event like a barbecue, however, tasteful sundresses with a sweater or cardigan are more comfortable than formal clothing. You could also pair some shorts or non-ripped jeans with a shirt or blouse, remembering of course that your Daisy Dukes are better for the beach than an office gathering.
For men, a formal dinner may call for a suit, or a dress shirt, trousers, and tie. For casual events, be careful of how much chest you expose. Wandering around the party with an unbuttoned shirt looks tasteless, so keep the buttons done or opt for a light-weight golf shirt or sweater. And remember, ripped jeans or t-shirts with slogans aren’t necessarily appropriate. If you’re in doubt, choose something else!
A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you’re meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time. We all want our clothing choices to convey our personal tastes, but you’ll also want to feel at ease in what you’re wearing; dressing appropriately can help you focus on getting to know your colleagues rather than worrying about how you’re dressed. If you’re unsure of the dress code, don’t be shy to ask senior coworkers what they’re wearing, or check out photos of past company events to check out the common attire for your company party.
Depending on the occasion, it may be expected that each attendee contribute a dish for a potluck barbecue, or a fee may be collected to cover food and beverage costs, or your boss may have taken care of all expenses and request that you bring “nothing but your charming selves.” If the event is being hosted by an individual rather than the collective office, however, it’s best to show up with some sort of contribution to thank your hosts for their generosity.
For potlucks, be sure to ask around the office to see if there is a sign-up sheet. As the new employee, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes by bringing the same dish your supervisor has been known to bring for the past six years.
In the case that each employee contributes a fee for food and beverage expenses, it is not expected for you to contribute anything extra; however, you’ll make a lasting impression if you bring some homemade treats for your guests.
If the company party is all expenses paid, you work for a great company! Show your appreciation by offering a gift such as a nice bottle of wine, some baked treats, an adornment for the home, or a nice thank-you card for the host.
Most professionals see nothing wrong with having a drink or two at a work event. In a recent survey conducted by Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 70% agreed that it’s acceptable to drink at a company party.
However, learning how to drink in moderation is key at any work-related function, as well as being comfortable with not drinking. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t feel awkward not to do so, even if most people at the party are. When offered your first beverage, there’s nothing wrong with requesting a soft-drink. Ultimately, consider your own limits when you’re offered a drink. It’s fine to have a few, but you don’t want to be embarrassed by slurred speech or getting too giggly. Throughout the party it’s a good idea to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (especially water!), and pay close attention to the affect the booze has on your cognitive behaviour.
Upon your arrival, compliment the host on their home or thank them for organizing the venue, and present them with your potluck dish or anything else you’ve brought.
Make a great impression by offering your host to assist with the preparations and clean-up. Of course you need to dedicate time to socialize, network and bond with your coworkers, but lend a helping hand whenever possible. After you’re greeted by the host, make an appearance and say hello to your boss, supervisor, and immediate coworkers, but after about fifteen minutes of chatting, check in with the host to see how you can help.
When the night is winding down, be sure to help bring in any remaining perishables from the outside into the kitchen. Scrape the plates, offer assistance with the dishes, or give the table a quick wipe-down.
Now that you have these basic etiquette tips down, you’re free to relax and enjoy getting to know your colleagues outside of work. While you want to be polite and professional, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through! By talking in a more relaxed setting, you may bond with your boss over listening to the same podcast or having grown up in the same province.]]>
But for others, it can feel like a minefield where you must tread carefully to avoid triggering potential stressors.
Like many disorders, anxiety falls along a spectrum. Feeling a rush of adrenaline just before making a presentation is a normal response, and experts suggest it might even be healthy. But if the prospect of a teleconference makes you feel ill to the point where you want to call in sick, it may be time to assess your anxiety levels.
Overcoming your anxiety will not happen overnight, but it is possible to regain control and manage the symptoms. Outlined below are the five most common workplace anxiety triggers and advice on how to tackle these obstacles head on!
Humankind’s fear of public speaking goes back so far in history that the Ancient Greeks even had a name for it: glossophobia. But even more ancient than these wordsmithing Athenians is our physiological response to this anxiety, known as the “fight-or-flight” phenomenon. Throughout history, this reaction occurred when we perceived an immediate threat in our environment; for example, when faced with wild animals like bears or wooly mammoths.
But in modern times, the nature of this beast has changed.
Despite all of our advances, the danger-sensing part of our brains has not developed enough to discern the difference between a threatening animal and our fear of public speaking. As a result, giving a presentation to your colleagues may signal a debilitating fear, regardless of how friendly the circumstances. The brain then gives us two options in these scenarios: to run or to fight.
For this section, we’ll be focusing on the second option. Get ready to face your fears head on with the following tips!
Authority figures come in many forms. They may be a parent, a teacher, or a boss. For those suffering from even mild social anxiety, the fear of interacting with higher-ups at work is often heightened significantly.
Fortunately, a fear of authority is a learned mechanism and can be unlearned (though you should always remember to be respectful and polite!). Ready to face your fear of speaking to authority? Remember the following advice:
No matter how secure you are in your habits or your job, change is inevitable. However, what is important is how you react to it: how you turn a challenge into an opportunity. Fear of new challenges is common in the workplace for several reasons: you may be afraid of failure (or of success), of the unknown, or of looking stupid in front of your peers.
Often, when we lose a sense of predictability or routine, we also lose our sense of control over the situation. But fear not – new challenges should be embraced for their potential for positive change and personal growth. Consider the following tactics when dealing with new challenges at work.
In some cases, those suffering from extreme social anxiety develop a secondary phobia, one of appearing visibly nervous to others. The fear of coming off as noticeably anxious is strongly linked to characteristics of perfectionism and image control. Some of these traits include blushing, trembling or shaking, or having your voice crack or stutter.
While it might feel like these responses are out of your control, there are many strategies you can use to overcome them. For instance, you could…
Much like the previous fear of appearing visibly anxious, perfectionism is heavily associated with anxieties of image control. Having high standards is one thing, but a belief that minor flaws will lead to catastrophe is quite another. Perfectionists believe that any mistake is unacceptable and will set increasingly unattainable standards, which could lead to unhealthy lifestyles and mentalities. When perfect is the only option, you set yourself up for failure.
Recognizing perfectionism can be a problem, as many will deny it is even an issue. If you suspect you may be struggling from this disorder, ask your close friends or family members whether they have ever identified perfectionist tendencies in your behaviour. Additionally, the following tips can help address perfectionism.
It is normal to have workplace fears or anxieties. Nevertheless, if your anxiety feels as if it is controlling your life, it might indicate a serious mental health risk, or, the very least, it could be significantly impairing your productivity levels.
Becoming aware of the varying workplace triggers and identifying strategies to address your fears is the first step towards competency and professional success!]]>
The world was so simple then – back when all your teachers knew you by name and you had everything you could ever need under one roof.
Then you get to university. Although it’s probably one of the most exciting accomplishments of your life so far, starting your undergrad is a huge transition. There’s no arguing that this is a completely different world than the one you were used to. You probably live somewhere different, have made new friends, and have a routine that’s nothing like your high school days. As if that wasn’t enough change, some of the words you used then may mean something entirely different to you now. Take a look at the top 14 words that have totally different definitions now that you’re living the student life.
High School: Mandatory, and no excuses, or your parents will receive a terrifying call from the secretary.
University: Your academic success is in your own hands. Nobody cares if you skip class, but your grades will likely take a hit if you don’t attend lectures. Welcome to adulthood!
High School: The stuff your mom drinks. White mochas and frappuccinos for the win!
University: The substance that makes up 90% of your blood stream and enables you to become a functioning human being every day. It gets you through the all-nighters and the early mornings that come afterwards, and you should probably give it a shout-out when you graduate.
High School: Open to compromise, especially if you have a sympathetic teacher who completely understands having a dog that eats all of your homework.
University: You are expected to know what the assignments are, when they are due, and how you will be graded. Late assignments = docked marks (or no marks). It’s a good idea to keep an academic planner and write down all of your assignments on the first day of class so that you’re never caught off-guard with a 20 page paper due the next day.
High School: A few minor bumps in the road to summer. You can get away with studying for a day or two and then celebrate with ice cream when they’re over. You will post a Facebook status following the completion of each one.
University: Something that you will lose countless hours of sleep and years of your life to study for.
High School: Five paragraphs about a topic of your choice.
University: A 5,000 word nightmare with citations, definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary, and a dicey thesis statement that you’re pretty sure no one’s going to buy.
High School: A nutritious substance for maintaining life and growth that magically appears in your cupboards and fridge. Also includes tasty meals that some nice person makes for you every night.
University: A combination of late night pizza, granola bars, and breakfast sandwiches. Oh, how you miss the days when you complained about “Another stir-fry?”
High School: Make schoolwork fun by doing it with your best friends!
University: Make schoolwork that is already hard even harder by trying to create a comprehensive Google Doc with a group of complete strangers who don’t show up to group meetings and have little to no regard for your life goals.
High School: Woo! My favorite hour of the day! Off to the cafeteria I go!
University: Where are my friends? Where is food? Did I miss lunch? Where is money for food? Why is that Starbucks line so long? Who wants to get dinner? Can a Cliff Bar be dinner? Mom?
High School: Those people who you live with.
University: Those people who you call when you need to know how long it takes to hard-boil an egg, what a fitted sheet is, and how to file your taxes. May also need several calls a week to maintain your sanity, confirm that your goals are on track, and that you’re going to be 100% fine, no matter what problems you face.
High School: To Kill a Mockingbird? Great book.
University: Something you need to do before and after each class if you want to actually understand what your professor is talking about during your lectures and on exams.
High School: A psychological thriller starring Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester.
University: A psychological thriller starring you and whoever the residence committee decided to cast as your co-star. Their crimes? Wearing your clothes and sneaking your snacks. A horror movie if there ever was one.
High School: A day on which a school or other institution is closed due to heavy snowfall or other extreme winter weather.
University: Hahahahahaha, nope. Better get your parka and sturdy snow boots on, because even when the buses stop running due to weather, you’ll have to walk to class.
High School: Something you wear at home.
University: Something you wear at home, to class, on the bus, to the mall, karaoke with friends, etc.
High School: A piece of paper that reminds you where you need to be from 9am-3pm every day
University: A piece of paper that tells you where you need to be from 8am-10pm every day, using abbreviations you’ve never heard of for buildings that are kilometers apart from each other. Oh, and you have ten minutes to sprint across campus for each one.
And there you have it! These are just a few of the words that hold completely different meanings post-high school. All jokes aside, university is an incredible period of growth and transition. These changes and new meanings are an indicator of your broadening perspective and greater understanding of the world that university offers. With these changes come opportunities and experiences that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Be sure to make the most of it – work hard but still make time to enjoy all that this experience has to offer. (Such as the unwavering acceptance of sweatpants everywhere).]]>
Imagine yourself travelling for the sheer joy of travelling, staying in the best five star hotels, eating the best food, seeing beautiful sights… and it’s free. Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong (well, sort of).
This dream is the reason why people choose to pursue a career in travel writing. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the world on someone else’s dime? Just think: You could be exploring every café in Paris in search of the best hot chocolate, or travelling through Europe deciding which country has the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals. How about hitting up pub after pub in Ireland to determine which one serves the cheapest pint of beer?
Many people dream of becoming professional travel writers and working for magazines, blogs, and even hotels or tourism clients who may pay you to write about exotic locations. On one hand, this industry is competitive and it will take years to gain the experience you’ll need to be a full-time travel writer, but on the other hand, this dream isn’t as far-off as you think. Keep reading to find out how you can start your journey as a travel writer today!
There’s no doubt about it: Travel writers have the ultimate dream job. The best part about this career path is that the industry is booming, and there will always be an audience that wants to read about far-off locales where they can imagine their dream vacation. So, what does it take to be a travel writer?
You don’t need to be a bestselling author to be a travel writer; all you need is a unique voice, the dedication to hone your writing skills, and the determination to keep going against all odds. To start, you’ll need to find a good pitch, such as the search for the perfect hot chocolate in Paris, build up a portfolio of publications, and then approach blogs and magazines with whom you’d like to work.
Your Quick-Start Guide to Being a Travel Writer
When you decide to start a career as a travel writer, keep in mind that it usually takes a lot of experience and a portfolio of publications before you’ll get hired to go on free trips, so don’t quit your day job just yet. Instead, you can choose to write part-time about your own adventures and sell the story to a publication afterwards. You can also start a blog or a YouTube channel where you document your journeys; gaining a following on social media can help impress a publication enough to hire you, and you’ll be able to practice your writing skills. Moreover, writing about your personal travels can help you build up a portfolio of work that you can submit to publications you wish to write for.
Once you have a few local articles written or pieces about your personal travels, you can then query magazines such as Outpost Magazine and Bold Magazine. If a magazine likes your articles, they may hire you to be a contributor or freelancer. After you build up your writing experience and establish a strong professional relationship with a publication, they may even assign you travel writing pieces where you’ll get to go on an adventure on their dime and write about it! Until this point, however, the most important step is to simply begin writing and practicing your craft.
At this point, travel writing seems like the ideal career. However, this competitive industry does have a few pitfalls to consider before deciding whether or not it’s for you.
You may think that travel writing is the perfect career, but there are a few things to consider first. Ask yourself: Do you have the time to be a travel writer? You may have family obligations or responsibilities that don’t allow you to go abroad a great deal. That’s okay as well; it just means that you can only take a couple of projects a year instead of turning it into your career. Travel writing takes incredible levels of commitment, and even the most successful travel writers struggle with constantly being away from their families and spending countless hours in airports.
No matter what, as a writer you will face rejection, and that’s why you’ll need a thick skin. It may take some time before your first article is accepted and it may not have any bearing on your writing ability. Rejection is part of being a writer, but it can also make you better. It’s important to look at the rejection process as a chance to learn. Ask your editors for feedback, examine your editor’s criticism closely, and implement their suggestions into your writing. Practice makes perfect, so try writing as much as you possibly can to get your personal voice down. Don’t take rejection letters to heart, but use them to become the best writer you can be.
Not all publications have large budgets to pay you the big bucks and send you travelling all over the world. One thing to consider when writing for magazines is that they usually pay after the article has been published. If they are a small publication, they may need to wait awhile before they can pay their writers. Just keep in mind that payment may not come as soon as you would expect when you are sending queries to publications.
Moreover, when you’re just starting out, you may be asked to write for free. This can be a great opportunity to be published and develop a portfolio of publications that can lead to paid freelance jobs once you’ve established your expertise in the field.
Procrastination is a true weakness for me, especially with all the tantalizing social media outlets out there. When it comes to writing for a magazine or newspaper, deadlines are crucial to surviving in the industry. As a writer, it can be easy to get distracted by other things, especially if you work from home. Moreover, if you’re travelling and having fun abroad, it can be tough to barricade yourself in your hotel room to write. It’s crucial to be self-motivating in order to meet the deadlines that are necessary to keep clients happy.
These three things can make or break a writer, and it’s important to understand that this career option is not for the faint of heart. Decide if this is something that you really want to strive for, and if it is, then go for it.
Still, the incredible benefits of travel writing can outweigh the challenges. A career as a travel writer is not too good to be true, but takes a lot of hard work, research, and experience. Take the time to practice your writing, hone your distinctive voice, and publish stellar pieces. Once you have a few articles under your belt, it will be easier to approach publications, and you’ll build relationships with editors as you go.
Even if this dream job may seem lofty, heed the words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”]]>
Most companies are looking for diversity and a range of work experience in all new hires in order to better serve today’s international guests. Furthermore, employers are increasingly focused on creating equitable workplace environments, meaning that professionals from a range of cultural and educational backgrounds can work together to form welcoming, diverse teams.
In this article, you can learn how to highlight the unique skills and perspective that you bring to a potential job and hear from a recent graduate on her experience with diversity in hospitality.
Diversity no longer exclusively refers to your cultural or religious background. Today, diversity encompasses the unique perspective that you bring to the company, be it through previous work experience or your unique way of analyzing and solving problems. As industries begin to think of “diversity” in more complex ways, your cultural perspective, education, and personal experiences can distinguish you in a job interview.
Diversity today may refer to aspects of your background in one (or more!) of the following ways:
These are just a few of the aspects of your identity that make you who you are and can also help you be a part of an inclusive, welcoming hospitality community. Employers aren’t just hiring you for your skills, but for who you are as a person and the unique point of view you can bring to their work environment.
There are countless benefits to creating a diverse workplace. For example, diversity in the workplace increases productivity, communication and innovation. Moreover, an awareness of diversity allows the company to design and provide services to guests that are inclusive and reflective of their unique wants and needs.
Recent graduate Nik-Keisha Moodie, Food & Beverage Management Trainee of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc., explains: “The hospitality industry takes pride in creating experiences for each individual guest. Employers want employees who can connect with guests from different backgrounds with different beliefs and expectations.”
Working for a company that promotes diversity might give more opportunities to new graduates to help design employee inclusion programs and diversity training methods.
Nik-Keisha has found that her career has thrived in the hospitality industry, and she is passionate about creating equitable workplaces. She says that she aspires: “…To become a voice within my company one day… to advocate and support others with backgrounds like mine.”
Highlighting the diversity you bring to a potential employer on your resume can increase your likelihood of getting that crucial first interview. Details like your outlook on life, formative experiences, or problem-solving methods might have seemed out of place on a traditional resume, but today these details can actually demonstrate your diversity. Hospitality and tourism companies want to hear how you will bring fresh perspectives to their current offerings.
New grads might incorporate aspects that highlight their diversity into their cover letter by beginning a section with: “As a ______, I am adaptive to issues of diversity in the hospitality industry.” Likewise, you could back up a statement with: “….because of my background in ______.” You can elaborate: Was there ever a professional situation where you made the workplace more inclusive for someone? Or was there a time when you yourself did not feel as welcome, and what would you do to address those issues in this role?
According to Brittany Reynolds, Manager of Talent Development at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc., the best candidates are those who are able to explain the potential crossover skills they bring to the job.
“You want to showcase yourself in the way that you want to be perceived,” says Brittany.
She cautions that while a hint of personal experience can set your application apart, you should avoid superfluous or emotive language – do your research, and be specific as to how you bring diversity to the job. Focus on addressing the issue directly and providing a creative, effective solution to it.
As travel and tourism becomes more affordable and more globalized, the benefits of diversity in hospitality will only increase. An employee who can handle a range of challenges and be flexible in the face of change will always be valuable, and that’s what diversity is all about.
To highlight your own diverse perspective on a resume, do your research and highlight the many ways in which you represent the global workforce in your job applications. An understanding of workplace equity and diversity will only increase your likelihood of getting that first interview (and foot in the door!). Moreover, it will help you make a meaningful impact on a worldwide industry.]]>