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#119: Samiha Fariha – Consider students with diverse experiences

“Employers should focus more on students’ unique skills and diverse work experience, instead of always looking for the same skills and experience.” —Samiha Fariha, Student, University of Toronto Scarborough

In my first year at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), I applied for work study jobs. Soon after, I got a reply for one of the Research Assistant jobs I applied to, but got rejected from the 3 similar jobs I applied to previously because I submitted by resume late.

However I got an interview for the Research Assistant job which was working for the Professor in the Humanities Department. I prepared for the interview ahead of time, I practiced in front of the mirror several times and even wrote down the questions I might be asked in the interview.

My responsibilities included data gathering (finding and watching movies with corruption plots or themes made in Canada and Britain) and writing analytical summaries of the movies I watched. So it was a pretty cool job.

Where I am now

I am done with my work study job and I’m focusing on school right now. I am also currently volunteering as an Administrative Assistant and a Volunteer Assistant at UTSC.

My recommendations for employers, schools and career centres

The recommendation I have for employers is that they should be more understanding toward students. If a student does not have the required skills or experience for jobs they are applying for, they should not be so quick to assume that the student is unqualified.


#118: Lauren Stein – Communication skills go both ways, employers


“I was beyond pleased to get a form e-mail from a company after I applied, telling me they were looking at more seasoned candidates, but thanking me for my application. Sure, it was a No, but at least I knew that. I could continue to focus on other postings and let that small glimmer of hope rest in peace.” —Lauren Stein, Graduate, Concordia University

It’s a rush, really, getting that e-mail or phone call. Hopefully you know the one. When those hours of rewriting, reformatting, self-branding and keywording have inspired someone, based on that piece-of-paper version of yourself, to ask whether the flesh-and-blood You might be available to meet. What’s almost better is actually knowing someone with the power to bypass that stack of paper-people, who can immediately get you some face-to-face interaction with a decision maker.

I was bursting with anticipation when I recently discovered, thanks to some LinkedIn sleuthing, an opening for a social media/communications position at a company that just happened to employ an old acquaintance of mine. I sent my contact a message immediately, pouncing on the opportunity, eager to find out who I could send my information to. As a recent graduate of the Concordia University creative writing program and an emerging writer, let me tell you, the worst part isn’t getting that rejection letter, it’s waiting for it to arrive.

The awesome part of working your network, as I’ve discovered, is that waiting is almost non-existent. I heard back from my contact the same day, not only with a request for my paper-self, but an inquiry about my availabilities so that an interview could be scheduled. Of course I didn’t blink twice, immediately adhered my CV to an e-mail, sent it off, and within hours had an interview set and some pep in my step. I didn’t want to think it was in the bag, but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t over-confident.

Things got a little murky when, the following day, my contact had to swap our interview to another time. Being that he would be around my neighbourhood during the weekend, my contact suggested we meet at a cafe which would, in turn, help me avoid schlepping across town to the company’s headquarters. Works for me, I thought, and proactively suggested a place and time.


Student Voice in Metro: Yoko Lu

Finding the key to co-op

This week, Simon Fraser University environmental science student Yoko Lu’s Student Voice story (originally published here Oct. 11, 2011) was published in Metro across Canada.

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#117: Ceilidh Millar – Busy, well-rounded students are the ones you want!

“Leadership skills, community service, extra-curricular interests and a student’s passion for their field are all important attributes.” —Ceilidh Millar (with Lloyd Robertson), Student, BCIT

As a first year media communications student, here’s the scoop. The holidays are over and I’m back at school. During the break, I had a chance to catch up with friends who were home from university. By all accounts, they’re having the time of their lives. They regaled me with stories about cool parties, wild weekend trips and antics of living in residence.

OK, am I missing something here? My post secondary experience has been the exact opposite. Long days of classes, evenings and weekends filled with assignments and studying… pure slog!

Forget about those wild dorm parties. In my dorm there’s complete silence by 9 p.m. – everyone is in their room studying or passed out from exhaustion!

I found my first end of semester experience overwhelming! 8 finals in 4 days…brutal! I spent my evenings at the campus broadcast centre cramming for exams and editing film til 3 in the morning. Ah, beautiful sleep… is now my idea of fun!

Was I at “No Fun Tech?” Had I chosen the wrong school? Over the break, I had time to reflect on why I selected this college in the first place. I chose BCIT because it has a great Media Communications program. I wanted a program that focused on practical training in addition to the academics. The program covers both aspects and students can be secure in the knowledge they’ll be well prepared to enter the job force. BCIT has one of the best track records of producing top graduates who are sought after by employers.


#116: Elle Kamensky – Neither college nor university prepared me to work in HR

“Recruiters tell me entry-level HR roles are as scarce as Big Foot. Hiring managers are demanding skills not taught in either college OR university. There appears to be a large discrepancy between the real jobs out there and what our post-secondary institutions insist we are taught.” —Elle Kamensky, Graduate, Ryerson University

In 2006, I applied to the Human Resources program at George Brown College. I thought I wanted to be a social worker or a psychologist, likewise, criminology and law also interested me, but I got discouraged by friends and family.

I never imagined myself getting into business because it completely disinterested me. However, with HR slowly becoming more popular, I thought it would be a perfect job because of the human element, combined with business.

I did 2.25 years at George Brown and then transferred to Ryerson University to complete my HR degree (another 2.25 years). My options were clear-cut: HR could be in any company, dealing with any aspect of employment! I was saved. It almost felt like I was getting a law degree or a doctor’s because there’s basically nothing else.

What every one of my professors failed to mention, though, is this thing called “reality”:

Fact: It is increasingly difficult to get into entry-level HR.

Fact: Most of your HR jobs will be taken by people with philosophy or criminology degrees.

Fact: Schools do not prepare you for the actual HR jobs out there; employers are looking for HR personnel to know software which most companies use, like HRIS and PAYROLL. Most HR roles are very hands-on and require a lot of paperwork and software knowledge.


Student Voice in Metro: Naomi Elmaleh

TalentEgg's Student Voice in Metro: Naomi Elmaleh

This week, York University communications studies graduate Naomi Elmaleh’s Student Voice story (originally published here Nov. 23, 2011) was published in Metro across Canada.

Want your Student Voice featured in Metro?
Click here to share your own story.

#115: Naomi Elmaleh – Employers should be more open-minded

“Employers should be more open-minded. A lot of job postings require years of work experience. But when you are a recent graduate looking for a job, this qualification seems very daunting. You will be surprised to find how many capable, dedicated, and enthusiastic applicants would be a great fit for the job!”

Naomi Elmaleh, Graduate, York University

I recently graduated from York University with a B.A. (Honours) in Communications Studies. I participated in many internships throughout my university career, had numerous part-time jobs, and I excelled academically in university.

I thought that finding a job when I graduate would be the easiest thing I could ever do since I was so motivated and enthusiastic about joining the workforce. But little did I know that this would not be the case.

I was eager to find a position in the field of Communications and Public Relations in order to see if this field was “right for me.” Checking job boards was a common daily activity for me.

I applied and kept track of every resume and cover letter I sent in – and it totalled over 90 in the span of 5 months. After only hearing back from 6 or 7, I was discouraged, furious, and upset with myself. I just had to find another way.

I found the best way to look for job is networking. Use all of the resources and connections you have. You never know who might “know of someone who is looking for someone!”

Another piece of advice is to go on informational interviews. Research a company you would like to work for, call or e-mail someone from the office and ask to see if they will conduct n an information interview with you.

You would be surprised to see how many professionals are willing to help out recent grads! Feel free to ask them anything about their line of work, working at that company, and maybe if they can take a look at your resume. Sometimes they will take it with them and keep it on file.

After months on the job hunt, I was finally offered a position at a great organization.


#114: Asad Chishti – Hire based on involvement, not just grades

“Look past the grades and the degrees. Students should be hired based on their ability to learn, not based on what they’ve already learned. Watch out for the students who are already taking on different roles and establishing relationships.”

Asad Chishti, Student, Queen’s University

The more I want something, the less I call it work.

There is, in my experience, no reason in this day and age for you to be working at a place or doing something you don’t enjoy. The career you do want to pursue requires now, more than ever, that you create your own experience.

Too many of my friends all across Canada are struggling after graduation to find work, struggling during university to find placements that aren’t voluntary for their co-op terms, and are trying to find work in the summer and being turned down from hundreds of job postings relevant to their field of study.

As a second year engineering chemisty student at Queen’s University, I’m not sure what the future holds for my career path. Some of the graduates from my program go into consulting, some go into research and development, a few outliers become entrepreneurs – most return to school for graduate studies.

But it seems like to get a job, networking matters. The jobs that I’ve held have been both part-time and referred to me by people who worked there.

It is no surprise that fresh undergraduates are now competing not only among each other but also among more qualified, more experienced veterans of the job industry.

It’s important to find an edge over the competition and to stand out by creating an outlet for your passion and future career. I believe we can take charge of your own future by getting involved now.

Because I think it’s very important to dabble and supplement my studies with as many skills as possible, I’m very involved in extra-curricular activities. I’m the assistant photo editor for the Queen’s Journal, Canada’s second oldest newspaper. I help run an annual independently-organized TED talks event, TEDxQueensU.


Career Centre Voice: Simon Fraser University Career Services

“Promote your industry and your organization to the many students who are still undecided and undeclared. Students are an investment in the future.”

— David Lindskoog, Career Services, Simon Fraser University

At SFU Career Services, we’re all about reflection and action! We help students and recent alumni (up to 2 years after graduation) prepare for their career and life following university in a number of ways:

1) Student-Centered Services

We have dedicated career advisors at all three of our campuses, who conduct one-on-one advising appointments, design and facilitate a wide range of career workshops, organize career fairs and special events and collaborate with faculties to deliver specially targeted career-focused programming.

We help to explore broad questions like “What can I do with my life after school?” and “What’s the next chapter of my career and life story?” as well as specific ones, including “How can I perfect my resumé/cover letter/job interview/work search?”

2) Employer-Centered Services

On-campus recruitment is an important part of the services we provide and one that benefits both employers looking for quality talent and students/alumni in the midst of a work search.

At SFU Career Services, we have a range of options for employers to engage in recruitment efforts on campus, including information sessions, information tables, specialty events and several career fairs throughout the year including our biggest on-campus fair, the “BIG Fair.”

3) Faculty Collaboration

One of the most common reasons for pursuing a university degree is to increase job opportunities.

This finding shows up in survey after survey and one of our beliefs is that we can best help that ambition come to life by partnering with faculties on campus to provide specific services that best fit with their students’ unique needs.


Student Voice in Metro: Vered Ben

TalentEgg's Student Voice in Metro: Vered Ben

This week, York University kinesiology and business student Vered Ben’s Student Voice story (originally published here Oct. 28, 2011) was published in Metro across Canada.

Want your Student Voice featured in Metro?
Click here to share your own story.


    What is Student Voice?

    Student Voice is an award-winning initiative to fight Gen Y under-employment by giving students and recent grads across Canada a platform to share your job hunting experiences, as well as your recommendations for employers.

    With your help, we are going to improve the way employers and students connect, and make the school-to-work transition easier.

    Student Voice appears in Metro newspapers across Canada every Wednesday.

    In June 2012, Student Voice won the CACEE Excellence in Innovation Award in the Student Engagement category!

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