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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.

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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.


#113: Aysha Khaliq – Give hard-working new grads a chance to prove themselves

“I feel many employers are hesitant to give any chance to first timers. Employers: please consider them! They are often more hardworking, motivated and focused than experienced ones.”

Aysha Khaliq, Graduate, Cape Breton University

I moved to Nova Scotia to attend school full-time. Cape Breton University (CBU) has an awesome business school
where I didn’t only study and learn, but I also enjoyed my life more than I ever had before.

There are many reasons why I call my time there the best days of my life. If I have to explain in a few lines, what I love the most was the super friendly learning environment, highly qualified teachers with a lot of experience, the library – such a good source of research in physical and electronic forms, the sports complex with many free-of-cost facilities, and last but not least my residence.

When I moved to Cape Breton, I did not know a single person there. In the beginning, I was quite concerned what my life would be like there without family and friends.

However, surprisingly, when I left the university, I knew many people from security guards, café workers, librarians to professors and students and I was filled with good memories from all of them. Now I am very blessed to have a big circle of wonderful family and friends on the other side of Canada too.

During my last year, with the help of my friends, professors and mentors, I decided which industry I wanted to work in. I also received some help from my university and different agencies to fix my resume.

In the beginning of my last semester, I started applying for different jobs and I focused on the specific industry I was interested in.

In the first two months of my job search, I hardly received any calls for interviews. It was quite disappointing. However, since I had started looking early, I had enough time to find the right place in a specific industry and find the right job.

In October 2010, I graduated with an MBA and the Valedictorian designation from Cape Breton University and a few job offers.


#112: Jessica Tobianah – Focus on grades, experience and networking

“I think employers should understand that students have a lot of pressure: to do well in school, to get involved in extra-curricular activities and to work for impressive companies in our summers off.”

Jessica Tobianah, Student, University of Toronto

When I started applying to universities, I was not really sure which direction I wanted to go in. I finally decided to study Fine Arts at York University since I had recently discovered my passion and talent for art.

However, in my first year, a very long strike left York students stranded. I didn’t want to waste the year, and I wasn’t enjoying the program either so I dropped out of school and started working for the year instead.

Once the strike was over, I decided to apply to different schools and programs. I applied and got accepted into the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. I’m finally enjoying my studies and love how applicable they are to the real world.

As a business student, my professors have always stressed that if you want a good business job after graduation, you need to live and breathe business while you’re in school.

The environment is very competitive and challenging, but I know it’s helping me prepare for the real world. The most difficult part has been managing my studies while trying to get involved in extra-curricular activities and working part-time.

In my first year, I mainly focused on my studies. As I became more confident in my abilities, I started looking for activities that I would enjoy.

I’m now the Finance Commitee Co-Chair for the Canadian Cancer Society and I’m also involved with Rotman’s Shebiz Symposium, which allows high school students to learn more about studying business.

One of the most important things I have learned while completing my program is how important it is to get to know your professors. I speak up in class, go to office hours and tutorials and make a point of making sure my professors know my name.

When I was looking for a job this past summer, I asked my professors if they knew of any summer positions for students. My professor recommended me to her colleague and helped me land a great summer internship.


    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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