UTM Career Centre Blog

Weekly thoughts, musings, sharings, and everything in between from your pals at the UTM Career Centre.


October 2015

The Power of Words

close up of someone reading a book with text: "Reading a good book is like taking a journey"

My inspiration often comes from words and books.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to binge watch Netflix as much as the next person (Orange is the New Black anyone?), but I’d much rather get lost in a good book.  In fact, I get so lost in stories that I often find myself laughing out loud or shedding a few tears as I read.  And once I finish an exceptionally good book, I find it incredibly hard to start another because of how connected I still feel to the thoughts and emotions that were evoked from the words of the first.

But, books aren’t the only way that words inspire me. I’m also a sucker for emotional one-liners found on various websites like Pinterest.  There is nothing like reading something and being able to immediately recognize yourself in the words.  One of my favorite poems is Desiderata by Max Erdmann and it sums up a lot about how I feel about life in general.   I actually have a copy pinned to my bulletin board in my office at work.  Whenever I have a tough day, I read the words and instantly feel calmer.  I can’t explain it – it speaks to me.

And on that note of words being powerful, it’s important to remember that they’re just as useful for your job search as well. I don’t just mean the words you choose to use in your resume and cover letter, but the ones you soak up when you need some motivation. Let’s face it, job searching is challenging and perhaps frustrating at times. But it’s important to step back and find something that helps you put things in perspective to keep you going.

Are there a few choice meaningful words taped to your refrigerator at home? Words can be a powerful source of inspiration – and best of all, they’re meant to be shared so feel free to pass along what keeps you inspired!  We have an awesome resource in the e-book collection found on the Career Centre’s website under the Career Planning tab called Take Charge of Your Career! : 365 Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Achieve Happiness at Work and in LifeYou may find a few choice words to keep you motivated during your job search!

Alana James, Employment Advisor and Lover of Words!


Get out of Your Comfort Zone and Take The Leap!

image of goldfish jumping from a fishbowl full of other fish into a bowl with no fish

I love hearing  stories about the 86 year old marathon runner , the family that travelled the world on their boat or the law student who gave it all up to join the Cirque de Soleil.   I’ve often wondered where the inspiration came from that led these seemingly ordinary people to take on extraordinary  adventures.

There was a recent New York Times piece entitled, “Where does inspiration come from?”
In it, the writer discovered that the genesis of inspiration and creativity isn’t as enigmatic as we once thought. It involves three stages:

Step 1: Work.  Step 2: Be frustrated.  Step 3: Repeat.

Artists and creators were interviewed and the only common ingredient among all of them is this: Try again repeatedly.

Action can be a great restorer and builder of confidence. Yet many people prefer to play it safe and remain in their comfort zone. If they do decide to take a shot at something; they give up at the first hiccup . What’s that all about?  Sure it’s scary but the opportunity to grow and learn something new is the pay off.   We can’t all be the long distance runner or join the circus but we can try to push the boundaries a bit.   Take a new new course, join a club, register for the Extern program to job shadow someone for a few days or attend an industry panel  event on campus.   Check out   CLN  to see if there are any events that might be of interest to you and then register for it.  It’s the small action that can lead to unimagined possibilities.

In my previous career in television, I had a chance to interview a multitude of people from politicians, artists to celebrities and whenever I posed the question….”Did you ever feel fear when following your dreams.”  They all responded with a resounding  ‘Yes! ‘ It seems that the only thing that separates the dreamers from the doers is that the latter feel the fear and do it anyway and then keep trying.

So, you see. You don’t lack the essential ingredients to make an amazingly creative and inspiring life. All you need to do is keep trying….you’ll get there. Let me know what happened when you took the plunge, faced the fear and did it anyway.  Here’s the article:

Peggy Shkuda, Career Counsellor

Get In The Know About LinkedIn

linked in foil wrapped chocolates

When I graduated from University all of my friends and I were overwhelmed with all of the job search and career advice. Everyone said that I have so many options with an English degree. When I asked for advice about resumes or interviews, every person seemed to have a different opinion. I didn’t know what advice to take. What’s inspired me is taking these seemingly complex topics and breaking them down into simple, attainable steps. Rather than focussing on all of the advice out there, I help students look at information that will be most valuable to them in their job search.

One of the places where I’ve seen lots of competing advice is LinkedIn. How many of you have been told “you must get a LinkedIn profile so employers can find you” or “the best way to network is with LinkedIn”? Rather than getting on LinkedIn because “someone said” it’s helpful to consider whether it is right for you.

According to the 2014 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey of 1855 recruiting and human resources professionals, 73% of employers use social media in their recruitment. Of these, 94% use LinkedIn and 73% of these organizations have hired candidates through LinkedIn. If employers are already looking for information about candidates online, LinkedIn can be a great way to have some control over what they see.

So what does this mean for you?

First and foremost, if you are on LinkedIn, make sure that your profile is worth seeing. Your profile needs to be consistent but not a repetition of your resume. Since, unlike tailored resumes, every potential contact sees the same profile, consider what skills and accomplishments will be most relevant to the types of employers to which you are applying.

Some of the key distinctions between a LinkedIn profile and a resume are the Headline and Summary sections. The Headline section allows you to write a very brief statement about your goals and skills. Rather than saying “Student at the University of Toronto Mississauga”, think about what you would say if someone asked you “what’s the most important thing that I need to know about you and your career or job search goals?”

The Summary section lets you explain, in some detail, what you’re interested in and relate some key accomplishments. Many people choose to right this section in paragraph form. One paragraph can talk about what career you’re interested in (and why), one or two paragraphs can discuss, in-detail, some of your key accomplishments/ experiences and you can use another paragraph to talk about something interesting or unique about you.

Another great feature on LinkedIn is the ability to add Projects and Organizations and link them to your education or jobs. This makes it easy for employers to see the value of the academic projects and your co-curricular involvement. You can also move sections around so that the most important and relevant information is at the top of your profile.

Check out the Career Centre LinkedIn tip sheet for more tips. You can have your LinkedIn profile critiqued at the Career Centre. Please drop by to set-up an appointment.

We’ll have some tips on networking on LinkedIn in an upcoming Blog.

Ron Wener, Employment Advisor

Going to grad school! It’s a no-brainer! (Well, maybe not…)

“Everyone has a bachelor’s degree now…it’s just like a high school diploma!”

You’ve got to go to grad school to get hired for a decent job after graduation”.

image of female with arms crossed, head tilted up to the right, pondering with large white arrows and question marks, all against a grey background

As the facilitator for the Career Centre Workshop
“The Road to Graduate School” I often discuss further education with students.   These panicked discussions about the tough labour market and graduate school come up frequently when I ask why they are interested in grad school.  Even though there are challenges in finding work for new grads, the data still confirms the value of your undergraduate degree to your future career.

According to an annual survey conducted by The Council of Ontario Universities…

  • 87% of new grads are employed 6 months after graduation
  • The average salary is 42.3K
  • 72% are working in something that closely or somewhat matches their programs of study

Students are often surprised to hear these stats.

There are some great reasons for pursuing further education after your undergraduate degree:

  • potentially higher salaries and faster career progression
  • becoming a specialist or expert in a given interest area
  • gaining advanced skills like research, lab techniques and writing
  • fulfilling the educational requirements for entry into a regulated profession
  • the prestige and bragging rights that come with achieving a graduate or professional degree

That all sounds pretty good but there are drawbacks as well!  Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but here are some of the downsides, worth considering:

When pursuing further education, you lose the potential income you would have made working (recall that on average, grads do work within 6 months and make decent pay).The high cost of further education, particularly professional programs can also put you into further debt- for some this can be very stressful. Rushing into a program which leads to a career that is not suitable for you can be a waste of time and money – taking the time to find your career interest area and choose the right program is a better idea. Besides, how many times do you want to go to grad school in your life? You’ll need to have thought it through in most cases, to express your interests and motivations in a personal statement for your application.

The process of getting into a program often has significant costs in terms of time and effort on your part. Once accepted, you will need to have high energy, interest and focus to complete your program. After 4 to 5 years of study at the undergraduate level, your energy and cash reserves may not support more school and you may need a break.  No relevant career experience to complement your undergraduate degree? Adding a master’s degree to that without adding relevant experience will not likely improve your chances of finding a job.

It’s OK not to choose further education after your undergrad and with the right planning and action you can still have a successful career!

I went straight into a master’s degree after my undergrad based on the praise and encouragement of my professors without a clear career goal in mind. While I don’t see it as a mistake, I did do a second master’s later in life based more on a thoughtful consideration of all the angles. It has allowed me to enter and progress in a career I love.

So, these are some of many sides to the decision to continue your education after graduating. Consider attending one of our workshops: the Road to Graduate School, Is teaching in Your Future?, Law School Information Session, Medical School Information Session and the workshop on personal statements. Come to the Graduate and Professional Schools Fair (offered each fall) and go to graduate program open houses. Make an appointment to explore all the aspects of this life changing decision with a Career Counsellor.  Here’s our number: 905.828.5451.  We’re here for you!

Have you considered graduate or professional school after your graduate? What questions do you have? Please comment below.

Malou Twynam, Career Counsellor

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