UTM Career Centre Blog

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


November 2015

I’m inspired by….

View of sky and math symbols

I am inspired by many things but particularly awed by people who step back from their day-to-day world in some way, see some bigger picture that relates to a larger community, and find a way to make that part of their life.

As a bit of a math-happy person, I was fascinated a number of years ago to read about John Mighton, founder of JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) Math. Despite struggling with Math in school, he loved the subject and believed strongly that understanding and grasping it was important for everyone. Based on a true story he read about someone having taught themself a subject through sheer determination, he wanted to believe he could do the same.

To supplement his earnings as a playwright, he began tutoring elementary students in math. With his own math struggles always in mind, he developed, somewhat unplanned, a method of teaching math through observation, the absence of judgement, the assumption of ability, the insistence on breaking explanations into small steps, the understanding that people learn and respond differently, and the importance of encouragement. His tutoring success led to the creation of JUMP, with the first classes being held in his apartment kitchen and spare rooms, and growing to a program used by thousands of children with incredible results.

To add further interest to the story, Johns’ tutoring success renewed his faith in his math skills and led him back to the university classroom. He completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Toronto! But not to stop there, he also continued his career as a playwright and has won several awards.

It makes me a bit exhausted thinking about all that effort, enthusiasm and commitment – but it inspires me too and gives me something exciting to consider for my retirement.

There are many other people that inspire me in similar ways but this is one person I can’t seem to get out of my head. Long live math and numbers and helping people who’ve come to believe that they don’t belong to the ‘math types’ camp – it’s not genetically determined and can be found through patience and encouragement.

Have you ever thought of challenging what you’ve heard or were told about something you find difficult? It may be worth the effort and lead you to places you never imagined you’d go! Book an appointment with a Career Counsellor or Employment Advisor to find out how the Career Centre can help. We are open Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 4:00 daily and right up until December 22nd except on Friday when we are closed from noon to 1:00.

If you’re interested in learning more about JUMP Math or John Mighton, check out and

Eileen Sweeney-Bergen   – Coordinator, Resource Centre and Administration


math symbols


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined – Henry David Thoreau

One of the things that inspires me the most is an “underdog” success story. I love to hear about people who manage to succeed when the odds are against them, and when others have told them that they were crazy and could not achieve their dreams. It takes real courage, determination and belief in yourself and your dreams to succeed under such circumstances.

Little story of a man named Honda…

In 1938 Mr. Honda was a broke student who had only one dream. To design a piston ring that he would sell to Toyota. He would go to school and then work at his idea at night, covered up to his elbows in grease. After years of spending time, effort and money when he thought it was perfect, he took it to Toyota and they rejected it. He was ridiculed by friends, teachers and family for designing such a stupid gadget that nobody would want. Instead of giving up, he spent another 2 years making the design even better and then Toyota finally bought it. Over the years, Mr. Honda suffered many setbacks including his factory being bombed in World War II, and at another time an earthquake leveling his factory. Mr. Honda’s perseverance and hard work is what finally paid off as he created the Honda motor. Today, the Honda Corporation is one of the most successful in the world and outsells every car in America except Toyota.

Little story of a man named Disney

Walt Disney, according to his editor, lacked imagination and had no good ideas. As a young man, Disney went on to file for bankruptcy protection several times and overcame numerous obstacles while creating the Disney empire beloved by children and adults today. When he was seeking funding for Disneyland in Anaheim, California, it’s said that Disney was turned down by 302 bankers before he got the funding he needed.

There are countless other success stories like the ones of Steve Jobs of Apple Corporation, Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation and even singing group One Direction whose members each got voted off of X-Factor, but Simon Cowell saw something in each of them and put them together in the group which is hugely successful today.

Do you have an idea, goal or dream that people think you can’t achieve? What is the life that you imagine for yourself and the world? Remember we are open for business right up until December 22 from 10:00 to 4:00.

Sasha Thornhill, Career Services Representative.

Personal Statement S.O.S


Personal Statement crunch time is here.  If you are juggling exams, term papers plus a part time job and didn’t have the time to attend our Personal Statement workshop, relax!  The Career Centre has your back.  We have developed an e-learning Personal Statement module (best viewed using Chrome or Firefox browsers) that will help you to kick start your statement.  It’s fun and interactive and will give you plenty of exercises to help you to get your creative juices flowing.  The best part is that you can access this module 24/7 via our Career Centre website.  Go to the Further Education tab and you will find it under Resources and Links.

Once you have completed the module, make an appointment to have someone at the Career Centre critique your draft.  We are open 5 days a week from 10:00 to 4:00 and, yes, we are open in December until December 23rd.  We’re back on January 4th.


Peggy Shkuda, Career Counsellor

In the Works: E-Learning, Career Centre Edition

cathyanns photo

Growing up I knew the one thing I did not want to be was a teacher!  Did my best to avoid it!  Yet, I got asked over and over to show the new person how to do specific tasks. I found out I loved helping people learn and I was curious about different ways people learn. So I returned to school and strengthened my understanding of adult learning. Today I work as an e-learning specialist. It’s great because it combines my interest in providing informal yet structured ways to learn with my curiosity with using technology. I still don’t want to be a teacher in the traditional sense, but I love working with technology and finding interesting ways help people process information.

My latest venture with learning and technology brought me to the UTM Career Centre. This month we rolled out the “You’re more than your GPA, Mastering the Personal Statements module” (best viewed using Chrome or Firefox browsers). The module works for students who are writing their graduate school application personal statements but their schedules are so tight they don’t have time to attend the Mastering the Personal Statements workshop.  Imagine having a resource tailored for UTM students that you can access at ANY point in your personal statement writing process – even at 2 am!

Two additional learning modules will be coming out soon. One that highlights activities you can be doing while you are still at UTM to explore your dream career. This exploration can solidify your desire to work in that area, highlight things you can be doing while still at UTM to make you successful in getting started in your career. Or it could save you the frustration of finding out in your first job, that it really wasn’t what you thought it would be.  The other module is for UTM students who graduated and returned home and found it difficult to return to campus to attend the Now that I’m Graduating What’s Next workshop.

Don’t be fooled into thinking these are your basic PowerPoint decks uploaded. These modules make you work. You will be completing worksheets; responding to questions where you write down/record  your ideas/ information that can be incorporate into a personal statement; filling in a personalized job search plan. The modules will definitely help you.   However the real payoff is bringing your drafts in with you to an appointment with a Career Counsellor or Employment Advisor.

Looking back, if I had done career exploration while I was in school, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find the work I love.


Cathy Ann Cope, E Learning Specialist


The Career Centre here at UTM has two online sites that students can access, and that may be confusing, so we wanted you to know why we have two sites, explain the difference, and most importantly, tell you how both sites can help you!

UTM Career Centre website home page
UTM Career Centre website home page

The UTM Career Centre website ( is a living resource for career education and information about UTM Career Centre events. Based on lots of feedback that we received from many students last year, we revised the site and have tried to structure it in a way that is clear and helpful to UTM students.   We encourage you to check it regularly for information about:

  • Exploring careers and planning your next steps
  • Tip sheets on how to search for a job, internships, applying to grad schools, and a whole lot more
  • What to do with your major
  • How to create resumes and cover letters
  • Learn about the types of one-to-one appointments that are available to you as a UTM student (or recent grad – 2 years out!),
  • Upcoming events and workshops designed specifically for you

Your opinion and feedback matters so send an email to careers.utm(at) with your thoughts on our website anytime!

CLN home page
CLN home page

The Career Learning Network ( is a tri-campus online portal that acts as a job posting board and event and workshop registration system for all UofT students, employers and faculty/staff at UofT.   In 2013, the career centres across the three campuses purchased and customized this portal and all UofT students can access it directly from their ROSI/ACORN page as well as from the UTM Career Centre website.

All students want access to jobs, and a tri-campus team that deals directly with employers is actively engaged in employer outreach, encouraging employers to post opportunities directly on CLN (it’s free to employers and we currently have over 8000 different organizations registered in CLN!). All students can view on-campus and off-campus opportunities, including work-study positions in the fall and summer. You can use CLN to store your resumes and cover letters, and some employers want you to apply through CLN. You can also book a resume or cover letter critique on CLN.

Here at UTM, undergraduate students gain access to full-time job postings when they attend a “Now That I’m Graduating, What’s Next” workshop in 3rd or 4th year. We offer those workshops all the time – and that’s another thing that you can see on CLN: all the career related workshops and events offered at all three campuses at U of T. Click on the Mississauga Calendar to see what’s going on here, and register directly from CLN. We have lots of events that allow you to meet industry professionals and learn about different career areas. You can also have a look what’s going on at the St. George and Scarborough campuses – as a U of T student you have access to those as well! Finally, U of T students have access to career-related resources that all three campuses purchase, but you need to be on CLN to look at these: Career Cruising, The Career Resources EBook Guide, Going Global, Vault, and The Directory of Careers have packed with information for you!

So you see, we need two sites – one is operated completely by the UTM Career Centre and is full of resources that we update all the time, and the other is a tri-campus transactional portal, allowing UTM students to view jobs, register for events, and access to resources that are purchased by U of T. Come into the UTM Career Centre at any time – we always have student staff ready to give you more of a “tour” of either site, as well as help you with any of your career related questions (even if you don’t know what they are!). You can also book appointments in person – so come and see us in DV3094!

Anne Gaiger, Assistant Director, UTM Career Centre


left bicep flexing muscleLife brings with it wonderful moments as well as deep disappointments.   If you’ve quickly bounced back from a trying time in your life, perhaps a difficult break-up or a disappointing academic experience, you’ve experienced resilience.  Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from hardship.

In the same spirit, career resilience is about the ability to rebound from work-related setbacks and learn from experiences so that you can push towards your career goals.   Setbacks could include not getting the promotion you thought you’d be a perfect fit for.  Or, your contract doesn’t get renewed despite your best efforts on the job.  Take for example Steve Jobs’ story of career resilience. 

‘I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life… Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.’   Steve Jobs, on being fired from Apple in 1984


Create your own lucky breaks.  Be opportunistic. 

View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow in your career.    While it’s important to have goals, don’t cling on to them so closely that you lose sight of opportunities.  Be open to trying something different.  For example, at work (including volunteer / internship / p-time work), be curious about projects that you are not involved in.  Learn about them and the people involved.    Explore “what else” is out there.   What you discover may fuel your interests in new and exciting ways and you might even learn some new skills.     For example, when I was between jobs a few years back, I had met up with a former colleague over lunch who informed me about a job.  Despite not being terribly excited about the opportunity at the time (and not actively looking for work), I decided to apply.   I got the job and developed skills in grant writing and project management.  While my passion remains career counseling, I have additional skills that I can apply at work.

Find purpose and meaning in your career and life. 

Pay attention to your work values and the contributions you intend to make in your career and life. Actively look for what sparks your interest and do what you love somewhere in your life (hobbies / part-time/ volunteer).  Write your ideas down and develop a personal mission statement.


For ideas about what’s important to you, check out UofT’s career development e-book collection.  Free downloads at: 


ying-yang signBalance your work and life goals.

If this is important to you, explore your career interests EARLY and inform yourself about work demands that could impact your work life balance (eg.  frequent travel, shift work, peaks in work hours due to critical project dates or company targets).      Many workplaces offer benefits to help employees manage competing work-life demands including flexible work arrangements, fitness membership assistance and family leave policies.  Knowing what these benefits are and making use of them can help you achieve greater work-life balance.

arm holding a megaphoneYou are responsible to take the steps necessary to move you closer to your career goals.  Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you.   Invest in yourself now.

Visit the Career Centre for support.   We’re here to help you succeed.

Daniela Cristini, Career Counsellor


Hannon Kerry.  (2012, December 26).  6 Key Steps for Career Resilience.   Retrieved from

La Trobe University (2013, September 26).  Why Career Resilience Matters and How to Develop It.

Retrieved from

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Finding Your Career

roller coaster images with a passenger hanging on in fear

I can vividly remember the angst I felt when I was just starting out and wondering what I was going to do with my life. I literally had no idea of what to do and so many scary questions went round and round in my mind: “How will I support myself?” “What can I do for work when I don’t have much experience?” “Who would want to hire me?” “What if I am miserable at work?” Fast forward many years to the work I love as a Career Counsellor at UTM. Helping students going through the same process shows me that these questions are pretty much universal and that finding your career direction can feel like an emotional rollercoaster ride!  In this series of short articles, let’s look at the emotional lumps and bumps that those seeking their career paths often experience – plus some tips for making the ride a little smoother. This week’s big emotional bump: feeling alone and how to roll with it!

Part 1: Feeling Alone?

Does it sometimes seem like most others know what they want to do and that you are the only one who doesn’t? Rest assured although it may feel like you’re in this place of uncertainty alone, you’re not. This cartoon is closer to the truth!

image of people walking with thought bubbles all reading "all these people really seem to have it together, and i still have no idea what's going on"

Finding your path takes time, research and reflection – and the ability to tolerate some uncertainty. Those who grapple with the tough question of what careers would fit them often have less certainty in the shorter term but are often more satisfied with their choices in the long run. Those who glory in their rock solid career goals without having explored them fully often have to rethink and revise those goals.

So, give yourself time to explore what it is you need in your career to be fulfilled, and research if your career ideas are a fit. Grabbing for an answer prematurely can close down potentially great career possibilities. Check out our Career Planning by Year guide for more on this!

Feeling lonely on the road? Ask others about their career goals and what they are doing to find them for clues and support. Learn from and be inspired to action by others. Participate in an extracurricular activity or club to expand your circle. Come to group events and workshops held by the Career Centre and meet some of your fellow career seekers (see the Events Calendar for details and sign up on CLN).

Drop by the Career Centre and talk to our friendly and knowledgeable student staff for help navigating our career resources. Make an appointment with a Career Counsellor (we’re friendly too!) to get help generating ideas for potential career options. Remember, you are not alone in this! We’re here for you when you’re ready and for two years after you graduate. Still feeling alone? Send me a comment or question, I promise to answer!

Malou Twynam UTM Career Counsellor

Jump Right In! Explore a Career First-Hand!

child playing and jumping in puddle

‘I’m not sure what this particular career is like; I wish I could talk to someone doing the actual job!’

‘I have some career ideas, but I’m not sure if they’re for me.’

‘I know my career goal, but am not sure how to get there.’

Do any of these sound like you? If so, you’re not alone!  It’s entirely normal to be confused about your career direction, or need a realistic picture of a career in order to help you decide if it’s for you.  Thankfully, U of T has a job shadowing program to help you with your career exploration!

Extern is a job shadowing program that connects you with professionals in your career area of interest for a half-day to five-day placement.  Many have benefitted through participating in the program’s more than 25 years at U of T.  One of the most helpful aspects for past participants, is being able to learn about the daily duties of a career, thus confirming (or even adding to!) their knowledge of a career. Have a look at some snapshots of what some students have said:

“A highlight for me was the office culture and open-minded environment. I suspected that this career area could be like that…Everyone was very independent, and had the opportunity to be creative around what they do everyday, and what their goals were. I think this fostered a strong sense of trust, and seemed to eliminate a hierarchal structure within the Office, which was a positive attribute for me.”

“I was able to explore the many different areas of the medical diagnostic imaging department. I was surprising at how much skill was put in to get quality images in ultrasound. It was not just taking pictures, you have to contrast and try to get patient in the best position to get the best image…I also talked to the technicians from the different departments and learned about what they wished they had done differently and how satisfied they are with their jobs. I was glad that I was allowed to go around the department and was not restricted to ultrasound. It allowed me to gain more perspective.”

Another benefit to participating, is helping you decide how well the career fits for you. Often students don’t realize that there’s more to making career choices than considering their degree.  They primarily (and sometimes solely) rely only on this to guide their career decision-making.  However, did you know that for some careers, majoring in virtually any subject for your undergraduate degree is acceptable? Or, that for some career areas, graduate studies are not necessary? So, it becomes important then, to look beyond just your degree, and look at who YOU are, to help guide your decisions about career fit. In other words, consider your transferrable skills, your values, and your personality. Participating in Extern can help you with just that—learning information about yourself, that can guide your decisions about career fit.  Here is what some students have said, regarding this benefit of the Extern program:

“… I was not aware that a large part of the responsibilities of a Cultural Arts Programs Coordinator was organizing programs for children and dealing with registration and accounting, as well as in person inquiries. However, this just increased my interest in the career area, as I greatly enjoy hands-on work and personal interaction.”

“I was amazed to realize that most of the values I have align with this career field. I am patient, organized and very attentive. Furthermore, I truly enjoy art, geography and history, but more specifically I have a profound appreciation for anything that tells a story. Each piece at the archives has a historical significance and its amazing that companies, cities and even people conserve a piece of this history.”

In addition to learning about the duties of a career, or helping you decide how a career fits, Extern can help you in other ways, such as identifying the path to a career, or even generating career ideas you haven’t thought of before! Regardless of how they’ve benefited, I love it when I hear past Extern participants’ success stories from the program! I encourage you to get involved with Extern as well—look out for the Extern Orientation sessions coming up in January (sign-up begins in December)!  See you there!

Panayiota Ioannides, Career Counsellor

Blog at

Up ↑