Tag Archives: jobs

Job Hunting Advice for the First Time Student

If you’re new to the working world with no experience, no references, and are driven by the sole purpose of getting any job that comes your way, job hunting is gonna be tough. I haven’t updated my blog for the past few weeks because I’ve been busily working on my resume, writing cover letters, and applying for jobs. The whole process took a lot longer and was more difficult than I had anticipated (and is ongoing, since I still haven’t been hired) [Update, I’ve been hired] . So, here are some things I’ve learned from the past few weeks that I thought I’d share for any first-student-job-hunters. Here are three things you’ll  need to have to get a job:

1.Resume Write a good resume. It will take time, and it will take a lot of mental effort to conger up with the right magic words that will sell you to an employer. Don’t fret. There are many valuable resources online to aid you. One great resources for general resume, cover letter, and job interview tips is ResumeBear.com. This blog has all sorts of advice and words of wisdom that will be very helpful to anyone looking for employment, be they experienced or not. Don’t forget to get your resume critiqued. Ask a family member or someone you know who holds a managerial position to review your resume. You can also ask a teacher or counselor. If you’re in a post-secondary institution that offers co-op, ask a few friends you know that are in a co-op program to take a look at your resume.  Every post-secondary institution has some sort of student career centre, where the staff specialize in helping students build job-hunting skills. Look up your school’s career centre and sign up for a workshop on how to build resumes. A good resume will bring you that much closer to getting a job. No typo’s. (those silly little mistakes that are more from you forgetting to put a space between words or hitting “s” instead of “a” on your keyboard)

2.Cover Letter  (optional, depending on circumstance) A cover letter is a summary you give employers of why you of all people should get the job. Cover letters are where you will stand out, and are often the first thing an employer  at when they’re sifting through piles of resumes. How to write a cover letter depends on your job. All in all, a cover letter should give reasons why you feel you’re best suited for the job, with some reasons/examples to back you up. Don’t go repeating your resume. Depending on the nature of your application, say if you’re applying for a job your aunt is hooking up with, or if you apply to a job at a career fair, you may not have the opportunity or need to write a cover letter. The key is to say what your resume cannot. Here’s some resume cover letter tips you can follow to help you.

3.Interview Skills So once you manage to bull earn your way to an interview, you’re going to have to answer questions and prove to your potential boss that you are worth their time and money. My best advice would be to go on YouTube.com and search “interview tips.” There are all sorts of good videos there. Here’s one I particularly liked that describes how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question, which can be pretty overwhelming if you’re not prepared. Practice, practice, practice, and when you think you’ve had enough, practice. I don’t mean in front of your mirror; no, you need to practice your answers to your family, your roommates, your friends and your teachers. This isn’t to say they’ll know any better than you about what your interviewer is looking for, but repeated practice will give you  confidence. That, my lovely reader, is the an important key to passing an interview.

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UCLA study: Bad job market makes overly anxious students, but is there more?

A UCLA study is buzzing around the net and media claiming “college kids are more stressed out and anxious than ever before” (Slate.com’s Clarke, 2011). Studies said this was due to the job market. According to a rebuttal article on Slate, college students aren’t worried about the job market, they’re just living in an age in which anxiety ranks higher than depression in common detrimental mental conditions.

As a university student, I feel that neither Slate’s article nor the UCLA study are wrong their reasoning. However I’d like to add my own personal tidbit to the argument. Witnessing the stress of students firsthand, I’d say the most stressful aspect of today’s post-secondary education is that simply having a degree isn’t enough anymore. You can’t just graduate with a Bachelor’s and expect a wonderful 40k job, the job market simply expects better than that. You must be better than the competition to land your dream career, and that’s where the stress comes from; the competition.

As a Biomedical Sciences student, I know for a fact that almost everyone in my program is aiming for some sort of professional/graduate school program, be it pharmacy, medical school, dentistry, or optometry. Albeit it’s not surprising, seeing as how my program, here at the University of Waterloo, was previously called “pre-optometry/pre-med,” or something along those lines.

An interesting point though is that I was having a conversation earlier in the year with a woman working for the career centre at the university about potential jobs for science undergraduates. She said career advisors were finding that time and time again, many students in the life sciences programs were aiming for professional schools, especially medical school. However, the reality is that very few of them actually make the cut. For those who don’t, they become depressed and don’t know what else to do.

The feeling of not knowing where your life is taking you or where you want to take your own life will create a lot of anxiety in any student. We spend all this time, effort, and stamina toward getting the best grades in the false illusion that “my plan may not work out, but as long as I have really good grades I’ll get somewhere…. right?”

I think the best thing any student can do now is to research.  Get an idea of what jobs are out there that you’ve never heard of, something your parents never told you about. An example is a medical illustrator (http://www.universityaffairs.ca/so-you-want-to-be-a-medical-illustrator.aspx). There are tons of jobs out there that just aren’t prestigious enough to get the attention they deserve, but can be just as, if not more, satisfying than whatever career path mom and dad set for you.

Never wait until the last minute. Don’t wait until your last year of undergrad or high school to figure out “you know… I’ve been taking all these math courses… but I really don’t like math.” The courses you take in your earlier years will determine which ones you can qualify for in later years. So choose wisely.

Most importantly, ask for help. Never be afraid to ask a guidance counsellor or academic advisor for some words of guidance, some references, some key resources.

Be true to your desires; be open-minded; keep your options open. But for goodness’s sake, calm down. There is no such thing as “I don’t have time.” There is only “I don’t make time.” Unless you’re a double-degree student who’s also the executive officer of 4 clubs, in which case may you have my blessing to be prosperous and hopefully not addicted to caffeine.

But seriously, whther you are a student or not, time management is key. You will indeed run out of time if you don’t manage it wisely. Just make sure your schedule includes a relaxation and some fun stuff to do.

(Slate.com’s article on the UCLA anxiety study and responses to it, http://www.slate.com/id/2283221/)

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