Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Social Media, Job Killer Extraordinaire

 When I first heard that employers were Facebooking potential employees, I can’t say I was surprised. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives – heard about so-and-so doing this-and-that, and we just had to Facebook them to see if they were someone we knew. Some call it stalking, I call it confirmatory research.

Employers want the best people to work for them, and no one can deny that Facebook can tell you way more about a person than a resumé. That being said, there have definitely been occurrences where employers rejected potential candidates based on things they saw on their Facebook profile. (Regretting those photos you took at that party last week? Yeah. You probably shouldn't put them on your profile.)

This social media hunt isn’t restricted just to Facebook. Any social media site (even Google) can turn your potential job offer into wishful thinking.

Your To-Do List
1. Facebook
Go through your Facebook account. Do you see anything that would make you look like a sketchy employee? Delete, and repeat.

2. Every other social media site known to man
Do you have accounts on Twitter, Google+, or anything similar? See step 1: delete and repeat.

3. Google yourself
Google is amazing because it can help you find anything that was ever posted on the internet. This might not prove so amazing if you’re trying to get a job, because Google remembers everything. Google yourself sometime, and see what comes up. If it’s a bunch of things that you DON’T want future employers to see, set out to change that by any (legal) means possible.

4. Make a LinkedIn account
LinkedIn is called “the employer’s Facebook” by some people, and it makes sense. Employers get a chance to see your resume and learn a bit about you before they meet you (it does the same job as a resume). LinkedIn might even help you get a job you weren’t looking for!

Above all, the key thing to remember when using social media is to maintain a sense of professionalism.  You might be on Facebook, but you have to keep in mind that employers can just as easily make Facebook accounts as well. Check out this tip sheet for professionalism! 

This will be my last blog post for the summer J I wish you all the best in your job hunting!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Almost there!

           It’s that time of year again when final examinations are just around the corner. I know most of you heard that UofT is notorious for its deadly multiple choice exams and now you are thinking you’re screwed.. don’t despair! Here are some study strategies and tips for writing your exams that I know can help you pass with flying colours:

1.   Read thoroughly
Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) may seem to be confusing, as they test for detail. Studying your materials meticulously is the best approach in tackling this problem. Reading and cramming is not enough but understanding and applying the materials should also be done. Testing yourself as you go through your study materials is beneficial as well.  

2.  Acronyms
      Most MCQs tend to cover a lot of materials. Studying rigorously can be challenging. So, I find using acronyms helpful. Connecting these terminologies with a story I made up or with my own experience can also help me remember. Lastly, going through old exams and sample questions is also helpful so you know what to expect.

3.  Take note of clues

When writing the exam, you should take note of the certain words like always, never, or not. These words are crucial in answering the MCQs because they can completely change the nature of the question.

4.  Skip a question and come back to it.

When you come across a question you are not sure. Don’t guess, skip that question and come back to it after you finished your exam. Some questions may be associated with other questions. Make sure you read the questions and answers thoroughly.

5.  Evaluate each choice carefully.

Most students struggle with choices that have similar wordings. When addressing this kind of situation, it is useful to go through all the choices first then eliminate those dissimilar alternatives. Try not to be confused with those questions that have “all of the above” option. Among the similar choices, the best option is usually the one that gives the most complete information.

6.  Watch your time and review your answers

Try not to spend too much time on one question. Answers often come to you as you go through exam. Giving yourself time to review your answers at the end is crucial to catch careless errors such as accidentally filling in the wrong bubble on your scantron. However, don’t forget to not second-guess yourself. If you have reasonable arguments to change your answer, then do so. Otherwise, trust your first instinct.

I find this tipsheet helpful so don’t forget to go through it for further strategies in helping you ace your MCQs exams! 

Also, don’t forget to organize, plan and distribute your study time as early as possible to avoid procrastination. Thus, reading at least two weeks before examinations start is beneficial.

This is my last blog post for the summer. So chin up my fellow summer school-ers, we’re almost there until our actual summer starts.

Happy studying,


Friday, July 27, 2012

Resumés and Cover Letters, Oh No!

Sometimes I shy away from applying to some jobs because I don’t want to write a new cover letter. It might seem intimidating at first to write a cover letter (hey, not everyone has J.K. Rowling’s writing skills), but I guarantee that your cover letter can be magical if you follow some simple tips.
1. It’s not an essay. Your cover letter should never be longer than a page. Even a page is slightly over-doing it. Employers get hundreds of applications; they don’t want to spend hours reading cover letters. Make sure your letter is concise and includes only necessary information – no fluff!
2. It shouldn’t mimic your resumé. You don’t need to include every single position you’ve ever held. Include the ones that are relevant to the position you’re applying for, and if possible, the ones you spent the most time at.
3. Make sure you include one, even if the posting doesn’t specify it! If a posting ONLY asks for a resumé, then you don’t need to include a cover letter, but if it does not specify whether to include a resumé AND a cover letter, include both. Cover letters are the first impression your potential future employer has of you, so make sure it’s a good one!
For more details and advice on what to include in your letter, check out this tipsheet! http://joomla.utsc.utoronto.ca/aaccweb/images/stories/EmploymentTipsheet/coverletters.pdf

As far as resum és go, I personally find them to be easier. The only real issues you might run into are formatting issues. Make sure you come in for a Resumé Critique at the AA&CC to have a counselor look over your resumé (sign up on the Intranet)! With advancements in job searching techniques, many job postings are now online and require electronic resumés. Check out this tip sheet, which will give you some ideas on how to format electronic resumés: http://joomla.utsc.utoronto.ca/aaccweb/images/stories/EmploymentTipsheet/electronicresumes.pdf

Above all, stay positive! Don’t feel discouraged when you’re job-hunting; remember that every time one door closes, another door opens.

Speak soon,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Subject POSt(s) Research

Choosing courses for the following year may be done for most of you. The next decision you might be faced with is choosing a Subject POSt(s). As I mentioned in my previous post, choosing a Subject POSt(s) is usually done after your first year or completion of 4.0 credits. 

Planning ahead is definitely an important trait that can help you succeed in university. So why is it important for you to select a Subject POSt(s) as soon as you can? Because ROSI will block you from selecting courses if you have completed 4.0 credits and have not chosen a Subject POSt(s) appropriate for your degree. Another reason is because it can further help you complete your educational and career path in university. The registrar's office has more details of Subject POSt(s) that may be important in your research.

So, it is not uncommon to feel like you are making a major decision that can eventually put you in a panic mode. To be honest, when I was in my second year, I was one of those students who had a hard time choosing my Subject POSt(s). I changed my major twice and there were a lot of factors that affected my decisions. The first question you should ask yourself is definitely what are you interested in. Because it is most likely you will do well in a course you are interested in. You will be more likely to focus and do all the work because you are interested in that course. Another important question is what strength you have that helped you do well in courses. Strengths like good researcher, writer, or very intricate with details are the ones that may help you in assessing what courses you want and may eventually do well in.

After having a list of potential courses, you should do your homework further and read the course descriptions. This can be found in the calendar. Take it two more steps by reading the course outlines frequently found on the departments’ websites. Reading through the anti calendar can also help you by reading through previous students’ evaluation on the professors and the courses.

Lastly, it may help to look into the career path you want to take. Career exploration may involve career assessment and websites like career cruising (remember that for career cruising, your login name is your UTORID and the password is the same password as your UTORID's). If you are still unsure, the academic advising and career centre does have a list of tip sheets of career options by program.

After all the research and homework you have done, you are still stuck and have questions.. do not panic. The Academic Advising and Career Centre has a lot of approachable advisors to help you get through this tedious process. So you can come in for a walk-in appointment or can make an appointment with an Academic or Career Counselor.

Happy researching and good luck!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fancy-Shmancy Interview Prep

When I’m looking for a job, I’m nervous about my resume, scared for my cover letter, and terrified of the interview. It’s easier for me to write a fancy-shmancy letter than it is to charm a potential employer. First impressions are key in job hunting, but there is such a thing as more than one first impression.

Writing an amazing cover letter and resume are important of course (I’ll touch on them in my next article), but it’s usually the interview that sets you apart from other candidates. Interviews aren’t as easy as some people might make them seem. Sure, it’s easier if you’re a people-person, but there’s a lot of preparation that goes into pulling off an interview successfully.
You should never go into an interview without having prior, thorough knowledge of the following:
-          Yourself: This might sound super cheesy (“know yourself…oOooOOOooo”), but it’s very important. The purpose of an interview is to market your skills and experience to a potential employer. It’s extremely difficult to do that if you don’t know how to articulate those facts beforehand.
-          The position you applied for: You will be expected to answer questions with information related to your position. There’s no point of going to an interview for a baker and talking about how well you can act; you’re going to sound unqualified, even if you can bake a mean cake.
-          The organization you applied for: People feel complimented if you remember subtle things from prior conversations you’ve had with them and bring those things up (e.g. the names of their kids, a trip they mentioned they were going to take). Businesses are no different. If you are able to reference information about the company when you are answering questions (e.g. competitors, organizational changes, outlook for the industry they are in), it will make you seem knowledgeable and a perfect fit for the organization.

There’s so much I can tell you about interviews, but for more information please refer to this AA&CC tipsheet: http://joomla.utsc.utoronto.ca/aaccweb/images/stories/EmploymentTipsheet/theinterview.pdf .

There are lists of questions, tips & strategies, and resources that might help you out. I wish you all success in your job hunt!

Speak to you soon,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Enrolment 101

July has just started. So, summer is here but that also means enrolment is just around the corner. University is exciting but can be overwhelming at times.  As the weather gets more humid, maybe spending time inside, decoding the course codes and planning your time table for the year, where a/c is blasting is not the worst idea.

Deciding what to take can be hard and overwhelming, especially for first years. With the long lists of courses available, it is important to know what program requirements you need to take. One of the common questions the AACC usually deals with is "Am I only supposed to take courses in the breadth requirement that I got accepted in (e.g. in Psychology, only psychology courses)?" Although most courses you prefer to take are obviously in the program you got accepted in. However, if you want to take courses not in your program, then that is also acceptable. Those courses can be counted towards your degree and as electives. This can also be a chance for those undecided to scope around on what Subject POst(s) you will eventually choose. 

Students do not usually choose a specific Subject POst until they have completed 4.0 or more university credits (usually after their first year). Have a list of those courses you want to take for your first year. A good advice is to read over the calendar  to see descriptions of the courses you potentially may take, while taking note of the co-requisites and/or exclusions (if there are any). 

Understanding courses codes is also important. An example is seen below:

Course Example:
ANTA01H3F = Description: Intro to Anthropology

ANT = 3 letters indicate the discipline (Anthropology)
A01 = First letter indicates the level (first year begins with A, 2nd year begins with B...)
H = Indicates Credit Value (H = 0.5 credit; Y = 1.0 credit)
3 = Campus Identifier (3 = UTSC; 1 = FAS; 5 = UTM)
F = Session Code (when course runs):
       F = Sep-Dec or May-June
       S = Jan-Apr or June-Aug
       Y = Sep-Apr or May-Aug

After determining your timetable for the year, I think you are ready to enrol. Make sure you check your start time on ROSI on July 9th, Monday.

If further inquiries come up,  AA&CC is available and the registrar's office are available, as well as registrar's registration guide. Don't miss out on the Get Started program to learn what courses you need to take.

Talk to you guys soon,