Monday, November 25, 2013

Planning Ahead: Check!

The end of this academic term is near, with the final examinations starting in less than two weeks. By now, I imagine every student has a study strategy in place. Calenders might be colour coded according to the courses and their study times. Constant trades between study and sleep are probably being made on an alarmingly regular basis. 

Between studying for the exams and fantasizing about the upcoming winter break, the thing most likely to slip through the cracks is prepping for the Winter Semester. Now is a good time to review your courses for next semester one more time and carefully analyze each in terms of its transferability to your program or degree requirements. Although it might sound premature to you, it really isn't. Keep in mind that the courses you might want to take in winter semester might already have a waitlist and the earlier you register the closer your number could be to getting you a spot in class.

This is a wonderful idea for first years as well, Having experienced a semester at UTSC you should be in a better position to look through your courses again, realistically. Few courses might not have been what you anticipated them to be, you might be considering switching programs, you might be confused and scared about switching programs. A hard and difficult position to be in. But, help is here. As cliche as it sounds, we at AACC are here to help. Feel free to drop by our centre to discuss your concerns, questions, problems and we promise you that we will help you make sense of the complex world of academics at UTSC. 

A lot of students are planning to graduate in June 2014, please make sure that you come see us at AACC to get your degree review done. Saves you from going through last minute surprises. If there are any program or degree requirements that you have overlooked, its better to catch them now versus not being able to graduate on time because of the negligence. 

In conscious of competing priorities students face this time of the year, I will keep the post short and hope that the message did come across. Always plan ahead and don't shy away from seeking help. We wish you all the very best for your exams and wish you a great and peaceful winter break. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


“Meet new people”, “Keep in touch with your contacts from previous work experiences”, “Build your connections”. How many times have we all heard advice like this said to us throughout our university career? Building your professional network is not an easy thing to do; it requires a lot of time and effort on your part but is it worth it? I’m here to tell you YES!  Employers will look first at the people they know personally to join their team for a variety of reasons:

  • Employers are more willing to hire people they already know and like. Resumes and cover letters alone are often too impersonal to convince employers to hire you. 
  •  Job listings draw piles of applicants, which puts you in intense disadvantage when competing with many others for only one job. Networking makes you a recommended member of a much smaller pool of applicants. 
  •  The job you want may not be advertised at all. Networking leads to information and job leads that aren’t posted online or through an employment agency.

As a result, this is why networking is the best way to find a job. Here are some tips to best utilize networking strategies in order to help build your professional relationships:

Tip #1: Reach Out

The first step towards looking for a job is to let the people in your network know that you’re on the hunt. Sit down and make a list of all the people you can think of that could be helpful in getting you either placed in a position of employment or who know of someone that can help you. At this stage in the game, don’t limit yourself by thinking “Oh so-and-so won’t know anyone to help me out” – you may be surprised at the connections that your connections have. Also,  remember to be specific to the people that you’re talking to in terms of what field of work that you’re looking to get involved in: don’t just say “Let me know if you hear of anything” as this is a very generic request. Asking for specific leads or information will help the people you talk to understand how they can best help you. 

Tip #2: Be Authentic

Networking doesn’t mean begging everyone that you know for a job. It’s about reconnecting with old friends, colleagues or employers in a genuine manner to share information and ask questions. If you ambush your connections with a job request right off the bat, this may leave a bad taste in their mouth. Ask for advice about how they got started in their field of work, genuinely listen to their suggestions and be considerate of the fact that the person that you’re talking to has taken time out of their day to sit and chat with you.

Tip #3: Be Specific

Be precise in your request. Before you go off and reconnect with everyone you’ve ever known, get your act together and do a little research. Be prepared to communicate what you’re looking for. Is it a reference? An insider’s take on the industry? A recommendation? A meeting with someone in the field? Also make sure to provide an update on your credentials and recent professional involvements.

Tip #4: Come to AA&CC’s “Networking to Find Work” Workshop 

Sign up on intranet for AA&CC’s workshop on how to better hone your networking skills. This interactive session will give you hands on experience on how to strategize in a more efficient manner to get the career opportunities that you’re looking for. The session is on Wednesday November 27th, 2013 from 1:00pm – 2:30pm in AA160. Make sure to reserve your spot ASAP!

Remember, networking isn’t about being pushy or aggressively using other people to promote yourself – it’s about building relationships. Keep your existing connections as best as you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities in store.

All the best,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Final Exam Preparation!

I know exactly what you're all thinking..."It's only November, why is Priya talking about final exams already?"

Now, this may not be a desirable task for you at the moment, but starting early, and preparing for exams, well in advance can make a rather significant impact on how well you do! So, I want you to take some valuable suggestions on how you could best prepare yourself for this time of year!
  1. Find out when your exams are well in advance and plan your study schedule accordingly for the days leading up to your final exam dates.
  2. Look to see whether your professor has provided a study guide for the exam, and follow through accordingly.
  3. Attend a final exam review session if your professor is holding one.
  4. It would be wise to meet with your professor and ask him/her for their expectations, and find out whether your exam will be cumulative or whether you'd be tested on a particular portion of the material covered.
  5. Discover your preferred learning style: What's your Learning Style?
  6. If you work well in groups, form a study group. 
  7. Find out what the format of the exam will be: Multiple Choice or Shorter Answer.
  8. Gather all your study notes, and double check with another student.  Borrow notes from another student if you've missed any lectures.
  9. Eliminate all your distractions, whether that be: facebook, twitter, tv, etc.  Turn off your phone!  This is a good indication of self control. 
  10. Take time to review your study materials.  Don't waste valuable time reviewing material you understood the first time you were exposed to it.
  11. Focus and allocate more time towards the material that seems to be more challenging.  Review these concepts thoroughly until you know it, regardless of the amount of time you spend on it.  
  12. Create yourself a practice test and begin to evaluate your own knowledge of the material, BUT only if you feel ready to do so, otherwise you may get overwhelmed.
  13. Don't pull an all nighter before the exam.  The last thing you want to do, is sleep during your exam! 

On the morning of your exam, it won't be a wise idea to cram additional information. Make sure you eat well, and dress comfortably. Furthermore, ensure you arrive early and stay calm!

While you are writing the exam, keep a close eye on the time.  You may want to answer the easy questions first, and allocate more time to the more challenging ones. It's really up to you on this one!

After you have completed your final exam, don't discuss your answers with others, as this may lead to unnecessary stress! Take a deep breath, it's over!

Additional Resources:
Definitely browse through these resources, and maximize your university experience! You will surely be equipped for success.

AA&CC is also holding a workshop on Thursday November 21st from 12:00pm-1:00pm
"Exam Preparation and Exam Writing-How to Ace Your Finals." in AA160.

This workshop will help you to develop techniques to improve your performance in multiple choice questions and essay exams. It will also cover techniques in learning to manage exam stress and anxiety. (SS certificate eligible)

Of course as I always mention, if you have any further questions, feel free to come by our office, AC213! We'd be glad to help! 

Best of luck on your finals! 

Till then,

Priya Antony

P.S. If you haven't done so yet, UTSC Fall Final Examination dates are available here.


  • Academic Advising & Career Centre: A team of professionals who advise, counsel, and coach individuals with their learning and career development. © September 2010, Source; jt- Academic Advising & Career Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Transferrable Skills: Checked!

Any skill that you have learnt either through your academic experiences or work experiences that you could use in a completely other setting or at a different job as well is called a transferable skill. The key is to make your resume pop up, so that the employer actually reads it before moving on to the next in the pile. Having transferable skills section on your resume is one sure way to attract the employer’s attention. 

A lot of employers these days are looking for transferable skills, perhaps because job market isn’t as static as it used to and they want to ensure that their employees will survive under harsher conditions by adapting themselves to every given situation. Having the ability to learn skill from every experience you encounter in your life and using it to adapt in any given situation is the key to surviving in today’s harsh competitive job market.

An important point to note however is that these skills aren’t only learnt at a workplace or through a job you have held. There are a lot of transferrable skills that you gain through your program of study. In fact I am going to be bold in saying that each course that you take teaches you at least one transferable skill. To get a list of transferable skills you gain through each program of study, please visit the tip sheet section made the career staff at AACC. The list of skills mentioned there is not exhaustive in any form but sure gives you something to think about to put on your resume under the transferable skill section.

Chances are that you would have gathered a lot of transferable skills over the course of your undergraduate or graduate degree. It is your job to edit your resume each time you apply for a job such that the skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for are only listed there. Time is a luxury these days and employers don't have the motivation to keep reading your LONG list of transferable skills, no matter how unique and wonderful they are. Spend some time getting a sense of what qualities the employer is looking for and highlight the skill set that you have gained that responds to the needs of the employer

Lastly, try getting more exposure to different job settings and titles so that you get a whole flavor of skills that you can display on your resume. Doing this not only exposes you to a different set of skills each time, it also gives you a chance to explore and identify your dream job!

Good luck on your resume!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Landing your First Entry-Level Position!

"Trust me Priya, it's all about the GPA! All you need is a nicely perfected resume and a great network of connections, and you'll definitely have no problems landing a job!"

Let's admit it, you've heard that, I've heard that, we all have.
Now, this is not to discredit what has been mentioned above, but rather to point out that in today's time, employers JUST WANT MORE!  Considering the state of our current job market, it's necessary to go above and beyond and out-compete other applicants also.   

Yes, it is undeniable that competition is immense, but I don't want you to feel discouraged!  It is definitely a task that is achievable. So please do take advantage of the tips I will provide you with, and you'll definitely be equipped for success!

It's never too late to obtain an Internship:

Upon analyzing results obtained from a survey conducted in 2012, which included more than 7300 students and recent graduates, and over 300 human resources and recruitment professionals, 54% of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed.  "The only way to avoid being part of these statistics is to be enrolled in an internship,” says Stuart Lander, chief marketing officer at He goes further on to add that, “You have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the 
    company you interned with” (Smith, 2012).

Contribute by Volunteering: 

Volunteering will help you gain valuable connections and the attention of employers.  A government study conducted by The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency monitored more than 70,000 individuals whom were unemployed between the years of 2002-2012, and discovered that those who had volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t (Collamer, 2013).

Maximize your Social Media Presence and Develop your Personal Brand: 

37% of employers examine potential candidates through social networks. In fact 2 in 5 companies browse profiles to evaluate character and personality. From a Nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive, ( from February 8 to March 2, 2012, including more than 2000 hiring managers and human resource professionals, employers are primarily using Facebook (65%) and LinkedIn (63%) to research candidates. Only 16% used twitter (Smith, 2012).

Expand your network:
Only 15-20% of available jobs are advertised to the public, and starting early and networking through a “word of mouth” referral is the best way to land a new job!

Tips for Networking

This above link provides a list of tips you could follow through to ease the networking process.

   Follow the footsteps of a Career   Mentor:
Finding an individual who already works in your field can definitely offer guidance!  To find a mentor, research that particular field and discover those who are currently working in that field.  Send a formal polite email, and see who responds.  That initiation is sufficient, and be patient to observe their personalities and follow through. Take it slow, and before you know it, you’ll find the right mentor (Doyle, 2013). 

Develop Your Skills:  

Gain new, in -demand skills that will put you in front of other competitors for entry level positions:
Critical Thinking, Complex Problem Solving, Judgement and Decision Making, Active Listening, Computers and Electronics, Operations and Systems Analysis, Mathematics, Monitoring, Programming, Sales and Marketing (Casserly, 2012).

Perfect your resume, cover letter, and be prepared for that interview:
Book a resume critique coaching appointment on the intranet, and address any questions and concerns you may have. Also, you may book a career counseling appointment, if you need further assistance in terms of enhancing your interview skills, etc.  
Visit our website for more information: UTSC Academic Advising & Career Centre or feel free to come visit us in person: AC213.  We’d be glad to offer further assistance.

Additional Resources: 

Exploring Career Options

After reading this, and having made the conscious effort to follow through the guidelines I've presented, I am positive you'll have no problems landing that first entry level position!

Best of Luck,
Priya Antony
November 1, 2013

___________________________________________________________________________ References: 
Smith, J. (2012, June 12). Internships may be the easiest way to a Job in 2013. Retrived from

Collamer, N. (2013, June 24). Proof that Volunteering Pays Off For Job Hunters. Retrieved from

Smith, J. (2012, April 20). Make Social Media Your Job-Finding Weapon. Retrieved from

Ettus, S. (2012, August 7). 25 Ways to Win at Networking. Retrieved from
Doyle, A. (2013). How to find a Career Mentor. Retrieved from

Casserly, M. (2012, December 10). The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired In 2013.  Retrieved from