Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Overview of Career and Work-Related Resources at UTSC: ONSA and Career Counseling

With all the possible jobs out there, it is reasonable to be confused about what you want to do in the future. A great place to start is the Online Self Assessment, or ONSA. It takes about 20 minutes to complete and allows you to choose skills, personal qualities, and values that are most important to you. After you complete it, the tool generates a career profile summary displaying your choices. You can make an appointment with a Career Counselor to discuss your career profile summary if you wish. I will be discussing my experience at my appointment.

             I walked into my appointment feeling somewhat nervous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I knew the duration of the appointment was an hour and I didn’t know how we could discuss my results for such a long period of time. However, my career counselor put me at ease very quickly; she was very welcoming and kind. She explained how the appointment usually works: she was going to ask me to tell her about each of my choices of skills, personal qualities, and values (10 of each). From there we would look for patterns in my choices, and think of possible career paths I was interested in.

            It was a lot harder to explain my choices than I thought it would be. I am a student in Co-op Management and wish to specialize in finance, but a lot of my choices appeared to be unrelated to this program. In the personal qualities section, being understanding and compassionate were in my top ten, as opposed to more analytical skills. In the values section, I also chose helping society and generally helping others as well. The questions my career counselor asked me in relation to these choices made me realize that it was extremely important to me to help people. She also pointed out that non-profit organizations and charities need people who specialize in finance, so that was something I should consider.

            I had also thought that the artistic side of me had no place in my future career.  However, in my ONSA results, I saw that being creative was the number one thing I valued. I talked about my theatre background with my career counselor, and she spoke with me about arts management or a minor in creative writing.  The most important thing I learned is that you can’t choose an aspect of your personality and try to pick a career based on this. You have a unique combination of talents and you want to choose something that you will excel in and enjoy. I’m choosing to stay in management, but I will definitely take creative writing classes.

            While I was given excellent career advice at this appointment, my career counselor also talked me through a lot of fears I had for the future. A lot of us have an unrealistic idea that when we graduate, we will get a job, and we will stay in that job until retirement. However, the only way to find the right job is to try new things, and be open to the options we have. I definitely recommend trying ONSA and making a career counseling appointment. It’s helped me see that my options aren’t as limited as I think they are, and I walked out of that appointment feeling a little less afraid of the future. And that is a good feeling!

Until next time,


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a fancy word that means managing a business or a task with initiative, care, and a little risk. These three elements are not only definitive of entrepreneurs, but also of regular people, like you and me. It may seem daunting at first, especially for those who have no interest in becoming a business owner, but when broken down, its meaning can change the way we see and do things.


Taking initiative means doing something independently, without having to be told. It is one simple and easy way of changing your life. Instead of waiting for someone to delegate a task to you, be it at work or in your daily life, you recognize and do what needs to be done. In any area of life or in any task that you face, this is an essential skill. In turn, taking initiative says a lot about the type of person that you are. It shows that you are analytical and observant, that you are present-minded when in the given situation, and also that you are goal-oriented.


Taking initiative is one thing – doing something with care is another. You may do something because you recognize that it needs to be done, but the way in which you do it is also extremely important. When you care about something, a vast majority of the time, you will perform whatever task is necessary much better than you would do something that you don’t care about. The types of tasks can range from doing something as simple as washing up the dishes at home, or asking (and genuinely caring) about how someone’s day is – no matter what, when you care about something, it shows, and your passion and genuinity won’t go unnoticed.


Risk-taking is an important element of entrepreneurship, because it means that you recognize what has already been accomplished, but you also are able to see the potential for growth. This element of entrepreneurship works alongside both initiative and care, because you have to weigh the pros and cons, observe the situation, and make the decision that you feel is best, in order to attain the end goal. Without taking risks, at work and even in your daily life, things are less likely to evolve, whereby leaving you (or your business/current situation) at a standstill with no forward movement.
A balance of all these elements – initiative, care, and risk - is what entrepreneurship is all about. They are three of the crucial traits that successful business owners and humans alike all possess. They are not only useful in helping you to become more successful at work, but in your journey towards a happier and more fulfilling life.

So… all of this leads up to my next point: Come out to the Entrepreneur Expo. There will be some awesome guest speakers who will talk about their experiences and journeys on becoming entrepreneurs. You don’t have to be a management or a business student to benefit from this event. All you have to do is be open-minded and listen to how these select people have gotten to where they are today and how they plan on getting to where they want to be in the future. See you there!

- Lauren

Monday, January 26, 2015

Useful Tips to help Ace that Course

As the New Year comes along, many of you may be thinking of changing your studying techniques in order to boost your grades. This can easily be done by following a study pattern that works for you. For this blog post, I will be outlining effective ways to help you stay on track of all your course work and master the ability to retain and understand the course material.

Create a Schedule

To be on track of all your scheduled readings and assignments, it is useful to write everything down in a journal or mark everything on a calendar. You can also choose to add multiple reminders on your phone so that you don’t miss an important deadline. In my experience, writing down important dates on sticky notes keeps me on track with everything that I have to do. Once I am done with a particular task, I take the sticky note down. The physical act of throwing the note away gives me satisfaction that I have successfully completed a task on time. You can also check out the Academic Advising and Career Centre’s Daily Task Planner and Journal tip sheet: 

It is a wonderful resource to help manage your time and get you started on a proper studying schedule.


It is highly important that you create a studying environment with minimal distractions. The more distractions around you the harder it will be to focus on the task that you wish to complete. It is also very difficult to retain information effectively if you are studying in a place where there is a lot of noise and devices that can make you drift away. I tend to switch off any unnecessary devices during the time that I am studying. This helps me focus entirely on studying rather than wasting my time texting and constantly checking Facebook. Self-discipline is crucial in motivating yourself to study and spend the extra time towards increasing your grades.

Class Attendance

As university students, we are swamped with deadlines and commitments and it becomes very hard to attend each and every lecture in the course of the semester. However, merely attending a lecture can drastically increase your performance in the course. Being physically present and writing notes down helps you retain the information the Professor conveys in class. I have noticed that writing down short notes in point form helps me remember what the Professor said at that moment in class. This makes reviewing the material easier later on. Another important thing to note is that there are some courses where attendance is considered part of your final mark. In that case, going to class may help to boost your grade up.

Good Luck for the Winter Semester!

- Ayesha Haq

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Get Worked Up!

Can you believe that we are already into our third full week of the new year? The way that these past few weeks have been progressing, summer is surely just around the corner. You know what that means... time to start that summer job hunt!

Although it's tempting to put off the job search in hopes of spending 4 months laying in bed, binge watching every episode of your favourite TV series (the one you had to put off during the year in order to get those extra hours of study time in), you know just as well as I do how important it is as a student to spend those summer hours meaningfully.

OK, so now you've mustered up the motivation to leave your bed to go to work over the summer. The next step is the trickiest step, and it is the step where most people get stuck and often become discouraged: start applying to positions. This is where I come in.

Here are 5 of my best tips to getting a summer job:

Start Early

As a student, our lives can become hectic, piled with assignments and exams. You may be thinking "I'll start applying for a summer job as soon as I've caught up done with all my major deadlines for the semester". However, the reality is that most companies want to have their summer employees working as early as May or June. If you're waiting until April when finals are over to apply, you're likely too late. Although some companies do continue to hire into the summer, generally the more lucrative job positions are filled well before then. For the most options, looking into jobs you're interested in as early as the preceding Fall.

Use Your Network

When I'm looking for a job, I start by telling all of my family, friends, peers, and colleagues that I'm actively on the hunt for a job, and I give them as many details as I can about position I'm looking for (e.g. full-time vs. part-time, industry, pay expectation). Although this may seem like meaningless small-talk, each person you talk to becomes an extension of your job search. They will more than likely share the knowledge that they have about the job market with you, as well as keep an eye out for future openings that fit the description you've given them. Additionally, many jobs are unadvertised and you may only be able to learn of them through word-of-mouth.


LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking website that allows job and career candidates to set up a profile and connect with potential future employers. It allows you to create a network with colleagues and peers, view professional opportunities, and strengthen existing connections. For tips on how to create an effective LinkedIn profile, be sure to check out 7 Effective LinkedIn Strategies.

Get Yourself Critiqued

No one is perfect on their first try. Having your resume, CV, and/or cover letter critiqued is a great way to improve your application. What you may feel is clear, may be vague to someone who doesn't know your background; a critique could help you catch ambiguity. Similarly, a mock interview could help develop good interview techniques and may even help you catch nervous quirks that you weren't aware. If you are interested in having your application critiqued, or going through a mock interview while you're on campus, come by the Academic Advising & Career Centre (AA&CC), AC213, to book an appointment with a Career Counsellor.

Job Fairs

Job fairs allow you to tap into multiple companies at once. They usually happen in and around the early months of the year and are great resources to get information on whose hiring. While some companies only offer information on how and when to apply, others will take your resume on the spot so it may be beneficial to dress in business casual attire.

Happy Hunting,
Rajani Sellathurai

P.S. We're hiring! If you're interested in becoming a Get Started Coach with us this summer, please be sure to check the AA&CC website for instructions on how to apply! Applications are due Feb 23rd, 2015.

Resources used in this post: