Monday, December 5, 2016

It’s Exam Season - Quick Tips to Ace your Finals!

By Tharchika Sathiaseelan, Academic Assistant (Work Study student)

Final exams are just around the corner and I know a many of us also have labs, assignments, and papers to do in between now and final exams.

The question is when do we find time to study for exams, finish assignments, eat, and sleep?
This month can be quite hectic for many of us! However, with the right tools and resources we can conquer this together one step at a time.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Putting the Right Foot Forward: Kick-Start Your Career

By Helen Li, Career Assistant (Work Study student)

Someone once told me: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” I have always believed that I had no real say in what I wanted to pursue after I graduated as I was always influenced by my family, friends and those around me. But in the end, you do have the power to choose what and where you want to be. Follow me as I share my own experiences in exploring my career prospects!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

School and Work: Struggling to Find the Right Balance?

As an undergraduate student, working full-time and/or part-time can be very overwhelming –I’ve been there myself. Between studying for midterms and quizzes, completing assignments and finding time to catch up on my readings, I had to make sure my work hours were manageable. I also needed to check that I had enough time off for a social life too. The struggle is definitely real my friends, but you can definitely overcome this by using the following tips, based on my learning as an undergrad student!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pokémon Go and Your Job Search/Career Plan

by Jen Davies, Manager, Career Development, AA&CC, UTSC

Like many young people, I have become hooked on Pokémon Go this summer, and I have begun to see parallels between effective job search strategy, and effective Pokémon Go strategy. So, for those of you who are confident in your Pokémon hunting skills, but less sure about your job hunting skills, let me lay out how you can apply what you know about catching digital monsters to finding real opportunities.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Advancing Career – Oriented Goals with Skills-Based Volunteering

by Fawn Rasquinha

Many undergrads who choose to volunteer are looking for experience that will supplant their resume, boost their grad school applications, or help them determine whether a particular career path is the right one. When volunteering to advance career-oriented goals, it is important that students choose volunteer positions that will help them hone relevant skills. In what follows, we will explore how to go about identifying valuable skill-based volunteer opportunities.
  1.  Do some industry research. What are the skills and core competencies required for employment in your field of interest? For example, if you want to pursue a masters or career in social work, your research will likely identify active listening, crisis de-escalation, and knowledge of mental illness as some of the skills and competencies needed for this field.
  2. Determine volunteer experiences that will help you hone critical skills and competencies. Skill Plus is a tool developed by that bridges the gap between volunteer experience and career development: Pages 2 and 3 of this document outline core occupational competencies (e.g. project management, client service, financial planning, etc.) and provide links for volunteer positions that employ them.  
  3. Identify organizations the employ a skills-lens. Organizations employ a skills-lens when they emphasize the skills their volunteers need and are committed to promoting the development of these skills.
  4. Opt for a specific position/role, rather than being a jack of all trades. Well-established non-profit organizations typically employ a structured approach to volunteer recruitment and training. Organizations without structure will recruit volunteers without clear guidelines for what these volunteers will be doing. Have you ever found yourself in a volunteer position where you were either (a) doing nothing or (b) assisting with mundane tasks? To avoid this pitfall of volunteering, choose a reputable organization that clearly outlines the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of a volunteer.

Wherever you choose to volunteer, relaying your experience and expertise to potential employers requires understating how to frame volunteer involvement in terms of transferable skills. Think creatively about your experiences and how the skills you acquired could benefit future employers or be utilized in certain jobs. Moreover, be open with the volunteer organization with regards to your career development goals. This will allow the organization to find and provide you with career development opportunities. If you approach volunteering with this mindset and apply this framework to your volunteer opportunity search, you will meaningfully contribute to your career-oriented aspirations.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Preparing for the Interview

Interviews can be intimidating because you don’t have time to think over your answers and to edit them. However, they’re also an opportunity to demonstrate how you fit in the position and in the organization beyond what your resume and cover letter say about you. Here are some tips to help you in the preparation of the interview.

Know the organization and the position. Review the job posting to remind yourself of what tasks and skills the organization is looking for so that you can relate your answers back to the position. Do some research on the organization to know what their values, services, or projects are. In this way, you can also think of questions that you can ask during the interview. This shows that you’re interested and prepared.

Prepare answers beforehand. You may not know what you will be asked, but chances are that you’ll encounter some common ones. Take some time to organize your thoughts and write down responses to these commonly asked questions. I keep a list of questions and answers in a Word document from past interviews I have participated in. Consider using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) method to structure your answers and how you can contribute to this role. Over time, you can update it with more experiences.

Practice. Do it with a friend, in front of a mirror, or come to the AA&CC! You’ll be able to get feedback on your mannerism and ‘first impression’ from a different angle. Check how you say your answers, your body language, or how you react to questions. Maybe you talk too fast because you’re nervous and don’t realize it, so you would need to slow down. I’m aware that I tend to fidget with my hands a lot, so I keep them in front of me so that I stay very aware of them.

Check where the interview will be taking place. If it’s a phone call or a Skype video, make sure you set a time and a place where you will not be interrupted. If you have to go somewhere, check the route so you don’t get lost and know where to park. Allocate yourself some extra time in case something unexpected, like traffic, comes up. I like to use Google Maps on street view so that I can look for landmarks.

Prepare what you need the night before. Choose your (professional) attire and what plan to bring so that you’re not rushing in the morning. You may consider bringing extra copies of your resume, references, and a notebook and pen to take notes.

Not sure where to start? Or just want to talk to someone about your plans for preparing for your next interview? Visit the AA&CC – we have many resources to help you! Come to drop-ins or book an appointment to talk with a Career Counsellor or Employment Coach for further information on what to do. You can even book a mock-interview to simulate what it actually may look and feel like! To get things started, take a look at our TipSheet on interviews.

Good luck!


Friday, February 12, 2016

My International Experience

Looking for an opportunity to grow both personally and academically? Well look no further than the international opportunities offered by the University of Toronto. Follow me as I share my own experience with the UofT Summer Abroad program!

What is the Summer Abroad program?
The Summer Abroad program is a great place to start if you’re looking for a new and exciting learning experience. There are a vast number of locations to choose from and courses that cater to a wide variety of programs. In my case the Summer Abroad program gave me the opportunity to study about Germany and its stance on immigration while actually living in Berlin, Germany. Through this program I was able to earn 1 full credit while also getting to explore a whole new city.

The Academic side of things
I would say that one of the best parts of my summer abroad experience was actually coming back to UTSC, only to find that what I had learned abroad was a hot topic in a majority of my classes. Not only did I feel I was better prepared to discuss the topic, but I also had a totally different perspective than most other students in my class. For example, while in Germany I had been exposed to the way in which the German media portrayed the immigration debate, which is what was continuously discussed in my classes. I was able to see how differently the debate was portrayed in Canadian media once I had returned. And this is exactly at the heart of what an international experience will provide you, the opportunity to understand either your program of study, or just a topic of interest, from a new perspective.

But going abroad isn’t just an academic opportunity…
It is also an opportunity for personal growth, to find out more about the person you are. For some, like myself, going abroad was a chance to feel what it is like to live away from home. For others, this might be a chance to face fears and go outside of their comfort zone. Either way, going abroad is something that will enrich your whole self, both academically and personally.

Some helpful hints
Going abroad can be a wonderful experience. Preparing for it, on the other hand, can be daunting. Here are some things I think will be helpful, based on my experience:
  • Start with the Summer Abroad and CIE (Center for International Exchange) websites. Keep in mind that each individual program will have its own individual deadline.
  • When preparing, it is always nice to speak to someone who has already participated in the program. Keep an eye out for the Summer Abroad staff, who usually have a table outside of Tim Hortons. I regularly spoke to them while on my way to classes, and they offered me a lot of insight into the program.
  • Find out how the course fits into your degree. Contact the program advisor from your department to see if the course will count towards your program. But don’t worry if it doesn’t! Keep in mind you still need electives to complete your degree. In fact the course I took ended up counting as an elective, but what I learned was still very much applicable to my current courses.
  • Keep an eye out for workshops that will assist you with your applications. For example I attended a drop in session with a career counselor from the AA&CC to get my personal statement critiqued.

·       And finally, don’t be afraid to search for opportunities outside of summer abroad and exchange. Look for something that will enrich and benefit YOU!

This is my classmates and I standing in front of one of my favourite places in Berlin, the remnants of the Berlin Wall.



Monday, February 1, 2016

Networking From an Academic Perspective

We all know about the importance of networking when it comes to job search and furthering our careers, but did you know that networking is just as important from an academic perspective? Join me as I share my latest experience networking with an academic twist. Read on for some helpful tips to get more out of your next networking experience

Where do I start?

Well the best place is with your departmental students association also known as a DSA. They often host networking events related to your specific program. For example, I recently attended a networking event held by the Geography and City Studies Students Association. In fact, it was the inspiration for this blog post!

Talk to your Professors!

Professors can often be found at networking events on campus, especially when the event is specific to your program. For instance, several of my professors where present at the networking event I attended.  Networking with your professors is a great opportunity to build on your knowledge of course material. This is not a substitute for office hours, but rather, is a chance for you to discuss parts of the course that really interest you. Try to talk about things that you’ve noticed outside of class that you think relate to the course themes. 

But wait there’s more!

Networking with professors doesn’t have to be all about building your knowledge, but conversations like the one discussed above can also help you to build relationships with your professors. You might wonder why this even matters, well it does if you are planning to apply to graduate school. Reference letters are an important part of the application process, and when professors have the opportunity to get to know you better they are more willing to provide you with a reference letter. 

Do I only have to talk to professors?

Nope, there are many other people you can talk to, from alumni, to industry experts, and even other students in the program! Often times networking events can be a great way to get more information on graduate school, usually from people who have already been, or are planning to go. For instance the same GCSA networking event I discussed above, also gave me insight into graduate school as this was the focus of the event. Questions such as “what is the merit in taking a year off or going straight into graduate school?” were asked during the event. Furthermore, there was a “mix and mingle” session, which was a great opportunity to ask the panelists further questions about graduate school. 

One more thing…

I wanted to leave you with a link to a resource from our website:
Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you will see a section titled Networking for Quiet Types, which contains some helpful links. I know myself, I can be a very quiet person and this can sometimes make networking hard, but it is definitely possible, and just might require us to use different techniques. 

I hope that this post has given you insight into some other ways to utilize your next networking event.

Happy Networking!
- Alanna

Friday, January 29, 2016

The works of networking

“I don’t need to talk to people and network to get a job.”

Have you ever had a version of this thought when networking was mentioned? If you haven’t, then congratulations on avoiding a big hurdle! However, if you have, then like me, you know the feeling of dread that follows.

Networking doesn’t have to just be about scoring a job; it can be a rewarding experience at any stage of your professional life. Networking provides you with the opportunity to meet people that are in a career you’re aiming for, and information about the path they took. It can even introduce you to new careers you never considered before. Here are some tips to make networking a better experience, no matter what your comfort level is.

Get comfortable with the idea of networking
Many people are uncomfortable because they feel that they’re using people to get a job, but you shouldn’t look at networking this way. The people you meet at these events have similar professional interests with you. Connect with them to get to know them as who they are and what they do, and offer back your own experiences to engage in a conversation. When you make yourself more relatable, they’ll get to know you more and offer relevant information about the path they took to get to where they are now, offer resources, or even introduce you to other people with similar interests.

Prepare something to talk about beforehand
You may have heard of this as the “elevator pitch.” You don’t need to have a spiel memorized, but consider having some relevant points that summarize yourself, such as why you’re attending this particular event, what your current position is, or what path you’re on and where you want go. I personally like to keep some points in mind that I know I can expand on.

Enter conversations!
Maybe you heard someone say something interesting or you’ve been wanting to talk to a specific person. Sometimes, you’ll be able to naturally join into a conversation. Whether or not it’s easy, you should make your presence known by introducing yourself and saying why you wanted to join in the conversation (for example, “Hi, I couldn’t help but overhear you talking about X”).

Know how to exit conversations
I used to think the biggest problem was initiating a conversation with someone, until I found out that it was just as hard to leave one. If you feel that the conversation is starting to end and there isn’t much left to be said, politely take your exit (try: “it was great meeting you, and I will definitely look into the organization you mentioned”) and ask for information to stay in contact.

Keep in touch
Stay in contact by exchanging business cards or adding them on LinkedIn. In the next 48 hours, send them a message that includes where you met and personalize it by mentioning a topic that was discussed. LinkedIn is a great tool to develop your professional network and you can come to the AACC to have someone look over and review your LinkedIn profile.

If you meet someone who you would like to know more about, you can follow up with them to see if they would be willing to set up an informational interview and answer some of the questions you have. You can meet with a Career Counsellor at the AA&CC if you have more questions!

The next step is to now put your skills into use. Take a look at the networking opportunities and check CLN regularly for different events coming up! 

Good luck! 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Networking Nerves? Learn from Experts at RBC!

Networking is one of those things that can get tricky, and nerve wrecking, but it doesn't always have to be that way! To help you with networking, we asked two campus recruitment professionals from the Royal Bank of Canada to answer some of our networking questions from the other side of the coin. Here is what they had to say.
Melissa’s Story

After graduating from Western University with a degree in Sociology, I decided to pursue a post graduate diploma in HR from George Brown and continue my career focusing on recruitment. I’ve been fortunate to work at a few companies since graduating from George Brown and have taken a keen interest in student hiring. For almost 5 years I have been involved in campus recruitment. For the last two years, I have been at RBC which has been a fantastic opportunity for me as I get to work closely with students, while also fulfilling the hiring needs of my business partners. 

Rosalyn’s Story

I graduated from York University and studied Human Resources Management. My first professional experience is from my co-op placement working for a Canadian Telecommunications company.  From there, I acquired my first job by applying to an entry-level Staffing Associate role with a Global Employment Agency.  Subsequently, my last 3 jobs were all due to networking.  I knew someone, who knew someone else, who knew about a job opening, and so on.

What does networking mean to you?

Networking should be done in all phases of one’s career, whether you are looking for a job or if you are happy in the job you are in. There is never a bad time to network. To me, networking is the chance to talk with people from all levels and industries to gain valuable insights into their roles and responsibilities.

In your experience, how often are entry level positions filled by individuals who have had some form of interaction with the employer?

Students are encouraged to look at job boards to determine what roles are available, but they also need to combine that with meeting people from the business, whether it is at an information sessions on campus, mock interviews, or connecting with alumni. Networking allows you to understand the specific roles that people hold and can open up doors and opportunities that you might not have thought about before. It should not always be about landing a job, but rather the intent should be to make meaningful connections with people. A candidate who can successfully network should be content that they may not land a job immediately, but will be creating a connection with someone who may be hiring down the road.

Do you have any tips on how students and recent graduates can be proactive in identifying networking opportunities?

Join groups on LinkedIn and follow companies through various social media sites to be in the know on what is happening locally. Keep your eyes and ears open for signage on campus for when employers will be present, and work with your school’s Career Centre, as many events get planned directly with them, and they almost certainly have the necessary details on timing and location of events.

What are good networking opportunities for students?

There are many different avenues one can take to network, but it ultimately depends on the type of industry they want to get information about. Some companies and industries rely heavily on career fairs, which are attended by hundreds of students and therefore limiting the 1:1 interaction. Being involved both on campus and off campus can provide opportunities to meet new people who can ultimately lead to your next career move. You could be standing in line waiting for coffee and meet someone who starts a conversation and is hiring. Students need to be aware and always have their elevator pitch ready to go.

What are some of the best questions you’ve had from students and recent graduates you have interacted with? What stood out in those interactions?
·         Asking open-ended questions is the best way to ask your questions.  You will learn more about the job, industry and insights on their story. 

·       Thoughtful questions about current trends from the industry are always impressive as well.  It shows that the student is aware and has taken the time to research and find out what is happening in the market.

·        To stand out, don’t fake it – just be yourself and tell your own unique story.  Be your authentic, best self!

Networking can be nerve-wrecking sometimes! What tips would you give to students to beat the nerves and feel more confident while networking?

First thing is to be comfortable with yourself and have the confidence to put yourself out there, so have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready! Do some research about the networking event like who will be there, what companies they represent, and what those companies are doing right now.

How important is social media, particularly LinkedIn, in building relationships with potential employers?

It is very important.  Through social media, you can find out about people, companies, and reach them faster than ever.  Join Groups, Industry Associations, and be a part of the conversation!  You can build your profile and connections effectively via social media, but remember to always be professional!

Is there any other advice you would provide to students and recent graduates on networking?

·         Be Proactive

·         Do your research and be prepared to put yourself out there!

·         Be able to relate to people and don’t be afraid to tell your unique story!

Put these networking tips to practice this month! Check the Events Calendar on for upcoming opportunities where you can connect with professionals as well as for networking workshops! If you need some extra pointers on how to approach the different events, be sure to check our tips sheets at, including:

Happy Networking!

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