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career options For Canadian Post-Secondary Students

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www.careeroptionsmagazine.com fall/winter 2010 / Volume 24 No. 2

top 5 career fair tips to change your program or not myths and realities of working for government

the right fit

multiple career PATHS in government

diver

librarian

notary

hairdresser

animator test pilot

editor interpreter

health inspector astronaut

preschool teacher

meteorologist

Download a free 2D barcode reader for your mobile at www.i-nigma.mobi

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career options fall/winter 2010

« Make the most

of networking opportunities and convince employers that YOU are the solution to their workplace problems—in just four easy steps! page 41

07 Navigating to

34 Preparation

By Carol Evenson

By Kerri Zanatta-Buehler

the Perfect Fit

12 top 5 Career fair tips By Linda Gully, Melissa Higson and the University of Alberta Career Centre

SPE

is Key for Career Fairs

37 Job Interviews: Conversations, Not Examinations By Cathy Keates

14 Tactics for

Telephone Interviews By Anne Markey

41 Persuasive Networking:

Four Steps to Maximum Results By Philippe Desrochers

16 It All Adds Up:

Five Insights into the Chartered Accountant Recruiting Process By Stefano E. Picone

19 To change your

program or not: Be Open to Possibilities!

By Hana El Kaissi and Elena Pizzamiglio

42 Career Assessment: By Jennifer Browne and Paula Strickland

By Vinod Rajasekaran and Despina Sourias

47 Some Points to By Dan Humphries

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service: Countless Career Avenues to Explore By Luana Mirella and Cindy Clark

22 Myths and Realities By Jane MacDonald

29 Municipal

44 Entrepreneurship:

the Path of Change Makers

20 the federal public

of Working for Government

There’s No “Magic Test”

Consider When Starting Your Own Business

CIA

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LIC PU B SERVICE

Government: Make a Difference By Gail Isles

31 Explore the

Possibilities… Careers with the Government of Alberta By Jenn Guzzwell

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EDITOR’S LETTER

career options

W

Managing Editor

elcome to the start of a brand new year! For many in post-secondary education, September, not January, is the time for that feeling of new beginnings. On campus, there’s a surge of energy as new students dive into orientation, returning students move on from summer employment or internships, and those in their final year prepare for on-campus recruitment.

Anne Markey Project Management | gordongroup

Kita Szpak Art Direction / Print Management | gordongroup

Leslie Miles Design & Layout | gordongroup

Your number one back-to-school activity as a career seeker? Visit your campus career centre. Find out when career fairs will be held and what information sessions are scheduled. Arrange to have your résumé critiqued or to conduct a mock interview with a career counsellor. Your career centre will also have a full schedule of workshops on career planning and job search skills—best to attend these early in the term, before assignments, projects and mid-terms pile up.

Kelly Read-Lyon Advertising Sales direction | gordongroup

Thomas Krayer Advertising Sales | gordongroup

Kirill Kornilov Andrew Moore Sean Guenther Contributors

Jennifer Browne Philippe Desrochers Carol Evenson Jenn Guzzwell Dan Humphries Cathy Keates Anne Markey Stefano E. Picone Vinod Rajasekaran Paula Strickland

If you are looking for part-time employment on campus, find out if your institution offers a work-study program. Work-study positions are usually only available to students with student loans, and they are filled quickly. If you are eligible to apply, a work-study position is a great way to earn some extra income. You may also want to think about working as a tutor on campus and in the surrounding community. Your skills in math, sciences and languages can be easily turned into part-time employment.

Cindy Clark Hana El Kaissi Linda Gully Melissa Higson Gail Isles Jane MacDonald Luana Mirella Elena Pizzamiglio Despina Sourias Kerri Zanatta-Buehler

Career Options is published bi-annually in January and September by the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE), 720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 202, Toronto ON M5S 2T9. For subscription information, contact Anne Markey:

Tel: 416-929-5156 ext. 223 Fax: 416-929-5256 E-mail: annem@cacee.com Website: www.careeroptionsmagazine.com

Fall also brings deadlines for professional and graduate school applications. Preparing a strong application for a teacher’s education program, medical school or graduate degree takes time. You’ll need to work on a letter of intent or personal statement indicating why you want to pursue this course of study. Sourcing letters of recommendation or references will also take some work. Select your references wisely. Choose people who know you, your goals and your strengths well. Those who are new to post-secondary life should explore opportunities to get involved in campus clubs, groups or activities. When you are applying for jobs after graduation, employers will want to hear about your activities over the past three or four years that aren’t related to academics. They will want to see experiences where you’ve shown leadership abilities and interpersonal skills.

For advertising inquiries, contact Thomas Krayer, Director of Sales, gordongroup:

Tel: 613-288-5362 Fax: 613-722-6496 E-mail: tkrayer@gordongroup.com Website: www.gordongroup.com ISSN: 1712-1183 The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) is a national, non-profit partnership of employer recruiters and career services professionals. Our mission is to provide authoritative information, advice, professional development opportunities and other services to employers, career services professionals and students. Career Options is distributed to students at post-secondary institutions across Canada. Career Options is available free of charge through campus career centres. NOTE: The opinions expressed within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect CACEE policy. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.

Once again, this issue of Career Options – Post-Secondary edition is filled of information to help you achieve your life goals, as well as advertisements from potential employers who want to connect with post-secondary students. Check us out online at www.careeroptionsmagazine.com. Best wishes for a successful 2010–2011 academic year. Anne Markey, Editor

The National Student Resource of: Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers 720 Spadina Ave., Suite 202 Toronto ON M5S 2T9 www.cacee.com

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What’s on at Careeroptionsmagazine.com

»

[even more] career options As always, you can check out the latest issue of Career Options online, or browse the archives for more great feature articles from past issues. But there’s a lot more in store at our all-new website, careeroptionsmagazine.com

Keep up with the latest career advice, news and views: Visit the site to follow Career Options on Twitter, join the Facebook page and subscribe to our RSS feed

Blogspot Blogspot is a shared space where guest bloggers share their thoughts about post-secondary education, entering the workforce, finding the “right” job and getting a career on track. Submit your own blog ideas at: http://careeroptionsmagazine.com/ blogspot/

Connect Zone The Zone brings students and employers together for a unique interactive Q+A forum—it’s virtually the best career fair around! To get started, just register and then submit your questions to industry professionals from some of Canada’s most successful organizations. It’s a great start to your career conversation. http://careeroptionsmagazine.com/connect-zone/

Open your mind… There’s no such thing as a “right” career path. Each job you take teaches you new skills and experiences that help shape the kind of worker you’ll ultimately become. Read about how our profile subjects found on-the-job happiness and success by following unexpected career paths. http://careeroptionsmagazine.com/employmentplanning/open-your-mind/

We Would Like to Thank Our Advertisers… 08, 48 ATB Financial

48

Imperial Oil

ii

ATCO Group

30

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

27

BC Hydro

11

McGill University

04

BioTalent Canada

26, 48 National Energy Board

48

Bruce Power

38

Nexen

32

Canadian Payroll Association

01

Ontario Real Estate Association

47

Cangene Corp.

46

Ottawa Police Service

50

CGA Ontario

24

Public Service Alliance of Canada

40

CMA Canada

13

Queen’s University

45

Communitech

39

Rio Tinto

09

Concordia University College of Alberta

02

Schlumberger

36

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

18

Sun Life Financial

17

Halliburton

06, 48 Talisman Energy

48

Halton Regional Police Service

48

25

Home Depot

49

Humber College Business School

28

Insurance Brokers Association of Canada

10

Insurance Institute of Canada

Wood Manufacturing Council

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Navigating to the Perfect Fit

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n this economy, jobs aren’t as plentiful as they once were, but that doesn’t mean you should “take what you can get.” Deciding where to steer on the road to your future career isn’t always simple, but if you remain open to possibilities and focus on doing what you love, your perfect career fit could be just around the corner. Here’s the story of how I navigated to my perfect fit.

All my life I have been surrounded by powerful women who overcame many obstacles to find and follow their paths. My grandmother took herself from rural Manitoba through nursing school and two Master’s degrees, to becoming Director of Nursing at Women’s Hospital and earning a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Nursing. My mother completed her Education degree, but decided to stay home and raise

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By Carol Evenson, B.Comm. Honours, Ag-Quest, Inc.

her family—while running my grandfather’s lumber yard. She rejoined the work force when we were older, found herself phased out of multiple positions, and has now found her perfect fit working side-by-side with my father in his contracting business. Following these two women who persevered was never overwhelming; instead, I learned from them

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that I could choose whatever life path I imagined. From a young age I knew I wanted to help people. I was a good listener and everyone seemed to share life’s struggles with me. In high school, when everyone was just starting to think about careers, I already knew that Child Psychologist was on my list. In grade 12 my grandmother asked if I wanted to meet with her advisor at the University of Manitoba, who taught Psychology. I decided I would get a sneak peak at what I thought was my future path. So one evening I went to the advisor’s home with my grandmother and a list of questions. The first thing he said to me when we sat down was, “If there’s anything else in the world you think you might want to do, do it. Child Psychology is a tough road: very few get in and still want to continue after eight to ten years of school.” I thought that wasn’t a very good endorsement for the field, but I listened and picked up an intro Psych textbook as he suggested.

From a young age I knew I wanted to help people. I was a good listener and everyone seemed to share life’s struggles with me. that I wanted to help “fix” companies and the people who worked for them. My grandmother suggested that I consider a Business degree with a focus on Human Resources, since it was a four-year degree. I would be able to get out into the workforce and do essentially the same type of work years sooner than if I majored in Psychology.

After reading about all the various areas of Psychology I could specialize in, I realized

My life’s work had so far consisted of being a skating coach and a server. So going to business school was a bit of a leap to the left, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I started my journey at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. My goal was to fix the companies of the world (or at least of Manitoba). In my second

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year of university I joined the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM) and networked. During first semester I received an email from HRMAM asking students to apply for their internship program. I did, and earned an internship with St. Amant Centre. Working there opened my eyes to the power of non-profit organizations and my passion for recruiting. After second year and discussions with grandma and mom, I decided it was time for a summer job that was in line with my future career aspirations. So I applied to various positions and ended up joining the Start@U1 team on campus, helping new students settle into university life. With Start@U1 I honed my organizational skills, learned office procedures and experienced a completely new organizational culture. After enjoying the summer working with the team, assisting at the Start@U1 sessions and helping to host Orientation, I began another school year. I then rejoined St. Amant Centre part-time as a staffing clerk for their group homes. The team was an incredible group of individuals who truly


cared about their work. I learned that scheduling was a strength of mine, one I drew upon in future positions. And while I’d never thought of administration as a glamorous career option, it suddenly seemed exciting—the organization that made everything fall into place gave me a thrill. After enjoying my time in health care, I decided to head into another internship to broaden my horizons. My position as a coordinator at the campus Womyn’s Centre gave me the flexibility and financial freedom I needed to do this. I applied again to the HRMAM internship program and was accepted into a position working for the HR Manager of Kitchen Craft, a cabinetry company. I rediscovered my love of recruiting, was opened up to the world of benefits and worked on a job analysis project. I learned about job creation and how that fits with recruiting the right person for the right position. Traveling in Europe the summer after third year further opened my eyes to other cultures, workplaces and ways of doing business. Then my final year of school began, and I became co-president of the University of Manitoba Human Resources

After leaving my first “career job,” I went back to school to upgrade and complete an HR certificate and figure out where I was supposed to head next. Students Association, which opened more doors and created more networking opportunities. After graduation I was offered a position with Credit Union Central of Manitoba. Although I was only there a short time, I learned a great deal about myself—what I still needed to learn and what type of opportunity I was looking for. I learned that workplace culture was the most important factor in choosing my career path. Today, the thing I stress the most when talking with anyone seeking a new path in life is to make sure they know what they value and what is most important to them. Most of us spend

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our waking hours at work—we better make sure that we are in the right seat on the right bus. After leaving my first “career job,” I went back to school to upgrade and complete an HR certificate and figure out where I was supposed to head next. After applying for many positions I decided to go to PeopleFirst and see if the recruiting agency would be able to help me decide my next move. I was in a rut. After a few months of applying for jobs and studying for my courses, I found an opportunity that didn’t jump out at me—as a benefit/pension assistant with Cargill Limited—but again, grandma and mom encouraged me to apply. Working in agriculture technology was a turn to the right. Sure, I grew up in a small town, but it was close to the city and recruiting had always been my passion. After a two-hour interview and a few long days of waiting for a call, I finally heard back, and my new path began. At Cargill I quickly took on additional roles, becoming the Human Resources Assistant and working with multiple groups of people in the HR Shared Services Department. I also grew to enjoy the pension work

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despite the occasional bump in the road, navigating to your perfect fit may take you to the left and then to the right, but the journey is worth it. I was doing—this came as a shock since I never thought I was good with numbers, but organization and follow-up were part of my skill set. It was here that I found my passion for process improvement, which I have brought to my current position. At Cargill I worked on a wide range of HR projects but always came back to recruiting. The U.S. Talent Recruiting Department decided that they would create a Canadian team, and I was suggested by the Director of HR Shared Services to work on this project. We hired a fantastic candidate to lead the initiative and I was asked to join the team as the Canadian Campus Recruiting Coordinator to assist the Campus Recruiting Lead with the recruiting functions. The first year was a whirlwind, trying to adapt each other’s work style, learning how to build a new department from a model, and creating credibility with clients, schools and students. Looking back on that first year, it was truly crazy, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. We doubled the team in the second year and although we were successful, deep down I wanted more. I was ready for the next crossroads in my path. Although I haven’t yet “fixed” the companies of the world as I’d planned, I have made changes in 10

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my world and know that I am in the same league as the women in my family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people I have connected with and the experiences I have gained. So where am I now, after working in hospitality, health care, manufacturing, financial services and agriculture? In July of 2009 I moved to rural Manitoba to take on a position as the Assistant to the President and visionary of a group of agriculture companies. I can say that before this job, I wasn’t truly aware of the impact and change that could occur through people who have vision, determination and passion. I feel highly valued in this position and have had so many new experiences: combining, working in the hog barns, learning how to build a wheat breeding program, and many others. I have been able to contribute to the team with the skill set that I have built over the years. I have enjoyed lot of support and met fantastic new friends, and it feels like the sky is truly the limit. I hope my story shows that—despite the occasional bump in the road—navigating to your perfect fit may take you to the left and then to the right, but the journey is worth it. CO


5 Top

Career Fair Tips

Linda Gully Director, B.Comm Career Services, Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, University of British Columbia

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Research the companies participating beforehand and prepare good questions so you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the students during your conversations.

Watch your body language. Shake hands firmly and make eye contact. Ensure you’re dressed appropriately.

Prepare your 15–30 second intro using the “past, present, future” formula (e.g., “Hi, my name is… Last year I… Now I am… Someday I’d like to…”).

observe and listen to the questions others are asking when you’re waiting in line to speak to a company representative, so you don’t repeat the same ones.

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Show genuine interest in the companies you approach. Ask a question that you are truly interested in knowing the answer to, based on your research. Make sure you are listening and, if time permits, ask a follow-up question.

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Melissa Higson, CHRP Campus Program Specialist, Corporate Human Resources, Manulife Financial

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research the companies that you are interested in speaking with so you can ask questions of employers at their booths.

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Learn all you can about any job opportunities you might be interested in so you can ask questions that relate specifically to those opportunities.

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Practice your “elevator pitch” so you are comfortable using it in a networking setting. Don’t be nervous about approaching employers—remember, that’s why we’re at the career fair!

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Dress professionally and have your smile and your handshake ready!

CAPS Your U of A Career Centre, University of Alberta, www.caps.ualberta.ca

1

Distribute your business card. If you are a student, you probably don’t have a business card. However, giving employers a business card (or your résumé, if they are accepting résumés) is a great way to make a connection and ensure they have your contact information. With today’s technology it is easy enough to make your own business cards. Just get some card stock (office supply stores even sell “ready to cut” business card stock) and print it with your basic contact information, faculty, year of study and a sentence or two about your skills and work interests. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s a memorable and professional way to leave your information.

2

Do your research. Career fairs provide you with a wonderful opportunity to speak oneon-one with employers from fields related to your degree or interests. You want to make sure you impress them. One thing that always impresses employers at career fairs is students who are knowledgeable about their organization. Take a look at your campus career centre’s website before the fair, as they will often have a list of

the employers attending. Pick out employers of interest and visit their websites to find out a little more about them (e.g., types of goods or services they provide, career opportunities available). This way, on career fair day you won’t be approaching them “cold.” Use the information you gather to develop a short list of questions to ask each employer you plan to meet at the career fair.

3

Be strategic. Once you have your list of organizations to speak with, arrange them in order of priority, from highest to lowest. On the day of the fair, pick a couple of the organizations on the low end of your list and speak with them first. This gives you the opportunity to practice introducing yourself and asking questions, which will help build your confidence. As well, if there are a lot of students at the booth of an employer you want to speak with, move on to the next one on your list and go back to that employer when there are fewer students vying for attention.

4

Follow up. Every employer is different in their hiring process and will have different instructions on how to apply for jobs in their organization. Some employers take résumés at career fairs; some employers ask you to apply online (this is becoming common practice—don’t let it discourage you); some employers may even interview you on the spot. Whatever the case, after your initial meeting at the career fair, it is a good idea to follow up with the employer via e-mail or phone call to thank them for meeting with you, to ask any questions you may still have, and/or to forward your résumé if they don’t yet have it. The follow-up is an opportunity to show those busy recruiters that you are very interested in working for their organization.

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Missed the career fair? Don’t fret. You still have opportunities to connect with employers who attended the fair. Most employers don’t hire on the spot at career fairs, so don’t hesitate to contact them after the event. Make use of the list of employers who attended the career fair, do some research about their organization and contact them by telephone or e-mail. You don’t need to include a lengthy excuse as to why you weren’t at the career fair; you just need to let them know you are interested in working with their organization, explain what you have to offer, and find out the next steps you need to take to be considered for any available positions. CO

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Tactics for

Telephone Interviews

By Anne Markey, Editor, Career Options

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don’t enjoy telephone interviews, because I need to be able to see my interviewers’ faces to gauge how I’m being received. Are they bored or engaged? Paying attention or zoning out? But phone interviews are unavoidable in the job search process—employers often use them as a pre-screening tactic or as follow-up to an initial interview. This article will help you make the most of a phone interview. Know what to expect on the call When someone calls you to arrange for a phone interview, get all the information you can. You need to know when and, more importantly, who will be conducting the interview. It’s also useful to know how many people will be interviewing you and their roles within the company. You may want to ask if there is a more complete job description that could be emailed to you, and if there is anything else that you need to know about the interview beforehand. It’s amazing what people will tell you if you ask. Use the right phone for the job If at all possible, use a land line. If you’ve been asked to call an organization hundreds of miles away, it’s tempting to save money by using Skype or another web-based communication tool—try to avoid this. (A serious employer should be calling you, not asking you to call them.) You don’t want to risk a call breaking up or being dropped, or as one person said to me about Skype, “You sound as if you’re in a submarine.” These are distractions that could undermine the interview. The same thing applies to using a cell phone—avoid it if possible. A land line is always best. If you are using your cell phone number on a résumé, an employer will use that number to call you. Screen your calls before answering. If you’re on public transit, in a bar, in class, let the message go to voice mail. Answer an employer’s call only if you are in a space that will allow you to manage the call in a professional manner. One final point on technology: even with a land line,

should be beside you, so that when you’re asked about availability for a second interview you’ll be able to respond immediately.

smile while you speak. Try it—you really can hear a smile and it makes you sound friendly! different areas of your home may have better reception. If you have a cordless phone, don’t walk around while talking to an employer. Pick one location and make it your home base for all telephone interviews. Prepare your interview space Once you’ve chosen your home base, organize that space. You’ll need a desk or table so you can lay out your résumé and cover letter, the job description of the position you applied for, any company research, point-form notes of your qualifications for the position, and any questions you may want to ask. Make sure you print out any electronic versions of job descriptions, résumés and cover letters; it’s easier to use a hard copy when you’re on the phone. You’ll also need a pen and paper for notes. Finally, your calendar or PDA

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Make sure they can hear you! If you can’t hear the interviewer(s), say so right away. They may be on speaker phone and may need to move closer to the equipment. There may be a problem with the line and they’ll have to call back. They may be speaking too quietly. Don’t continue with the call hoping that things will improve. Ask the interviewer(s) if they can hear you clearly, too—you may not be as loud as you think you are (especially true if you are using a speaker phone). This question also indicates your ability to be proactive and ensure that all group members’ needs are met. If you can’t understand the interviewer’s question, ask for clarification. If you guess at what he or she is asking, you may guess incorrectly. Slow down and smile Speak slowly and clearly—without sounding like a robot. Slowing down your normal rate of speech takes practice. The first couple of times this will feel quite unnatural. Try recording your voice answering mock interview questions, and then play it back. What impressions do you get from the voice and the responses? Also, conduct a mock interview with campus career centre staff. What feedback do they offer? One final tip: smile while you speak. Try it—you really can hear a smile and it makes you sound friendly! Have questions ready Prepare both answers to sample interview questions and questions that you would like to ask the employer, and have these in front of you during the interview. Ask smart questions based on your previous research of the employer and their business. Questions that demonstrate your unique skill set or outstanding personal qualities are great ways to show the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. CO fa ll/w in t er 2 0 1 0

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It All Adds Up

By Stefano E. Picone, stefano@myCAsite.com

Five Insights into the Chartered Accountant Recruiting Process

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very September brings a new school year, as well as the start of the employer recruiting process at universities. For graduating students interested in becoming Chartered Accountants (CAs), the experience can be particularly nerve-wracking. Firms compete for top talent, and students are eager to prove themselves worthy candidates. These five insights into the CA recruiting process may improve your chances of receiving an offer, and help you feel more confident and prepared throughout the process. Referrals > résumés A major misconception is that firms look at all applications in deciding which students to

interview. Actually, firms may prefer to look at résumés from students with referrals! Referrals generally come from two sources: a) other students hired by the firm who are asked to recommend classmates; and b) partners, managers and senior associates in attendance at recruiting events and campus info-sessions. So it may not be worth taking much time to polish your résumé if you have not invested time in networking and building connections. No experience necessary... Firms may not expect students to have previous accounting work experience. Public accounting is a “people profession,” and in order to be successful, a new recruit must have the social

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skills necessary to be able to comfortably interact with clients and co-workers. Most entry-level accounting positions involve data processing and very little human interaction, and therefore are not ideal as background experience. Instead, experience working closely with others or helping customers—in positions such as camp counsellor or retail sales associate—is generally preferred by recruiters.

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Don’t talk about the future! During an interview or info-session, some students make the mistake of announcing their intent to transition to another area of public accounting (e.g., tax, valuations, forensic accounting, etc.) once they qualify for their


designation. CA firms are arranged as “partnerships within partnerships,” and although different service groups operate under a single firm name, they are essentially different businesses. So the audit department is not looking to hire students who are already planning their exit strategy, even if it is technically within the same firm. If a recruiter asks you where you see yourself in five years, answer by saying that your current focus is on finding a position in audit and being a productive and contributing member of a firm, and that once you gain some experience in the industry, you will be in a better position to assess your long-term career prospects.*

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Beware the Big 4 bias Many students believe that the work experience offered by the so-called “Big 4” firms— PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young and KPMG—is superior to that of mid-sized and local firms, as well as other approved training offices. The reality is that all CA firms offer an exceptional experience, and the key is to select a firm based on the work culture and clients that suit you individually. In fact, of the four accounting firms recently named to the list of 75 Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Places to Work Institute, only one was a Big 4 firm. Recruiting is all about options, and by only applying to Big 4 firms, you drastically decrease the likelihood that you will receive an offer.

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What if you do not receive an offer? The stress of recruiting is compounded by the possibility of not receiving an offer. If you are not successful in your search for a co-op or summer internship position, don’t despair: firms hire about twice as many students for full-time positions, so the odds of eventually receiving a job once you graduate are still very good. If you are not successful in your search for a full-time position, there are a number of alternative CA job search strategies you can use:

» A pplying to small/local firms in your city that hire outside the normal recruiting process

» A pplying to small/local firms in rural areas » A pplying for positions in IT Risk & Assurance with large firms » A pplying to a graduate program like the UBC DAP or U of T MMPA program that also lets you pursue the CA designation

» A ccepting an industry accounting position, studying for your CA exams, and then re-applying to firms once you pass the UFE (note that only some regions, such as Ontario, allow you to write your CA exams if you do not work for an approved training office) The key is to be persistent. Good luck! CO

Stefano E. Picone, CA, is the founder of myCAsite.com, an online community dedicated to helping university students and recent graduates interested in becoming CAs. For other recruiting insights, be sure to check out the site, or email Stefano at stefano@myCAsite.com.

*Editor’s note: This article represents the opinion of the author and discusses job search strategies specific to the chartered accounting field. Career Options shares the opinions of many career experts and all are valid. In any interview situation, you may very well be expected to discuss your plans for the future openly and honestly.

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aybe you’re just starting university, or already in your second year, or even close to graduating, when you realize that the academic program you chose is “not for you.” At this point, you might think: “Oh no, I’m stuck! What am I going to do now? I have no idea what else to study!” But don’t fret: it is far more common than most people think for students to change academic programs and to reconsider career paths. It’s not the end of the world! In fact, making a change may open up a world of possibilities. Many students change programs while in university because they come to a better understanding of their educational interests and career options. Their choice of program can be based on many factors: they enjoyed specific classes in high school; they did well in particular subject areas; they wanted to pursue a certain career and believed the program to be the best preparation for it; or other reasons. Whatever your chosen program, your education offers you the chance to learn more about yourself, find out what areas of study suit you best, build skills that are valued in the workplace, and gain awareness of how academic programs relate to occupational choices. If you are trying to choose a new academic program, it is important to try different things and get to know what you like most. So ask yourself: what interests me? What skills do I have, and what skills do I want to develop? How do I like to connect with people? What are the important qualities I want my career to have? With these questions in mind, you have started the process of self-assessment. An academic or career counsellor can help you take this process even further.

It is also important to understand the value of your program and degree in relation to occupations. Does an English degree mean that your only career options are to become an English teacher or a writer? Not at all! There are many more careers that you can secure with this background. According to a recent Ontario University Graduate Survey, 46% of graduates don’t work in fields closely related to their former program of study. The reason graduates are able to move into other fields is because they are able to leverage the transferable skills they developed through their studies, as well as the skills they fostered outside their academic work. A list of these might include working collaboratively, communicating well in a variety of formats, analyzing information and thinking creatively.

key component of making the best choices for your education as well as your future career. One last thought: when faced with the question of changing direction with educational programs, make sure that you tap into the resources available to you at your university, such as academic and career counselling services. These can help you in countless ways during the process of choosing the academic path that’s right for you. Good luck in your adventure at university! CO

Hana El Kaissi, M.Ed, and Elena Pizzamiglio, M.Ed are Career Counsellors at the University of Toronto Career Centre.

What you should know, as your enter and progress through your university career, is that graduating from your program of study should be just one of your many accomplishments. Getting involved in a variety of activities outside of your program is a great way to expand your career prospects while completing your studies. These activities can include participation in campus clubs, paid work, unpaid internships or volunteer work. There are many benefits to getting involved in extracurricular activities. First, you are adding value to your degree and following up on your interests—and in case you need to change direction from the current program of study, you can acquire many transferable skills. Second, employers will view you in a more positive light in hiring decisions, because they look for well-rounded candidates with a range of work and life experiences. Third, your participation in a variety of activities will contribute to understanding yourself as a person, which is a

To change your program or not Be open to possibilities!

By Hana El Kaissi and Elena Pizzamiglio

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Accountant

Astronaut

Beekeeper

Civil engineer

Copywriter

Diver

Ecologist

Editor

Firefighter

Geographer

Illustrator

Interpreter

Lawyer

Librarian

Health inspector

Judge

the federal public service countless career By Luana Mirella and Cindy Clark

avenues to explore

Mechanic

Meteorologist

Notary

Occupational therapist

Press officer

Registrar

Researcher

political analyst

Surveyor

Test pilot

Translator

Urban planner

Video editor

Web developer

Zoologist

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our school days are winding down. It’s time to put into practice all you’ve learned and join the work force. Where to go? What to do?

Have you considered the federal public service? Yes, there is job security and stability. But the bigger picture IS the bigger appeal: you can serve the public interest and make a difference in the daily lives of fellow Canadians while exploring your chosen profession. Make a difference. Be part of a non-partisan, professional team delivering programs and services aimed at improving quality of life for all Canadians. Whether you work in an office or outdoors, in the far North, in a rural area or in a large urban centre, the public service offers you the opportunity to contribute to your country’s future. Explore countless career paths. With more than 250,000 employees, the size and diversity of the public service create an unmatched variety of employment opportunities in areas such as psychology, communications, law, health care, biological sciences, economics, chemistry, forestry and human resources. Never stop learning. The public service offers excellent learning and development opportunities: programs and e-learning opportunities with the Canada School of Public Service, organizational learning and leadership opportunities, language training in group or one-on-one settings, mentoring and coaching, and much more! Be part of a community. You can become an active member of professional networks, functional communities and councils based on the job you do and your professional interests. In these networks and groups you’ll find support from mentors, coaches and colleagues who share your goals and interests. Your Way In: jobs.gc.ca The largest recruitment program for graduates is Post-Secondary Recruitment (PSR), which provides entry-level job opportunities to university and college graduates in myriad fields and work environments across Canada, and sometimes abroad.

“Students and graduates remain an important source of talent for the federal public service, especially as it continually renews itself now and for the future,” says Joanne Lalonde, Director General, National Client Services, Public Service Commission of Canada. It really works. During the 2008–2009 fiscal year, approximately 1,700 students were appointed to positions across Canada as foreign service officers, human resources officers, legal counsel, junior communications officers, policy analysts, epidemiologists, conservation architects, IT programmers—the list goes on and on. “The variety of careers is extraordinary,” says Lalonde. “The opportunity to make a difference and the potential to leave a legacy draws high-quality graduates every year.” So don’t miss out. Get in on our inventory. The Fall 2010 PSR campaign is ramping up now. Visit jobs.gc.ca for more information on the PSR campaign and to view current job opportunities. Ten things to keep in mind when applying to the federal public service

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Start looking now! The time to look for a job is while you are still in school, usually in your last year. Most positions advertised through the PSR program will indicate that degrees/diplomas obtained by a certain date are accepted to allow for upcoming graduates to apply.

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Explore careers at the online jobs hub. Jobs.gc.ca is your hub for exploring career opportunities within the federal public service. Opportunities are posted daily, so visit the site regularly.

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Read job advertisements carefully! Ensure that you meet all of the essential qualifications and that these are clearly demonstrated in your application.

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Sell yourself! Make sure to reflect experiences gained through volunteer work, student activities and work experience gained through summer employment, co‑ops, etc.

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Prepare, prepare, prepare! Avoid doing essential steps at the last minute when the job you want comes up. Keep an up-to-date CV on hand, and complete and regularly update your Public Service Resourcing System profile online.

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Know the deadlines. Late applications will not be accepted, so make sure to check the website often for new job opportunities and respect the closing date and time on the job ads.

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Let the jobs site work for you by creating a job alert. Receive e-mail notifications whenever new job listings are posted that match your search criteria.

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Understand the assessment process. Many positions advertised through the PSR program require testing. The Public Service Commission website and jobs.gc.ca provide useful tips, sample test questions and FAQs to demystify the process for you.

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Prepare for the interview! Read up on the specific organization to understand their business/mission, and review the original job advertisement and statement of merit criteria. These can provide insight into what questions may be asked at the interview.

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Understand the language profile of the position. Many government positions require a certain level of bilingualism. There are three second‑language skills associated with each bilingual position: reading, writing and oral interaction. Visit www.psc-cfp.gc.ca for more details and to see sample questions. Join the federal public service. Innovate! Create! Move it and shake it! CO

Luana Mirella is Communications Advisor, Communications Division at the Public Service Commission Cindy Clark is Program Manager, Post Secondary Recruitment, National Client Services Directorate at the Public Service Commission

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By Jane MacDonald, Manager, Student Career Centre and Co-operative Education Program, St. Francis Xavier University

Myths and Realities of Working for Government

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hether you want to be a carpenter, researcher, librarian, beekeeper or human services professional, you can find employment within government. Collectively, the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government recruit many people for a wide range of careers. However, some job seekers harbour misconceptions about the recruitment process and the workplace environment within government. This article should shed some light on a few of the common myths.

Myth 1 | Qualifications

“I will never get a government job with just my Arts degree.” Federal: The Federal Government of Canada offers over 1,000 different types of jobs located nationally and internationally. There are also numerous opportunities for skills training, professional development, mentoring and advancement. Many senior management

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positions simply require a university degree— some with specialization or study in a specific area. Although a degree is important, the job requirements for senior positions typically focus on the Public Service of Canada core leadership competencies, values and ethics, and how to effectively carry out the duties required. More focus is placed on experience managing within the Federal Government framework in various areas, such as procurement, finance and/or program delivery. Provincial: Qualifications are dependent upon the role and the department. For example, if the province’s Transportation Department seeks to hire a mechanic, then the successful candidate will have the proper credentials to be a mechanic. However, there are numerous positions that simply require a degree, some with a specific specialization. Once hired, the candidate would “learn the ropes” and then apply for promotions. When looking at government, job seekers should be thinking in terms of “career” instead of “job.” fa ll/w in t er 2 0 1 0

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Myth 2 | Language and

location requirements “I need to be bilingual and live within X number of kilometers from the job.”

61% of public service employees based in Canada are located across the country, while the other 39% are in the National Capital Region specifically. Municipal: Similarly, at the municipal level, the qualifications required depend on the job. Some positions require specialized training or certification—for example, building inspection or financial operations—while others are not so specific. Often, entry-level positions are designed so that the new employee has an opportunity to learn the specific job required as well as the organizational structure. Once an employee has demonstrated competence, other training opportunities and promotions may follow.

Despite some specialized training required for specific positions, jobs at each level of government require individuals who possess core competencies. You may be surprised to know that holding an Arts degree shows that you can manage your time, work individually or as part of a team, conduct research, analyze information critically, present oral and written summaries, and communicate effectively with others. These are all valuable skills that transfer easily to many government positions.

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Federal: Most entry-level positions that are advertised through the federal Post-Secondary Recruitment Campaign program will have a variety of language or location requirements. Language is usually determined based on the type of position, and where in the country its duties are to be fulfilled. For example, a manager position located in Quebec is likely to have a French requirement; the same type of position in the National Capital Region might be serving both English and French parts of the country. If the posting indicates “bilingual imperative,” you must meet language requirements based on a language proficiency scale that ranges from A to C (C being most proficient) in order to apply. However, there are also bilingual nonimperative positions where you are given a set time to learn and meet the language requirements of the job. As well, there are positions with mixed or various language requirements. Canada is a multicultural nation, so remember that language


qualifications may not be limited to our two official languages. As for location, the Federal Government offers numerous positions across Canada from rural areas to urban centres, even abroad. When considering employment with the Federal Government, remember this statistic: 61% of public service employees based in Canada are located across the country, while the other 39% are in the National Capital Region specifically. If the posting indicates that you must live within a certain region, this means that the government is not willing to pay your relocation costs if you live outside that region. Apply anyway and indicate that you will relocate, especially if you are willing to learn another language—you never know. Provincial: This myth is not true for all provincial governments. For example, if you wanted to work for the Government of Nova Scotia, language would be important if you were working in a department that offered services or programming in a second language (e.g., the Office of Acadian Affairs, French Language services, etc.). However, if you wanted to work for the governments of New Brunswick or Quebec, then having both official languages would be essential no matter the role. As for location requirements, most provincial government positions still tend to be located in urban areas (often in that province’s capital or seat of government). Depending on the career choice, a job seeker may be limited to working in an urban centre. Municipal: Similar to provincial governments, language and location requirements may be specific to the region and its population. When applying to positions at any level of government, always be sure to report your proficiency in languages other than English or French, as this could be an asset. Canada’s population is diverse, and the languages spoken here are many. As well, exploring job locations away from your home community may open new doors of opportunity for you. Be adventurous!

Myth 3

| Work environment “I’ll be paid well and I won’t have to work too hard, but there won’t be much opportunity for growth.” Federal: Many jobs within the Federal Government are as demanding, or in some cases—because of the rules, regulations and policies—even more demanding than private sector jobs. It is a myth that government employees are lazy and overpaid, and could not do anything else. The vast majority in the Federal Public Service are hardworking and committed to success. The Federal Government also values work/life balance. Some departments (depending on the job) will allow employees to work a condensed week or flexible hours. All employment opportunities are advertised on the Public Service Commission of Canada website: jobs.gc.ca. Reviewing job postings will help job seekers to learn what types of work are available and what qualifications are needed to be successful. The work environment can be quite different from the private sector, thus making for something of a culture shock. Provincial: Provincial government offers challenging and diverse jobs. Government is evolving and so are the positions. Over the years, the work load

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has increased and the type of work has changed. Many management-level positions are well paying.

responsibility and tighter budgets, government organizations and departments overall are leaner. Employees are required to work harder and demonstrate commitment to the organization before being promoted. Have realistic expectations for starting salaries and initial job responsibilities. It may take time to prove your worth and commitment to the organization before being rewarded for your efforts.

For example, the Province of Nova Scotia is the largest employer in Nova Scotia, with over 10,000 employees in 19 departments and approximately 75 agencies. Job seekers can find careers in diverse areas such as: Information Technology, Maintenance and Trades, Regulation and Enforcement, Education and Training, Natural Sciences, Energy, Fisheries and Agriculture, Communication and Information | Personal connections Management, Health and Social Sciences, Tourism, “I need to know someone.” Culture, Recreation and Heritage, Management and Administration, or Executive Leadership. Federal: The Federal Public Service has several different programs to help students find Municipal: Municipal government has a jobs in the government, including the Federal mandate to serve its local population—that Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), could mean your neighbours, friends and family. Co-operative Education, the Research Affiliate Thus employees work hard on behalf of their Program (RAP) and internships. The reality is communities and regions. As with any large that you must apply to the job via jobs.gc.ca organization, expect to work at a number of tasks and meet the statement of merit criteria to in various departments before finding your niche. get screened into the competition. Once that happens, you must go through an evaluation Because of the current economic climate, process that may include a written exam, a and public and private pushes towards fiscal presentation and/or an interview. If you pass

Myth 4

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all these stages, you are placed into a “pool”; managers then select the best fit for the position from the pool. So there is a lot of rigor and transparency involved in the staffing process at the Federal level, making it one of the fairest processes in Canada. The help you might receive from someone already within the Federal Government is in understanding how to effectively apply to jobs. Many departments actually offer training. If you get your foot in the door, as a part of your experience you should take the opportunity to learn how the process works and potentially apply to jobs. For managers or supervisors of co-op work programs or casual employees, there are also options to offer what is called a “bridging program,” which enables students to transition to full-time permanent employment once they graduate. Provincial: If you are looking for a provincial government position, think about building your network. You need to know the specifics of the position, how to access the jobs and how to perform in an interview situation. Being successful


at the interview requires the job seeker to be informed about the department, the position on offer, and the interview and hiring process itself. Governments often use a scoring system with numerous checks and balances that make it difficult for someone to be hired based on “who they know.” Most provincial governments also operate in unionized environments and must abide by collective agreements. Fair hiring practices ensure that hiring is based on the principle of merit, and are designed to promote transparency, consistency, equity and accountability in the hiring process. Municipal: Often hiring practices at the municipal government level are less rigorous than at the federal or provincial levels; however, the same standards of hiring policy still apply. Often the myth of “it’s who you know” stems from how some individuals move from summer student positions to full-time employment. In these cases, often the individual is known to one department, but their continued employment is in another department or division. Thus the hire is based on a proven track record of work, not on connections.

In hiring policy and practice, all levels of government want to develop a workforce that is representative of the populations they serve. If you are a member of an under-represented population, consider noting this on your application. Be prepared to put time and effort into the application process. The first impression you make with your paper or online application is important. Complete your application based on the instructions given, not on what you think they should be. Advice for Students In conclusion, any job seeker who is looking for employment should review the opportunities within all levels of government. Knowing what positions are available and when they are typically advertised, creating a relevant and targeted cover letter/résumé, and building solid interview abilities will increase your chances of being hired. Talk with people who are working in any level of government. One effective way to learn if the civil service is right for you is to work in government as a summer student. This will help you build your network, expand your skills and learn about the workplace culture. Being informed will help you make better career decisions.

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Credits/Resources Federal information sourced from the Public Service Commission website, along with personal connections and knowledge of federal recruitment processes. http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/centres/ faq-eng.htm#psr and http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/ centres/presentation/r2-eng.htm Provincial information sourced from the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission website, and from selected individuals within government and outside consultants. http://www.gov.ns.ca/careers/ Municipal information sourced from various municipal websites and from conversations with individuals with experience working in various government positions as regular staff and as consultants. CO

Jane MacDonald is the Manager of the Student Career Centre and Co-operative Education Program at St. Francis Xavier University.

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“The excitement you felt [as a child] can translate into a career helping people today, whether as a firefighter, or as an engineer.”

By Gail Isles, Manager of Client Services, Halifax Regional Municipality

Municipal Government:

make a difference

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ears ago, government was considered the place to work if you wanted stability, a pension and regular hours. Those same benefits still exist, but it’s a different world working for government today, especially at the municipal level. In municipal government, you deal directly with the people you are serving as a public sector employee. You can really make a difference in your own community.

whether as a firefighter, or as an engineer working on a plan for development that will change the city for the better, or in lots of other ways! Top 10 reasons to work for the Halifax Regional Municipality?

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It’s hip! Working in the capital of Nova Scotia, you’re at the heart of the action. East Coast live music nightly, donairs, mollusks, art...

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As the times change, so too does the work environment. The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) knows that workers want more than just a paycheck—they want to feel they are giving back to society. By providing services in the community, they can directly benefit the place where they live. There is room to grow, try different jobs, enjoy flexible hours. Today’s municipal government allows for a workforce that is as diverse as the people it serves.

Great lifestyle You can live downtown by the harbour, in a suburb by a lake, or in the country by the sea, and walk, bike, bus, or drive a short distance to work. Year-round surfing! Yup, that water’s cold but refreshing! For other exercise options, you can join a gym or take an HRM recreation program for a reduced rate.

HRM offers a range of employment. Remember when, as a child, you heard the siren of a fire engine and you ran to the window to see the truck zooming by your house? The excitement you felt back then can translate into a career helping people today,

Education You want more education? HRM will pay half of your tuition while you are employed with them (at one of the seven degree-granting universities in the city).

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Flexibility Earned days off, job sharing—work-life balance is key at HRM, so flexibility is a given.

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Friendly folks Live in an urban setting where you still get to know your neighbours.

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Democracy The direction for your work comes from elected officials, councillors for the region.

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Great salaries Whatever your work aspirations, you can earn a good living doing what you love!

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Opportunities and options You can have completely different careers while working for the same employer. There is room to move up the ladder of success.

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Give back to your community Live HRM’s partnership of Good Neighbours, Great Neighbourhoods—government and its citizens working together to make a difference. CO

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Alberta Legislature Building, Edmonton

By Jenn Guzzwell, Public Affairs Officer, Alberta Corporate Human Resources

Explore the Possibilities… Careers with the

Government of Alberta Whether you’re just embarking on your career or looking for meaningful work experience while in school, take some time to learn about the Alberta government and the work of the Alberta Public Service.

part-time, seasonal and temporary employees are also part of the provincial government workforce.

For students, new graduates or experienced workers, the Alberta government hosts a dynamic and diverse work environment where there are on-the-job opportunities to learn and grow. There are 24 ministries and 500 different types of work.

Through leading-edge resources support and ample learning opportunities, employees have the ability to reach their full potential. Students can take advantage of summer employment, work experience and co-operative education placements; internships give graduates hands-on experience in the field of their choice, challenging and rewarding work as well as professional development and networking opportunities. To learn more first-hand from two students, read on below.

Employees within the Alberta government hold positions in a variety of fields including finance, agriculture, recreation, health, social sciences, policy, engineering, legal, corrections and enforcement, and communications. While most jobs are located in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital city, there are many Alberta government employees who work in cities, towns and municipalities across the province. Generally, jobs are permanent, full-time positions; however,

The Alberta government is one of the largest employers in Alberta, with over 27,000 employees throughout the province. As an award-winning organization, the Government of Alberta values respect, accountability, integrity and excellence. Provincial government employees share a common vision of proudly working together to build a stronger province and make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of Albertans. The Government of Alberta offers a competitive salary

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Top five reasons why employees join the Government of Alberta: Job fit Opportunities for advancement Learning and development opportunities Secure/stable employment Good/better compensation

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and benefits package, and diverse and rewarding employment opportunities in an environment that encourages continuous learning and career growth. To learn more about the Alberta government’s programs and services, visit www.alberta.ca/home. To explore the diverse career opportunities, visit www.chr.alberta.ca. Discover where a career with the Alberta government could take you! One employer, lots of choices! Tamara Colombina | Policy Intern, Alberta Energy

learning curve. Moving from social-based policy to one of a more technical nature has been an invaluable learning experience. So has been the support received from her colleagues and peers. With monthly development sessions and mentoring groups, Tamara has a community of interns and a network of policy specialists she can rely on for knowledge and expertise. “The Alberta government invested in us when we started,” said Tamara of the government’s dedication to policy interns, “and it continues to be committed to our future as we near the end of our placements.”

When asked if she would consider a career with the Alberta government once her 16-month policy internship was complete, Tamara said: “Definitely. This is a great place if you’re thinking about a long-term career. The Alberta government is one employer but there’s a lot of room for movement.” Tamara speaks from experience. Twelve months into her placement, Tamara has worked for both Alberta Energy and Alberta Seniors and Community Supports—quite a change in subject matter and a rather steep

For more information on the Alberta government’s Policy Internship Program and other internships offered by the Alberta government, visit: www.jobs. alberta.ca/students/program_descriptions.html

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Lindsey is well into her second summer placement as an administrative support for Alberta Corporate Human Resources. “Perhaps what’s most valuable is simply learning how an office works,” said Lindsey. “That’s not something you can learn in school.” Lindsey attests that her experience with the Alberta government has helped hone all of her skills, from expanding her knowledge of computers, to being better organized and even refining her people skills. Lindsey has also drawn on her colleagues for insight and experience. “The staff here keep me involved in all upcoming projects,” she said. “I’m always learning.” Upon graduation, Lindsey says, the Alberta government will certainly be an option as an employer. For more information on the Student Summer Employment Registration Service, visit www.jobs.alberta.ca. CO

You don’t learn this in school Lindsey MacDonald | Administrative Support, Alberta Corporate Human Resources Obtaining employment through the Student Summer Employment Registration Service,

Jenn guzzwell is the Public Affairs Officer at Alberta Corporate Human Resources


Preparation is Key

By Kerri Zanatta-Buehler

for Career Fairs

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potential employer, you also have to know what skills, knowledge and experiences employers are looking for.

There are a number of things you should do before attending a career fair in order to ensure you are well-prepared and present yourself as professionally as possible:

Be specific: Employers are looking for people who want to work specifically for them, in the role they have to offer. You need to make them feel that theirs is the only company you are targeting, so do your homework and be prepared to tell them why you want to work for them.

n your job search, career fairs, both at your school and in the community, should be one of the many avenues you explore. Career fairs provide you the opportunity to meet with a number of employers in one location, to gather information about their organizations and what they are looking for when hiring.

» B e sure to confirm the date, time and location of the career event.

» R eview the list of employers attending the career event and thoroughly research those you are interested in meeting. Prepare a résumé tailored to each employer you’re planning to approach. Create a business card and have copies ready. Prepare and practice your 30-second networking (introduction) statement. Decide what you will wear to the career event prior to the day (professional business attire is a must).

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Networking You’ve often heard the expression “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” There is no better venue than a career fair to demonstrate this, because employers may meet hundreds of job seekers in a matter of hours. Making a strong first impression with a number of employers will go a long way in helping you to create a solid professional network.

Know the four elements of an effective networking statement:

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2

Be relevant: As you research a company, seek to understand the types of backgrounds, skills and attitudes they look for in their recruitment strategy. When communicating your selling features, make sure you focus on information that is relevant to them.

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Be professional: You will be nervous. In fact, you should be nervous. If you are so cocky that you don’t feel any job search jitters, then you need to re-evaluate your attitude—this is serious business! You may be worried that you’ll stammer, but your nervousness can actually give you an edge in performance. Preparation is essential, because when you are nervous being face-to-face with the recruiter for the job you really want, you have a

Your networking pitch should answer three questions: 1. Who am I? 2. Why do I want to work for you? 3. Why should you hire me? Good questions for employers What skills and abilities do you need to be considered a strong candidate to work for your company? What kind of employment experiences are you looking for? What additional skills, such as language or software skills, does your organization consider to be particularly valuable?

»

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Kerri Zanatta-Buehler, B.A., B.Ed, MA, Employment Development Specialist, The Career Centre, Sheridan Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning

Follow the rules of good hygiene and dress professionally! Dress exactly as you would for a job interview.

Place your documents in a professional zip-up portfolio or twin pocket portfolio. You want to be able to easily access your tailored résumés when passing them over to employers, and to easily collect any company information/business cards employers offer you.

In order to create an effective networking statement, and thereby make a strong first impression, you have to be aware of a few key things:

Know what you have to offer: It is important you not only know what skills, knowledge and experiences you have to offer a

4

Be brief: You only have about 30 seconds to make a first impression. When constructing your personal networking pitch, you need to keep it to about 70 words or fewer.

final tips! »

Networking is about communicating your unique selling points in a memorable way. You can do this by creating a personal “pitch” or networking statement that highlights your skills and experience in an interesting way.

Know your target market: Research each employer attending the event and review current industry trends in your chosen field. Use this information to impress the employers you meet at the career fair.

higher chance of messing up your pitch. Practice what you are going to say in advance. Learn to say it naturally without notes. It should sound like you did not write it down and memorize it.

When you are conversing with the employer, LISTEN more than you speak! Ask questions to help you to understand their needs and priorities.

Approach employers on your own, not as part of a group. If an employer is talking to someone else, wait patiently. Make sure you’ve got their full attention when you make your first impression.

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Bring a pen and paper with you in case you need to make notes during the conversation with the employer (strategy: after each meeting with an employer, immediately go to a quiet area to record the discussion—you won’t remember the details of each conversation at the end of the fair).

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Job Interviews Conversations, Not Examinations By Cathy Keates, Career Counsellor and Author,

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our very last exam is on the horizon, and you can’t wait to graduate. But then you realize you are faced with what feels like a whole new round of exams: job interviews. The relief of being finished your academic studies is replaced by déjà vu all over again—and the butterflies return as you prepare for the next big test.

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But is a job interview really a test? Interviews are no walk in the park, but thinking of them as “like exams” can lead you astray and cause you far more anxiety than necessary. An interview is much more like a conversation than an examination. Sure, the interviewer is going to ask you a series of questions to determine fa ll/w in t er 2 0 1 0

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An interview is also more like a conversation because conversations are about interaction, not just answers. what you bring to the table as a candidate. And your task as the candidate is to show that you’re right for the position (see “Top 3 Tips for a Great Interview Conversation” below). But unlike many exams, which require very specific answers, there are multiple ways to answer most interview questions depending on your own unique history and perspective. Too often, candidates spend time worrying about composing the right answer for every possible interview question. Once you realize there is no “right” answer, you can relax and focus on saying what you most want to say. An interview is also more like a conversation because conversations are about interaction, not just answers. The relationship that is formed between you and the interviewer can be just as important as your actual responses. Why? Two reasons. First, interviewers are trying to get a sense of whether you will fit into the organization—so who you are, your personality and ability to connect with people, are highly important. They are not interested in meeting a test-taker who is reciting prepared answers—they want to meet the real you. Second, interviewers are human: they may be trying to maintain an objective hiring process, but they are still hoping to make a genuine connection with a good candidate. Finally, interviews are more like conversations because they are meant to be a back-and-forth, give-and-take exchange. Exams don’t offer you the chance to ask questions of your professor—they are a one-way street. But interviewers want you to interact with them, and ask them questions that show you have spent some time thinking about whether the organization is a good fit for you. So don’t make the mistake that many new graduates make by thinking of the interview as a test and coming unprepared to ask their own questions. Remember, your role is to be a good conversationalist, so be ready to show your interest with some questions. Thinking of your job interviews as examinations can have you sweating about crafting perfect answers, and can leave you more passive than active in the interview process. Choosing to think of your job interviews as conversations—dynamic exchanges of information and relationship building between people—will help you feel more confident, be more prepared, and make a better connection. No more exam anxiety needed! CO Cathy Keates is a career counsellor with a decade of experience working with university students and new graduates, is the author of the job search manual Not for Sale!, and shares her thoughts about job searching with authenticity and integrity on her blog, “Transform Your Job Search,” at www.careerconsiderations.ca.

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Top 3 Tips for a Great Interview Conversation » Be really clear about what skills and experience you bring to this particular position. You can never know exactly what questions you will be asked. But no matter what questions you get, if you know yourself really well and have thought about what makes you a good fit for this position, you will be ready for almost any question that might come up.

Have examples for each of your skills. It’s one thing to say, “I have great communication skills.” It’s another thing entirely to be able to back this up with solid evidence. Ideally, that evidence comes in the form of interesting stories about times you successfully used that skill in the past. These examples can come from paid work, volunteer work, school or other relevant settings. Have lots ready.

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Prepare some questions that you would like to ask the interviewer. Usually after finishing all of their questions, an interviewer will give you a chance to ask questions. This isn’t just to be polite—this is acknowledging that the interview conversation really is a two-way street. Not only is the interviewer assessing how well you would fit their organization, you as the interview candidate are assessing how well this job, at this organization, fits what you are looking for. So think about what you want in a job, then ask about those things—for example, organizational culture, level of responsibility, opportunities for growth—that will help you learn more about whether this position is a good fit for you.

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By Philippe Desrochers

Persuasive Networking

Four Steps to Maximum Results

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etworking in 2010 is about offering and receiving value. No matter how young or inexperienced you are, you can offer value because of your own unique perspective. People can always learn from a new perspective. Offering value, then, is about sharing your viewpoint. On the other hand, to receive value you must motivate others to offer it to you. The best way to do this is to be persuasive. Communications expert Daniel L. Plung wrote a famous article entitled “Writing the Persuasive Business Letter” in The Journal of Business Communication (1980) in which he presents the idea of the “motivated sequence.” The article explains that you can persuade someone to do something if you arrange your ideas “in a pattern that corresponds with the reader’s decision-making process.” Plung’s fours steps are: Problem: Identify the problem. Make sure the reader understands that the problem is “real and immediate.” Make sure the reader understands it is his or her problem. Solution: State what needs to be done. State how the “solution you offer is the right one, and how it will eliminate all facets of the problem as you identified it.” Prove that your suggestion has worked in similar situations before. Show how other solutions are less attractive than yours. Visualization: “Portray the results that will occur if the reader doesn’t do what you have suggested… then show the benefits that will accrue from the reader’s decision to follow your advice.” Action: Spell out what the reader must do next. These steps are extremely effective in business communications, and can be adapted to apply fruitfully in your job search networking. When attending your next networking event with employers, use Plung’s four-step model as a basis and ask the following questions in this order: Problem: The goal of networking with a contact is to build rapport by asking good, persuasive questions. Step one is to identify a possible problem your

contact is facing in his or her business. What are some of the challenges you face in your business? How has this problem impacted your business? How long do you foresee being able to go before needing to make changes? Solution: Once you have helped your contact see that there is an urgent problem, he or she will be very motivated to start talking about a solution. You now want to ask a series of questions that will help your contact think of solutions. Are you doing anything now to address the problem? What have you been doing to solve this problem? What has worked in the past? What has not worked in the past? Visualization: Now that your contact has thought of possible solutions and alternatives that have not worked in the past, it is now time to help him or her visualize both a negative and a positive outcome. If you were not to make any changes to your business, what do you think would be the impact? If you were to address these issues, can you imagine the impact it could have on your bottom line? Action: Your contact will now be primed for your action recommendation. You have set the stage perfectly to present yourself as part of the solution to the problem. I have faced similar challenges in a previous role and would be interested in sharing with you how I accomplished this. Would you be interested in discussing this? CO

Philippe Desrochers, Global Career Development Facilitator, Lecturer (Career Management) and Manager, BCom Careers at the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia (UBC). The career centre works with both employers and students in connecting the community with future business leaders. Sauder’s business career centre provides students with a variety of career management services and offers employers a variety of high-impact recruitment services. Recruiting from Sauder gives organizations access to skilled, motivated individuals with fresh perspectives and new ideas.

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There’s No “Magic Test” Career Assessment:

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By Jennifer Browne and Paula Strickland


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third-year student who recently visited the Career Centre exclaimed: “Just give me the test… the test that will tell me what career I should choose!” This is not an uncommon request from students as they attempt to choose an academic program of study or the career path they want to pursue. The bad news is, there’s no “magic test” that will provide a definitive answer. But the good news is, there are a number of things students can do to determine their ideal career options. No one knows you as well as you know yourself, so taking the time to actively reflect on your interests, values, abilities and personality is very important. What do you consider important in life? What do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies? What are you good at? It is also imperative to reflect on your likes and dislikes in a job situation. By identifying what you do not want out of a career, you will in turn get more clarity about what you really do want. This can be very helpful in narrowing your search for that elusive career path. Answering some of these questions can really serve to spark your thinking about your options. If you love history, why not look at careers for history buffs? If you hate the shift work in your current part-time job, then perhaps you can rule out careers that involve shift work. Knowing yourself is a critical first step in the career planning process. The more effort you put in at the start of this process, the happier you will be with the outcome. So how do you discover what you like and don’t like? What you are good at and not-so-good at? Where your personality and values fit? Much of this self-discovery comes from real-world experience. All those summer or part-time jobs and volunteer positions can provide you with valuable insights into yourself. Teaching may have been on your radar as a potential career, but after the summer you just spent working at a children’s camp, you may feel differently about being surrounded by 20 to 30 eager little faces every day. Considering a certain career is one thing, but actually being immersed in that field is quite another, offering the kind of insight that only comes from hands-on experience. Reflecting later on what parts you did and didn’t enjoy about these experiences can be powerful indicators of your future career. There may not be a “magic” career test, but there are a number of useful career assessments available. Career tests are interesting, but they are just one of many options available to you on your exploration. Your campus career centre or counselling centre will have a variety of tools and resources that you can use. Try taking more than one career assessment to see if the results are similar; if they are, this may indicate that

you’re on the right path. Schedule an appointment with a career counsellor to discuss your results and where you are in the career planning process, as oftentimes talking it out can help clarify your thoughts. The career counsellor will also be able to suggest additional resources. It may also be beneficial to connect with people who are working in professions that interest you, as this will provide practical insight about this type of work. In addition, taking initiative to work part-time or volunteering in a field of interest will provide you with a valuable career exploration opportunity. When exploring your career options, consider how they match your: Interests: Things you enjoy doing and are passionate about can provide important clues about work or career interests. Values: The motivation or personal incentives needed for job satisfaction are unique to each person. By examining your work values, you can then determine what is important to you and prioritize what role work will play in your life. Abilities: Talents and natural abilities often indicate potential in a particular area. People often take for granted the skills that come easily to them, yet those are precisely the areas that you should explore. With training, natural aptitudes can turn into career options. Personality: Your unique combination of emotional and behavioural characteristics constitutes your personality. Different careers align with different personality types. Knowing your personality can enable you to enhance your career choices and ultimately your career success. As you grow and develop personally and professionally, your needs and interests may change over time, so take the time to reflect on your interests and values on an ongoing basis. Staying in touch with yourself will ensure you are taking a proactive approach to your career planning. CO

Jennifer Browne is the Director of Career Development & Experiential Learning at Memorial University of Newfoundland and regularly administers “the tests.” Paula Strickland is the Manager of the Centre for Career Development at Memorial University of Newfoundland and loves talking to students about their test results.

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Entrepreneurship

the Path of Change Makers

By Vinod Rajasekaran, Public Policy Forum, and Despina Sourias, Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

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assionate, creative and highly independent, he set out to discover the world and the performing arts almost 40 years ago, not knowing where this path would take him. Today, he runs a multimillion-dollar business renowned for delivering unique and cutting-edge circus shows that few would even dare imagine, let alone create. Guy Laliberté, the founder and head of Cirque du Soleil, is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and visionaries, who revolutionized the very idea of what a circus could be. Guy is an example of how far a little dreaming and risk-taking can take you. The personal qualities that Guy Laliberté used to found his company—risk-taking, drive and creativity—are the same qualities needed by young job seekers today to counter the ebbs and flows of the job market. In the last decade, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has endorsed entrepreneurship as the best means for youth to adapt to a changing and highly competitive job market in both rural and urban areas around the world. So what is entrepreneurship? A term generally related to starting a company, entrepreneurship encompasses a lot more than the act of business creation. Entrepreneurship is a set of attitudes and skills, as well as a need to take charge of one’s own future by creating meaning through a sustained effort that brings change to the world and meets a given need in society. Even when working for someone else, individuals who put their creativity and devotion to use help the company to grow and give themselves a chance to fulfill their potential. Canada’s National Youth Entrepreneur Social Attitude and Innovation Study (January 2008) showed that close to 50% of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 would like to start their own business. Many, however, said they did not want to risk venturing into such projects because they feared that the time and money they put in would not lead to success. Jobs that could bring them immediate financial security prevailed over their interest in starting a business. Although statistically Canadian youth tend to favour working for others as their primary means of employment and financial security, the reality is that there are no guarantees they will remain in the same job or achieve financial security over the long term. Entrepreneurs must work

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hard to establish themselves but generally have the capacity to enjoy long and financially stable careers, while contributing to the social and economic growth of their communities. So how can more Canadian youth pursue their interest in entrepreneurship? We think that the solution lies in two areas: motivation and access/ awareness. To cultivate a culture and practice of youth entrepreneurship in Canada, we have to motivate young people to become entrepreneurs and provide access to and awareness of the opportunities and supports that exist. But whose role is it to do these things? We believe that government, colleges and universities, education boards and the private sector all have an important role to play in shaping the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs. Getting Motivated If you are yet to experience the vigor of entrepreneurship, here are some initiatives that can motivate you, help you discover your entrepreneurial spirit and connect you with like-minded peers.

With ten programs for 2010, Impact Entrepreneurship Group (www.impact.org) is Canada’s largest non-profit, student-run organization dedicated to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit among youth and to becoming a starting point and catalyst for youth interested in entrepreneurship. Impact consists of university and college chapters across Canada, and teaches and fosters entrepreneurship through hands-on experience. Youth Canada (www.youthcanada.ca), now an initiative of Impact, is Canada’s top online resource on entrepreneurship for students. ACE (www.acecanada.ca) is a national organization at over 50 college and university campuses across Canada that is teaching young Canadians to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities by delivering experience-based programming that challenges university and college students to address economic, social and environmental issues through entrepreneurial ventures.

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Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada (YSEC) (www.ysec.org) looks to ignite a movement of young people toward social enterprises that align people, planet and profit. In Quebec, the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, a provincial government-led strategy to promote entrepreneurship, employs over 100 youth working in local employment centres, to help promote and support entrepreneurial inititiaves. Find your local Carrefour-jeunesse employment and Entrepreneurship Awareness and Promotion Officer, or test your entrepreneurial potential by visiting www.cjereseau.org. Getting Support If you’re excited about entrepreneurship, you’re three-quarters of the way there! Where can you find financing, mentorship, workspace and other supports to turn your idea into a business? One-stop shops called “incubators” exist in many cities across Canada. Incubators help entrepreneurs with things like business plans, accounting, marketing, business training and

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legal services until they have the revenue and organizational structure to run on their own. The Canadian Business Incubators Association (www.cabi.ca) has a comprehensive list of incubators for industries ranging from IT to fashion—check to see if there is one near you and what services they provide. Some colleges and universities also have incubators on campus: examples include Ryerson University’s Entrepreneur Institute, University of Waterloo’s VeloCity, University of Manitoba’s Eureka Project and University of Victoria’s Innovation and Development Corporation. While some incubators can assist you with funding, access to capital can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business for young entrepreneurs. Depending on the business model, different types and sources of funding exist. They can range from small business loans from a bank, to grants from foundations or governments, to angel or venture capital investments. Incubators can help you determine which source is right for your business. Let’s touch on some of the types of funding types and sources available. An example of a venture capital funding source is Lemonade Ventures (www.lemonadeventures. com), an early-stage capital and consulting firm. Lemonade Ventures assists young entrepreneurs by providing funding, mentoring and business consulting resources. Business Development Bank of Canada’s (www.bdc.ca) business startup financing is an example of a small business startup loan provided by a Crown corporation. BDC provides young entrepreneurs with startup tools, financing and consulting services.

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (www.cybf.ca) also provides loans of up to $15,000 to aspiring young entrepreneurs who are likely to succeed in creating a business and for whom financial assistance is critical. If you’re interested in an enterprise that seeks to address a social problem, you could also consider the Laidlaw Foundation (www.laidlawfdn.org). The 46

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Foundation invests in innovative ideas and advocates for change in support of young people becoming healthy, creative and fully engaged citizens. Contests are also a great way of getting funding and visibility for business ideas. The Quebec Entrepreneurship Contest (www.concours-entrepreneur.org), for example, supports and highlights new businesses and entrepreneurial projects in schools with prizes of up to $10,000. Getting Entrepreneurial Given that youth do show an interest in starting a business and that support is available, there is a need to rethink and rebuild Canada’s entrepreneurial base—and youth have a role to play. Government, colleges and universities, education boards and the private sector can all help to shape and encourage Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Even at the elementary and high school levels, we have to create more practice-based learning environments so that youth can explore their skills and build their entrepreneurial potential. There are organizations interested in making the link between all these different actors. For example, the Public Policy Forum (www.ppforum.ca) is committed to engaging youth to generate approaches to building a supportive and cutting-edge entrepreneurial ecosystem for Canada.

top : E kabhishek ; bottom : S tu S eeger

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (www.ccab.com/links_youth.html) is an independent, non-partisan organization that provides programs and resources to create economic opportunities for Aboriginal people across Canada.

Guy Laliberté, the founder and head of Cirque du Soleil, is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and visionaries, who revolutionized the very idea of what a circus could be.


Youth can do their part by spreading the word about entrepreneurship—they can chat about it, Tweet about it, write on Facebook about it, and talk to friends and parents about it. So, are you up for the entrepreneurial challenge? Test your entrepreneurial profile by visiting: http://www.bdc.ca/en/business_tools/ entrepreneurial_self-Assessment/Entrepreneurial_ self_assessment.htm CO

Vinod Rajasekaran, Research Associate, Public Policy Forum (www. ppforum.ca). Despina Sourias, Regional Entrepreneurship Awareness and Promotion Officer (Montréal), Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (www.cje-ndg.com)

Some Points to Consider When Starting Your Own Business » » c onsumer spending Many people start » industry news and trends a small business in » international trade data order to enjoy the » s ample business plans perceived rewards » s uppliers, manufacturers and distributors of freedom and By Dan Humphries

independence. The reality of smallbusiness ownership can be quite different. Many small business owners will tell you they work more hours than when they worked for someone else. A few questions to consider: Do you like to make your own decisions? Do you enjoy competition? Do you have will power and self-discipline? Do you plan ahead? Do you get things done on time? Can you take advice from others? Are you adaptable to changing conditions? Do you have the physical stamina to handle a business?

» » » » » » » »

The Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre (www. canadabusiness.ca) provides free government information for small and medium-sized business in Ontario. You can also find a wide variety of business planning information, online sample business plans and business plan templates to help you develop a professional business plan. The Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre also offers a limited business research service free of charge. Research requests can take up to five business days to complete and results can be returned to you via Canada Post, fax or e-mail. The information you can access includes:

» b usiness associations » C anadian demographics » c ompany data

Business information officers are available to assist you in English or French when you call the Business Info Line toll-free (1-888-745-8888 or TTY: 1-800-457-8466) weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST. For information about youth entrepreneurship programs, visit: Summer Company: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/summary/2409/ CYBF:  http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/summary/1216/ CFDC: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/summary/3101/ Other valuable links include: A step-by-step guide for starting a small business: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/guide/2550/here This link has important information for anyone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur:  http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/125/107/ Free specialized business research service: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/summary/2224/ Business planning tools: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/86/

Dan Humphries is the Regional Business Officer at the Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre

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Career Options Fall 2010  

Career Options Fall 2010

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