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career options For Canadian Post-Secondary Students Fall 2011 / Volume 25 No. 2

24 Social Media

use by Employers

30 Enviro and

Cleantech careers

34 The benefits

of Co-ops and Internships

The NEW REALITY of careers today

you need

many tools and skills to thrive page 20

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career options fall 2011

« A pplying the

Chaos Theory to career development: the way forward isn’t always predictable or measureable, but that’s okay! page 12

5 Make Your

Education Work for You By Amanda Sage

24 The Invasion:

Employers Take Over the Social Media Realm By Mike Gregor

12 Applying

chaos Theory to Career Development By David Lindskoog

16 From Typewriters to Online Networking: Why My Job Hunt Differs from My Parents’ By Kristy Wright


of careers today: you need many tools and skills to thrive

28 Employers

Innovate for On-campus Recruiting By Paul D. Smith

30 From fringe

to mainstream: Jobs in the Enviro sector By Hillary Lutes

34 Learning in

the Workplace By Laura Jakobschuk

By Erin Jackson

39 Teyotsihstokwáthe

Dakota Brant Shares Her Lessons Learned By Amanda Sage

42 the New Reality

of Career Centres

By Yvonne Rodney

46 Damon Allen on

Education, dreams and success By Kathleen Clark

48 Catching up on ICT

By Maria Church

50 Traditional

Industries Have a New Reality Too By Jordan Adams

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[even more] career options The latest issue of Career Options is always online at


Choosing your major? Planning your career? Landing your first 9-to-5? Scary stuff. The years after high school are a crash course in “the real world” and Blogspot gives you the real deal. Our regular and guest bloggers share their experiences about the highs and lows of post-secondary education, entering the workforce, finding the “right” job and getting a career on track. Send your blog ideas to:

We Would Like to Thank Our Advertisers… 32, 53 Brenntag Canada Inc. 22, 53 Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. 36 Canadian Grocery HR Council 18 Canadian Payroll Association ii, 54 Centennial College 49 Centre for Distance Education 58 Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia 38, 53 Certified Management Accountants (CMA) 56 Collège d’Études Ostéopathiques de Montréal 37 Concordia University College of Alberta 11, 54 Enterprise Rent-A-Car (ERAC) 55 Graham Group Ltd. 47 Halliburton 40, 54 Harris Institute 19 Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) 57 Humber College Business School 4 Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) 35, 55 Insurance Institute of Canada 53 Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme Korean Education Centre (Korean Consulate General Toronto) 41, 55 29, 53 Language Industry Association (AILIA) 26 McGill University - Faculty of Engineering 14, 53 National Energy Board 49 NAV Canada 45, 53 New York Chiropractic College 33, 54 Nexen Inc. 1 Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) 10, 56 Queen’s University School of Graduate Studies 44, 54 Queen’s University, Faculty of Education Graduate Studies 2, 56 Railway Association of Canada 16 Recruit in Canada/Study and Go Abroad Fairs 52 Rio Tinto 15, 54 Ross University 9, 55 St. George’s University 55 St. Lawrence College 25 Sun Life Financial 56 Sutherland-Chan School and Teaching Clinic Talisman Energy Inc. 8, 56 Teck Coal Limited 51, 55 7 Trican Well Services Ltd 23 University of Winnipeg, Division of Continuing Education 2

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career options

Facing “The New Reality” in career transitions


Paul D. Smith Managing Editor | gordongroup


Kathryn Young

Project Management | gordongroup

he New Reality” is the theme of this issue of Career Options, just as it was the theme of CACEE’s recent national conference. Many of the articles offered in this issue feature people who presented at our event, and in each case they were selected because they had innovative and interesting things to say about emerging trends in recruitment and selection of new graduates. I am pleased that we can share these insights with those of you who are about to live the experience of being a graduate and a new employee.

Andrea Migchelsen Art Direction / Print Management | gordongroup

Leslie Miles Design & Layout | gordongroup

Kelly Read-Lyon Laura Willsher Alina Oliveira Director, Direct Marketing | gordongroup

Thomas Krayer Advertising sales manager | gordongroup

Kirill Kornilov

Every graduating class, every individual graduate, faces a new reality when their turn comes to move on from their studies to the workforce. And they must develop and employ their own tactics to help them be successful, which can be easier or harder depending upon the conditions of the time. The experience is unique and surprising for everyone who goes through it. However, from a macro-perspective, most years look pretty similar with the same processes and tactics employed and only the intensity changing.

Advertising Sales | gordongroup

Pauline de Gonzague Colleen Hayes Andrew Moore Chris Wolski Contributors

Jordan Adams Laura Addicott Maria Church Kathleen Clark Graham Donald Christine Frigault Sara Frizzell Mike Gregor Erin Jackson Laura Jakobschuk David Lindskoog Hillary Lutes Patricia Poirier Yvonne Rodney Amanda Sage Paul D. Smith Kristy Wright 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 Paul D. Smith:

Tel.: 416-929-5156 ext. 223 Fax: 416-929-5256 Email: Website: For advertising inquiries, contact Kirill Kornilov, Advertising sales manager, gordongroup:

Tel.: 613-288-5363 Fax: 613-722-6496 Email: Website: 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.

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

Those of us who have been around long enough to claim some perspective are accustomed to cyclical change: good years sliding down into bad ones, and then climbing back toward optimism with the ups and downs of the larger economy. But this time may be different. My colleagues are telling me that they sense something bigger happening and they foresee a deeper, structural change that will affect not only how much recruiting is done, but also how and where it happens. The graduating class of 2012 may very well experience a “Reality” that is not only “New” to them, but to everyone involved. Three factors are driving the change: technology, economics and demographics. Each of the factors exerts its own pressures on the business of recruiting – some more than others, depending upon local variables. Elements of these pressures are examined in articles in this issue, along with innovative responses designed to deal with the demands these pressures bring. If anybody can make sense of “The New Reality” it is the people who have contributed to this issue of Career Options. Enjoy the articles. We are confident that all of you will find something of use to help you to deal with the challenge of transitioning into the workforce. Good luck!

Paul D. Smith is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers. Email Paul at

For further information, visit:

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By Amanda Sage

Make Your

Education Work for You


anadian students have long been attracted to university by the promise of prompt and rewarding employment upon graduation. Yet each year, many graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed, and are left feeling that their respective universities let them down. But have they? Preparing graduates for a defined labour market isn’t the purpose of university. Or at least it hasn’t

been in the past. Not according to Paul D. Smith, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). “University education isn’t about jobs,” he says. “It’s about the pursuit of knowledge and about getting to know yourself.” As Smith explains, previous generations of university graduates had much greater odds of securing employment, which fed into the mistaken assumption that a degree leads to a job. But what

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many people overlook is the fact that in the past, having a university education was something of a rarity; today, it’s much more common. “It used to be that simply having a bachelor’s degree made you more attractive as a job candidate,” says Smith. “In 2011, a university degree isn’t so rare, and the market has adjusted. Many students think that finding a job is automatic upon graduation, but it isn’t. Innovations in career development, including experiential learning fa ll 2 0 1 1


“About 75 percent of Canadian students are enrolled in programs and schools that only about 10 percent of employers will consider hiring from,” says TalentEgg founder Lauren Friese.

programs and the introduction of new technologies, have improved the path to the workforce, but the essential purpose of a university education has not substantially changed. Universities are still offering exactly what they always did; it’s the market that has changed. Now more than ever, students have to prepare for the workplace in other ways beyond academic success.” Know yourself—then let others know Knowing yourself, and what you have to offer an employer, is key to making the transition from school to work. Too often, when students graduate with a generalized arts degree rather than a professional degree such as business or engineering, they feel they don’t have “employable” or marketable skills. That isn’t the case at all. Liberal arts degrees equip you with the ability to think critically and look at complex problems from a variety of perspectives—both of which are assets in any workplace. As Smith explains, it isn’t a matter of liberal arts or social sciences students lacking employable skills; rather, it’s a matter of them not knowing how to show employers the ways that their skill sets can be applied on the job. “Students enrolled in professional or applied programs like business, engineering, or education see a much more linear connection to the workplace, and they understand the potential paths to the workplace,” says Smith. “Many of those students are also enrolled in co-op or internship programs, so they may see the way even more clearly. This is a tremendous advantage for these students because they learn how to express their experience in words that employers can understand,” he says. “Students enrolled in the 6

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arts or humanities need to make an extra effort to define the pathways for themselves, and for the employers they favour. Listing roles such as vicepresident of a club or organization isn’t very helpful to a prospective employer. The emphasis should be on what the student can offer the employer.” For example, if you’ve served as vice-president of your student society, you could highlight your skills in leadership, organization and multi-tasking. Kevin Bolen, Director of Student Employment and Engagement at the University of Regina Career Centre, couldn’t agree more. He and his staff work with students to help them articulate what they’ve learned in university in a way that will be meaningful to employers. One of the best ways of doing that, he says, is to create a skills-based résumé that conceptualizes what the student has learned in the classroom. “If you’ve only got classroom experience, you can draw on anecdotal examples to show how working on research projects or giving presentations leads to employable skills,” Bolen says.

small pool of students that are recruited from undergraduate programs. Yet we encourage students to pursue post-secondary education with the expectation that when they graduate, they will be able to find meaningful employment…. We need to do something today to better align the goals of students, educators and the government.” Friese first recognized the problem after graduating from Queen’s University in 2005 with a degree in economics and being unable to find work in her field—in spite of her good grades and long list of extracurricular activities. Unsure of what else to do, she enrolled in a Masters of Economic History at the London School of Economics. After graduating with what she calls “an even artier degree,” Friese was shocked to find work in England immediately. “It was really easy and seamless to transition from being a student to being a worker,” she says. Once she moved back home, she applied the experience she’d gained overseas to help young Canadians find their way in the workplace; she founded TalentEgg, a job website and career resource for students and new graduates. Make your voice heard One of TalentEgg’s newest features is Student Voice, which launched in March 2011 and offers students “a platform to share their job search stories—the good and the bad—as well as share ideas on how to improve campus recruitment,” says Friese. As of April 4, the daily Metro newspaper began featuring a new Student Voice entry every week in its education section. “Our intention is to raise awareness of the problem students have [in transitioning to the workforce] so that change can happen starting with the people who can make a difference, like the government and employers,” she says.

A smoother school-to-work transition Finding ways of articulating what you have to offer an employer is a great start. But TalentEgg founder Lauren Friese says that the obstacles to a smooth transition from school to work go beyond that. In her opinion, the problem is a systemic one that can be resolved only through cooperation from all sides: students and parents, but also career educators, employers and government. “The reality is that about 75 percent of Canadian students are enrolled in programs and schools that only about 10 percent of employers will consider hiring from,” says Friese. “That’s a huge, huge systemic problem. It’s an incredibly r eerop t io n smaga zin

As she sees it, the most important change employers can make is to start recruiting “outside the lines”; that is, to consider hiring students who don’t necessarily match all the criteria employers are looking for, but who offer valuable attributes and can be taught the necessary hard skills in-house. CACEE’s Smith doesn’t think the problem is that big, but he agrees that employers might benefit from casting a wider net when recruiting. The nearly exclusive focus on professional programs appears to be a uniquely Canadian phenomenon. In the U.S. and the U.K., people with generalist degrees are recruited alongside their professional a cace e p u b l i cat i o n

peers. But changing this behaviour alone will not fix the problem, because it will not add to the numbers being hired. The actual number of unemployed or underemployed graduates is very hard to establish with certainty, as there are many sets of conflicting statistics. Smith explains that the Council of Ontario Universities data show that Ontario graduates enjoy a 95-percent-placement rate. Yet data from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development suggest that Canada has an unacceptably high rate of underemployed university graduates. “While we have a difficult time establishing the actual rate of unemployment or underemployment, there can be no denying that it happens, and it happens too often,” says Smith. Guaranteed improvement Bolen and his staff at the University of Regina Career Centre are committed to helping place liberal arts students in career-related employment, and have done very well in meeting that goal. The students’ successful placement

Canada has an unacceptably high rate of underemployed university graduates.

rate is a testament to the validity of Friese and Smith’s belief that graduates with a generalized degree can be a wonderful addition to the workplace, and shouldn’t be passed over simply because of their programs of study. “We’ve actually had liberal arts students hired to do accounting work and human resources work,” says Bolen. “What we find is that they’re very competitive with our business students, if given the opportunity, because they can articulate their ability to look at the world from multiple perspectives.” He points out that learning hard skills from programs such as business or engineering are important for certain jobs—but equally as important are the critical and analytical thinking skills that are acquired in a liberal arts program.

With a view to helping all students succeed postgraduation, Bolen instigated a groundbreaking new initiative that was launched at the University of Regina in September 2010. The UR Guarantee Program offers first-year students the option to sign up for a range of activities during their undergraduate degree that will enrich their educational experience and better prepare them for the workforce. Activities include extracurricular involvement and community service. If, within six months of graduating, participants haven’t found career-related employment, the University will waive tuition and course fees for an additional 30 credit hours of undergraduate courses the following year. Bolen expects that many students will be excited by the prospect of either a guaranteed job or the opportunity for free additional schooling. But he’s more excited about the thought of students being exposed to extracurriculars that will play a huge hand in making students more employable. “The real benefit of the program is in actually doing those activities that will prepare you for the workforce,” he says. Almost 25 percent of new students enrolled in the UR Guarantee Program in

2010, and Bolen hopes to see that number climb in the coming years. All signs indicate that by empowering participants with a more balanced university experience, the UR Guarantee Program will help students reap big rewards after graduation. Bolen’s team recently conducted a survey of Saskatchewan employers to identify which skill sets they look for in employees. He was pleased to learn that employers are looking for well-rounded individuals. “The feedback we’re getting is that it’s actually more important [for prospective hires] to be open-minded and multi-faceted than to have a specific skill set,” he says. “Employers want to hire a whole person. We’ve found that employers who are willing to interview people with a different educational background than what they originally had in mind have been pleasantly surprised with the type of candidates they’re seeing.”

the right direction. But Friese feels that the onus shouldn’t be on employers to do all the heavy lifting. To her mind, the government should offer incentives for employers to consider a wider range of students, including graduates from professional and generalized programs, so that the burden of providing in-house training can be lessened. Smith agrees that a large part of the solution must involve funding and support to help employers train new hires, and to help career educators facilitate a smoother school-to-work transition. “We need to help students not just get into university, but also have a place to go when they get out,” he says. “So much focus is put on access, but getting in is not enough; we also have to help students move along to the next thing after graduation.”

Better incentives, better results As Bolen tells it, many Saskatchewan employers are beginning to shift their thinking when it comes to hiring practices, which is definitely a step in

The best way to prepare students for the workforce, he says, is to introduce the idea of career planning much sooner. “Students leaving high school need to understand what the purpose of the different educational options are,” says Smith. “And they should choose wisely.” He points out that he has yet to read a university’s mission statement and find the words “job,” “career” or

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“employment.” Nevertheless, students are told by parents, educators and politicians that a university degree leads to work. Smith encourages students to enroll in the programs that interest them, be they professional or generalist in nature. Arts degrees such as economics, political science and English are always valuable; they provide universal skills that can be applied to a range of careers, and have an important place in the labour market alongside business and engineering degrees. Smith just wants to caution students that they should reexamine their expectations of what a degree will bring them. “University isn’t about preparing for work,” he says. “It’s about preparing for life.” CO

Amanda Sage is a freelance journalist.

For further information, visit:,,

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Cha Applying

By David Lindskoog

Theory to Career Development


ou may have heard about the Chaos Theory, a mathematical theory that was developed, among other applications, for use in meteorology. From it arose the term “butterfly effect”—maybe you’ve seen the movie by the same name—which describes the phenomenon of small changes producing drastic results over time. There’s even a “Simpsons” Hallowe’en special that illustrates all this using the dramatic example of a toaster that allows time travel. Now, Robert Pryor and Jim Bright have combined chaos and careers in their new book The Chaos Theory of Careers: A New Perspective on Working in the Twenty-First Century. So how do the two mix? And more importantly, what does it mean for students? One of my favourite analogies explaining Chaos Theory goes something like this: Imagine you drop a ping-pong ball in a closed, empty

room. You can easily determine and measure all the factors that will influence the ball’s trajectory and its final resting spot. This can be thought of as a linear system—it’s very predictable and measurable. Maybe you’ve been given the idea that your career path is predictable and measurable too. Some theories of career development state that it’s just a matter of measuring all the relevant factors (i.e., your interests, skills, personality traits, and the qualities of different occupations and work environments) and coming up with a good match. But we all know life’s not like that. In fact, there are more unpredictable factors in our lives than predictable ones. We can never know for sure what’s going to change and impact our life’s trajectory suddenly and unexpectedly. We can therefore describe life as non-linear—it doesn’t unfold in a neat and tidy straight line.

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So, let’s go back to the room with the ping-pong ball. Now, instead of standing in an empty room, you’re running on a treadmill in the gym. There are people walking around, fans keeping the air circulating, windows open, etc. What happens now when you drop the ping-pong ball? Suddenly it’s much harder to predict where the ball will end up, because there are so many dynamic factors in our non-linear system. A small change in any of those factors could lead to a large change in where the ball ends up (if it stops at all). It doesn’t make sense to apply static ideas to a dynamic, shifting and constantly changing world of work. However, we don’t like uncertainty. We want to know. But maybe it’s not that important to know. Maybe what’s more important is having the courage to drop that ball in the first place, and the flexibility to allow it to follow the path that it will, accepting the fact that much of it is outside your direct control. fa ll 2 0 1 1


Check out these other career books:

You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career, by Katherine Brooks The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Daniel Pink

So what can you do in the face of chaos, when nothing is certain and everything is possible?


/ Reframe indecision as open-mindedness: Being indecisive fosters a passive attitude, like you’re waiting for something to fall into your lap. Openmindedness encourages intentional exploration and a more proactive attitude.

2 / Be curious: What have you been missing out on? Being curious about

new things, even if they seem scary, is the first step toward opening new doors that lead to future career possibilities.


/ Look for clues: There are all kinds of connections we don’t see in the present that seem easily explainable when we recall them later. Create your own luck! By trying new things, you increase the chance that positive unpredictable events will happen. When something feels right, go for it.

4 / Take lots of small actions: Focus your energy on small things

you can do now or in the near future, like volunteering, participating in clubs and groups, or talking to people working in fields you’re curious about.


/ Take stock: Things seem chaotic and unpredictable when you look at them up close, but patterns often emerge as you look at the bigger picture. Chaos theorists call this self-similarity, but it’s easier to think of it as stopping to look at the bigger picture from time to time. Knowing where you’re coming from makes this process much easier, and taking time to reflect on the patterns emerging in your life will give you as great an idea as you’ll ever get of your strengths. CO

David Lindskoog is a career advisor at Simon Fraser University

For further information, visit:,


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By Kristy Wright

From Typewriters

Online Networking to

Why My Job Hunt Differs from My Parents’


ven as a young girl, I always knew there was a deadline for when I had to officially grow up: the year 2012. That’s the year I graduate from university, and with no plans for graduate studies, in theory I should have all the tools I need to start a career and a life separate from my parents’ bank accounts. When my parents graduated in 1978 in the U.S., the economy was growing and the unemployment rate was dropping. My father researched some companies in his school’s library, wrote a résumé and cover letters on his typewriter, and mailed them to the companies. A few of these letters later, and presto—a position available upon his graduation. So, it’s no surprise that my parents moved straight from student housing into their own home, eager to begin their adult lives. I guess my parents have always had the expectation that my sisters and I would do the same. But this isn’t 1978 anymore, and with unemployment rates soaring since I graduated

from high school, I’m beginning to doubt I’ll have anywhere near the same easy success. While I may be old enough to leave the nest, with the limited job market I won’t be surprised if I have to fly on back until I have enough savings to move out for good. After all, one of my sisters was forced to do just that when she graduated, until she finally found a job months later. And it certainly isn’t uncommon among my peers to move back in with their parents until they build a solid career foundation. I see it as a smart long-term solution; my parents see it as an embarrassing last resort. By March of each school year, my calls home go something like this: “Mom, Dad, I’m so stressed! I have three papers to write, plus I have to promote these events I volunteer for!” “Just try your best, honey. By the way, have you sent in your internship applications yet?” “But my essays—” “What about your bank account? Did you call the bank today? And have you upgraded your phone plan yet?”

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The formula that worked for [my parents] doesn’t translate well to what happens nowadays. I know they want the best for me, but sometimes I’m not sure if they realize how different it is to apply for jobs today than it was for their generation. The formula that worked for them doesn’t translate well to what happens nowadays. Here’s one example: my parents think the process of looking for part-time work is a practical exercise in building professionalism. Selling myself on the application form, shaking hands with managers and constantly performing well in interviews all helps me gain a sense of what networking is like. In years past, my mom would hand me the car keys, demand that I change my T-shirt to a sensible button-down blouse, and kick me out the door for a day so I could “network” with managers of department stores and fast-food restaurants. What she doesn’t realize is that, for the most part, this stuff is pointless. If I ask to see the manager, the teenaged employee up front will ask me why. When I

say, “I’d like a job application,” usually the employee says, “All of our applications are available online,” in the most rehearsed tone you can imagine. I come home, holding maybe two applications after visiting over a dozen stores, and fire up my laptop to click the neatly organized but personality-free check boxes on an online job application. The convenient part of this for the managers is they don’t have to hear your lengthy or well-thought-out responses to questions; nor do they need to deal with face-to-face contact, so it’s that much easier for them to ignore you. Since I’ve moved into an apartment in the city this summer, my parents and I call each other to keep in touch. I admit that on days when I’m not working, I’m hunched over a computer screen, with a Facebook tab open at all times. Even over the phone, I can practically hear my parents exchange a look of disapproval.

What they don’t know is that I am still working. Facebook is not a substitute for the networking my parents know; it’s an addition. Adding work colleagues as Facebook friends is like another thank-you letter. When I share links to my blogs or websites where my journalism work has been published, this increases page views and gives me more followers. And when I “Like” companies’ Fan pages, I’m tracking their progress in case I apply to them someday. I may not be able to claim complete financial independence by 2012. Yet while my parents sometimes think I’m on Facebook too much, I know that ignoring the online social networking trends will only set me back professionally. Besides, I’ve always preferred T-shirts to button-downs, anyway. CO

Kristy Wright is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:

The NEW REALITY of careers today

you need

many tools and skills

By Erin Jackson

to thrive

Few students make it to their high-school graduation having escaped a lecture that begins with “When I was your age…” The statement, usually offered by parents or mentors, is followed by a rundown of conveniences that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Yes, there was a time when people were “smarter” than their phones, a small “i” before any word was clearly a grammatical error, and “apple” was merely a fruit. The reality is that the world has changed at a fast pace, and the job market is no exception. Job seekers and graduates are faced with the daunting task of finding a new way up the career ladder. It seems the advice from the old days may no longer apply to succeeding in today’s job market. According to Lee-Anne McAlear, program director of Schulich’s Centre of Excellence at York University, we are living in a “completely changed world.” With global communication, financial uncertainty, the ability to fill demands immediately and the growth of technology, it’s not hard to spot the changes. What might not be so obvious is how they have affected the job market. Companies have changed and they are looking for people with a wide range of skills, says McAlear. 20

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“Corporations want people who can balance the willingness to learn existing systems and the capacity to innovate changes when needed,” she says. Like it or not, businesses are looking for people who are not only qualified but also able to think creatively. At the National CACEE conference in June, McAlear quoted the saying “It is easier to move a graveyard than a curriculum.” In other words, it’s difficult to ensure that classroom lessons keep up with the rapid pace of change. Nowadays, students have instant access to infinitely more information online than they can get sitting in any lecture. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to seek higher education. In fact, “academics are your entry into the game,” says McAlear. What it does mean is that you can’t rely solely on academics to get by in today’s competitive job market. “Companies need people who can think in new ways,” she says. “If you come in looking to be told what to do, you can get a job. But is it the interesting kind of job that you want?” r eerop t io n smaga zin

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“Corporations want people who can balance the willingness to learn existing systems and the capacity to innovate changes when needed.�

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Ten Jobs

that Didn’t Exist 20 Years Ago

1 2 3 4 5

Rising to the Occasion: How to Put Yourself in the Best Position With the largest population demographic—the baby boomers—nearing retirement, there should be plenty of vacant job positions over the next decade. Sure, it sounds like great news, but there’s a catch.

Social media strategist Distance learning coordinator Bioinformatician Elder-care services coordinator Life counsellor

6 7 8

Blogger User experience analyst Digital software developer

9 Energy auditor 10 Sustainability coordinator

degree or diploma, employers can easily demand more credentials for a position because they have a large pool of candidates to choose from.

As well, there is a “credential creep” in the job market, he says. Since more people are getting a

On the Internet: The Dos and Don’ts of Social Networking You know how it works: you go out for a night on the town with your friends and by the next morning the party pictures are up on Facebook, with your name tagged in every one. The trouble with social media sites is that although you might want to share every detail of your life with your friends, your information can also be accessed by a potential employer.

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Andrew Cardozo, executive director of the Alliance of Sector Councils, says it is especially tough for graduates to get entry-level positions because employers need experienced workers to fill the gaps.

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“Young people feel invincible and don’t think it can come back to haunt them,” says Cardozo. “It’s best to think of everything you put up [online] as part of an interview.” Of course, no employer expects you to avoid having any fun, says Cardozo. While some employers may take a “we’ve all done it” approach, in other cases your social media mishaps could cost you the job. Either way, it is important to remember that most employers will look at your online profile before they ever set up an interview, he says. But the Internet isn’t all bad news. Siobhan Williams, manager of marketing and communication for BioTalent Canada, says she encourages students to use online resources to find out more about the career they have in mind. The bio-economy sector council website includes a resource called the PetriDish job bank—an online guide that tells you the skills employers are looking for to fill specific jobs. With more access to information than ever before, you’d think it would be easier to find your place

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According to Cardozo, there are a few simple ways you can put yourself in the best possible position for employment.


Keep an eye on your résumé: This piece of paper will describe you for years to come.

Always have a summer job: Find jobs in different fields so you can learn more skills.

Do an internship: Make the most out of your experience by offering to do more than asked.

Take extra courses: Broaden your education by taking an extra college course after graduation.

Show commitment: Even in low-skill jobs, longterm commitment looks good on a résumé.

in the job market. But so much information can be a bit overwhelming. “In order to use the information, you need to focus,” says Williams. The trick is finding the information about employers and opportunities that apply to where you want your career path to lead. Keeping It Broad Although it’s useful to focus on skills specific to the career you have in mind, there is one major pitfall that you should avoid. According to Cardozo, the worst thing you can do is to be too precise about your career choice.

Volunteer: Employers will be impressed by your initiative and community involvement.

The Notion of Networking The saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” may be a cliché, but it still holds a grain of wisdom for today’s job seekers. The key is to know how to network and to do it well, says McAlear, who adds that she has never gotten a job without knowing someone. Once you land on your area of interest, it comes down to “who you meet, how often, and what you learn when you do,” says McAlear. “People have academic experience, but they also have life experience.”

“Don’t be too definitive about what you really want to do,” he says. “Think broadly; Plan A, B, C; and always think about what else is in the industry.”

In a world changing so quickly that an estimated 60 percent of today’s kindergartners will work in jobs that don’t exist today, your personal experiences may be what make you stand out from the crowd.

In a competitive job market, sometimes it is best to take a job that relates to your interests simply to get a foot in the door. The important thing to remember is that you need to be able to “wear many hats,” says Williams.

Who knows? In 20 years this generation may be the ones dropping the “back in the day” line. In the meantime, let’s focus on getting a good job. CO

With the development of technology, more and more jobs require skills outside what would traditionally be expected. For a bio-technician, this means being able provide PowerPoint pitches to investors as well as being able to work in the lab, she says. Gone are the days when your job will require only one set of skills.

Erin Jackson is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,,

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By Mike Gregor

Employers Take Over the Social Media Realm

Poke it. Tweet it. Tag it… Bop it? For me and students alike, social media terminology is very much second nature. The words are practically our mother tongue. And as with anyone’s mother tongue, we feel an attachment to our online “heritage.” This language is our own, correct? We shaped its syntax and symbolism.

Its culture is exclusive to our generation. This vast domain of social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube, is the realm of us teens and twenty-somethings to share thoughts, photos and laughs with our friends. The social network is ours, outright and completely, right? Wrong.

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Here are the hard facts. Today, the dominant age group represented on social network sites is 35-to-44-year-olds. The average Facebook user is 38 years old; the average Twitter-er is 39. An overwhelming 61 percent of all Facebook users are aged 35 and older. Shocking how wrong a cace e p u b l i cat i o n

we were regarding the exclusivity of our online communities. Who would have thought that we students were actually the minority? How did we not see this invasion?

Similar tastes The top social media sites that employers are interested in are (in order): LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

And it’s not over. Who will lead the next surprise invasion of the social realm, you may ask? Which demographic will be populating our news feeds and trending topics? Employers—that’s who.

The trend is now… A surprising 35 percent of companies surveyed found one-quarter of their new hires last year on social networking websites.

Companies are increasingly using social network sites to connect directly with not only customers, but also potential employees. As a representative of the Wilfrid Laurier University Career Development Centre, I recently contacted dozens of employers across the country with an informal survey regarding social media and their use in recruitment. Multi-national technology companies, private educational institutions, local charitable organizations—all their responses painted the same picture. Here are my results:

… And the trend is growing The majority of employers expect to use “social media hiring” much more in the next five years compared to 2010.

Employers are watching Almost 90 percent of companies are active on at least one social media website.

Watch your tongue keyboard A worrying 20 percent of employers have rejected a potential applicant because of unprofessional images or messages found on the applicant’s social media profile page. Yes, you could argue that these are “just numbers,” and you’ll believe that employers heed social media when you see for yourself. Well, too late. Look at Game Seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in

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Vancouver. If you recall, the headlines were not about the fights, the hits or the goals. The headlines were about the riots—and about how some culprits were caught through social networks. Social media invaded Vancouver in a very real way. Dan Relihan, Manager of Recruitment and Employment Initiatives with the Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia, acknowledges the massive attention that employers were paying to the riots (and, more specifically, to the rioters). He recognizes that the promptness and availability of “social media-fuelled” information could potentially lead companies to learn more about employees, and potential employees, than ever before. “The overall tone of responses after the riots was a glaring realization that we are no longer as anonymous as we might think we are,” Relihan says. “At any given time, actions we take or words we speak can become a part of a permanent record. The riots were a classic example of how the foolish acts of a single night could forever impact a person’s life.”

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Here’s what some of the sampled national employers had to say

Watch what you put on your social media sites as it can leave a negative impression with employers.”

Ensure professionalism, but also be careful with what personal information you give out.”

Think of what you make available. Use a professional email address and consciously think about how you are marketing yourself.”

The employer invasion has already begun. Change is coming to our online community and it is coming fast. As students and job seekers alike, we all must note these statistics and prepare ourselves for the next job market: the “social job market.” There’s no reason to fret or worry. Be sure to stay calm (invasions fare well when people panic). Simply boot up, log on and stay ahead of the curve. The only caution is to “keep it clean.” Keep your profile pages free of any content you would not want an employer (or your grandmother) to see.

Isabelle Morin, Talent Attraction Leader, Employer Branding with KPMG in Canada, is helping to strategize the public accounting firm’s social media presence through increasing its engagement on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. KPMG’s social media strategy is targeted at “creating relationships with candidates and providing them with information and insights about the firm,” she says—not at inspecting your Facebook pictures from Friday night.

Employers are not hiring private investigators or virtual detectives to snoop out your secrets. They’re simply utilizing social media to learn more about you as a professional.

“It is faster and easier for future candidates to have direct and timely access to student and intern experiences [through social media],” says Morin. She advises students to continue using social media: “It’s a great tool, but do not

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forget the great connection and insight you can gain from meeting the recruiters in person.” In the end, the moral of this story is simple: if you’re going to poke it, tweet it or tag it, make sure you don’t regret it! CO

Mike Gregor is a peer advisor at the Wilfrid Laurier University Career Development Centre.

For further information, visit:,

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By Paul D. Smith

Employers Innovate for

On-campus Recruiting


raduates aren’t what they used to be—at least not according to a report published by U.K.-based Work Group PLC. If this is true, and it probably is, then recruiters who seek new graduates shouldn’t be what they used to be, if they want to be effective. There are generational and experiential differences between the Millenials and their Boomer parents, and gaps between the recruiters’ intentions and new grad expectations. Anyone who wants to hire graduates from the Class of 2012 needs to deal with these issues and many more. Graham Donald, President of Brainstorm Strategy Group, has identified a set of emerging challenges that include diversity hiring, increasing competition, communicating with wired youth, and others. Here are some of the main challenges facing employers, and the innovative ways they are dealing with them:

Challenge »

Demographics have shifted. Demographics are powerful influencers on the emerging employment market. Currently, birth rates are down in Canada, the largest cohort in the workplace is the Baby Boom generation, and older Boomers have reached retirement age. For the next several years, more people will leave the workforce than will enter it, and the inevitable result is a skills shortage.

Solution »

Source new skilled employees, and be a preferred employer. Innovative employers are developing programs to recruit more effectively among new Canadians, and to entice highly-skilled workers from other countries to come live and work in Canada. Of course, these efforts are expensive and take time, so clever employers protect their investment by participating in work-integrated learning programs such as internships and co-ops. Students who’ve had a learning-based work experience with an 28

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employer tend to stay with that employer much more than those who haven’t. “Some of the things top-of-mind for them to focus on are clearly differentiating their employer value proposition; good co-op and internship programs; training their hiring managers in general and with Gen Y; training everyone on better intergenerational and inter-cultural inclusiveness; and effective mentoring programs,” says Donald. r eerop t io n smaga zin

Challenge »

The skills required by the job market are changing. The nature of work continues to evolve as people communicate and connect in new ways to do the work they do. Technology moves faster than institutions’ capacity to keep up. As a result, many of the skills required in the workforce today are not part of the curriculum, even in new post-secondary programs. a cace e p u b l i cat i o n

Solution » Look at co-curricular records. Academic departments and faculties struggle to help students talk effectively about the full range of skills they offer to employers. Co-curricular records, or transcripts, allow students to track the experiences and skills they’ve acquired alongside their formal program of studies, through volunteerism, co-curricular involvement and part-time work. Employers who understand the value of co-curricular records know that they show a student’s potential, particularly those from non-traditional programs. “The co-curricular record provides verified proof of student involvement on a formal university document, which students can then submit to employers when applying for a job, or add to their portfolios for demonstration during an interview,” says Christine Frigault, Coordinator of Career Planning Services at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Challenge » Career seekers are connected. Graduates are more inter-connected than ever before, and word-of-mouth spreads instantly through social networking. One student’s good experience with an employer can get around quickly. But a bad experience will get around even more quickly.

Solution » Adjust hiring strategies based on changing student/alumni opinions. Employers are very interested in hearing from students and alumni when it comes to recruitment. “Toast to Hire Learning” is an event hosted by Memorial University that allows employers to ask a panel of students what is important to their generation regarding recruitment and work. This event’s success over the last couple of years shows that employers are becoming more interested in these opinions and how to use them when laying out their recruitment and hiring strategies. “Employers are recognizing that, with each new generation, new things must be done to attract talented, skilled workers,” says Patricia Poirier, Employer Development Coordinator with Memorial University. “Recognizing the wants and needs of the generation entering the workforce allows employers to adjust their hiring strategy so that they can attract this group.” If you’re reading this article, you’re likely one of the people they’re looking for. When you’re talking to employers, take note of whether they’re doing a good job of innovating—it could tell you if they understand the new reality in recruitment. CO

Paul D. Smith is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers.

For further information, visit:, en/home/studentservices/careerplanningservices,,

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From fringe to mainstream:



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By Hillary Lutes

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f you have a passion for the environment, and an interest in communications, engineering or design, you’ll be glad to know the “green” sector has exploded with a range of new technologies and jobs in the past 20 years.

“People who have a passion for improving how we use resources, enjoy working in global markets and are comfortable with ambiguity are being attracted to the clean technology industry,” says Céline Bak, publisher of the 2011 Canadian Clean Technology Industry report and co-leader of the Canadian Clean Technology Coalition. “This industry is already a significant employer in Canada.” A lot has changed in the area of environmental careers in the past 20 years. While they used to be seen as fringe jobs that employed mainly “tree-hugger” types, they’ve become more mainstream today. Cleantech, for example, has emerged as a distinct sector, referring specifically to new, international technologies that provide solutions to global climate and resource challenges—such as solar energy, biofuels, waste remediation and low-emission vehicles. Cleantech also includes creating new policies to promote green initiatives. The market for clean technologies is growing very quickly, and this brings exciting new opportunities as the environment and resource use becomes a priority for corporations and the government alike. Environmental awareness is no longer a luxury for companies, but rather “a business imperative these days,” says Robert Orlovski, director of events for communications, marketing, branding and events firm Green Living. “This means there has been a massive increase in jobs in this specific industry.”

April Schaly, manager of career awareness at ECO Canada, says the non-profit sector council emerged in the early 1990s to ensure the ongoing prosperity of the environment industry. “A rapidly growing environment industry coupled with new and emerging technologies has created an increasing demand for skilled practitioners,” she says. In fact, many of the top and emerging sectors of Canada’s “green economy” are still in need of new and experienced workers. Over the next 10 years, 14 percent of the environmental workforce will reach retirement age, opening up approximately 100,000 jobs, according to an ECO Canada report. The emerging branches in the green sector are carbon and climate change mitigation, and alternative and renewable energy. These areas, while not in-demand jobs today, will likely need qualified workers as they become more popular, says Schaly. According to ECO Canada, the top environment-related industries today are focused in the traditional areas of forestry, agriculture, fishing, hunting, the construction of green buildings, waste management and remediation, and professional scientific services. Careers in construction or building design require education in post-secondary programs like industrial design or architecture, while agricultural programs like the arboriculture program at the University of Toronto are suited to jobs in farming or forestry, says Orlovski. Another rapidly expanding area within the environmental sector is communications and public relations, necessary to advertise

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Cleantech vs. Environmental Technology

One thing environmental employees have in common—whether engineers designing wind turbines or conservation workers cleaning up oil spills—is the need for education and skills. “The environment industry has a highly educated workforce,” says Schaly. More people employed in environmental jobs have post-secondary education than in non-environmental sectors—36 percent of environmental workers have a bachelors degree or higher versus 22 percent of the Canadian labour force. This means that considering one of the many new environmentally-focused postsecondary programs, like Carleton University’s environmental engineering degree, is a good idea.

Clean technology has three main aims: to reduce negative environmental impacts, deliver competitive performance, and use fewer resources than conventional technologies.

Environmental jobs tend to serve local markets, while clean technology jobs are generally with internationally-operating companies.

Cleantech jobs invest in research and development to remain competitive.

The cleantech sector is growing 12 percent annually, which should triple in size in 10 years.

According to Schaly, an education in science or engineering is most suitable for environmental jobs, although the sector is multi-disciplinary and employs people from a variety of educational backgrounds.

options, ranging from hybrid cars to organic cotton designs, to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Orlovski coordinates the Green Living Show in Toronto, an event focused on providing green

In a new forum at the Show, green jobs were the focus of a discussion panel featuring experts

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The environmental sector is growing steadily, at the same rate as Canada’s GDP.

from environmental industries. The panelists were each asked five questions, ranging from defining a green job to searching for one. The discussion was followed by a question and answer session from the 450-member

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Source: Céline Bak

companies’ green initiatives and work with other company employees to implement policy.

audience. Orlovski says the interest and discussion at the forum is a good indicator of where the sector is going—continued development and increased importance. If you are interested in the environment and are considering a related career, there are a few ways to get started. Volunteering in an area of interest to explore possible career choices is one piece of advice Bak, Schaly and Orlovski all recommend for young people interested in breaking into the environmental sector. Exploring ECO Canada’s website (, with its wealth of tools and information, is also helpful. For example, there is an interactive tool to match your interests with potential jobs in the environmental sector, giving you a better idea of what is available. Environment-related jobs are abundant, but can also be difficult to find, or sometimes difficult to determine if they are cleantech-related. ECO Canada’s website also includes Canada’s largest job board where job seekers can post their résumés for free and connect with potential employers across the country. Many of the new sectors now emerging are just that—new—and thus can be less visible on the job market. “Typically, you’re going to have to go after these companies yourself. They don’t recruit on campus. You can’t be afraid to be really engaging,” says Bak. However, most students who enter into a green job do so because they are passionate about the environment. “Most practitioners say the reason they entered into environmental employment was because they had a desire to improve the environment. It usually originates out of a passion,” says Schaly. If you’re looking for a green job now, there are a few key titles to keep your eyes peeled for. Terms like “sustainability director,” “education outreach manager,” or “project coordinator,” are all examples of environment-based jobs, says Orlovski. Although the idea of green jobs may bring to mind new technologies or work for environment-based companies, it is possible to find or create green jobs within traditional organizations, says Orlovski. Many traditional organizations make use of transferable skills—expertise intended for one job that can be used in the cleantech sector. For example, electricians can apply their skills to solar panel manufacturing, he says. And since so many cleantech workers enter the industry because of their passion for the environment, many jobs come from employees’ own ideas. “A lot of these green initiatives come from a grassroots staff perspective,” says Orlovski, adding that the environmental sector is vibrant and expanding. “The opportunities are growing.” CO Hillary Lutes is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,,,

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Learning in the



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By Laura Jakobschuk

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ome things just can’t be learned in the classroom. Getting involved in co-ops, internships or other work-integrated learning programs enriches students’ educational experience and furthers their career development by gaining new skills and experiences in the workplace. Countless participants have discovered what Zachary Gerard learned: that co-ops and internships are hidden gems.

studies show students who graduate with an internship experience have a better transition to the workplace and start with higher salaries, and also show a higher post-employment retention rate.

Gerard is a fourth-year University of Windsor student majoring in English and history, who completed an internship with the Windsor Worker’s Action Centre. He’s surprised that more students don’t apply for internships.

for work experience but are less likely to get it in an academic setting. In the past, co-ops and internships thrived at professional and applied schools where students learned specific skill sets. Today, the options have expanded.

“A lot of people receive emails for the program and don’t apply because they don’t know the extent of how helpful the program can be,” he says. “It’s a hidden gem type of program for the university.”

The internship experience is an invaluable one for students in all programs. Paul D. Smith, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers, says studies show students who graduate with an internship experience have a better transition to the workplace and start with higher salaries, and also show a higher post-employment retention rate.

Gerard typifies the new reality of today’s co-ops and internships—those that target undergraduate arts students, who generally have a greater need

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The definition of co-ops and internships ranges from school to school, but both are generally considered to be a career-related learning experience for a student or recent graduate. Many internship opportunities for students tend to be part-time, unpaid positions in professional organizations. Both the University of British Columbia and the University of Windsor run successful internship programs focused on unpaid work in the non-profit or publicly funded sector. These programs have not only enriched the educational experiences of students, but have also helped

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strengthen connections between the university and the wider community.

the same way they would apply for a job, and are chosen by the employer. There is a wide variety of intern opportunities for students, in areas such as journalism, event planning and business development.

UBC’s new Arts Internship Program was founded in 2009. It is extra-curricular and does not provide academic credit to students, but participants receive a certificate from the Dean of Arts upon completion. To date, 250 students have enrolled in the program.

The internship program offers students a chance to see how their arts degree is related to the workplace and what their future career options might be. Most students also come out of their internships with networking contacts

Participants apply for internships with nonprofit organizations in the Vancouver area in

Why do an internship or a co-op?


Explore career options and preferences.


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Identify and develop key skills and strengths. r eerop t io n smaga zin

and references that will help them start their careers after graduation. “It’s really about having your foot in the door and knowing people,” says Karly Pinch, UBC’s Arts Internship Program Coordinator. Former UBC internship student Kate Minson agrees. She graduated with a BA in Theatre in 2011 and was able to get a job directly related to the skills and experiences she

Develop network of contacts and references.

Improve confidence and workplace professionalism.

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Most students also come out of their internships with networking contacts and references that will help them start their careers after graduation.

Karen Benzinger, Director of the Centre for Career Education at the University of Windsor, says internships offer students an opportunity for career exploration by giving students a chance to get out and learn about potential career paths of interest to them.

gained as an intern in the developmental department of The Clutch, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

For his part, Zachary Gerard says he decided to do an internship because he wanted to look at his options, since his degree is very broad. He interned as an educator and organizer at the Windsor Worker’s Action Centre because he was considering working in labour studies and wanted some practical experience. Through his internship, he’s well on his way. CO

Minson attributes her enriching experience to the Director of Development, who really cared about her professional development and helped her build skills she needed to succeed, she says. “When you can find an organization and person who cares about educating young graduates and young students, it’s really worth it,” Minson says. Today Minson works as a fundraising coordinator for the Vancouver International Dance Festival, a job she says makes sense as the next step because she is using the skills she gained from her internship and is now getting paid for her work.

At the University of Windsor, the Volunteer Internship Program (VIP) was founded over 20 years ago and is open to all undergraduate students. It’s a co-curricular activity, and students who complete the required 40 hours of interning over a semester get a notation on their transcripts. Today, the program draws 50 percent of participants from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Students are placed with non-profit and publicly funded institutions. Employers send out job descriptions, and VIP matches students with the jobs that require similar qualifications and interests. About 350 students a year participate in VIP. Some positions are more in demand than others, such as placements in schools or corrections facilities, but there are always more opportunities available than students.

Laura Jakobschuk is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,,

By Amanda Sage


Dakota Brant Shares Her Lessons Learned


f knowledge is power, then 23-year-old Teyotsihstokwáthe Dakota Brant is giving a tremendous gift of empowerment to everyone around her. A capable young woman with a strong, informed voice, she’s working to share her wisdom and experience with countless youth in indigenous communities across North America. In April 2010, at the annual Gathering of Nations powwow, Brant became the first Mohawk to be crowned Miss Indian World. Since then, this member of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan has traveled all over the continent, giving presentations on environmental sustainability, and engaging with Aboriginal youth in a number of ways. “It’s been a phenomenal experience,” says Brant. “Every community I go to, they welcome me in; they want me to feel like an intimate member of their community in the time that I’m there. Being a part of that experience, I’ve been able to see how Indian communities have grown at this point as a result of colonization, and how people are dealing with it—and how communities are focusing on their future at this time.” Brant has been focused on her future since childhood. Growing up in southern Ontario’s Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, she always knew she wanted to maintain and promote the traditional skills and knowledge she’d learned within her family. Both her parents worked full-time—her father as an ironworker, her mother as a teacher—but they still chose to live off the land. “We were very subsistent,” she says. “It was a lifestyle that meant a lot to me because when I looked around me, I realized that people were highly dependent on things that aren’t necessary in our lives.” Brant also knew from a very young age that she wanted a university education, and that she wanted to find a career in which she could honour and celebrate her heritage as an Onkwehonwe person. After graduating from high school, she spent two years in a Mohawk immersion program so that she could better understand her language. The course of study further fueled her appreciation for her Mohawk culture and traditions, so she enrolled in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. But when the school announced a new program that merged Brant’s interest in indigenous culture with her passion for the environment, she knew she’d found her calling. She jumped at the chance to switch to Trent’s Indigenous Environmental Studies program.

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“When you go to university, it’s your opportunity to take a step outside of your life.” “Trent [was the first institution] in Western academia to acknowledge indigenous worldviews as being of value in terms of focusing on environmental studies and sustainability,” says Brant. “They’ve created a venue where you can become educated and have an official degree acknowledging that worldview.” In 2010, Brant graduated with honours, becoming the first person to complete Trent’s new program. Not long after, she was named Miss Indian World and embarked on an incredible journey that offered her the opportunity to share her newfound knowledge with young indigenous people across North America. Brant’s commitment to the role earned her the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s (NAAF) Special Youth Award, which was presented on March 11 at the 2011 National Aboriginal

Achievement Awards. “I’m really, really excited,” she says. “Of all the highly qualified individuals across the country [who applied for the award], it was so nice to be recognized among them.” Becoming Miss Indian World also provided a break from academia. “I took the year to be Miss Indian World and to be nothing else,” she says. “For the first year of my life, I’m not a student.” The change has been welcome to Brant, who not only spent nearly two decades as a hardworking—and high-achieving—scholar, but has also already dabbled in several prospective careers. As a teenager, Brant hosted a radio show in Six Nations of the Grand River. She also wrote for her community newspaper, taught local elementary school students, and made what she calls a lifelong commitment to volunteering with the Six Nations Fire Department. That’s not to say Brant doesn’t fully support the idea of higher education. “When you go to university, it’s your opportunity to take a step outside of your life,” she says. “My undergraduate degree gave me perspective for what it is that I want to do.” But she appreciates equally the value of real-world experiences and learning outside the walls of an educational institution. Although Brant’s formal duties as Miss Indian World ended in April 2011, she plans to spend another year organizing and attending events throughout North America’s indigenous communities. “There is still demand for me, so I’m still going to be doing a lot of travel,” she says. “Between being a NAAF ambassador and Miss Indian World, a lot of opportunities for me to engage native youth across Indian country just suddenly burst open. I’m counting on taking this year to fulfill the needs of those other communities and integrate myself with what it is that I’m going to be doing with my academic future.” That academic future includes further pursuing her chosen field of study. She’ll soon be applying to graduate school, and hopes to enroll at Trent University, York University or Guelph University for September 2012. Brant understands that attending university can be costly. But she encourages young people


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to do what they can to make it possible, if they’re considering a career that requires, or would benefit from, post-secondary education. For Aboriginal students in particular, she points out that NAAF offers many bursary opportunities. “NAAF is there to help you focus on education, not on financial burdens,” she says. When Brant returns to school, her goal is to build her knowledge base so that she can continue to give back to the land that has offered her so much. “My hopes are to bring my education and my new perspective back to my community to work in a community development capacity,” she says. Through her graduate studies, she will focus on creating a development blueprint for her community in Six Nations of the Grand River. The blueprint will serve to outline how residents can develop the area in holistic, environmentally sustainable and economically sound ways. “I want to see my community become a role model for innovation in environmental sustainability— eating green, eating local,” she says. Looking at the bigger picture, Brant sees no reason why indigenous people shouldn’t be looked upon as environmental role models for the country at large. After all, Aboriginal communities in North America thrived by living off the land “for generations immemorial because the ideas they developed worked for [their environments],” she says. Brant intends to apply her education so that she can highlight the innovative ways in which Aboriginal people have maintained their subsistence. By empowering others with that knowledge, she hopes to help people move forward in a way that benefits not only the environment, but a range of communities across the continent. “I want to be in the environmental studies field [so that I can serve] as a reminder of the innovation of indigenous people,” says Brant. “I want to tell others to look back and focus on those ideas, and see how it is that we reestablished them as being a part of environmental sustainability and innovation in the future.” CO

Amanda Sage is a freelance journalist. For further information, visit:,

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From Hour-long Appointments to Instant Advice:

New Reality of Career Centres the

By Yvonne Rodney


o much has changed in post-secondary career centres over the past 20 years. As a professional career counsellor at the University of Toronto, I’ve seen changes not only in how we counsel students, but in student expectations, financial constraints and technology. To illustrate the differences, I flipped through my appointment book for January 1991: The schedule is full because it is January, a month where well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions are still possible. On Jan. 3 and 4, I’m registered to take a MAC course. Scattered throughout the month, I am scheduled to lead a couple of workshops called “Making Career Choices” and I will sit in on a few planning sessions. Most tellingly, over the month of January, I have 83 one-hour career

planning appointments with students at both the St. George and Scarborough campuses. During those appointments, students will need to talk about planning their careers—many of them are continuing work begun in the previous year. With backgrounds in geography, biology, sociology, history, political science, psychology, physics, astronomy, environmental or cognitive science, their aspirations are as diverse as their program specialities. The astronomy student is interested in a career in music recording. The French/Italian major is looking at broadcasting careers. The English student is seeking a magic “test” that will tell him what he should do. The graduating business student would have chosen a different career, had he been given a choice. And based on his December grades, things are not looking good for the biology student who aspires to a career in medicine.

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In 1991, I can organize day-long career planning courses during Reading Week and expect a “crowd” of 25 students. Of course, only 17 will actually show up, but as we auction off values, play personality games, construct collages, and sort through skills and interests, we have a great time together planning, challenging each other and creating career possibilities. Interestingly, only seven students will show up for the job search group the following Thursday. I am the only career counsellor at the Scarborough campus, and I know that by the end of February, I will be exhausted. My appointment book also shows the occasional meeting with colleagues to share wisdom—U of T has an Association of Counsellors who meet a few times per year to share cases and best practices. Students (then, fa ll 2 0 1 1


as now) are experiencing mental health challenges: I find a receipt in my appointment book for a session on adolescent depression. Fast forward to 2011! My appointment book looks quite different. Our career services offices, staffed with a larger number of career counsellors and advisors, now offer very few day-long sessions for students. The new reality is that students do not have the time. Most are working over 12 hours a week while attending school. Many are choosing to complete a four-year degree in five years because of work commitments, academic pressure, financial constraints or lifestyle choices. I look back with a degree of nostalgia on those day-long sessions or hour-long appointments, when I could really get to know the students and understand their career concerns in the context of the rest of their lives. Students’ relationships with career centres tend to be more transactional now. It must be quick, fast, specific, personalized… did I mention quick? We’re competing with instant messaging, instant food, instant access to money, and less time than ever. Career centres must adapt. We must


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Many still do not know there is a career office staffed with people who are waiting to support and inform and help them with their life goals. become more technologically adept, providing just-in-time services, where, when and how a student needs them. My colleague Laura Addicott, recently retired Director of the Career Services Centre at Dalhousie University, also sees technology’s influence on career seekers. “The fast pace of today’s communications makes it easy for job seekers and employers to share information, but the selection process can still be protracted,” she says. “Today’s young people, in particular, may expect quicker responses and actions to their efforts. This can increase frustration and impact the effort put into job searches.” Addicott also sees debt load as a major new reality, compared with 20 years ago, for college and university students. “Today’s financial reality for r eerop t io n smaga zin

so many job seekers is urgent and overwhelming, contributing to their frustration with process and timelines,” she says. “This may also contribute to accepting roles and duties that are not optimal.” We’ve all found that dealing with students has changed, due to the influence of parents and friends (“My friend said I should organize my résumé this way.”) as well as technology, which makes information readily available. “Sometimes you are working with students who might want validation of what they’ve learned [on the Internet] and what they created, and it may be necessary to value where they are at while helping them to accept new information or advice,” says Addicott. She also finds there are more international students who are highly motivated but have significant challenges and barriers. “This is very satisfying work for career practitioners because they are open, accepting and extremely grateful,” she says.

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Indeed, many changes have been for the good. “I’ve observed a significant shift in the way employers present themselves—the marketing is much more welcoming and inclusive,” Addicott says. Overall, career centres 20 years ago were more about placement: sourcing jobs, referring students, etc. “Career centres have moved away from this model to be more educational, which is the right way to go,” says Addicott. I am putting the finishing touches on our Career Centre’s Strategic Plan for the next three years. We have set a goal to look for ways to farm out our career expertise to parents, faculty, staff, alumni and peers, so that whomever the student talks to will be equipped to have a meaningful career conversation with that student. We won’t wait for the student to come to us—we will work hard to ensure that career information is accessible online, in person, everywhere. And we will be intentional in teaching students how to determine good information from bad. We aim to build our capacity and provide opportunities for our students to be equipped for their transition to the next phase of their careers. Despite all this change, one thing remains the same: the fundamental career questions of students. They are still as certain or uncertain of their choices. Still concerned about saving the world and creating a meaningful existence. Still postponing career decision-making, still not taking full advantage of the services available. Many still do not know there is a career office staffed with people who are waiting to support and inform and help them with their life goals. But there are still those who seek out the help that’s available and have launched themselves at the world with confidence. And yes, there are still those who do quite well, without our assistance, because somewhere along the way they got the help they needed from someone other than us. That’s okay too. CO

Yvonne Rodney is the Director of The Career Centre, University of Toronto. For further information, visit:, student_services/career_development/career servicescentre.html, services/careers%20and%20employment. aspx,

A Sample

Career Centre Today

Career Centres vary from one institution to another, but typical career services can focus on: » Career development » Student success » Career learning » Integrated learning » Experiential learning Funding structure: student-funded, cost recovery, income generation Student expectations: » More » Faster » Everywhere » Specific » Personalized » Now! » Technologically with the times Employer expectations: » Get me the students I want, now » Post my job » One-stop-career shop, value-add, return on investment » Well-rounded students with work experience; excellent leadership, communication and interpersonal skills; commitment to continuous learning

Questions that stakeholders (institutional, government, parents, students) ask career centres: » What are students learning? » How are career centres making a difference? » How do career centres add value? » How does career centre work align with institutional mandates? » How many graduates are employed?

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By Kathleen Clark

on education, dreams and success


he world of athletics can develop more than just muscle. Former professional football player-turned-motivational speaker Damon Allen can attest to that. His journey from a 6-year-old playing football in San Diego to his 23-year career as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League taught him a thing or two about learning, adapting and succeeding. Here are the top four lessons he likes to pass on to students and new graduates.

“You never want to be in a situation when you think you’ve ‘arrived’ and ‘made it,’” he says. “Have the willingness to learn despite how many years of experience you’ve had.” Remain Open to Change—It’s Inevitable At a very young age Allen knew he wanted a career in sports, and immersed himself in football and baseball. “I wanted to give myself some options, have the opportunity to do one or the other if I chose so,” he says.

Education Is Key Be prepared: you don’t want to go into your future empty-handed. For Allen, education and football went hand in hand. He led high school teams to victories and played college ball for California State University, all the while keeping up his grades. “Education is a fundamental aspect of human life,” he says. “I think one of the biggest decisions that kids have to make is what they want to do. It’s education that allows me to really dive into the things I want to do.” School gives you a place to research what your dreams are, Allen says. Pursue your dreams but always with a foundation of knowledge. “Once [students] figure out what to do, then they put their mindset and their education into developing a strategy that will push them and encourage them to go for it,” he says. Then, who knows? Maybe they can inspire great things in their peers. 46

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Allen’s professional sports career went on to span playing for five CFL teams, not to mention his stint in major-league baseball. Moving from city to city and fusing his talents with new teams were lessons in dealing with change that he will not soon forget. He got over change quickly by focusing on his drive to succeed, which helped him guide four teams to Grey Cup victories. “Change is consistent. You will always have to deal with change,” he says—and you can get better at it with practice. “When you grow up going from one sport to the next, it almost comes to a point when change becomes fairly easy. You get pretty good at it.” In 1994, Allen decided on another change and dedicated himself fully to the game of football. He left the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training camp “even though baseball pays out more money,” he says with a laugh. r eerop t io n smaga zin

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Be Positive and Love What You Do When Allen retired from the CFL in 2008, he held the record for all-time pro football passing yards with 72,381 yards. “Did I set out to accomplish all these statistical records and things like that? No. I just really loved playing the game of football and enjoyed competing,” he says. But the record might never have happened—in fact, his football career might have ended in Grade 9—if he had not had the right people cheering him on. In his first year of high school, Damon gave up on football. “I felt I was too small to play the game,” he says. “Your own self-doubt can talk you out of doing the things you’re passionate about. I questioned my own size and sensibility.” It was his high school coach who assured him he was capable of playing football and drew him back to the sport he loved. Allen feels that this was a turning point: “I wouldn’t be standing here today, probably, if it wasn’t for that coach.” To develop confidence, surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you, he says. But be careful—not everyone will care about your success as much as you do. “Don’t listen to those who say you can’t do it,” Allen says. After overcoming self-doubt, “you realize what you are capable of doing,” he says. “You understand your passion and your dedication to your craft.” Sweat the Small Stuff Allen has always founded his relationship with sports on some basic tenets: dedication, passion, self-belief and the willingness to learn. He may have earned distinctions such as CFL’s Most Outstanding Player of the Year, Grey Cup MVP and CFL All-Star, but these large achievements all stem from those four “simple things” that push him. “I always tried to look at small goals,” he says. “If you take care of the small things, you’ll be able to handle the big things that come your way.” It’s been three years since the quarterback retired from professional football, but he seems busier than ever. With an online radio show, a quarterback clinic for high school kids and his speaking engagements, Allen has not stopped learning and is seeking out new opportunities all the time. “I’m learning how to multi-task and staying busy,” he says. “More opportunities will come down the road if you stay busy. Most of us, nowadays, can’t just be one-dimensional anymore.” CO Kathleen Clark is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,

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ICT By Maria Church

Catching up on


omputer-based professions have matured in leaps and bounds from the days of kids programming groundbreaking games like Pac-Man in their parents’ basements, but the market for information communication technology (ICT) is still fairly young and constantly changing.

For those in the profession, this means jobs are tied to the ebb and flow of the market, and even though the need for specialized skills remains high, employers are starting to ask for more than just computer skills from new ICT grads.

Around 2001, a “dot-com bust” sent enrolment in ICT programs spiralling downward. “The Internet didn’t go away— it’s just the hype around it completely fell off the map,” says Smyk, who now teaches and coordinates the interactive multimedia program at Sheridan. “People were just throwing things out with no consideration for product lifecycles, branding or messaging. That is what led up to the bust because there was no business strategy.” Businesses began to lose faith in ICT workers. Enrolment in ICT programs plummeted. Cue the iPhone.

Case in Point Fresh out of Sheridan College in 1999 with a degree in interactive multimedia, Andrew Smyk was part of what he calls the feeding frenzy for ICT-related jobs that followed the “dot-com boom” in the late ’90s.

Smyk says the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 created a new boom in the ICT industry. But this time around, employer demands on the new labour force are much higher.

“In 1999, I would post my résumé on Monster or other job sites and within 30 minutes I would have companies calling me,” says Smyk. “Whatever you built was considered cuttingedge, but there was actually no business strategy behind a lot of what was being done.”

“Things have changed in the last five to six years because you just can’t just walk into a company and say ‘Here, this is a website we want to build for you.’ You actually have to show business metrics for them, how it is going to increase traffic, how much it is going to expand their client base and develop their brand online,” says Smyk.

Today, Smyk says the profession has matured and grown significantly since that boom but, as economics students know well, booms are followed by busts.

The New Reality Besides technological advances, what does this changing ICT market mean for job seekers?

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The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 created a new boom in the ICT industry.

“What companies really want are the soft skills: the self-motivation, self-directed learning skills, and to have a good solid foundation in either programming, planning and strategy, or design,” Smyk explains. “Then companies are willing to train people to get them up to the type of skill sets that they actually want.” Paul Swinwood, President of the non-profit Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), says this new reality for the ICT world means that workers need to be multi-talented within the ICT market. “Twenty years ago the ICT market—and I can speak on this one from experience—was looking for people who could code and program, and we didn’t worry about any of their other skills,” he says. “So you would throw 50 or 60 people at a problem and have them just code their way out of it.” Today, Swinwood says, one ICT worker is expected to do the work of those 50 to 60 people by adapting an “off the counter” program to work for their company. He calls this “implementation” of ICT. The skills needed to implement ICT mean that universities must to adapt their programs to include areas such as business management, e-health or the environment to round out practical knowledge in their new grads. a cace e p u b l i cat i o n

ICTC works with university and college ICT programs to bring them up to speed in a way that caters to employers’ demands and attracts new students. Swinwood says the council recently partnered with Dalhousie University to reinvent its computer science degree, combining it with programs from other faculties within the university. Along those same lines, Simon Fraser University is planning to introduce a business technology masters program that will combine ICT and business studies into a joint degree. The Numbers Are In As part of ICTC’s mandate, the council recently released a study that predicts the Canadian ICT labour market will have a demand for more than 100,000 ICTqualified workers in the next four years. Compiled in a study called The Outlook, these numbers are based on figures across all ICT sectors, including government, hospitals, transportation and mining. This challenge in the labour force recorded by The Outlook is linked to the dot-com bust, which saw few students choosing ICT as a career option in the early 2000s, and the evolution of ICT job requirements toward not only ICT skills but also business and domain knowledge. Those developments mean that there are not enough qualified ICT workers to satisfy market demands today. The challenge is recognized by the federal government, which rolled out a “digital economy strategy” in 2010 to look at the future of Canada’s digital economy. Last year, ICTC received government money to fund first-year salaries for new grads taking on co-ops within ICT companies. “We recognize that, ‘Damn, it’s hard to get that first job,’ and that is what we focus on here,” says Swinwood. “We had access this year to one million dollars for that. Now we have spent it, and we are waiting to hear whether we have funding in 2012.” With more salary incentives, ICTC hopes students will be attracted to ICT as a future career. It’s just one of the ways that ICTC plans to tackle the high demand for workers in the ICT market.

Words of Wisdom “The demand is there, but companies need to be productive very quickly and that is why those first jobs are so hard to come by,” says Swinwood. “For a company to hire someone who knows nothing about their business, nothing about their processes, it takes them a long time to bring them up to speed.” Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Despite a high demand for ICT employees, it is still difficult for new grads to break in. Swinwood explains that “companies are only looking for the crème de la crème, the best of the best, because if they are not, they can offshore that work for 50 percent of the cost.” What is his best advice for new grads? Find a co-op placement. “If grads don’t have the full package of information, knowledge—and of course companies are looking for experience, so welcome to co-op—then it is very difficult to break in.” After taking on a co-op student, companies will often turn the co-op into a permanent position. The Good News Once students are in, the career options in ICT are many and, according to Swinwood, very mobile. “The skill set that people have if they are up to date and up to speed in the sector is totally transferable,” he says. Smyk says he believes that, through word of mouth advertising, students will be drawn to ICT as a career. He chalks up the shortage to a delay between the new ICT market boom and students deciding to enter into that career. But with so many partners working to increase the ICT labour force, he says it won’t be long before students catch on and begin filtering back into ICT programs. CO

Maria Church is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,,

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By Jordan Adams

Traditional Industries Have a New Reality Too

Traditional industries such as mining, wood manufacturing and construction are often perceived as not having changed much in the past 20 years. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With new technologies and innovations, jobs in these industries are rapidly changing, and new jobs are being created every day. Let’s address some of the misconceptions about jobs in these industries. environment,” says Courtnay Bush, who works for the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR). “I think many people have the image of mining as one that uses very rudimentary tools— pickaxe and shovel—to do the work. However, this is not the case.”


Myth: Mining is an “old” industry that hasn’t changed much. Reality: Technology has vastly changed the way miners work.

For example, did you know that today’s high-tech drills look more like a video game? And that it’s possible to mine in space and on the ocean floor? As technology continues to develop, who knows what the possibilities for the future hold?

“It has increased productivity, efficiency and safety, and has decreased the impact on the

Myth: Mining jobs are located far away from cities. Reality: While one should expect to spend some time in remote locations, city dwellers don’t need to worry too much.

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“Equipment suppliers, chemical suppliers, consulting companies, research companies, and company headquarters are located in large cities,” says Ryan Cunningham, who is working on his Ph.D. at McGill University’s Department of Mining and Materials Engineering. “One should come in ready to work at a mine for a period of time, but this does not mean that the entire career will be spent at mines far away from cities.” Myth: Mining is a dangerous industry. Reality: “Safety is very important and ranks first and foremost at every worksite,” Cunningham says. “Plans are put into place for any possible scenario.” There are many laws to ensure the mining industry stays safe: 19 federal acts and 14 federal regulations, and even more at the provincial level, according to MiHR. The mining a cace e p u b l i cat i o n

industry is now recognized as one of the safest industrial sectors. For more information about careers in mining, visit

“There’s a misconception that once you’re a tradesperson, that you will remain as a tradesperson”

move from being an apprentice, to having your qualifications as a journeyperson. Then you can go up into supervision, and you can end up owning your own contractor company.”


Myth: There is no career path in construction. Reality: There are many different occupations within construction, and various skill levels one can work toward within them. “There’s a misconception that once you’re a tradesperson, that you will remain as a tradesperson,” says Rosemary Sparks, senior director of planning and development at the Construction Sector Council (CSC). “You can

Myth: There are no jobs in construction right now. Reality: As the population ages, more and more jobs will become available. “People need to know there are great opportunities in the construction industry,” says Sparks. “It’s busy. There’s lots of activity, so therefore lots of employment opportunity.” Average construction workers are in their 40s, according to the CSC, and new jobs are already opening up as Baby Boomers retire. Visit for more information.

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Wood Manufacturing

Myth: It’s a dirty, dusty and repetitive job. Reality: Jobs in wood manufacturing are becoming more and more high-tech and streamlined. “We’ve got quite a variety of jobs, anywhere from engineering, working with computers, operating machinery, product design and development, assembly and logistics,” says Richard Lipman, president of the Wood Manufacturing Council (WMC). “You can get into the sector from any of the different pathways. We need entry level workers right from school, college graduates, university graduates and apprentices.”

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Myth: There are no jobs available in the wood manufacturing sector. Reality: The industry is forecasted for growth, and there are many positions available, Lipman says. Reports from college programs say they are unable to produce enough graduates to supply the demand for new employees in their respective areas.

Student Profile

“There’s a pretty strong chance of employment, and it’s better than in many manufacturing sectors,” he says. To find out more about careers in wood manufacturing, visit for profiles of people working in the industry, a job board and guidelines for careers in wood.

Ryan Cunningham originally wanted to be a bio-materials engineer, and studied for this at McGill University. After attending conferences and speaking to people in the minerals industry, he realized that the mining industry was for him.

Myth: Wood manufacturing is bad for the environment because trees are cut down to produce the products. Reality: Wood is the only completely sustainable building material. With proper techniques and sustainability as a priority, trees can be grown and harvested just like any other plant product can be farmed, Lipman says.

“The industry was big, there were exciting projects, and it felt like a family.”

“The industry was big, there were exciting projects, and it felt like a family,” Cunningham

“With advancements in science, engineering and technology, we now have modern mills

and processes that allow us to convert up to 95 percent of every log into some kind of marketable product,” according to the WMC website. The WMC mentions that this high recovery percentage is due to the ability to turn materials that have been previously discarded as waste, such as chips and sawdust, into wood products. CO

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says. Now he is completing his Ph.D. at McGill and working part-time at Met-Chem Canada, a mining consulting company. “I am obtaining a degree while gaining valuable experience,” he says. “My next steps are a mystery, as I have too many options to know for certain,” he says. “All of the possibilities are exciting!”

Jordan Adams is a journalism student at Carleton University.

For further information, visit:,,,,,,

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Career Options PS Fall 2011  

Career Options Magazine Fall 2011

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