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Canada’s North: Rich with Resources—and Opportunity By Hilary Thomson


Myths and Realities of Living in Northern Canada By Maria Church


By Erin Jackson

19 Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology

By Alex Paterson

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Going the Distance… Literally: International experience makes well-rounded employees By Kathleen Clark

Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Summer Jobs and Co-ops in the North


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Gap Year Goals: Why do you really want to take a year off? By Jillian Courtney

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To Exchange or Not to Exchange: Tales from Holland By Erin Jackson

What to Study: A Major Decision



By Kathy Kirkpatrick and Jill Latschislaw

Get a Head Start on The Summer Job Rush

The Best of Both Worlds: Joint College/university programs By Natasha Gan

Gap Year Goals: Why do you really want to take a year off? pg. 20


[ Even More ]

Career Options The latest issue of Career Options High School Edition is always online at While you’re there, browse through the rest of the website for other great feature articles that will help your high school to post-secondary transition and beyond.


Deciding which post-secondary school to attend? Wondering which program to take? Choosing a co-op placement? Scary stuff. The decisions you make for your years after high school are big ones and Blogspot gives you the real deal. Our regular and guest bloggers—current students, recent grads, career counsellors, new hires— share their thoughts and experiences about the transition from high school to post-secondary education. Blogspot is fun, relatable and honest. Send your blog ideas to:

CO high school edition 1


Editor-in-Chief Paul D. Smith

Let your imagination head North

Managing Editor | gordongroup Kathryn Young

The North. It fascinates us. It defines us. In our national anthem we sing of the “True North strong and free.” We display the polar bear on our two-dollar coin. The federal government is spending time and money to protect our Arctic sovereignty.

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Yet most of us have never been beyond the treeline. Most of us are southern, urban types whose experience of North is a cottage on the Canadian Shield, far from the Arctic Circle. We don’t experience the cold, the isolation, the darkness and light. We expect fresh fruit and vegetables to be available in every grocery store, and the sun to rise every day. The North is a romantic ideal, glorified in art, poetry and song. It is our frontier, the place where the adventurous can go to reinvent themselves. For that reason, and many others, it is precious to us, even if we spend time there only in our minds.

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In this issue of Career Options High School Edition we investigate our relationship with the North, paying particular attention to the opportunities available to those who are willing to experience the boreal life. We examine the natural resources sector, which is an important contributor to the northern economy. Natural resources and technology have always been a source of employment in the Great White North, but new sectors are adding energy and excitement to the region. The arts are offering new opportunities for those who live in the vast land, and for those who might be willing to go there. As the northern economy diversifies, young people will have more opportunity to stay in their home communities, close to family and friends. The result must be an even more vibrant and compelling Northern narrative.

Advertising Sales | gordongroup Pauline de Gonzague Colleen Hayes Andrew Moore Contributors Maria Church Kathy Kirkpatrick Kathleen Clark Jill Latchislaw Jillian Courtney Alex Paterson Natasha Gan Paul D. Smith Erin Jackson Hilary Thomson Career Options High School Edition is published bi-annually in April and October by the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE), 720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 202, Toronto ON M5S 2T9.

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I have been to Labrador, the eastern edge of our Northern expanse, and I have many friends from the Big Land. They love the place for what it makes of them. The North breeds honest, strong people who can stand on their own, but who value community. More than the ore in the ground, they are the strength of the land. If you can imagine living and working alongside people who are open and caring, but tough as an Arctic winter, I invite you to imagine yourself in the North. You may be city born and raised, but those of you who can find your way into the hinterland will find the rewards well worth the trip.

ISSN: 1712-1183

Paul D. Smith

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.

Paul D. Smith is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers and Editor-in-Chief of Career Options magazine. Email Paul at

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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.

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

CO high school edition 3

Rich with and



Resources— Opportunity By Hilary Thomson


outhern Canadians may think of the North as a frigid no-man’s-land dotted with the occasional polar bear. In reality, the northern parts of our provinces and the territories are rich with employment opportunities—as rich as the natural resources that Canada has long been recognized for.

And with the region’s older workers easing into retirement, it’s a golden opportunity for young career seekers to consider a career in one of Canada’s three main natural resource industry sectors: forestry, mining, and oil and gas. For high school graduates, the North is open for business. A career in mining has a lot to offer, says Melanie Sturk, Director of Attraction, Retention and Transition for the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR). The industry offers “opportunities for adventure, the opportunity to think on your feet, to problem solve and work as a team,” she says. According to the Mining Association of Canada, mining occurs in 12 out of the 13 provinces and territories. In 2009, the industry contributed $36 billion to our gross domestic product and employed 306,000 workers. Through labour market research, MiHR predicts the mining industry as a whole will need to hire about 100,000 new workers within the next 10 years, Sturk says. Better still, jobs will be available in all areas and skill levels. There are more than 120 types of jobs available in the sector, ranging from general labourers, to technicians, geologists and engineers. Sturk notes that the greatest area of predicted growth will be in the northern territories. There are a lot of exploration projects currently underway in Canada’s North, and it is hoped that these projects will result in lucrative finds and mines in the future.

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Many mining jobs in remote locations are what they call “fly in and fly out”: the company flies employees in to the work site for two-to-four-week shifts, and returns them home by plane for extended time off. While living near the mine, workers are provided with room and board as well as recreation facilities. “It is a very lucrative career choice for people,” Sturk says. “It is great for a young person to be able to go and live in a remote northern area, make great money, and go back to city living with their entire paycheque with them.” When it comes to choosing the post-secondary education or training needed to pursue a career in mining, Sturk says it depends on the occupation you are interested in. “There are lots of educational programs across Canada that provide what you need to get into mining,” she says. Yukon College is one post-secondary institution that is responding to the mining boom in the territories. Within its School of Mining, the college has introduced a couple of pre-employment apprenticeship programs that aim to provide trainees with the basic skills they need to succeed in specific mining trades, says Shelagh Rowles, Dean of Applied Science and Management. The college is also in the process of developing a geotech diploma program slated to start in September 2012. “It is a good opportunity not only for Yukoners but for people from other provinces and territories to get an education in the context of where the activity is taking place,” Rowles says. 6


But the opportunities in the North extend beyond the territories. The oil and gas sector is highly active in the remote northern areas of Alberta and British Columbia, and in southern Saskatchewan. As in the mining industry, the demand for people in oil and gas is high, and the need for workers is expected only to rise with the retirement of about 30 percent of the industry’s workforce within the next 10 years. By 2020, the industry will need to hire a small city of workers—between 39,000 and 130,000 people, says Cheryl Knight, CEO of the Petroleum Human Resources Council. Knight says the oil and gas industry is a field-based industry with 80 percent of available jobs located in rural, remote environments. While the majority of business and operations support and professional roles are based in head offices (in cities such as Calgary), most of the operators, field workers and trades are located in the field. Math, science and computer skills are fundamental when considering a career in oil and gas, Knight says, because so much of the job involves instruments, chemicals and equipment. With its workers required to work long shifts and live in remote locations, the oil and gas industry may not be for everyone, Knight admits, yet it offers many different career paths and opportunities to travel, learn and grow. “It is a very exciting industry with a ‘can-do attitude,’ ” she says. “It is made up of people who don’t take no for an answer and are used to solving problems.” As well as the leading natural industries, however, there are also jobs to be had in other, less well known sectors in the North—opportunities for young career seekers to stretch themselves.

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“Because the population is smaller, the range of topics that you are exposed to in your job is much greater,” says Erin Light, a water information specialist with the Yukon government. Light, a Waterloo, Ont. native, says that three years ago there was a push to find out how water resources in Yukon were changing. As a result, some new jobs were created in hydrology research. “There is more opportunity for the development of skills,” she says, adding that there are many different water-related jobs in Yukon and the people in those positions have wide-ranging backgrounds, including technical and professional training. She says a degree in geography, environmental science or geology is a good starting point when considering a job in the North. Something more hands-on, such as a diploma earned through field technician courses, also pays off. Few Canadians will ever get the chance to see this picturesque part of Canada. Fortunately, the region presents a wealth of career options for young people looking to work in natural resources, and experience the true North strong and free. CO Hilary Thomson is a journalism student at Carleton University. For more information, visit:,,,



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d n a s h t y M Realities n i g n i v i L of Northern Canada By Maria Church

“The True North strong and free”: it’s an evocative line in our national anthem, one that calls to mind images of glaciers, tundra and polar bears. But the reality of life in Yellowknife and Whitehorse, the two most populated cities in the territories, is a mystery to most Canadians. There is a tendency to assume the North is flat, empty and cold. Ready to have the record set straight?

Myth 1: The high cost of living Is it crazily expensive to eat in the North? Not according to Deborah Bartlette, Dean of Applied Arts at Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon. In fact, she says some foods are actually less expensive than in cities like Vancouver. It’s in the more remote areas of the territories that goods are noticeably more expensive, given the higher cost of transportation. In a city as large as Whitehorse, prices are rarely higher than in other areas of Canada. Best of all, no PST and a northern living allowance on your taxes means more money saved in the long run.



Myth 2: No social life “I actually found the opposite, especially for a young person,” says Gillian Lee, a Partner at an accounting firm in Yellowknife, N.W.T., who moved there from Newfoundland right out of university. “Yellowknife has a very transient population and a lot of young professionals live here. I found that when I first came here, I met so many young people and we were constantly doing something, [whether] meeting for supper or for drinks, or doing things outside.” Unique to the North: in summer, it is light until one o’clock in the morning. This means that you can leave work and go hiking, canoeing or boating for hours if you like—a whole weekend’s worth of recreation, on a typical Wednesday after work!

Myth 3: Difficult to get there Canada’s North is far more accessible today than most people probably think. Bartlette says there are many flights a day arriving in Whitehorse from several cities across Canada. Yellowknife is also easily accessible by air, and Lee explains that flight prices have gone down significantly in recent years. “When I first came here, the flight to Edmonton was certainly more expensive than it is now,” she says. She also notes that Yellowknife is currently accessible by car only 10 months of the year because of the freezing and thawing of the Mackenzie River, but construction of the Deh Cho Bridge, to be completed in 2012, will open the city to traffic year-round.

Myth 4: Uncomfortable living It’s not all cold, all the time. Bartlette explains that there is a significant difference between Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which makes it difficult to speak for climate across the board in Northern Canada. Whitehorse is located just north of the B.C. border and has a relatively mild climate, despite its northern geography. The city is nestled within the Whitehorse Valley and surrounded by boreal forest. Originally from Manitoba, Bartlette is perfectly serious when she says, “Winters in Whitehorse are far better than winters in Winnipeg.”

Yellowknife lies east and north of Whitehorse, on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake in the N.W.T. Here the climate is subarctic, but the city rests on the Canadian Shield, which means it still lies south of the tree line. Lee says of Yellowknife: “I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who LOVES minus fifty—I know I certainly don’t love it—but as far as I am concerned, our warm, bright summers make up for it.”

Myth 5: Cut off from civilization Down to the nitty-gritty now: do people in the North feel cut off from the rest of the world? “In Yellowknife I certainly don’t feel [that way],” says Lee. She explains that smaller rural communities can feel isolated in the territories; however, Yellowknife has a large, relatively young population that keeps busy with social activity. For her, Yellowknife is full of potential. “I think it’s the people. I work with a great group of young people and they have a sense of adventure. They like to try new things,” she says. Bartlette feels similarly about Whitehorse. She says her city is full of boutiques and shops, art galleries and cultural events: “There is theatre, music, jazz, classical, and a fabulous arts centre.” If the arts aren’t your thing, Bartlette points to ample opportunities to pursue sports like snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, motorboats, hunting and fishing, to name a few. With so many thriving social activities, Lee and Bartlette say they are far from feeling a lack of civilization.

The Reality In the past, both Yellowknife and Whitehorse were known for their young populations leaving to find careers in more southerly cities. It’s a different story today, with more and more young professionals choosing to stay and advance their careers at home. And in such booming cities, “you can combine a meaningful, well-paid career and all sorts of career opportunities with a pretty amazing lifestyle,” Bartlette says. CO Maria Church is a journalism student at Carleton University. For more information, visit:,,

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Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Summer Jobs and Co-ops in the North

By Erin Jackson


hen Kevin Robbie signed up for a three-month summer co-op placement in Yellowknife, N.W.T., he was expecting chilly weather and a city not so different from his hometown of Georgetown, Ont. Instead, he found himself swimming in the freezing cold Great Slave Lake, walking home at 11 p.m. with the sun still shining, and gazing up at the Northern Lights.

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High school students thinking ahead to the experience they can gain during post-secondary should consider summer co-ops—they’re a fantastic chance to get hands-on industry training while school’s out. Employers recognize the value of students who spend summer months gaining relevant experience. They understand that these potential employees will be able to hit the ground running. Robbie, a third-year Aviation Technology degree student at Seneca College, took the opportunity to do his mandatory placement with aviation company Arctic Sunwest Charters. He thought of it as a way to travel and experience something new. With one Tim Hortons, one movie theatre and no other town for miles, Yellowknife is a far cry from Georgetown, but according to Robbie, it’s the perfect destination for the adventurous. “I’d recommend it for someone wanting to experience new things and get out of their comfort zone—not worrying about eating at a five-star restaurant or being able to get someplace in an hour,” he says. Aside from gaining work skills, Robbie says he was able to see a range of wildlife, meet new friends and join a baseball team during his northern placement. “I think it’s a great experience for anybody, even people who are scared,” says Robbie. “Overall, I had a great time. I would do it again any day.” With the possibility of working there as a pilot, the experience could be a stepping stone for Robbie to return to the North after graduation. Either way, he says, he’s in a better position to decide where he wants to head in the future. Co-ops and placements are some of the most valuable services that colleges and universities offer. Opportunities in remote areas give some students the chance to combine work and travel. Dane Pearce-Meijerink, a fellow student of Robbie’s at Seneca College, used his co-op placement as a chance to work for Northwestern Air Lease Limited in Fort Smith, N.W.T. He’s equally enthusiastic about the experience: “I’d definitely recommend it if you want to work up North in the future.” Pearce-Meijerink says that the short threeand-a-half-month commitment was a great way to build contacts, learn about bushpiloting and travel. And the experience was



a welcome change of pace from his school life. “Only apply if you’re willing to work hard,” he says. For Malcolm Gomes, who also chose to do his aviation co-op in the Northwest Territories, getting exposure to life outside of flight school is what the opportunity was all about. Gomes got his first glimpse of bush-piloting in the Arctic from the popular TV show “Ice Pilots,” which he started watching in his first year at Seneca College. Seeing more intensive piloting skills in action, such as landing a plane on an ice lake, encouraged the young student to look at companies up North in search of an experience outside the norm. Despite the initial culture shock, the third-year student said he was not only able to get used to life in Yellowknife, but even began thinking of returning to work up North after graduation. “So far, I’m thinking about going back up,” he says. “Maybe to the Yukon.” Lynne McMullen, Chair of Seneca’s School of Aviation and Technology, says the opportunity to work for northern companies gives students the chance to explore the world outside their home base, gain perspective and lay groundwork for their future. McMullen says summer placement experience is a great asset for any student, as work experience up North will look good to potential employers. “If it was me, I would feel more comfortable bringing someone on board if they’ve gained experience and they’re not coming in without any insight into the demands of the job,” she says. She says the key is to keep an open mind, be yourself and learn every skill you can. “Every piece of experience you have builds who you are,” she says. According to McMullen, work placements not only give students the chance to grow and get some practical application of their skills, but also offer a light at the end of the tunnel for their years in school. As for students who decide to venture up North, she said “we have only ever heard really positive things.” Of course, not all programs offer co-ops or internships to students, but that doesn’t close the door on opportunities to work in the North. Emily Pope, a third-year psychology student at the University of Ottawa, spent her summer working full-time as a lifeguard in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Travelling on her own and living away from home for the first

time, Pope says she applied for the job online through the Young Canada Works program in order to experience something different. Once there, she immersed herself in the local culture, watching throat singing and drum dancing performances, and taking time to check out various local artists’ work. The 20-year-old says she was able to connect with old and new friends through Facebook, with one lively update of whales in the bay causing celebration. She enjoyed her job as a lifeguard so much that she plans to return next summer, while also finding time to work at a group home and to learn how to knit. She even got to taste some unique northern delicacies— not only blubber (not her favourite) but also muskox burgers and caribou meat. Pope, who admits she is not particularly daring by nature, says going up North is a great adventure: “As long as you want to try something new, it’s a good place to go.” CO Erin Jackson is a Carleton University journalism student on exchange in the Netherlands. For more information, visit:,, Young Canada Works at,

CO high school edition 15

What to Study:

r o j a A M ion s i c e D By Alex Paterson




en Chafe is few months away from graduating from high school, and plans to pursue a university major that will lead to a career in film.

The decision seems logical for the 17-year-old Winnipegger. He wants to channel his passion for film into a degree and eventually into a job in the industry, thinking that if he lands a job he loves, he’ll never “work” a day in his life. “I told one of my teachers how much I loved films, and she suggested I begin planning to go to film school to combine my interests with education,” says Chafe. Every spring and summer, high school graduates and other post-secondary hopefuls are faced with the task of picking a major that they intend to dictate their career path for the rest of their lives. But too often, students like Chafe rely on following their hearts instead of weighing other crucial elements that need to be considered when choosing a degree or diploma program. While it helps for students to enjoy what they’re studying, future factors like compensation, work-life balance and employment opportunities upon graduation often get overlooked in the decision-making process, leaving graduates surprised when they can’t find a job in their field after four or five years of hard work. Chafe says that his first priority was to major in a subject that he genuinely cared about, but admits he should have done more research about the career climate when he graduates.

humanities fields I thought I was interested in, like international development,” he says. Chafe’s decision to apply to Ryerson University was also shaped by his choice of major. “I’m planning on school in Toronto for more employment opportunities in regards to production companies and internship positions, which Winnipeg has less of,” he says.

Un-educated about education Many high school graduates make the mistake of streaming themselves into a major without doing any prospective career planning first, according to Shaune Fandrey, director with the Career Assistance Network in Red Deer, Alta. “We see lots of young people head off to do a field that they just think will be fun and that they’re going to love, without researching the employment outlook,” says Fandrey, who runs career planning workshops for students 16 and older. “If you position yourself in a field that has negative growth, you’ll be very disappointed upon graduation.” Fandrey says a lot of students pursue degrees without looking at the bigger picture. For example, she cites kinesiology as a major that often requires further post-graduate studies to make the degree desirable to employers. Working with animals may seem great, she adds, but there is an emotional component to veterinary work that some people can’t handle.

If you position yourself in a field that has negative growth, you’ll be very disappointed upon graduation. “They really need to consider what the outlook is going to be like for that career, doing some labour market research with regard to where that career is going to be in five or ten years,” says Ferguson. “I find that a lot of students don’t take that into consideration.” Ferguson stresses that students should not base their major choice solely on employment opportunity forecasts. She sees parents use this factor to push their children into certain areas of study, without considering their child’s skills, abilities and personality. She says that the rigours of a particular job may not align with a certain type of person, and adds that students who aren’t positive about what they want to do shouldn’t specialize right away. “If you’re going into water resource engineering, generally speaking, you’re going to become a water resource engineer,” she says. “When students come out of high school, they don’t have to have it set in stone. There are opportunities where in their first semester they can possibly choose a co-op option. ” Ferguson advises making degree changes sooner rather than later to avoid wasting years of time and money. The quicker students can find out what careers are in demand, and match the results to their interests, the quicker they can start to gain relevant experience to complement their degree.

“In general, I don’t think high school leads you in Fandrey tries to prepare her clients to avoid those pitfalls. One of her teaching tools is the a direction that helps you with how to operate Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS), an in the work force and the requirements needed interactive career planning tool that lets students “A lot of students will say ‘What can I do with my to enter the field you’ve selected,” says Chafe, degree?’ and my first question back to them is compare potential careers based on their who has decided to take on another major, in ‘What do you want to do with it?’ ” she says. interests, values and skills. Students can use it business, as a potential safety net. “Choosing a job based on money isn’t my priority. Starting off to set up a plan with a better chance to succeed. “What a lot of students don’t recognize is that in the field I’m interested in isn’t economically the degree is a benchmark for sure, but they “We have lots of young people that go into fields beneficial, but it’s what I’m interested in, so I’d also need to look at what experiences they gain where they will have to work 20 years before much rather have that. I have a few friends who throughout university. Because a lot of times, they even recover enough income to pay back could care less about what they do, even if it’s that’s more of the determining factor as to what their student loans, let alone actually make brutal. As long as they’re paid the big bucks, they want to do with their degree when they a living, because they’ve chosen a field that’s they’re happy.” leave,” Ferguson says. CO not great as far as financial viability goes,” says Fandrey. Chafe attends the University of Winnipeg Alex Paterson is a journalism student at Collegiate, a high school that offers programs Carleton University. to help students transition to post-secondary education. He’s thankful to have been able to try For more information, visit: out some university-level courses that ended up The earlier a student can start planning for the,, influencing his choice. future, the better, says Jill Ferguson, a career, advisor with the Co-operative Education and “I’ve been able to gauge what university is like, Career Services department at the University and it had an impact on choosing to not go into of Guelph.

The future is now

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The Best of Both Worlds What to Study:

By Natasha Gan


an’t decide between college and university? A growing number of postsecondary institutions are making it possible for students to have the best of both worlds by offering joint programs.

A joint program is a way to obtain a college diploma and a university degree in just four years. By combining a liberal arts education from a university with the more applied, hands-on learning from a college, you can get a broader background and initial exposure in the field you are studying. The best part of these combined programs is that they don’t cost more, and often cost less. You can start experiencing the things you like to do most early on, while earning a diploma and a degree at the same time.




The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), in Oshawa, Ont., offers three different combined programs with Durham College: Accounting Transfer to UOIT (ACTU), Diploma-toDegree Bridging programs and the collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Alberigo says he saved money by joining the combined program, with lower tuition than a straight university program would have been. Although the program is a good transition from high school to post-secondary, it has a tough workload and students must learn to manage their time.

“I would suggest this type of program to any student,” says Philippe Alberigo, a UOIT student. “At times it was an information overload,” says “This was probably one of the best decisions I’ve Alberigo. “Having said that, if you do commit ever made in my life.” and work at it, you should be fine.” With ACTU, students attend Durham College for two years and earn their Ontario college diploma. During their second year, students take a combination of courses from both Durham College and UOIT and then transfer to the university in their third year and study side-by-side with UOIT business students.


“Think of the unsure students,” says David Baker, UOIT’s Pathways and Transfer Credit Coordinator. “The program allows students in college to have the opportunity to try university-level classes.” UOIT also offers a variety of diploma-to-degree bridging programs that are similar to ACTU. After


two or three years of study at any Ontario college, students can apply for a university degree with their college credentials. These programs include Adult Education in Digital Technology, Biological Science, Commerce, Communication, Criminology, Information Technology, Kinesiology, Legal Studies and Nuclear Power.

production and journalism. Journalism students get to be reporters by going out and writing actual news stories, with the chance to be published in the school or local paper. Meanwhile, media production students are just as “hands-on” as they shoot and edit videos with equipment used in professional production.

In the collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, students apply their learning in a hands-on, simulated hospital environment, even in their first year.

Students typically spend about three years at the University of Winnipeg, where they can pursue their credits on a full-time or part-time basis. They are encouraged to apply early in this process for the joint program at Red River College, where they continue for their last two years. “We don’t want them to forget all their skills they got from college when they’re in university,” says Tracey Seida, Coordinator of the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

“We’re proud that we’re creating innovative opportunities for college and university students,” says Victoria Choy, UOIT Registrar. In Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg joined forces with Red River College’s Creative Communications program to offer the Joint Program in Communications. “It’s extremely popular,” says Judith Kearns, chair of the Rhetoric, Writing and Communications department at the University of Winnipeg. “The balance of the liberal arts with applied studies creates a well-rounded education that many students are eager to take advantage of.” Students in this major can study in four streams: public relations, advertising, broadcast

For students planning to apply for managerial positions, it’s helpful to have the diploma and the degree, instead of just the college diploma. And often, job opportunities come up at the end of the diploma. “They hit the pavement and start looking for a job,” says Seida, adding that 80 to 90 percent of graduates find employment within six months of graduating. At Algonquin College, students can study nursing under the supervision of professors

from the University of Ottawa and the college, and receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing under both schools’ names. With the collaborative program, students can attend university classes and clinicals under the same curriculum at whichever location is closest to them—the Woodroffe campus in west Ottawa or the Pembroke campus, which is about 1.5 hours from Ottawa. The Pembroke campus delivers some of its classes through teleconferencing. Students from Pembroke who can’t travel to the University of Ottawa can use this program to earn a university degree after four years of studying at Algonquin. “This is a wonderful collaboration,” says Jamie Bramburger, Manager of Community and Student Affairs at Algonquin. “Students can access services from both the university and the college.” These collaborative programs are portals to fulfilling professional careers. CO Natasha Gan is a journalism student at Ryerson University. For more information, visit:,,,,,,

CO high school edition 19


y the time we reach that final year of high school, we’ve heard at least a million times, “So, what are you doing after you graduate?” Some can recite a plan they’ve been working on for years, while others roll their eyes and try to think of a different way to say, “I don’t know.”

Gap Year Goals: u o y o d y Wh t n a w y l l a re to take a year off?

Not everyone has the perfect plan for their lives already laid out, or is financially able to pay the ever-increasing cost of tuition. If you’re thinking about taking a year off from education, there are countless options for spending your time before hitting the books again. Taking a gap year is a big decision and there are many factors to consider. “Students need to be clear about why they’re taking this gap year and what their goals are,” says Colleen Myronyk, supervisor of the Laurier Brantford Career Centre. Do you want to work to save money? Volunteer to get experience in a particular field? Travel the world? Figure out your skills and strengths? Simply take a break from academics? Without clearly defining your goals, it can be hard to make the most of the time off. Brad Ducharme, for example, used his gap year to get away from the academic setting (especially after his high school victory lap), save money and figure out his college options.

By Jillian Courtney

“I didn’t want to sign up for something I wasn’t 100 percent on,” Ducharme explains. During his year off, he got out of the rigid academic routine, worked full-time and saved enough for a trip to Cuba. Later in the year, he started looking at different programs until one—radio broadcasting at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.—caught his eye. He was accepted and hasn’t looked back since. He now works at a London radio station and is considering going back to learn another trade.



For other students, like myself, the decision to take a gap year has more to well as in mountainous areas across Europe, and take courses to become do with money—or the lack of it. I wasn’t particularly careful with the money I ski or snowboarding instructors. The company is family-run and has had earned during high school. After figuring out how much university would trained over 2,500 instructors in the last 10 years. Nonstop offers a wide cost and seeing how little I had in savings, working for a year or even just a range of courses from one week to 18 weeks. The downside is that these few months seemed like a good idea. However, the logical side of my brain programs cost money. kicked in. I knew the free time and lack of homework would make going back to school next to impossible for me. In the end, I found other ways to fund my “Gap years are a great opportunity for students to gain more skills and schooling and proceeded directly to university without a gap year. increase awareness about their field of interest,” says Myronyk. She suggests strategically volunteering, conducting informational interviews Another gap year option is to enrol in an international program, like teaching or gaining work experience in an area you’re thinking of pursuing in or volunteering, to gain valuable experience and learn more about yourself. college or university. Taking time off allows students to learn more about One of these programs is Thinking Beyond Borders. The program offers themselves, increase their self-awareness and discover their strengths, three trips to developing countries where students are given the chance to work preferences and interests. Self-awareness is at the core of the volunteer, do fieldwork, live with families and even pursue some academic career model that Myronyk uses at Laurier Brantford. studies while gaining important perspective on life. Setting clear goals at the start of a gap year helps you make the “Gap year students begin their college careers with purpose, focus and transition back into academics more easily. It can be hard to go from direction,” says the Thinking Beyond Borders website. “They approach travelling or earning money back to the classroom and the pressures of their course work, extra-curricular activities and social lives with tests and homework. heightened maturity.” So take time to look at all your options and make an informed choice A similar program is Gap Year Abroad, which works with students to about what you think will be best for you. This is your time and your life, help plan trips around the world and decide what they can do with their so make your decisions count. CO time abroad. This program offers many different options, from group or independent trips to teaching, working, learning and volunteering Jillian Courtney is a journalism student at Wilfrid Laurier University in in countries all over the world. The website,, offers a Brantford, Ont. pamphlet that outlines many options and hints at many more. For more information, visit:, But perhaps skiing and snowboarding are more up your alley. Programs,,, like Nonstop offer a chance for students to live in Banff and Whistler, as

Going the Distance‌ Literally International experience makes well-rounded employees By Kathleen Clark




he world, they say, is at your fingertips— and the web brings it all within reach. But today’s employers are looking for global experience that extends beyond your browser.

“We’re seeing a trend by employers to kind of hone in on international, intercultural competencies in their selection process,” says Jeff Watson, the Employer Relationship Developer at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). “And it makes sense that they are, because a lot of these companies are global entities themselves.” To be competitive today, you have to be willing to go the distance. Literally. For high school students, summers are the most valuable time to gain relevant experience. International experience may not be workrelated, but a trip abroad is a great way to expand personal horizons, immerse yourself in new cultures and bolster your resumé in the process. Surveys by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) show that studying abroad has also become a more popular choice

among students in the past decade. More and more career counselling centres are helping students set up these opportunities. Indeed, you can bring back more than school credit and pretty pictures from study abroad experiences. “We’re talking about concepts that aren’t easy to define. It’s not like somebody graduates and they have a transcript that has a stamp on it that says ‘You are a Global Ready Graduate!’ ” says Stephanie Hayne, UWO’s Experiential Education Coordinator. But there are four broad skills to be learned from venturing into the world that will let future employers know you might just fit.

Intercultural ­competence “There’s a difference between traveling somewhere for a couple of weeks and living somewhere for a few months at least,” says Emily Bishop, a Trent University alumna. She spent the third year of her International Development and Anthropology undergrad in Ecuador, first taking courses, and then

managing development projects in a small village. “It just affords for experience immersed in a culture. You get a sense of the people, a different sense of rhythm you don’t necessarily experience when you’re traveling.” Bishop says she knew in high school that she wanted to go abroad for at least a semester at some point in her post-secondary education. When she finally made it happen, she says she spent time learning the nuances of the culture she was visiting. Learning how to ask questions will give you the means to understand people from any number of backgrounds. “Be open to what’s available to you,” she says.

Having a second (or third or fourth...) language “I chose Ecuador as a country because I wanted to learn Spanish,” says Bishop. “It really challenged my language and interpersonal skills.”

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When it comes to knowing languages, the more the merrier. An employee with multiple language capabilities is a boon for any business with international customers or organizations with branches throughout the world. “It’s amazing how fast you progress after a month,” Bishop says. “And I definitely said ridiculous things, but you just have to laugh. You won’t be judged as harshly as you may think.”

Adaptability Working and studying abroad is a great way to showcase your independence and adaptability. “It says something about your level of confidence in handling myriad tasks, because being abroad likely means that you’ve encountered things that are outside of your comfort zone,” Bishop says. Though you may go into the experience with wellintentioned plans and be running on a thousand ideas a minute, she notes it’s important to stay flexible. “I think it’s quite easy for somebody to come into a situation like that and say ‘I’m going to do A, B, C, D and add this to my resumé,’ ” Bishop says. “It’s great to be proactive, but I think it’s also important to make sure you’re connecting with people and trying to understand what they would like.”

A global mindset Do you see the big picture? Chances are if you’re contemplating going abroad you’re already aware that sometimes the world at your fingertips is not enough. You have to go. These four skill categories will help you distil your global (possibly life-altering) expeditions into bite-sized nuggets an employer can swallow. “When the graduate is able to articulate the learning, the life lesson, the big gain from the experience, it creates that feeling in the employer that ‘Wow this person has the maturity and international experience that would diversify my team,’” says Watson. Transferable skills aside, going abroad can be a great adventure if you’re open to it. “Just do it,” says Bishop. “Life is about surprising yourself.” CO Kathleen Clark is a journalism student at Carleton University. For more information, visit:,,,



To Exchange or Not to Exchange:

Tales from d n Holla

By Erin Jackson


’ll be honest: until just a few weeks before I got on the plane, I still wasn’t sure I was going on my student exchange. I knew that going abroad would most likely be fun, and that the chance to do this would really only come around once. Somehow doubts still managed to creep in. What if I hated it? Should I just get on with my degree? Was it worth it the cost of going abroad?

Now, apparently when you say to people, “I’m going on a university exchange to the Netherlands,” what they hear is, “I’m going to Europe to party for the next five months under the pretense of studying.”

At least, that’s the impression I’ve gathered from telling a host of family, friends and co-workers about my plans to study abroad. When they’re excited for me, it usually centres At the mandatory orientation for the program, on the opportunity to travel and the vibrant student speakers were invited to share experiences social scene—not to mention the notorious and photos from their own exchanges. I couldn’t cliché of Amsterdam as a city solely based on help but be a little cynical at how many times the “coffee shops” and legal prostitution. words “best time of my life” and “I wish I could go back” were thrown around. I was certain I would Of course, I plan to do my fair share of partying not be the type to gush about my own exchange as and travelling in Europe, but my exchange the most amazing time of my life. would not be complete without a fulfilling academic experience. As a journalism student, After just five weeks into my exchange, however, I was drawn to the Netherlands specifically to I know one thing for certain: I made the right take the Research, Travel and Reporting course decision getting on the plane. offered by a university in Utrecht.

The course is broken into two parts: two months of lectures, followed by independent research and reporting. Looking at the syllabus, I was convinced I would find the classroom portion to be eight weeks of the same-old learning I’m used to, and that the research portion was where my real learning experience would begin. After just one month of lectures, I can safely say nothing about studying abroad, including the most basic of lectures, is completely devoid of some new experience. Even in a class dominated by Canadians, eight in a group of 15 international students, you can’t avoid being immersed in a mish-mash of different cultures. In a group of international students, every conversation instantly becomes more worldly, more comparative and more telling. It also sheds light on how far removed you can be from what’s happening in the world.

CO high school edition 27

I have learned more about other countries and cultures since the beginning of my exchange than I have sitting in any classroom. I now know the ins and outs of Swedish politics, and how to count to ten in four new languages. I now have friends I can visit in Budapest, Barcelona and Helsinki.

needs to be done—so right now I’m going to do exactly everything I’m told to do, on time, and with an academic enthusiasm usually reserved for keen first-year students. It’s the kind of goody two-shoes approach I have always aimed for but never quite been able to pull off.

The other thing that studying abroad offers is the opportunity to learn in different ways. In Dutch culture, education is based on the concept of “learning by doing.” It is far removed from the routine of the average Canadian classroom. In some ways, I feel like I’ve left university and entered a college setting—or at least what I imagine college to be like.

But classes aside, the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the whole experience is being immersed in a new environment. I have ordered the wrong food, gotten lost more times than I can count, and failed at picking up a package from home, all because I simply don’t speak enough Dutch. On the other hand, I have met new people from all over the world, taken weekend trips to different European cities and joined 200 international students on a ski trip to the French Alps.

The one thing that remains the same is the actual amount of work that needs to be done. Over time, in university, you can get used to coasting. You learn exactly how much work you need to do to get the grades you want—the minimum input required for maximum results. Studying overseas forces you to kick these bad habits due to pure confusion. I’m not sure exactly what’s important and what



In the end, the choice to go on exchange, where to go and what to make of it, is a completely personal one. The opportunities are there to take advantage of while you are still a student. Take it from a slightly less cynical Canadian abroad (as in, I may never want to leave): if you’re looking for a change

In Dutch culture, education is based on the concept of “learning by doing.” of scenery that’s far more than a one-week holiday, going on exchange may be the perfect fit for you. Who knows, it may even be the best time of your life. CO Erin Jackson is a Carleton University journalism student on exchange in the Netherlands. For more information, visit:,

Get A Head start on the

Summer job Rush By Kathy Kirkpatrick and Jill Latschislaw


s now the time to think about your summer job? Yes! For most of you, the summer job is your main source of income; not only does it pay for your social life, but it will also help cover your tuition for post-secondary. You probably also want a job that pays well, is fun and rewarding, and will look good on your resumé. So start looking now! Here are some valuable tips to help you secure a job that will bring you the money and experience you need—and maybe even some fun.

1: Start soon. If you want to start work in June, begin your search now. Most employers start posting their summer opportunities as soon as classes resume after the winter holiday break, so don’t delay your search.

2: Visit post-secondary career centre websites and

other job sites. They can help point you in the right direction for your summer job search and provide you with a range of useful

resources and services, including resumé and cover letter reviews, job postings and a network of business contacts for employers who are interested in hiring students like you.

3: Network. You might be surprised at what, and who, the people in your network know. Reach out to your friends, relatives, associates and teachers, and don’t be shy about chatting up the people you meet at events, information sessions or job fairs. You reap what you sow; the more people who know you’re looking for a job, the greater the odds that someone will speak up about where you can find one.

4: Attend career fairs. They’re a great way to meet prospective employers and get your name out there. To ensure that you make a great first impression, prepare for each job fair as you would for a job interview. Find out which companies will be attending, then do your research and prepare a suitable list of questions to ask. You should also revise your resumé so that it’s current and in top shape.

CO high school edition 29


Register. There are a number of job programs and job banks available, and you should be sure to take advantage of them by registering with as many as possible. The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) is administered by the federal government, and links students with relevant, fun, meaningful and well-paid summer and part-time work experience. There are also several provincial and municipal job registries that can help you, as well as a slew of privately run job posting websites that enable you to create a profile and upload your resumé. Don’t forget to make use of your guidance office, which may have summer job banks where you can also register.


Expand your horizons. If you’ve ever been interested in working abroad, there are plenty of organizations dedicated to helping make that happen. For example, SWAP Working Holidays provide the perfect mix of seeing the world while earning money. Look into it. While searching for a summer job, remember to keep your mind, as well as your options, open. The experience you’ll gain at work isn’t just about what tasks you perform on the job; it’s also about the skills you build and the people you meet while performing those tasks. Whether you’re a lifeguard, a camp counselor, an office assistant or a landscaper, you’ll be developing transferable skills that you can add to your resumé and apply throughout your professional career. Just make sure you start looking in time to find a summer job—it works. CO Kathy Kirkpatrick and Jill Latschislaw are Career Coordinators in the Career Development Centre at the Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba.



Helpful links to summer employment information and programs: Career Options Magazine Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) Service Canada Job Bank Service Canada Centre for Youth

Government of Canada Job Search Sites Youth Resource Network of Canada Resort and Hospitality Jobs

Talent Egg Work as an Au Pair Disney Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities Overseas

Young Canada Works!

Tree Planting

SWAP Working Holidays

Retail Jobs

Parks Canada

CO high school edition 31

ased We are ple our to send you f new issue o ions Career Opt l High Schoo Edition


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