Explore, discover, and learn in unexpected ways
The Co-Op Experience
How you can get the most out of your co-op
how to stand
top 10 ways to get noticed by employers
How to say no to parents | january 2012 |
BUSINESS DEGREES 4-YEAR DEGREES THAT ARE BUILT FOR BUSINESS. Accounting e-Business Marketing Fashion Management Human Resources Management International Business International Development Tourism Management
So you graduated. Now what? What do you need to do to stand out from the hundreds of other fellow graduates? Should you get an internship? Volunteer? Go overseas? Start your own business? Apprenticeships? Placements? Networking? More school? For most employers, education is just a check mark. It’s what you do outside of school that will make or break you in the recruiter’s eyes. Learn how to grab their attention.
how he broke into the ultra competitive acby Rogers Wireless.
Diversity in the Workplace: Fact or Fiction?
Interview Smarts — Deloitte’s William
Looking at Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 2011.
Christensen explains why he’ll ask you about
What makes them special?
Permission Slipping: How to say NO to parents — How do you say NO to your
The LEEDing professionals of today
family and loved ones when the time comes
LEED certification is creating a new and growing niche
to choose your career? We discuss how to
for professionals in the building industry.
trust your gut, and the practical tools you’ll need to defend your career choices!
Edu-ma-cation — Studying abroad: how getting an education overseas can supercharge your résumé, education, and life/career opportunities.
ing your own. Scott Metherell, from BigRedWorks, shares his story.
Going Geothermal We’ve burned coal and split atoms just to get power. To think it’s been below our feet this whole time.
The Co-Op Experience What to look out for when researching co-ops, and how to make the most out of your time during your stay.
Deloitte PwC Aecon Sun Life Financial SGI Canada College Pro CGI NAV CANADA Diversey OSCO Construction Group Domtar CMHC-SCHL Ontario Power Authority CN Shell
yay! more school
30 31 31 31 31 31 31
Humber, The Business School (Undergrad) Algonquin College Humber, School of Media Studies and Information Technology Centennial College Brock University Niagara College Queen’s University Ross University Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry Sheridan College
Start Up — Sometimes it takes losing your job to discover that you’re better off creat-
25 26 26 IBC OBC
your biggest failure during an interview.
1 3 5 9 9 16 22 22 22 25
Success Story — Andrew Mitchell shares counting and finance worlds. Brought to you
Hey. Did you know that these companies have lots of entry level positions? Visit their websites to see a full list of positions available.
The Home Depot
who else? 12 25
ACE Canada SchoolFinder.com
stuff to buy 7
january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
Image: © iStockphoto.com/Burwell and Burwell Photography
jobpostings publisher Nathan Laurie email@example.com
associate publisher Mark Laurie firstname.lastname@example.org
editor David Tal email@example.com
art director Sonya van Heyningen
web editor Simone Castello firstname.lastname@example.org
At least that’s what it feels like for me. After recently joining the jobpostings team, this will be my first issue of many that I hope will help you on your path to career success in whatever industry you go after. To kick things off, this month’s theme is: Break from the nest. Own your career! In this issue, we explore some of the challenges students like yourself face when it comes to following your dream. And once you’re set on your path, how do you stand out among the crowd to really excel? Our feature, Permission Slipping, deals with how to say NO to your family
William Christensen, Lexi Dogon, Katie Edmonds, Michelle Hampson, Christopher Lawson, Emily Minthorn, Eleni Papavasiliou, Andrew Williams
assistant sales manager
and loved ones when the time comes to choose your career. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to go against the wishes of those who you’ve looked up to and have nurtured you throughout your whole life. But in the end, one has to decide between living your life for yourself or for someone else. We’ll listen to advice from career counsellors and from the experiences of fellow students who have struggled with this delicate issue. But more important, we’ll give you the practical tools you’ll need to not only defend your career decisions from disapproving parents, family, and friends, but also from your own self-doubts. Growing up is about trusting your gut, and this feature will help you do just that. But what do you do after you’ve stuck to your guns? You’re about to graduate alongside hundreds of other students who’ll have your same
degree, not only in your school but in many others from across the country. How do you stand out? How will you make sure employers notice your application above all the rest? Our main feature, Standing Out, will outline the top 10 strategies you can use to grab a recruiter’s attention. For most employers, education is just a check mark. It’s an important check mark mind you, but one that employers now expect as a given. It’s what you do outside of school that will make or break you in the recruiter’s eyes. So what do you need to stand out from the hundreds of other fellow graduates? Should you get an internship? Volunteer? Go overseas? Start your own business? Apprenticeships? Placements? Networking? More school? Read on and find out!
HIS T IN SUE IS
How to say NO to parents
Top 10 ways to stand out
What to look out for when
Can education overseas
supercharge your résumé?
national account manager Mary Vanderpas
interns Michelle Hampson, Shannon Tracey
Published by Passion Inc. 25 Imperial Street, Suite 100 Toronto, ON M5P 1B9 jobpostings.ca 1-877-900-5627 ext. 221
jobpostings is published eight times in the school year. Issue dates are September, October, November, January, February, March, April, and May. Copies of jobpostings are distributed to over 105 universities and colleges across Canada. Contents of this publication are protected by copyright and may not be reprinted in whole or part without permission of the publishers. Beware: only make New Years resolutions you can keep!
on the cover:
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january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
Image: © Amani Zein. www.ayzeephotography.com
January is a month of new beginnings. It’s the start of a new year, a new school semester, and for many, a new chance to get a fresh foot in that proverbial door and embark on that shiny new career.
BUILD YOUR FUTURE WITH US
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Associate, M&A @ Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL? WHAT PROGRAM DID YOU ATTEND?
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
I went to Queen’s School of Business at Queen’s University and graduated in 2007. During my time there, I travelled to Uppsala, Sweden, on an international exchange program for a semester and studied international economics.
I used my personal network within the firm and set up meetings with a variety of colleagues to understand more about the M&A practice even before the position and posting became available
WHAT DREW YOU TO YOUR CURRENT FIELD? During my time at school, I developed a keen interest in both accounting and finance, but wanted to focus on achieving my CA as a tool to transition into corporate finance. That said, I started my career at Ernst & Young in the audit and assurance practice to learn how to read and interpret financial statements. The plan was that no matter what I aspired to do in the future, this was a skill I deemed to be requisite for any job in the accounting/finance world. Shortly after starting with the firm and working on a client that was very acquisitive in the public markets, I knew my passion was in the transaction world and that M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) and corporate finance was the career path I wanted to pursue.
A number of recruiting professionals — both within Ernst & Young and externally — took notice of my interest, and I eventually had the chance to interview among a large group of candidates for the role.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. I am responsible for financial modelling, as well as company and industry analyses for mergers, acquisitions, financings, and divestitures. I also prepare marketing materials and execute on transactions using project management skills to coordinate both the go-to-market initiatives and diligence processes on both the buy and sell sides. I assist both established and entrepreneurial companies, as well as distressed or-
I’ve honed my financial modelling skills and my ability to prepare in-depth and thorough marketing materials in a variety of different forms. And I’ve improved my presentation and delivery skills when trying to win new work mandates.
IS THERE ONE ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF TO DATE? Achieving my CA is my proudest achievement so far.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE CAREER ASPIRATIONS? I want to continue developing my corporate finance skills on both the buy and sell sides.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR STUDENTS LOOKING TO LAND THEIR FIRST JOB? Get excited about what you want to do, and make sure the people you’re talking to about potential opportunities — recruiters, personal networks, friends, interviewers — know you’re excited about this job.
Get excited about what you want to do, and make sure the people you’re talking to … know you’re excited about this job. ganizations, across a broad range of industries. Much of my focus is on the food and beverage, and plastics and packaging sectors.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB? I get a lot of satisfaction knowing the services I provide are a true value-add to my clients.
WHAT SKILLS HAVE YOU LEARNED THROUGH YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE? Thanks to the nature of my work, I’ve learned a lot about time management and multitasking. Plus,
Build your résumé to the point required for the job you’re applying for. When you’re comfortable that it should get you a conversation with some companies of interest, focus on developing your approach when meeting with interviewers. Because in the end, most jobs are going to be competitive, and the differentiator is whether people can work with you, trust you, and believe in your development potential. Read the full interview on our website at jobpostings.ca/rogers-success-story-name-name
LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT: 4 YEARS DEGREE: HONOURS BACHELOR OF COMMERCE, QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY AND CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT
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with William Christensen, National Campus Recruiting Team Lead
SMARTS CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU FAILED OR WEREN’T SUCCESSFUL?”
Find more intervew Q&A online at jobpostings.ca/interview_smarts
So you screwed up in the interview, huh? They asked the ol’ “What’s your greatest weakness” question and you responded with “cupcakes,” hoping to get a laugh. Awkward. Lucky for you we have friends on the inside – recruiting friends (the people who’ll be interviewing you). It cost us a few favours, but they finally agreed to explain why they ask what they ask, and what the best answers are. It’s a cheatsheet for interviews. Good luck!
I like asking candidates this question because there will always be challenges that people face in the workforce. Most students assume that we’re looking for a perfect candidate who has never made a mistake, but the reality is people fail as much as they succeed, and it’s what you learn from those experiences that is most important to employers. So what I’m interested in hearing is an experience where you’ve fallen short of expectations, what you learned from it, and what steps you took to grow as a professional and to avoid the same mistake in the future. All careers require training and development, so at Deloitte we’re looking for people who have the ability to learn new concepts quickly. We’re trying to find people who are willing to translate the lessons they learned from experience into practice, and this question allows us to evaluate how candidates learn.
january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
jobpostings.ca | january 2012
Toronto. “We are going to deal with people our
entire life, so the approach has helped in work-
ing with people I’ve never met before and peers in school,” she says. “You end up with a whole new world of knowledge.”
Knowledge is also something that The Home Depot encourages in their associates. For eligible as-
sociates, The Home Depot will provide 50 percent tuition reimbursement, up to a maximum $5000
a year. The Home Depot also provides medical and
dental benefits to part-time employees. “I use a lot of my benefits, to be honest,” Shireen says laugh-
ing. “Being a student and being over the age to be on your parents’ benefits, they come in handy.”
A Whole New World of Knowledge Part-Time Associate at The Home Depot “You can always find a friend in the store,” Shireen
to know everything pretty well,” Shireen explains,
Judging by the amount of smiles from co-workers
ing where I got to know people from other stores.
Rajmoolie says about working at The Home Depot. and customers as she walks through the aisles, Shireen has developed more than one friendship in the three years she has been a part time associate. Yet for a student like Shireen, The Home Depot offers more than a place to make new friends; it’s
a place where she can gain life-long skills, receive
support for education, and grow within a company. As a Contractor Services Cashier, Shireen is tasked with building and fulfilling orders, including taking phone orders, and aiding with installs when
contractors need help getting the ball rolling on a job. “They train you from the bottom up, no experience necessary,” Shireen says. Employing both web-based training and step-by-step coaching, The Home Depot ensures that new employees are
confident in their ability to serve customers. And,
unlike many places, training doesn’t end after
your first month of employment. “I had been working for a couple of months already and had gotten
“and then I went to Store Support for further trainWe compared ideas and found out that we have a lot of the same issues and same strengths.”
While Shireen’s primary department is the Con-
tractor Services Department, she has been crosstrained to work in Customer Service, Expediting,
and the Return to Vendor department. “There’s always room for growth within the company,” she
says. This has not only kept Shireen challenged, but has broadened her skills base as well. It’s not all related to building and building materials,
Shireen points out. “It’s also dealing with people because we have a customer first program.” The
Home Depot has a very particular approach to
“They train you from the bottom up, no experience necessary.” The Home Depot, Shireen says emphatically, “really is an all around company that does have diversity. We have people of all ages and creeds,
and some are still in school and in the same boat as me.” The Home Depot also maintains a social
committee that organizes events, like an Annual International Potluck. “Everybody brings in some sort of dish,” she says. “Recipes are exchanged,
and a lot of good times are had at the potlucks.” The Home Depot also champions volunteer work
through Team Depot, an associate volunteer force
that works within communities to make a difference. Add to that the Matching Gift Program where associate’s contributions to qualifying non-profits are matched, dollar for dollar. Respect
for all people, giving back, and building strong
relationships are all things that The Home Depot, and associates like Shireen, pride themselves on.
“Research what The Home Depot has to offer,” Shireen advises, “because you’ll see there are a lot of long-term benefits to staying here, whether it’s for a lifetime or for when you’re in school. There
are a lot of good things here, more than we can
advertise on a sign; it isn’t until you work here that you realize the extent of it.”
customer service, whereby employees not only
The Home Depot Canada received awards for
down aisles, and provide informed, helpful advice.
in 2011. The Home Depot Canada hires for Spring
greet customers at the door, but also walk them Those people skills have helped Shireen in her day-
to-day life, especially at school, where she studies Business Administration at Centennial College in Sponsored by The Home Depot
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That’s the power of The Home Depot – Jordan, Ashley, Sonia, Home Depot Associates
A variety of part-time and seasonal opportunities are available for college and university students.
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How to say â€œnoâ€? to parents and follow your own dreams
by Christopher Lawson
jobpostings.ca | january 2012
No, that’s not the time it takes to beat Skyrim on Xbox, nor is it a movie sequel in which James Franco loses another limb. According to Gillian Watters, director of programs at KEYS Job Centre in Kingston, Ontario, 70,000 hours is about how long you’ll spend at your workplace over a lifetime. Envisioning your dream job probably isn’t hard. If you don’t already have a passion, you likely have at least an idea of the direction your career could take. And if you need ideas, no doubt your parents have an opinion they want to share with you. Maybe a very forceful opinion. Maybe an opinion that completely cancels out your opinion. Maybe this opinion is holding your tuition, food, rent, and bills at gun-point too. Suddenly, that decision about your future workplace isn’t so easy. Yet it’s one that thousands of students face with every application season. Do you follow your dreams, or do you follow the dreams of the people who’ve been your role models your entire life? “No one should make career decisions to please anyone but themselves,” says Watters. “We should accept advice from those who know us best, but all the important life decisions have to be ours to make. A career path has to be related to our passions, our values, and our interests, or else we will end up miserable for most of those 70,000 hours.” That’s a hard point to argue against. “Following your dreams” doesn’t sound like such a trite idea when you realize it means taking responsibility for yourself and understanding that those 70,000 hours are going to suck if they’re tailored to fit someone else’s measurements. The only way to live without regret is to tackle things head on. So we’ve put together this list of strategies developed from conversations with career advisors and students who’ve been through it before. Read them to learn how to win your parents’ approval — and how to live without it.
DEGREES ARE PAPER THIN.
What does it really take to be a doctor, lawyer, or corporate accountant in Canada? Unless you are one, you probably don’t have a clue. But this doesn’t stop naive parents and unqualified know-it-alls from insisting that you really ought to try to be one. This sort of blind enthusiasm is a symptom of an outdated yet widely believed myth that taking a vocational post-secondary program will automatically land you the job you trained for. “One of the groups I work with a lot are new Canadians in the accounting program,” says Catherine Stace, a career advisor at McGill University in Montreal. “I ask them why they’re in accounting, and they say they were told that it is the best place to get a job. But the reality is that accounting firms won’t hire them if they don’t have the skills they’re looking for.” With so many applicants all holding the same degree, employers are going to hire the keeners who hold the top marks, are the best communicators and who show the most ambition – the kind of people who’d probably be taking the program regardless of the market for graduates.
PLAN YOUR ATTACK.
Before you sit down with your parents and explain that, yes, you really do intend to study artisanal basket weaving, do your homework. Research the competing schools that offer programs in your area of interest. Compare tuition, housing costs, and travel expenses. Talk to people who have graduated from these programs. Draft a schedule outlining important dates like application deadlines. Draw up a budget. Make it look pretty. Make it look like you’ve been obsessing over this for months. It’s a lot of work up front, but it pays off when your parents notice how dedicated you are. Once they see how logical and organized your approach is to just selecting your desired path, they’ll have less enthusiasm for shooting you down. You’re proving that you’ve given your choice some serious thought, and are subtly asking your parents to do the same.
ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, NOT PERMISSION.
Let’s say your PowerPoint and Excel wizardry fails to persuade your nay-saying parents. Do you make pouty faces all the way to the orthodontists’ college? No! This is your future on the line! You slap your acceptance letter from the Floral Arrangement Department at Backwater College on the table, look your parents in the eyes and utter, “This is where I want to go.” Apply to the program you want with or without your parents’ knowledge. You don’t have to commit until you’re accepted. Part of being an adult is being confident enough in yourself to make your own decisions. You don’t have to check in with Mom and Dad before every step you take. That also means you shouldn’t hide it from them either. In fact, you want them to see that you’re taking charge of your life, and that they january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
drew their financial support and only agreed to give her a fraction of it back if she maintains an 80 percent or higher grade average. “I knew this was coming, and I use it as a great motivator.” Cue training montage.
DIVE IN AND MAKE FRIENDS.
DO YOU FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, OR DO YOU FOLLOW THE DREAMS OF THE PEOPLE WHO’VE BEEN YOUR ROLE MODELS YOUR ENTIRE LIFE? can either help you get where you’re determined to go, or they can be just one more obstacle to overcome on the way there.
to get where you are, so you owe it to yourself — and to the people you want to prove wrong — to squeeze out every last drop of education you can.
Image: © iStockphoto.com/Michael Henderson
So you’ve done the research, got accepted into your dream program and even convinced your parents to help pay your bills while you hone your African nose flute skills. Nicely done! But guess what? You better jam that flute so far up your nose that you could snorkel while you backstroke. What the hell does that mean? It means you have absolutely no excuse to slack. Post-secondary life demands a degree of selfregulation that many high school students have a hard time adjusting to. The urge to skip class is difficult to resist when no one’s making sure you show up. Remember that while this might be the program of your dreams, it doesn’t mean you can sleep through it. You’re the one that fought hard
So you’ve done the research, got accepted into your dream program, and even convinced your parents to… withdraw all financial support? Parents who use this tactic think they’re just giving you some tough-love. They fail to realize that this jerk maneuver forces you into one of two options: a) cave in to their demands and forever resent them, or b) turn your outrage into the fuel you need to make your dream happen. “I find the harder I work, the more satisfaction I get out of the outcome,” says first-year Sheridan College Media Arts student Emily Balfour. When Balfour dropped out of criminology at Carleton University to take the even more expensive diploma program at Sheridan, her parents with-
As much as we’d like to deny it, we often rely on our parents to be there for us when times are tough. But when you’re going one direction and your parents are grimly determined to go another, the fear of losing that support is often enough to convince you that you don’t actually know what you want. If you keep looking, however, you’ll eventually meet people who share your interests. Long, caffeinated nights spent toiling on projects that you’re passionate about with classmates who are just as dedicated will turn you all into a makeshift family. The process is even faster if you’re separated from your family by a long distance. The more you commit yourself to your passion, the more of a support network you’ll discover already exists. Don’t be afraid to uproot yourself and take advantage of a new community.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t with your argument. In this unhappy circumstance, the real problem is your relationship with your parents. If communication has broken down to the point that you’ve presented your case, done everything you can to prove your dedication, and your parents still won’t listen, it’s likely that there’s a fundamental lack of understanding. “I knew I could not handle this,” confides J, a former political science student at Western University in London, who took the program at his parents’ insistence. “I talked to my mother, and she told me to cut the crap. She is always comparing me to her friends’ sons graduating and becoming some big shot doctor or dentist, and asking me why can’t I be like them. I was so depressed I wanted to kill myself. My mom even caught me cutting myself once.” J eventually dropped out and is now in a program that he enjoys, but the time, money and emotional health he gave up trying to please his parents are going to be hard to recover. Seek outside help from career counselors, teachers, or anyone you trust before a toxic relationship with your parents takes a similar toll on you. When you consider the 70,000 hours you’ll be investing, the decision to go after your dream job is really a decision to go after your dream life. The hard part isn’t figuring out whether you should listen to your parents or listen to your gut. It’s digging up the courage to make that choice with enough confidence that, even if you don’t convince your parents that you’re doing the right thing, you’ve still convinced yourself.
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It’s a simple piece of paper.
Black letters on a white page. But as you hear your name called and you start crossing that stage, you feel it: your diploma. Claiming this simple piece of paper immediately marks a new stage in your life. It’s an amazing moment and a testament to the years of hard work you invested into your education. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. As you glance over your shoulder, there’s someone else accepting the same diploma you just received. And depending on the school you’ve attended, there are likely hundreds more following you to accept the same honour…
standing the top 10 ways to get noticed by employers
Image: © iStockphoto.com/john shepherd
by Lexi Dogon
jobpostings.ca | january 2012
Then it hits you. With so many people graduating with your same degree, not only in your school, but in schools across the country, how will you stand out to employers? These days, having a university or college education is just a check mark (albeit an important one) on a recruiter’s grading assessment. Ultimately, it’s what you accomplish outside of school that will really make
you stand out above the sea of other newly graduated job hunters.
To help you out, we at jobpostings created a list of what we feel are the best strategies and experiences you can use to compliment your diploma, so that your résumé always floats to the top of the employer’s “to call back” list.
Being able to cite a variety of meaningful and unique work experiences will definitely score you big points during your future job interviews.
Designations and C e r t i f i c a t e s
CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS
If you’re still in school (even if it’s your last year), then joining the exec team of a school club or association can give you your first real taste of management responsibility. It will provide you with great networking opportunities with like-minded students who may one day turn into your future colleagues, and with industry professionals from the companies who sponsor student clubs. And as far as job titles go, being a club executive looks far more impressive on your résumé than what you would get from an average part time gig.
LEND A HELPING HAND
Volunteering at a charity or non-profit organization can turn into an exciting and fulfilling way to develop your transferable skills and gain experience. Since these organizations often don’t have the resources of large, for-profit companies, you are more likely to be exposed to different kinds of work.
Whether it’s the CHRP for human resource management grads, a CA for accounting grads, a CFA for finance grads, and so on, professional designations are hugely important depending on the industry you get into. In certain professions, your formal education doesn’t stop just with your bachelors, it’s very much an ongoing process. By making that extra effort to gain these industry specific designations and certificates, you’ll put yourself that much farther ahead of your fellow graduates. As well, getting these designations and certificates often gives you membership to valuable industry specific reports, invites to industry events, and opportunities to network with industry professionals. These all represent opportunities you can leverage to get ahead.
jobpostings.ca | january 2012
Making coffee, filing papers, and picking up the office cake are all things many students come to expect from internships and apprenticeships, paid or unpaid. But in reality, that’s only one small part of it.
We all pay our dues, but Ben Rogul, a recruitment specialist at Aon Hewitt, says that an internship is also a fantastic way to show an employer what you’re capable of, even if your résumé is weak. “(Also) if you’re showing them that you’re a dedicated worker, that you’re a hard worker, they’ll see that you’re a valuable asset and there’s no way they’d let you go.” An internship can also be valuable outside of school to fill in a résumé gap, especially if that internship is in line with your interests and career goals.
Maggie Leithead is president and CEO of Charity Village, an online resource that helps connect people to volunteer opportunities around the world. She believes that getting out there and helping others can help develop interpersonal skills and analytical skills, qualities that employers look for. “Obviously if your core goal is to build up your résumé, whether you’re a volunteer at home or abroad, the volunteer element is really going to help you get experiences that are just as valuable as paid employment. Just about any kind of volunteer project can help build those skills that will look really good on a résumé.” And with the increasing emphasis companies are placing on corporate social responsibility, being able to cite your meaningful and unique charity and non-profit work experiences will definitely score you big points during your future job interviews.
TAKE ON A CO-OP… OR TWO… OR THREE
WORK IN YOUR INDUSTRY
Well, duh. If you’re able to get a job in the industry you studied for, then dive right in! The company you start out at may not always be your dream company, but starting out in a company within the same industry will give you the relevant experience you need to climb the corporate ladder, or have successful interviews at other companies that might better strike your fancy. Regardless, be open to whatever opportunities come your way.
Help grow a small business or start up
In large corporations, there aren’t many opportunities to take on roles outside your predefined position. Normally, you’re limited to and expected to specialize in what you were hired for, with few opportunities to cross-train.
This ain’t the case in small businesses and start ups. There’s simply not enough money to hire a bunch of specialists. This means that — similar to working for a charity or non-profit — you’ll be asked to wear a number of hats and participate in a number of projects. While you’ll probably work longer hours, the experience and the satisfaction you get from seeing projects you were so intimately involved with succeed far outweighs any negatives. Working in these environments forces you to strengthen your team building skills, eye for efficiency, and MacGyver-like problem solving skills — all worthwhile points to mention in interviews for future positions!
STUDY OR WORK OVERSEAS
“The most successful pathway into postgraduate employment is the successful completion of any post-secondary credential with a gap year,” says Paul Smith, executive director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). He’s referring to a Pathways study that describes the benefits of taking time off between high school and post-secondary school. Smith says the results were probably due to the fact that the time off allows young people the opportunity to discover more about who they are and want to be. Meanwhile, founder of Second Chance Travel, Evan Malak, says taking time away after university can also be an invaluable experience to have. “I just think it’s so eye opening and enriching, and you can grow so much from it, and it’ll help you in all aspects of your life.” Malek says that while many students want to kick their careers into high gear as soon as they graduate, it’s a good idea to consider slowing down. ”North America is a more driven culture, very competitive. There’s a lot of pressure on young people to get into high gear. But I think graduates can learn more from other cultures and put more emphasis on adventure and exploration.” In general, any experience travelling, studying, and/or working overseas — being comfortable working in foreign environments — that’s always an attractive trait employers look for. Be open to breaking out of that nest!
BE AN ENTREPRENEUR
Being your own boss is not for everyone. You have to be comfortable with: taking risks, leading a team, serving customers, grinding your butt off 24/7, dreaming big, and being innovative enough to survive your business’ first year and all the years that follow. In all, entrepreneurism is a time investment, financial investment (scary), and a leading cause of premature white hairs. On the flip side, you’ll never learn more about business, yourself, what it takes to battle against competitors, and what it takes to grow your biz out of nothing. The skills you’ll learn and experiences you’ll gain will make you that much more confident in your abilities, and that much more attractive to potential future employers. Employers want to hire self starters and go getters (usually), and starting your own business is clear proof of those qualities.
Teaching, like volunteering, is not only a good way to give back to society, but it’s also a great way to sharpen your skill set and build experiences that you can draw on in future interviews. One of the more popular teaching paths for recent grads is to teach English overseas. This approach lets you travel, exposes you to new cultures, and allows you to meet new people. Another path you can take is being a tutor of specific courses to high school and university students. You can even join a local big brother or big sister program that will give you the opportunity to mentor a youngster and help shape their development in positive ways. Overall, what may come naturally to you may not for others, so teaching forces you to build a deeper knowledge of the subject you’re teaching by breaking down your subject and explaining it in easily understandable parts. For employers, they will recognize that the subject you’re teaching is a core skill of yours, and the fact that you’re going out of your way to help others learn is always an attractive quality they hire for.
SHARPEN THOSE PENCILS
Depending on your career ambitions — maybe you want to be a professor, a lawyer, a doctor, a physicist, etc — going for your masters or Ph.D or any other form of post-grad education may be a necessity. Certain professions just demand a greater level of knowledge in order for you to be taken seriously, or for you to even be licensed to practice your dream profession. If this is the case, keep your head up. You may have to slog it out through a couple more years of school, but at the end of the day, these kinds of professions are high investment, high reward type deals, i.e. you’ll be hugging yourself when you’re done.
Images L-R: Digital Vision/Thinkstock; James Woodson/ Digital Vision/Thinkstock
It’s the person who knows what they’re looking for who’s going to be successful.
january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
KNOW YOURSELF Receiving your political science or philosophy degree is fine and dandy, but closing your last textbook and finding yourself with zero insight into what you want to do is not going to get you far when it comes to finding that first, real, post-grad gig. Ben Rogul, from Aon Hewitt, says “When I’m talking to new grads and I ask them what they’re looking for, I’d say nine out of ten times they don’t know.” He says when graduates come to him and list off the skills and qualities they have, that’s great. But, as a recruiter it’s frustrating. The key
You may have to slog it out through a couple more years of school... [ but ] you’ll be hugging yourself when you’re done.
information he’s looking for is what the new graduate wants to do. Paul Smith, from CACEE, agrees. “The first job (you get out of school) doesn’t define the rest of your career. That’s why the most important things for new grads looking to make their way into the workforce are to know themselves, to take the time to understand what they’re actually looking for, where their interests are, where their strengths lie, and go forward from there. It’s the person who knows what they’re looking for who’s going to be successful.”
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january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
DIVERS I T Y IN THE WORKPLACE: FAC T OR FICTION? by Eleni Papavasiliou
Home Depot encourages feedback to monitor progress and remain accountable. Berwick
confirms their findings show current employees not only believe they are working in an inclusive environment, but are confident in their ability to speak up, “they feel comfortable raising issues with their leaders when we don’t live
According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, 25%
do and the sensible business thing to do.” To put
to 28% of Canadians will be foreign born and
their money where their mouth is, Loblaw’s has
47% of second generation Canadians will be a
developed an Inclusion Toolkit, designed for re-
Cameco makes this year’s list by integrating
member of a visible minority group. TD Eco-
cruiters to hire with diversity in mind for both
diversity in their hiring practices by invest-
nomics projects a major labour shortage in the
the corporate and store levels. When hired, new
ing in people, especially pre-employment. Jodi
next twenty years, claiming retiring boomers
employees can expect to be embraced, Edwards
Ledding, Senior Specialist in Workplace Plan-
and low fertility rates as major causes. Tradi-
explains. “They have the opportunity to part-
ning and Talent Acquisition, explains, “Ca-
tionally ignored, members of the aboriginal
ner with a ‘colleague buddy’ of similar back-
meco has invested over $8 million dollars in
community, visible minorities, women and
grounds to ensure comfort and ease of adapta-
training in the past 20 years and is working
new immigrants are slotted to fill in the gap.
tion.” Women can also count on a future with
with Northern Career Quest in a $33 million
Google ‘diversity’, and images of perfectly
Loblaw’s due to an online network and special
joint funding initiative to help approximately
events promoting professional development
1,500 aboriginals gain skills and experience to
lected minorities dominate the web. As they
and work-life balance for working mothers.
seek entry-level employment.
pose with bright smiles, projecting the feeling
From a branding perspective, being known as
Although Cameco is committed to reviving the
of solidarity, you wonder if it could get any
one of Canada’s Top Diversity Employers has
economy of Northern Saskatchewan, Ledding
cheesier. Is diversity just a cliché? Or maybe it’s
its perks. Money is clearly being invested in re-
admits it isn’t enough to satisfy demand, “Be-
just a trendy buzz word employers like to toss
cruiting minorities, but the bottom line is what
cause the local Saskatchewan talent pool of
around to sound genuine.
matters. So, is diversity fact or fiction? Deborah
both experienced and new graduates is lim-
Canada’s Best Diversity Employers is an an-
Berwick, Manager of Organization Effective-
ited, Cameco’s talent recruitment efforts have
ness, Diversity & Inclusion at Home Depot,
become very pan-Canadian and increasingly
recognizes the importance of authenticity in
international in the past few years.”
life and wants all potential employees to know,
Cheesy manufactured images aside, employ-
crafted group portraits featuring tactfully se-
nual competition which serves as a platform for companies from across the country to demonstrate their ability to meet the demands of our multicultural nation. With 100 employers making the cut*, Home Depot, Loblaw’s, Ca-
OF CANADIANS WILL BE FOREIGN BORN
from her lips to your ears, “The Home Depot offers an environment where you can bring your
up to this expectation.”
ers are clearly competing to be seen as diversity friendly, but are eager to find candidates
meco, and SGI (Saskatchewan Government
whole selves to work.”
Insurance) have shined with their progressive
Being recognized as a leader has its downsides
attitude come before background and aca-
too, as it can open the door for skeptics. Ber-
demic discipline with Loblaw’s new graduates
Michelle Edwards, Senior Director, Talent &
wick acknowledges how diversity can’t always
program Edwards explains, “We are looking
be at the top of the agenda, “The most signifi-
for grads who have been involved in commu-
cant challenge we’ve faced in implementing
nity and extra-curricular initiatives outside the
our diversity strategy has been the same chal-
classroom, and understand the importance of
lenge any business strategy faces — competing
superior customer service.���
Diversity, at Loblaw’s, says the company has embraced diversity and has deemed it a major initiative, “One of our pillars for Corporate Social Responsibility is to reflect our Nation’s diversity, because we see it as the right thing to jobpostings.ca | january 2012
who can meet them half way. Personality and
priorities and a constantly changing marketplace.” Like any legitimate diversity plan, The
*Citing the 2011 Canada’s Best Diversity Employers Report
It doesn’t matter if you have 28 years of career experience under your
Gascoyne. “All of the Infrastructure Ontario buildings that come out,
belt or whether you’re an engineering student fresh off the convocation
these government super projects — hospitals and school buildings —
platform, there’s a new and growing standard for the building industry
they all have to have LEED mandates on them.
that has affected careers considerably in the past few years. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is transforming the way new buildings are constructed, as well as how the old ones are maintained. The ultimate goal: sustainability. The Canada Green Building Council adopted the rating system in 2004. By the end of October 2011, more than 3,000 buildings in Canada were registered in the CaGBC database to be certified, with 496 of these having achieved certification. The growth of LEED is creating a new niche for professionals, be they engineers, architects, interior designers, and more. Some people who deal with
EVERYONE BECAME INTERESTED IN IT AND NOW IT’S KIND OF THE DE FACTO STANDARD FOR BUILDING BUILDINGS.
LEED through their jobs are becoming certified as LEED Green Associates, an entry-level certification. If a LEED Green Associate needs in-depth knowledge of LEED on the job, he or she can then apply to be a LEED Accredited Profes-
”The thing that is really starting to affect the market is the pursuit of LEED in existing building stock because downtown office buildings need to keep up and compete with other buildings being built downtown. A way of doing that is improving their sustainable performance.” As the demand for LEED buildings increases, engineers and other industry professionals are becoming more aware of its importance and are taking the steps to educate themselves further. Gascoyne said, “If you’re an architect or and engineer, and you’re working with buildings and you have daily interaction with the LEED rating system, (being a LEED AP) takes it to the next level of detail where you understand a specific system of LEED.” Mark Goss understands the opportunity LEED offers. He received his degree in mechanical engineering 28 years ago, and since then has worked for brewing
companies, bakeries, pharmaceutical companies, the works. He is now the general manager of operations at the Exhibition Place in Toronto and is managing: 600 kilowatts of TV, a back pressure steam turbine, geothermal technology, smart lighting controls for parking garages, and the task of getting a convention centre LEED accredited. Because of all this, Goss thought it would be “very beneficial to increase my knowledge
sional with a specialty, which may
help advance their career.
It prompted him to take Gascoyne’s preparation
There are now 18 institutions offering
course through the School of Continuing Studies at
the University of Toronto. He says he expects the ex-
courses across Canada. “It’s impor-
perience to impact his career positively. “LEED existing
tant that students are graduating
operation and maintenance shows you how to recom-
with this knowledge because this
mission your building and then operate it in an energy
is what’s happening in the indus-
efficient manner.” Goss notes, “Even for the companies
try,” said Crystal Finnigan, Higher
that don’t believe in LEED, they like to have somebody
Education Program Coordinator at
with that kind of knowledge for the energy savings
the CaGBC. “There are many LEED
they can come up with.”
buildings being built.” Mitch Gascoyne, LEED AP and manager of the Sustainable Design Services group at Halcrow Yolles, is the instructor for the LEED Green Building Strategies and Green Associate Exam Preparation course at the University of Toronto. He says LEED grew slowly and steadily when the Canadian Green Building Council first adopted the rating system, but has grown “exponentially” since about 2007. “Everyone became interested in it and
LEED is increasingly affecting the building industry, and can differentiate prospective employees. Gascoyne said, “If I’m looking at a résumé and the person has LEED designation, it means they took the initiative to go ahead and get the education themselves. They are interested in this type of thing and they know what it takes to get ahead in this industry.”
by Michelle Hampson
now it’s kind of the de facto standard for building buildings,” explains
january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
Image: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
LEED CERTIFICATION IS CREATING A NEW AND GROWING NICHE FOR PROFESSIONALS IN THE BUILDING INDUSTRY
jobpostings.ca | january 2012
find your outlet powerauthority.on.ca/careers
Inspiration. Conservation. Innovation. Whatever outlet your career needs, you’ll find it with us.
OM Official Mark of the Ontario Power Authority.
CMHC: My Choice.
La SCHL : C’est mon choix.
At Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), we recognize and value the unique abilities that people from a variety of backgrounds bring to the organization.We leverage the insights and experience of our diverse employees to identify and maximize the opportunities to help Canadians.
À la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement (SCHL), nous reconnaissons et valorisons les aptitudes et connaissances uniques que chaque personne apporte à notre organisation. Elle met à proﬁt les expériences et les connaissances diverses de son effectif pour cerner tous les moyens d’aider les gens vivant au Canada et ailleurs et tirer le maximum de ces possibilités.
Visit www.cmhc.ca/careers to view current job openings and to register your candidate proﬁ le.
Visitez www.schl.ca/carrieres pour consulter la liste d’emplois courants et établir votre proﬁ l du candidat.
CMHC has been Canada’s national housing agency since 1946. As Canada’s trusted source of comprehensive housing information, we are committed to helping Canadians access a wide variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable homes, and to fueling the success of the Canadian housing system.
La SCHL est l’organisme national responsable de l’habitation au Canada depuis 1946. Source ﬁable et complète d’information sur l’habitation au pays, la SCHL veille à ce que les Canadiens aient accès à un large éventail de logements durables de qualité, à coût abordable, et elle contribue à la prospérité du secteur canadien de l’habitation.
www.schl.ca/carrieres january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
WE’VE BURNED COAL AND SPLIT ATOMS JUST TO GET POWER. TO THINK IT’S BEEN BELOW OUR FEET THIS WHOLE TIME. by Andrew Williams
With veteran energy sources like fossil fuels
scale production. For geothermal, “There’s no
The students looking to make a career in this
preparing to retire their jerseys in the next few
time when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun
field will want to have standard HVAC (Heat-
decades, alternative energy sources are being
doesn’t shine,” Schmidt continues, “it is an ab-
ing, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) train-
scouted like potential NBA players. Among
solute, at point of use, renewable energy.”
ing, while refrigeration mechanic training is
these promising drafts is geothermal energy.
The initial cost of geothermal systems and
crucial. “It’s in every college, and refrigeration technicians specifically within that broad cat-
“Right now, geothermal is a relatively small piece
their installation might seem a bit pricy, but
of the energy pie,” says Travis Schmidt, market-
Schmidt stresses that you are installing your
ing manager at NextEnergy. “It’s a challenge to
own energy plant, and that should be under-
grow that pie and basically create awareness
stood. There are the long-term benefits. “[Geo-
and an understanding of the system.”
thermal is] the cheapest system to operate, and
Essentially, geothermal energy works by har-
will significantly cut your heating and cooling
nessing heat below the earth’s surface. The
bills.” According to Schmidt, geothermal sys-
The geothermal industry will only grow as more
source of this heat is spawned in two ways. The
tems can save you 75 percent when compared
people realize the opportunities it presents,
kind used to mass produce electricity is tapped
to oil and propane, and about 50 percent when
both for helping the environment, and for an in-
from deep below the surface, where primordial
compared to natural gas.
novative career. “It’s not a power plant that’s 300
heat left over from the planet’s formation is
“Almost 60 percent of Canada’s energy is used
found. Heat from the radioactive decay is har-
for heating and cooling, and you can essen-
nessed to create steam, which then runs elec-
tially eliminate the fossil fuel component for
that.” With rising hydro costs and fluctuating
The second kind has more direct applications,
oil prices, using the heat trapped within the
the kind that companies such as NextEnergy
earth is becoming a more practical solution.
specialize in. The earth’s crust can absorb and
Despite the environmental and
store heat from the sun, and stays at a constant
economic improvements that geo-
temperature year-round. Pipes can be installed
thermal is making to the industry,
beneath your home (or any building for that
it’s not without its obstacles. For
matter) to collect and then transfer geother-
one thing, there’s a continual need
mal heat to a specialized unit to keep a build-
of skilled trade workers, drillers
ing warm during the winter. In the summer, the
in particular. “Drilling is really
system works in reverse, using the cooler tem-
where geothermal will make its
peratures below ground for air conditioning.
big splash,” Schmidt says. In order
Aside from its reduced ecological footprint
for geothermal to go mainstream,
when compared to nuclear or petroleum based
it’ll have to tackle the urban en-
resources, geothermal energy also holds a ma-
vironment, and it’s going to need
jor advantage over other renewables; it’s con-
qualified drillers for that.
egory are always needed,” says Schmidt. These skills are especially important for residential work and installation. Schmidt adds, “Walking out with a refrigeration licence or an apprenticeship would allow you to walk into a job.”
km away from where the actual power is being used,” says Schmidt, emphasising that it’s local jobs, local people running the small businesses, and employing the people within the community. “That’s the beauty of it: the money goes into the community and stays in the community.”
THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF IT: THE MONEY GOES INTO THE COMMUNITY AND STAYS IN THE COMMUNITY.
stant. “The biggest thing that geothermal has when compared to wind or solar is that it’s 365
Image: © iStockphoto.com/eliandric
days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” says Schmidt. Both examples are dependent on conditions that vary almost hourly, and in both cases, solar and wind energy need considerable pieces of land with many individual collectors or turbines in order to be effective for large jobpostings.ca | january 2012
EXPERIENCE by Emily Minthorn
You co-op kids get the best of both worlds: an enriched education and work experience (even a paycheque). But the path you’ve chosen isn’t easy. It will take longer than an undergraduate program, and those years may be turbulent as you move from placement to placement. It’s an up and down road, but don’t worry: we’ve got some insider advice on how to get the most out of a co-op placement. As Phil Allan finishes his final term as a co-op student at the University of Waterloo
PEOPLE WANT TO HELP OUT PEOPLE WHO THEY KNOW, SO MAKE MORE FRIENDS. AND MAKE SURE THE HIGHER-UPS LIKE YOU
and reflects on his experience, he found that
variety was the spice of his academic life. “I liked the fact that each work term was only ferent jobs and find one I liked. Also, it let me have a unique résumé, rather than having either all student retail jobs or, at best, one internship without any variety.” To help cram as much experience in as you can, arrive at your placement prepared from day one, advises Olaf Naese, communications specialist for Cooperative Education and Career Services at the University of Waterloo. “When you’re only at a workplace for four months, the learning curve has to be very fast. Come into the co-op with experience under your belt.” Students who go into the co-op without so much as a summer job or volunteer position on their résumé have a harder time getting jobs, he says. Talk to your supervisor before you start your placement to find out if there’s any special training you can take beforehand. That way, you can get right into the good stuff on the first day of your job. If you don’t know where to start, just ask, encourages Norah McRae, president of the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE). “A big mistake students make is not
taking advantage of the resources available to
mind, and that dream job may never happen
them. Every school has a really dedicated staff
during undergrad,” Naese reveals. “Or there
who are there to help students make sense of
could be a perfect opportunity for you but it’s
what their plans are and how they’d like to con-
across the province. If that’s where the job is,
nect their studies with their career prospects.”
you should embrace the opportunity. Things
Once you’re working, keep in mind that your experience is about soft skills too, not just industry know-how. “The most valuable thing
may not be the way you think they’re going to be. Be willing to move around if that’s what it takes.”
I took away was probably the confidence that
McRae adds, “In my experience, students often
came from being thrown into so many previ-
learn the most where there’s a big challenge
ously intimidating situations,” shares Allan. “It
for them, personally and professionally – not
was also good to see that real world profes-
because there’s something horrible going on in
sionals are really just winging it along with
that work term, but because it’s just not what
everyone else.” Rob McMillan, another Waterloo
they wanted, or they thought they were going
co-op student, values the intangibles he’s
to like it and really hated it.”
gleaned from his work terms so far – especially the networking opportunities. “People want to help out people who they know, so make more friends. And make sure the higher-ups like you.”
Staying open-minded enough to learn about yourself has all kinds of benefits. “Without my co-op, I would never have realized that the people who I work with and the work environ-
Go into a co-op with a good idea of what you
ment would determine whether I like a job,
want out of it, and keep your eyes on that
even more than the job itself,” says Allan. “The
prize. “Students should set objectives before
jobs I liked the most were completely unrelated
they even get to their placement,” emphasizes
to my degree. But even though the jobs them-
Naese. “They should have something in mind
selves didn’t interest me, I was working with
as to what they want to accomplish.”
really laid back, fun people, living with tons of
But at the same time, you must stay flexible. “Students come with a dream job in their
students in a brand new city.” That’s just the kind of adventure you co-op kids like, right? january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
Image: Ryan McVay/ Digital Vision/Thinkstock
four months. I could work at four or five dif-
Studying Abroad Going to school during the coldest, darkplaces, discover a est part of the Canadifferent culture, dian winter can be a drag. Lacing up winand learn in ter boots, bundling unexpected ways. layers upon layers of clothing and looking out the window of your classroom to see slushy, slick sidewalks can have even the most patriotic of us daydreaming about jet-setting to a warmer locale and taking our classes by the beach for some seaside schooling.
So why not make your daydream a reality? In addition to the friendlier climate, studying abroad and getting an education overseas can supercharge your résumé, amp up your education, and bring about some pretty cool life experiences. Here are the top five reasons to pack your bags and take off this semester.
TRANSLATE YOUR CLASSROOM LEARNING INTO REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCES By studying abroad, you’ll learn things about the world and different cultures that you could never learn by reading a textbook. “Study abroad programs enable students to have an international learning experience that lets them engage meaningfully with the world outside the classroom, thereby becoming knowledgeable global citizens,” said Sarah Witol, program manager of Professional and International Programs at Woodsworth College at the University of Toronto. “Through their participation, students are
able to relate what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations abroad through critical analysis and synthesis of the course materials.”
EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS
“Travelling allows you to experience different cultures, foods, languages, and customs that to us are completely different from what you know,” said Anita Spence, a Wilfrid Laurier University graduate who completed an internship with the Contiki coach tour company and has traveled to more than a dozen countries including Australia, Kenya, South Africa, and a variety of European countries. “It opens our eyes to the world around us. “As well, traveling allows you to explore your own personal interests. For me, that meant exploring every possible adrenaline sport that passed in front of me. You want to go skydiving? You can do it! The beauty of travel is that everyone can experience what they want to experience.”
BEEF UP YOUR RÉSUMÉ
For Melissa DeSouza, a tour manager at EF Tours who completed an internship in Paris before entering the workforce, her international experience was what landed her the job. “When you are employed in Canada, you will most definitely be working with people from many different backgrounds,” she explained. “Once I had lived away from home myself, I found it so much easier to relate to people who were not originally from Canada and it made me a better employee.”
share your same academic interests and often a similar excitement for life. “During my last trip, I camped through Africa for three months,” said Spence. “This type of trip will only appeal to certain people and that was the wonderful thing about it! Everyone had the same passion for travelling, were outdoorsy, and everyone got along. We experienced so much together and they will be my life long friends.”
LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF
For DeSouza, the experience was as much about learning about herself as it was learning about another culture. “During my year away, I really came to appreciate home,” she said. “I learned about myself and realized that I could function independently, without my support networks. I had become accustomed to the comforts of home and when travelling, little things like finding a hairdresser were a fun challenge.” For Spence, the university experience would have been an entirely different one had she not taken the opportunity to travel abroad and she now recommends it to anyone considering the move. “Through my travels I have gained a new perspective on the world, more life lessons than I thought imaginable, met some of the most incredible people, and have experienced so many wonderful things. I absolutely love to travel and I would encourage anyone that wants to travel, to pack their bags and DO IT!”
MEET NEW PEOPLE
Getting your education abroad allows you to meet like-minded individuals, people that all
by Katie Edmonds
What Do be You
The Future of Learning january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
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SCHOOL eez TUFF (Need some helpz!)
careers. education. ideas. all of it. jobpostings.ca | january 2012
by David Tal
After five years of spending his summers working at Georgian Bay Landing, a marina in Honey Harbour, Ontario, Scott Metherell was surprised when he got a call from the marina’s new management. They said they wouldn’t need him the following summer. “I was a little upset. I had a job up there all my life and I wasn’t interested in getting a job in the city.” Not being one to let life just happen to him, the Queen’s University grad decided to take his future into his own hands. He started up BigRedWorks, a student-run maintenance company servicing the Georgian Bay area. “When we started, it was just my brother and I. We bought the boat, it had red pontoons, so eventually we called ourselves BigRedWorks. “We were just hoping to work three, four days a week, and make as much money as we were making at the marina. But by the end of our first summer, we had six employees. We bought a barge, two work boats, and we’ve just grown from there. “Going on six years now, we’re now up to three barges and five workboats, and we’ve started to keep a staff of around ten.” When asked what makes his business stand out among the local competitors, Scott was quick to answer with three key points.
USE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE “First, the thing about Honey Harbour is that you really need to know the waters and where you’re going. There are no street signs or road maps on the water. But having worked at the marina for five years, I knew the water like the back of my hand. So when we started, and word of mouth started to spread, people could phone me and say, ‘We’re the blue cottage beside the green boat,’ and I would have a pretty good idea where that was.”
RECOGNIZE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES “Second thing, having spent so much time working as a water taxi driver, talking to people, I knew what most people up there weren’t happy with. One, the contractors around here were always too busy to do the little stuff. They were too busy building million dollar cottages or one hundred thousand dollar tennis courts. They weren’t interested in building a ten thousand dollar deck or delivering five hundred dollars worth of gravel.”
BE ACCESSIBLE TO YOUR CLIENTS “Finally, many of the local contractors were very hard to get in touch with. Not very many had a website. Pretty much no one had an email address. And you were lucky if you even got an answering machine. So when we came on the scene, we had a website, we had Blackberries, email, we returned voicemails within 24 hours. These simple things really blew people away. We started with just a few basic things, but those were so important. People were used to getting this level of service in the city, but never up here in cottage country. That’s what made all the difference.” After sharing this story, Scott added what satisfied him most about being an entrepreneur. “The biggest thing is that you’re in charge of your own destiny. If you want to work hard, and set some goals and achieve them, you can make it happen. You run on your own schedule and make your own rules. The freedom, that’s what I really love.” And when it comes to advice for would-be student entrepreneurs, Scott didn’t mince words. “Now is the best time in your whole life to start a business. You don’t have a wife (or husband) and kids. You don’t have any expenses and you’ve got your parents to fall back on. Best of all, you’ve got a whole faculty of professors who are willing to help.
25 YEARS OLD; GRADUATED FROM QUEEN`S UNIVERSITY WITH A HONOURS BACHELOR OF COMMERCE DEGREE IN JUNE 2009. AWARDED THE RUNNER-UP PRIZE BY ADVANCING CANADIAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP (ACE) DURING THE 2009 NATIONAL STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR COMPETITION. CURRENTLY OPERATES BIGREDWORKS, A STUDENT-RUN MAINTENANCE COMPANY HE FOUNDED THAT SERVICES THE GEORGIAN BAY AREA.
“The free advice and mentoring I got from my professors was just so invaluable. I mean, if you’re 35 and you want to start a business, then sure you can ask for their advice, but you have to pay for all those services. But when you’re a student, professors are so excited that you’re young and you’re taking this initiative that they love to help. So many people helped me out to get started, it was amazing. I’m very grateful. “So all I’d say is to just do it now. Do it while you’re young. You don’t have a whole lot to lose and you won’t believe what you’ll learn and who you will meet by taking on the challenge.” january 2012 | jobpostings.ca
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