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Don’t let your fingers do the talking — “easy-peasy” is not always the best approach


RESTOCK YOUR SKILLS Your retail job is more than just folding clothes.

every day, I’m






BUSINESS DEGREES 4-YEAR DEGREES THAT ARE BUILT FOR BUSINESS. Accounting e-Business Marketing Fashion Management Human Resources Management International Business Tourism Management

Brilliant futures Jessica is building a future in PwC’s Consulting & Deals practice. Visit our website to discover a career as unique and individual as you are.

We believe in brilliant futures for our people, our clients, our business and the community. To find out more, visit

© 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. All rights reserved. “PwC” refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, which is a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each member firm of which is a separate legal entity.




Hey. Did you know that these companies have lots of entry level positions? Visit their websites to see a full list of positions available.

every day, I’m

1 9


10 16 16 19 21 23 23 23 27 28 28

33 34 37 OBC

Being your own boss sounds awesome, right? But before you go off and start your own business, be warned: self-em-

ployment isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to keep in



— Sunil Sharma highlights

Brought to you by Rogers Wireless.


Career Cupid

— What are you going to do

with THAT degree?!


Start Up

— Lena Fevens – entrepreneur and

cake designer extaordinaire!



the importance of diversity on your resume.

Interview Smarts

Restock Your Skills — Working in retail can





— A Master’s in Project

— Money, Money, Money! Some sug-

gestions on what to do with all that money you’re making.

— Michelle Gauthier of

Soft Skills

— Don’t let your fingers do

29 32

The Problem with Aboriginal Education in Canada

Can enrolling in one enhance your career or

It’s a startling realization that more than one-third

come with a heavy price tag?

of Aboriginal people in Canada haven’t earned a

Management Training Programs

Five Misconceptions About Sales People — It’s not always about the big sell. We separ fact versus fiction.


38 39 39 39 39 39 39 IBC

interview question.

the talking.


Management is a trump card in any profession.

NAV Canada offers her take on a very common



teach you important, transferrable skills.

high school diploma. In this special feature, we learn more about the education disparity between Native and non-Native peoples in Canada, along with the

Humber, The Business School (Undergrad) Humber, The Business School: Event Management Humber, The Business School: Global Business Humber, School of Media Studies and Information Technology Centennial College Brock University Niagara College Ross University Queen’s University Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry Sheridan College Humber, The Business School

who else? 13

Wood Manufacturing Council Insurance Institute of Canada ACE Canada

30 31

stuff to buy 7

Rogers Wireless

strides being taken to fix the problem. october 2011 |

Image Composite: © Sonya van Heyningen, Original Images: Man on bike - © Lane, Road - Stock.xchng)

yay! more school

mind before you embark on a freelancing adventure.

Success Story

PwC Department of National Defence Shell CGI Federated Co-operative Deloitte The Source NAV CANADA Diversey Export Development Canada TD Bank Financial Group Cameco Edmonton International Airport Canon College Pro The Home Depot RMCP

EVENT MANAGEMENT POSTGRADUATE CERTIFICATE From trade shows to cultural festivals; from sporting events to fashion shows; from conferences and meetings to weddings: this program offers the unique skills you need to launch your career as an: • • • • • • • •

Event Coordinator Marketing Assistant Special Events Organizer Promotion Coordinator Account Representative Trade Show Planner Conference Coordinator Corporate Meeting Planner

jobpostings boxes, then I would make it the best darn magazine about cardboard boxes EVER. And I would be happy doing that job, provided that it paid

well, gave me some creative control, and my co-

workers were talented, smart, fun people to be around.

magazine (next issue, our web editor will be writing this note for our special “Women’s issue”). I found another job, or, rather, it found me — feels good, I’m not going to lie.

started, there was me, an intern, and a designer who worked from home (and a few sales people), and virtually no freelance writers. Now, we have

a web editor, two or three interns, an in-house art director, a product manager, and more free-

Did I ever tell you how I got this job? I started as an intern. I had gone back to school after working at another magazine, to

people who slept in their offices when on deadline, the people who went outside their job de-

scription, who showed intelligence, passion, and

up my apartment, and went homeless — well, not exactly. I stayed on a few of my friends comfy couches.

cess. If I got a job working at a magazine about cardboard

Harrhy, Jaclyn Law, Brandon Kevin Nelson, Alyssa Ouellette, Emma Woolley

national account managers Lori Blanchard,

some tried and tested work habits:

1. Learn how to give a presentation.

2. Shut up. Learn to listen to your colleagues, and your boss. projects (within reason, of course).

Published by Passion Inc. 25 Imperial Street, Suite 100 Toronto, ON M5P 1B9 1-877-900-5627 ext. 221

your time. Or the company’s.

hand, is an awesome way to learn.

6. Be sincere, be humble, and set your ego aside. Beware of other people’s egos.

7. Trust your instincts. You’re smart, and good at what you do.

8. Trust your team, and the people around you.

9. Have fun and challenge yourself.

12. Eat a good breakfast (I’m still working on this one).

— not society’s or my friend’s, or my mom’s definition of suc-

Edmonds, Christine Fader,

I figured, for my last note, I would share with you

do make myself attractive to an employer. I didn’t care that

told myself, my success would be judged on my own terms


Mary Vanderpas

11. Get something going in your life other than work; it’ll

or getting awesome freelance assignments. From now on, I

your career.

wanted to be an editor. I knew what experience I was lacking,

my friends were landing jobs at big name publishing houses,

Simone Castello

And that’s what you should do when you start

10. Work hard, use common sense, and make sure you care

where my soft skills needed polishing, and what I needed to

web editor

Sarah-Lyn Amaral,

I did it because I knew what I wanted in my career. For the first time in my life, I knew with 100 percent certainty that I

brought sincerity and pride to their work.

5. Success teaches you nothing; failure, on the other

did what any sane person looking for a career would do; I gave

art director

Miller, Allison Mitchell,

there was quickly gobbled up by people 20 years my senior.

would mean giving up shifts at the restaurant I worked at. So I

combined hard work of the people behind it, the

4. Say “no,” but delicately. Some things are not worth

to take on another one. I had rent to pay, and an internship

Jason Rhyno

Michelle Gauthier, Ross

ished the program — during the recession — job boards had

I had done an internship earlier in the year, and was hesitant


I think it is safe to say that this magazine has got-

3. Don’t say “no” to opportunities to take on extra

dried up and rusted. There was nothing, and what was out

Mark Laurie

Lisa Charleyboy, Katie

complete a fabulous one-year post-grad program called Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College. After I fin-

associate publisher

lance writers than you can shake a pen at.

ten better. It has gotten better because of the

Be Smart. Be Passionate. Trust yourself. Work Hard.

Sonya van Heyningen

This magazine has come a long way. When I


Nathan Laurie

This is my last editor’s note for jobpostings



about your work.

help you decompress.

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.

my fellow Arts grads — or anyone who wants to go their own

on the cover: Image Composite: © Sonya van Heyningen

~ Jason Rhyno

Original Images: Man on bike © Lane, Road - Stock.xchng)

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting us! (Oh, and way — this month’s feature is for you!)

october 2011 |

GLOBAL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT POSTGRADUATE CERTIFICATE From marketing to finance; from advertising to international trade; this program offers the unique skills you need to launch your career in: • • • • • • •

Marketing Finance Advertising International Trade Retail Wholesale Supply Chain Management


Where did you go to School? What program did you attend? I went to school at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I attended one of the most popular courses offered at the college — Business Administration.

What drew you to your current field? Company

College Pro Painters


General Manager - Eastern Ontario

Length of employment 4 years Degree

Business Administration

While I was in high school, I would spend every Saturday at my fathers automotive repair shop. As I swept the floors or threw out the garbage, I would watch my father deal with his customers, and coach his employees. It was because of him that I got involved with College Pro. The Idea that I could be in control of my own schedule, deal with customers, and be the leader in my business just seemed perfect.

How did you find your current position? After three intense interviews and a bunch of reference and background checks, in 2007, I was granted my very own painting franchise with College Pro at the age of 18. I operated my franchise for three years. Each year brought forth a new set of challenges and a whole new skill set that I felt I needed to conquer. After this last year, I ran the biggest and most profitable business in central Canada, and the biggest of my career. I talked to my GM about further growth and he put me in contact with the VP and president of the company. The thing about College Pro is that when you have grown beyond your current role, they open their doors to new roles with a whole new set of challenges and growth opportunities.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? After going to college for Business Administration, I had second thoughts and looked at becoming a teacher. I wanted to impact peoples lives and help grow their skill set. What I ended up discovering after a few years with College Pro was that I was doing exactly that, but in a different field. I was helping other franchisees succeed with their business, by sharing ideas and tactics that have worked

Sponsored by 6

for me. The pride I felt when someone else’s business took off in a positive direction was amazing.

What skills have you learned through your work experience? One of the most important skills that I have learned is priority management. It is best to be in control of your day, and to approach it with a well thought out battle plan. In our day and age, its almost as if we have no time for anything. Set aside an hour at the end of the week to plan out the following week. Be sure to factor in some time to yourself! Life is also about having fun!

What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? Be a sponge! Soak in as much knowledge as you can and be open to Ideas. Be an extremely selfish learner — ask questions! It’s the best way to learn.

Is there one accomplishment you are most proud of to date? I am most proud of my latest promotion. I have just been promoted from being a franchise owner in a small area in Winnipeg to being put in charge of operating Ottawa , plus Eastern Ontario. This role is going to put me up against a whole new set of challenges that I just can’t wait to embrace! It’s great to see that my hard work within the company has been recognized.

What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job? Be sure to diversify your resume and differentiate yourself from others. Your book smarts aren’t everything, be sure to get some real world experience in your portfolio. Look at each job as one of the greatest learning and development opportunities in your life! Best of luck!


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I’m pretty sure that some

are my options?” ques-

Yep, there are many great

there are multiple ways

of the students I work with

tion but it is perhaps most

reasons for choosing and

to get to the vast majority

think I have a magic wand.

prevalent among students

thriving in a non-profes-

of jobs.

in non-professional pro-

sional program but that

grams. If you’re a student

doesn’t mean you won’t,

at a university or college,

at some point, be staring

in a program that has the

into space during class

words “Arts” or “Science” or

thinking, “what are the

• Is there a typical edu-

“General” in the diploma

options?” And, many a stu-

cational path to this job?

title, you are likely in a non-

dent has been prompted to

• Are there any other

professional program. That

come and visit the Career

kinds of experiences (paid,

simply means that your

Centre after tiring of

volunteer) that help people

program isn’t a training

people asking in a perhaps

get this job?

program with a rigorous

well-meaning but slightly

plan for imparting specific

tactless way: “And, just

There are days that I’d love

skills that lead to a spe-

what are you going to do

to whip out said spar-

cific job (e.g., nurse, social

with THAT?!”

kly wand and magically

worker or engineering tech-

bestow the perfect career

nologist). This is especially

(and matching fabulous

true for many university

salary) on the shoulders

programs but the same

of the student seated with

also holds for some general

me. I’d be the career fairy

college programs.

Of course, not one that I show just anyone who happens to wander into my office, but one that I can whip out from some secret spot for special people — people who have a certain confused and hopeful look in their eyes when they


sit on my couch and ask, “What are my options?”

by Christine Fader

What are you going to do with THAT degree?!

godmother and how fun

If you’re in a non-professional program, it usually means that you’re learning theoretical concepts and abstract principles, rather than being trained. It does

Despite the “what are my

NOT mean that you aren’t

options?” conundrum,

acquiring any skills. The

the benefits of being in a

challenge is figuring out

But, alas, I haven’t received

non-professional program

how to connect those skills

my fairy godmother desig-

are many:

to career options. Students

would that be to put on a business card?!

nation yet.

• They usually allow

Students in all programs

you the flexibility to try

and at all stages (first year

a variety of courses that

through to PhD) come to

all count towards your

see me with the “what

want THE LIST of jobs that their program qualifies them for. They want to

Don’t believe me? Ask people doing interesting jobs:

• What are the backgrounds of the people in your workplace who do this job? What you’ll most often find is that many people doing the very same job have backgrounds that are related to the key skills in the work but are quite different from each other. So the answer to “what are my options?” is so full of possibilities and variety that it quickly leads to another question: “What do I WANT to do?”

know which employers

Now, this can be a doozy

hire out of this program

to contemplate but it’s

versus that program. They

one that career centres

• The subject matter is

want to figure out if they

and advisors can help you

often broad, allowing you

have a hope of getting to

with. And it lets us career

to learn a little about lots

Job X from where they’re

practitioners get one step

of things (great, if you

currently at. In other

closer to completing the

get bored easily or don’t

words, it all comes down

career fairy godmother

have anything that really

to: “What are my options?”

training program. 

ultimate degree/diploma

“grabs” you).

The National Occupational

• They often allow you

Classification (the govern-

to remain open/undecided

ment book that tries to

about your program focus

keep track of job titles in

until you get your feet wet

Canada) has upwards of

and have a few courses

30,000 job titles in it. The

under your belt.

good news is that the vast

• They impart skills that

majority of jobs (this is not

apply to a wide range

scientific but I think I can

of occupations such as

accurately say 29,600+)

analytical skills, commu-

have many, different paths

nication skills, information

to them. Unless you want

synthesis skills…

to be a plastic surgeon

• They appeal to students who don’t want to “close any doors.”

(medical school definitely required!) or a journeyman tool and die maker (apprenticeship important!),

Christine Fader works as a career counsellor at Queen’s University and is the author of, “Career Cupid: Your Guide to Landing and Loving Your Dream Job.” Visit her website at

october 2011 |

“I got to choose from several career options when I joined. I’ve always loved working with new technology so this job was a natural fit. Here, there’s always something new on the horizon.” Leading Seaman PATTY LEE


« Quand je me suis enrôlée, j’ai eu à choisir parmi plusieurs possibilités de carrière. Comme j’ai toujours aimé travailler avec les nouvelles technologies, la décision s’est prise naturellement. Dans mon métier, il y a toujours quelque chose de neuf à découvrir. » Matelot de 1re classe PATTY LEE



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Where did the idea come from for Lena’s Designer Cakes?

The initial idea came from my best friend, who was in need of a wedding cake. I was the friend who

would bring the goodies to our gatherings. She

asked me if I would make her wedding cake, so I said, “sure, why not.” And that’s where it started. I made

her cake and it came out really well. I got a couple

of cake orders that night, actually, at her wedding reception. And it has just kind of grown from there.

So you have this business idea. How did you get started with getting it off the ground?

It was sort of a slow process. I wasn’t sure if the

market was here in my local community because we’re pretty small. So I just sort of gauged the interest of people and based it on how many orders I got. I keep track of how people contact me,

when, and if I can accept their cakes or not. And then I did a bunch of test runs out at the local mall with some of the smaller desserts that I do — the

cupcakes, the truffles — to see if the interest was

What makes Lena’s Designer Cakes unique? In this area specifically, we are unique. There isn’t

any other business doing what we do at the moment. But I also think it comes down to quality

and customer care. I hold a lot of focus groups. I have a lot of taste-testers. We care about what people think instead of just shoving stuff down people’s throats.

there and if I could get the prices that I would need

In your opinion, what makes for a successful entre-

local demographic goes and the marketing oppor-

I would probably say perseverance would defi-

to charge. I did quite a bit of analysis as far as the tunities that I have here.


Interviewed by Brandon Miller


nitely be important. You need to be self-driven, self-motivated. There’s nobody there motivating

you and driving you. Becoming your own boss and having your own business, it’s not glamorous by

any stretch of the imagination. It’s hard work. You stay up late.

Have you always been into baking? When I was younger, probably when I was between the ages of 13 and 15, I actually used to do a

lot of cake sculpting. I like to say that I was actually doing it before it was cool to do it. The first thing I

ever sculpted as a cake was a car. It looked terrible but you could get the idea from it.

What has been your proudest business accomplishment?

29-years old, owner of Lena’s Designer Cakes in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Studied IT and website development at Nova Scotia Community College. ACE 2011 Student Entrepreneur, Nova Scotia champion.

So far, my proudest accomplishment has been expanding my little cake business into a full-

scale retail bakery. We just opened up a couple of

weeks ago in a building in downtown Yarmouth. I got funding from a bunch of different places and they’re letting me follow my dream. Do you have any plans to expand? Oh, definitely. I’m hoping within the next 10 years to have between two and three hundred of these

stores. I’m going to franchise it and turn it into a global chain.

Do you have any advice for students that might want to start their own business?

I guess the only advice I would give is to make sure

that you are dedicated to what you are doing be-

cause, while you might have fun while you are doing it, it is a lot of work, especially while you are in

school. You need to make sure that you love what

you are doing, that you believe in it, and that you are willing to go the distance to make your business what you want it to be. | october 2011


Tell me what you know about the company?

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.


This question is fairly standard in an interview, but it’s important to really understand how an interviewer considers your response. As an employer who is about to make a significant investment in your professional development, your response to this question speaks directly to your motivation. We’re looking for an answer that shows you made a sincere effort to research the company, beyond simply memorizing sentences from our website. Simply put: if you’re not motivated to prepare for your interview, how can I expect you to be motivated in training or on-the-job?

Knowing NAV CANADA’s mission statement is good, but it always strikes me as impressive when an interviewee scratches beyond the surface and researches our services, our organizational values and our customers. Doing this type of preparation should not be underestimated. Be prepared to speak about the company in your own words for several minutes. Not only will this show your determination in the interview room, it will help you respond to follow up questions about your skills and behaviours in the context of the company. Finally, be ready to explain how you researched the company ahead of your interview. If you went to our website or Facebook page, I’ll want to know what you learned about the company there. This question is often asked early on, and has the potential to set the tone for the rest of your interview — be ready and make a good first impression! 

It’s a cheatsheet for interviews. Good luck!

* interview

smarts by Michelle Gauthier, National Manager of Candidate Selection


october 2011 |

Wood Employee Readiness Curriculum

WERC In Advanced Wood Manufacturing ENTRY-LEVEL CAREERS FOR FIRST NATIONS, METIS, INUIT, PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND NEW IMMIGRANTS The WMC WERC Skills Development program is designed to prepare individuals for entrylevel occupations in advanced wood manufacturing and recruits specifically from groups including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, new immigrants and persons with disabilities. Participants of the program are provided with skills upgrading in the following areas • • • •

Job Readiness Essential and Life Skills Introduction to Basic Wood Manufacturing Safety Training, Job Shadowing and Job Placement

Successful candidates of the minimum 8 week program will be better able to seek long term career opportunities in cabinet making, furniture, manufactured housing and other advanced wood sectors across Canada. If you are interested in participating in the WERC program in your area or a manufacturer looking for new entry level woodworkers, please visit or contact: Wood Manufacturing Council 1016 -130 Albert Street Ottawa, ON, Canada K1P 5G4 Tel: 613-567-5511 * Fax: 613-567-5411 Website:

130 Albert Street, suite 1016 Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4

T 613-567-5511 F 613-567-5411

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program


softskills by Allison Mitchell


Think of people on a city bus or in a waiting room; chances are that they will be focusing their attention on texting and very few will be talking. These

are appropriate places to text, and keep your voice down. Yet in general, it’s not enough to rely solely

on electronic devices to communicate. They are an important part of our lives, yes, but we need to

remember how verbal communication can help us be successful at work.

So, what’s the difference between talking to someone and emailing them when both methods communicate information?


Conflicts and misunderstandings happen all the

time at work and you need to be able to effectively resolve the issues in order to move forward. Have you ever tried to resolve a conflict or misunder-

standing through email? If you have, then you know that it’s not an easy feat. It can be frustrating and time consuming with a lot of back and forth


Relationships are vital in the workplace. When you

join a company, you will need to work hard to build

relationships with your co-workers, and talking in

person allows the other individual to put a face to a name (aside from your social media profile picture). After a few conversations, you will start to build a

presence in your office. Communicating by email all of the time means that you become a faceless email.

Putting a face to your name means that when you walk down the hall, your co-workers won’t be whis-

pering “who’s the new person?” when you have al-

ready worked there six months. Get visible and get involved where you can. Every time you get up from

your desk, think of it as a mini-networking adventure and talk to people on the way to your destination.

emails that often exacerbate the issue because meaning and tone are lost in emails. It is hard to

convey tone and emotion over email, and it is equally difficult to interpret them. You can truly only understand the tone of a discussion by talk-

ing; emoticons just won’t cut it. When you are exchanging emails with someone and find yourself

in a situation where you need to resolve a conflict, pick up the phone or go to the person’s desk and

talk it out. Think of how much time and frustration you will save. If you need the resolution document-

ed, you can easily follow up by sending an email to the other person with the agreed upon resolution.

Two things are certain: one, electronic communi-

cation is critical in the workplace and will be an important tool in your communication toolbox; two,

verbal communication far outweighs email exchanges in relationship building, improving verbal

DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION SKILLS Communication skills need to be continuously

practiced and honed. Even the best communicators have to practice the art. Simple, daily conversations

will help to improve your communication skills and your comfort level in talking with groups of people. If you spend most of your time alone at your desk

,behind a computer screen, then how are you supposed to develop your verbal communication skills?

You won’t! You’ll find yourself in a position where simply talking with your co-workers could be difficult because it causes you anxiety, or because you

haven’t developed the ability to communicate clearImage: iStockphoto/Thinkstockv

ly and succinctly. Don’t get me wrong: I know that | october 2011

email is a form of written communication, which is an essential skill to develop, but the frequency that

we talk to each other has significantly decreased with advances in electronic communication.

communication and resolving conflicts. So, how do you balance the two?

The key is to be able to identify the method of com-

munication that is most appropriate in the particu-

lar situation that you are in. Email is appropriate in some situations; talking may be a better method

of communication in other circumstances. Building relationships, sharpening your communication skills and polishing your ability to resolve conflict

are all fundamental competencies that are required in your career. The next time you are writ-

ing an email to someone, consider talking to them instead — if I could have given you this message in person, I would have 




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good. Eetz not

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Careers with a Challenge, Careers with Growth, Careers with a Future! Learn more about our exciting career opportunities:


We helpz you make new one.

october 2011 |

Image Composite: © Sonya van Heyningen (Original Image: Stock.xchng)



your own job? Maybe you’re a college or university student or a recent graduate, and you’re planning to find steady work in your field of study. But while your crisp new credentials may be impressive, they don’t guarantee you a job, especially with today’s economic uncertainty. | october 2011

field, but instead of enjoying it, you’re daydreaming about busting out of the cubicle farm and escaping the scourge of office politics.

Before you give up on your industry, consider flying solo. For many types of work, it’s possible to shop

your skills around for short-term work as an independent service provider — a freelancer or

consultant. You’d be in good company:

according to Statistics Canada, there were 2.67 million self-employed workers (about 16 per-

cent of the workforce) in this country in 2010 — 12 per cent more than a decade

ago. About half were sole proprietors, unincorporated and working without paid help.

Being your own boss sounds awesome, right? Imagine it: more control over the work you do,

greater flexibility in your schedule, and no more ir-

ritating commute to the office. And, in a way, you have more job security than you would working for someone else — no one can fire or downsize you.

But before you declare your independence, be warned: self-employment isn’t for everyone. Sure,

you have the freedom to make all the decisions,

but that comes with the hefty responsibility of, well, making all the decisions. The same flexibility that makes freelancing seem liberating can be your downfall if you’re not disciplined. And in addition to being the president, you’ll also be the book-

keeper, marketer, office manager, janitor and, from time to time, the collection agency.

Freelancing also means giving up three things that many aren’t willing to live without: a predictable income, health benefits, and paid vacations. Work-

ing solo also means just that — you’ll mostly be alone, with no one to help when you’re overloaded,

tired, sick or itching to rehash last night’s episode

of Mad Men. You can also wave goodbye to workplace perks like expense accounts, company cars,

subsidized gym memberships, free coffee, employee discounts and an endless supply of sticky

notes. You might work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.

Instead of being assigned work, you’ll have to chase down each client and project, which can be

time-consuming, frustrating and exhausting. And for those who think freelancing means they won’t

have to answer to a boss, here’s the truth: every cli-

ent is a new boss, with attendant demands, expectations and quirks to manage.

There will be leaner times, when work seems to dry

up and you wonder if you made a huge mistake by forgoing a salaried job.

But hey, you’ve gotta dream big. Stay focused, stay organized, do excellent work, build good relation-

ships and manage your money, and you have a good chance of thriving.

If the idea of self-employment inspires excitement

rather than fear, read on to see how others have made it work.

Do a reality check Have a frank conversation with yourself and iden-

tify weaknesses that could trip up your fledgling freelance career. Making it past the first stages

Image: © Lane

Or maybe you’ve found a full-time position in your

of a business launch requires motivation, level-

writer and business-writing trainer who leads work-

ty, and persistence.

their efforts. “Try marketing without a focus and

headedness, discipline, a tolerance for uncertain“The first year was challenging, to say the least,”

says Rodney Weis, a freelance web designer and computer consultant in Calgary. “I went in with a lot of preconceived notions that it would be easy to make a website, hang out my shingle and wait for

people to break down my door. Of course, the real-

shops that help freelancers identify goals and target you’ll be all over the map. You don’t see Nike trying to sell you hamburgers, or McDonald’s trying to sell

you running shoes. Whether you’re a big business or small business, you have to focus, and that comes

from having a business vision: determining who you are, what you do and who you should do it for.”

ity is that, like any business, it takes a lot of work

Your business vision will change as your interests

yourself… It’s a great way to make a living as long

it fits your goals or is something you’d like to get

and a lot of groundwork. You have to really educate

as the person is prepared to put in the legwork and grow the business one step at a time.”

evolve. When an opportunity comes up, decide if into — if not, stick to your vision. If yes, build it in your business plan.

Adaptability is essential. When Weis began free-

Depending on your type of company, your plan could

of computer services. When web design turned

search your industry: Who’s hiring short-term work-

lancing five years ago, he planned to offer a range

out to be his most marketable skill, he took a

couple of extra courses and got himself on track. He was promptly flooded with work; now, he says,

“I’m as busy as I want to be.” Three-quarters of his jobs come from word of mouth.

Dry spells do happen; you’ll need to be prepared emotionally and financially. “It’s kind of like work-

ing without a safety net — sometimes you sink,

sometimes you swim,” says Weis. “There have been times I’ve had more work than I know what

to do with, and sometimes I don’t have work for a month or more.”

be a couple of pages or a couple dozen pages. Reers and how much are they paying? What services do freelancers offer and how much do they charge? What resources are available to people in your field?

Business plan tips and templates are available from the federal government’s Canada Business site ( For more help, ask a mentor for feedback, take a class for entrepreneurs,

or seek counsel from sources such as Atlantic Canada’s Entrepreneurs’ Forum (, the Ontario government’s Small Busi-

ness Enterprise Centres ( or BizLaunch (


Set up command central

Still think you can hack it as a freelancer? Good. The

Many freelancers work from home, and their

company. Before you write one, though, you need

net, a quiet workspace, and a few reference books.

next step is a business plan, the foundation of your to figure out your goals.

At first, you might be tempted to take on anything that’s asked of you, especially if you’ve got student debt to pay off. “If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll probably be nothing to nobody,” says

needs are minimal: desk, computer, phone, InterIf you need more space or services — or you crave

human interaction — share a rented office or join an organization that lets you work on its premises. For example, members of the Centre for Social

Paul Lima, a Toronto-based freelance writer, | october 2011


sTay Focused, sTay organiZed, do excellenT Work, build good relaTionsHips and manage your money, and you Have a good cHance oF THriving.

october 2011 |

Innovation in Toronto ( have

access to high-speed Internet, photocopy and fax

machines, meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment, kitchen facilities and even mailboxes.

Christina Lauer, a graphic designer in Vancouver,

set up a home office three years ago. “I realized I was starting to talk to strangers in the supermar-

ket! So, yeah, I was feeling isolated,” she says, adding that people in creative fields benefit from a col-

laborative environment. “Now I’m sharing space in an agency. I don’t feel lonely at all.”

Spread the word As a freelancer, you can’t hide behind your desk and hope that projects will find their way to your

door. You need to promote yourself, network with confidence, and work well with clients.

Lauer has seen other designers struggle to find

work because they weren’t good at dealing with clients. “They might be better off working in an agency where somebody else takes care of that

part,” she says. “When you run your own business, you have to project manage and communicate with clients all the time.”

If interpersonal communication, marketing and

networking aren’t your strong suits, take heart — they get easier with practice, and you might even discover, as Lauer did, that you enjoy it. “When I worked for an agency, I never went out and net-

worked and met people, and I’ve met some really

great people by freelancing,” she explains. “Now I feel like I’m really part of the design community in Vancouver.”

Cultivate contacts by telling family and friends

about your business; attending conferences and trade shows; joining your industry’s professional

association; keeping in touch with classmates (you never know where they’ll end up); and attending

events hosted by your town’s chamber of commerce. Introduce yourself to at least five people at each event, and give them your full attention.

Don’t fret if your phone isn’t ringing the next day

— weeks or months may pass before a prospect needs your services.

Networking isn’t just about finding clients — it’s also about meeting colleagues who may be your

future collaborators or referral sources. Rather

than see other designers as competition, Lauer considers them a great resource; she even lists

their web addresses on her own site. “I’ve worked Image: Stock.xchng

with them before, and when I’m busy and can’t

take on new clients, I’m so happy to recommend

other people who I think will do a good job. For

example, somebody might have really good illus-


taxes. Stay on top of it, and if it’s too overwhelming or complicated, hire a pro to help you manage your finances.

There may also be more administrative work than

you’re accustomed to. “I have to email a lot now,” laughs Lauer. “Although I really like dealing with

clients directly, it’s very time-consuming. Some days, I have to answer 50 emails, and I wonder, ‘What did I do all day?’”

Get better at what you do


Sharpen your skills and stay on top of developments in your industry. That could mean every-

thing from networking and signing up for trade journals and e-newsletters to taking courses.

Learning could also be informal. “Try to collaborate with people you think are better than you. That’s really important, especially if you work on your

own,” says Lauer. “If you don’t get input from people who have other experiences and know more that you can create a really nice base of clients that

about certain things than you, you’ll stall in your

could be the lifeblood of your business for years.”


Set your rates

Get a life outside of work

Do you know what you’re going to charge? Prepare

It can be hard to separate yourself from your com-

Slaunwhite. “I realize that, especially in creative

and no play is a recipe for misery and burnout.

are exactly alike, but you can develop a fee struc-

but self-employed people need to find a balance.

to discuss pricing intelligently with a client right

may think,” says Slaunwhite. “It’s very easy to get

Business cards are convenient for passing contact

chance of landing the job if you’re able to quote a

consuming, and think about it all the time. Keep

Moo ( or Vistaprint ( and

The biggest mistake freelancers make? Underpric-

trative skills, which I don’t have, and if I know this person can do a much better job… You always get back what you give.”

Create a website for your business. Don’t get too fancy — simple and clear is better than flashy. Look

at the sites of other people in your business, and consider investing in the services of a web designer. Depending on your line of work, social media

sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may be helpful — just keep the personal and professional

separate. (Clients don’t need to see pictures of you swilling margaritas on a beach.)

info to prospects. Whip up inexpensive ones with

carry a couple at all times — you never know when

pany, especially if you work at home, but all work

categories like writing and design, no two projects

No doubt there will be unavoidable crunch times,

ture based on typical projects. That will enable you

“This is more important than most freelancers

from the get-go, and it significantly increases your

wrapped up in your business and have it be all-

ballpark price right away.”

in mind when planning your business that you’re also planning your life.”

ing. “They’re afraid to quote their full value. But free-

Slaunwhite recommends establishing guidelines

If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right, it is.

offering a professional service, and should be charg-

available. “Clients will be as demanding as they

might have to make dozens of elevator speeches

get a client and your price is too low, you’ll never be

of rules to build the lifestyle you want.”

that way — if clients notice that you consistently

Charging higher rates does mean, however, that

a tough haul at times, but it’s also incredibly grati-

get away. “Some people out there are unwilling

doing by yourself.

opportunities will pop up.

lancers need to realize that they’re professionals,

— for example, which days of the week you’ll be

Launching a business takes serious effort, and you

ing professional rates,” explains Slaunwhite. “If you

can be, and you want to make sure you have a set

before you land a new prospect. It won’t always be

able to raise your prices with that client, ever.”

Think you’re up the challenge? Freelancing can be

deliver the goods and are a pleasure to deal with,

you have to be willing to let lower-paying clients

fying to know that everything you achieve, you’re

“A lot of freelancers give up way too soon. They

or unable to pay professional rates for things —

Since going freelance, Lauer has been courted by

do a few things to try to promote their business,

Slaunwhite. “Some won’t be able to afford you and

good clients — they get frustrated,” says Steve

can. You don’t have to accept every client’s budget.”

consultant in Brampton, Ont., and co-author of The

Take care of business

“[Freelancing is] so much more rewarding, and I feel

Once you land clients and become immersed in

what I would’ve learned in an agency. And I find it

you’re likely to hit the jackpot: repeat work.

make a few cold calls or put their website up, and

they’re cheapskates or don’t have the budget,” says

and when they don’t get clients — or not very

that’s OK — there are plenty of other clients who

Slaunwhite, a freelance copywriter and marketing Wealthy Freelancer. “You need to take massive ac-

tion and make a big noise, contact maybe hundreds

of clients. It takes a lot of effort, but the reward is


a range of figures and be ready to quote them, says

the work, it’s easy to forget the details of running a

company — things like bookkeeping, invoicing and

agencies to work in-house, but she turned them down. “I didn’t even consider it for a second. I thought I would, if a good agency approached me, but…I just can’t imagine going back,” she says.

like I learn more — in the past three years, 10 times really satisfying that all my output is all just me.”

october 2011 |

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work in Aboriginal recruitment at a post-

general population. In the next 15 years, more

secondary institution and every day I am

than 400,000 Aboriginal young people will reach

met with the startling facts surrounding

labour-market age. These youth need to be ready

the state of Aboriginal education in Canada

for the job market, armed with an education

today. More than one-third of Aboriginal people haven’t earned a high school diploma, and there are only eight percent of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 who hold university degrees, compared to 23 percent of non-Aboriginals in the same age group who do.

that will enable them to participate. Unfortunately, many of these youth — particularly those who are growing up on reservations — don’t have access to standard educational opportunities. There are three kinds of First Nations education in Canada delivered to Aborigi-

There is a serious disparity between Native and

nal students. Federal schools that are controlled

non-Native peoples in Canada. What most Cana-

by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

dians don’t understand is why these gaps exist

Canada (AANDC), provincial schools, and local

— and why they should be concerned about it.

schools operated by First Nations communities.

By 2020, there is estimated to be a shortfall of one million workers in Canada, mostly in high skilled

Sixty-five percent of the 120,000 eligible on-reserve First Nations students attend the latter.

and knowledge-oriented occupations. The cur-

The issue with the majority of these schools is

rent labour shortfall has already impacted busi-

that they are grossly under-funded. Paul Martin,

ness operations and changed labour markets, and

in an interview with the Toronto Star, said “that

will increasingly do so. If there are no measure-

the per capita funding for a First Nations child

ments to fill this shortfall, Canadian business and

going to elementary or high school is anywhere

our economy could be seriously impacted.

from 20 to 40 percent lower than what non-Na-

There has been a huge push to fill Canada’s

tive kids get on a per capita basis.”

employment shortage with an immigrant popu-

Many of these schools aren’t able to recruit and

lation but the Aboriginal youth could be a key

retain qualified teachers to work on remote and

solution. In Canada, the Aboriginal population is

rural reservations, even though teachers can

the fastest growing demographic in Canada. It’s

teach without a Bachelors of Education (Bed). Be-

growing at roughly twice the annual rate of the

cause I work in recruitment for a university and

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

by Lisa Charleyboy


“THe noTion THaT all FirsT naTions sTudenTs receive a “Free educaTion” is Far ouTmoded and many, like myselF, graduaTe Facing HigH sTudenT loan debTs JusT like mosT canadian sTudenTs.” | october 2011

among Aboriginal male youth was boredom, and

be an employee shortage and industries will be

for Aboriginal female youth it was pregnancy or

struggling to look for skilled workers.

looking after children.

ize that closing the Native education gap could

secondary school, they are often faced with a

add much-needed fuel to the economy. “The

serious lack of funding. The notion that all First

long-term future not only of our Native peoples

Nations students receive a “free education” is far

but of this country is education,” said Purdy

outmoded and many, like myself, graduate facing

Crawford, a prominent businessman, to the

high student loan debts just like most Canadian

Globe and Mail.

students. According to the Aboriginal People’s survey, the number one reason why students don’t finish their studies is related to finances.

One solution is to bring distance education to reservations, so that community members can access education without leaving their families and

Although education is a treaty right, there is

way of living. The First Nations Technical Institute

a serious lack of post secondary education

in Tyendinaga, Ontario offers a variety of diploma,

funding (PSE) from the Canadian government

degree and certificate programs, uses various de-

to make it accessible for all Native students.

livery methods to reduce barriers to PSE, and has

Federal funding is only increased 2 percent a

a 90 percent employment rate for graduates.

year, while tuition is increasing at 4.4 percent a year and the number of eligible students has increased significantly due to population demographics and Bill C3, which granted previously ineligible youth Indian Status.


Many corporate leaders are on board. They real-

When Aboriginal youth are eligible for post-

Resources and energy industries are also putting forth great strides to bring technical training to First Nations communities so that they can employ community members in their initiatives. In Timmins, Ont., Dumas Mining creat-

“If our students struggle through their child-

ed a partnership with Wabun Tribal Council to

hood to get to the point where they can go on

prepare First Nations people with the adequate

to advanced training, advanced education,

training for mining, and they are guaranteed

and then find that the resources aren’t there

jobs upon completion. This is just one of many

for them to move on, the tragedy is so painful

employment and education gap solutions cre-

we simply cannot allow it to happen,” (Excerpt

ated across the country. If you are interested in creating your own solution


and are a recent BEd graduate looking to gain experience, why not consider teaching in a First Nations community? There are so many across the country looking for eager, bright teachers that are committed to understanding First Nations people and interested in social justice. Many can be found on the Education Canada website. For those who are not on the teacher track, but would still like to contribute, I would suggest finding a local First Nations organization or

visit many of these schools in Ontario, I have also

from National Aboriginal Achievement Founda-

agency and enquire to any volunteer positions

witnessed firsthand how few of these schools offer

tion, No Higher Priority).

that suit your skills. Many local Friendship Cen-

These students are already forced to only be able to be college ready, and never given the opportunity to challenge themselves with these courses.

There are great prospects for those that do finish their postsecondary education; in many urban areas, employment rates among Aboriginal peoples with a university degree are even high-

and are a good resource at being able to find out what volunteer positions are available in your local town or city.

Students that study off-reserve don’t necessar-

er than non-Aboriginal people with the same

It is clear that the state of Aboriginal education

ily fare much better than those that stay on re-

educational level.

is currently well below that of the national av-

serve. According to Statistics Canada, the range among major urban areas for Aboriginal youth school attendance is from 50-66 percent, compared to the non-Aboriginal youth who were at 60-70 percent. The main reason for dropping out

But the cost of not educating First Nations people in Canada is high. According to the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal poverty will cost Canada up to $11 billion per year by 2016. This could be detrimental to the Canadian economy, especially when there will


ters are the hub of First Nations communities

erage. It does require that all Canadians understand the complexities and see the value in increasing Aboriginal education because it will not only benefit Aboriginal peoples and their families, it will greatly contribute to Canadian society and the economy as a whole.

october 2011 |

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

the courses required for entrance into university.

Find your perfect career at TD.

Why work for TD? At TD, you’ll have the opportunity to grow throughout your career – through access to development programs, networking opportunities, job coaching and mentoring. We encourage you to get involved! We have an active Aboriginal Employee Circle with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employees from across Canada. By participating in the Circle, you’ll be able to provide guidance and learn about the exciting work TD is doing within Aboriginal communities across the country. So you won’t just be an employee, you’ll be a valued team member whose voice is respected and heard. If you’re interested in TD, we’re interested in you.

A Passion For Opportunity

To learn more about working at TD, visit

Making a

difference Canada’s #1 industrial employer of Aboriginal people Crystal Iron, Senior Environment Technician, Cigar Lake, SK


More at

october 2011 |


management TRAINING programs A CAREER GAMBLE OR YOUR BEST BET? by Katie Edmonds

It’s pretty safe to say that most university gradu-

their training – whether it’s eight months or three

ates don’t envision themselves working as a ca-

years — they get a better, more well rounded

shier at a fast food emporium, or as a front-line

background of different aspects within the com-

customer service representative at a car-rental

pany, rather than one particular field,” he said.

depot upon graduation.

panies like Enterprise Rent-a-Car, McDonalds,

opportunity to move beyond the sales or cus-

Scotiabank, Accenture and Staples Business

tomer service role to a position in upper man-

Depot, who all offer comprehensive training pro-

agement within just a few months of being

grams to take graduates from the ground floor to

hired? Would that change your outlook?

the penthouse of their career.

Brent Wellman, Director, Edwards Career Ser-

“The program is like Business 101 on ten cups

vices at the University of Saskatchewan, believes

of coffee,” said Erin Marsden, Talent Acquisition

management training programs are a great op-

Manager for Enterprise Rent-a-car in the Greater

tion, which often go unnoticed, for students and

Toronto Area, a company that welcomes both

new grads searching for a career path.

college and university graduates into their pro-

“Management training programs provide a lot of different opportunities in terms of the particular organization that’s offering them,” said Wellman.

gram. “We teach them everything to do with the business, so our employees see the organization from every possible level.”

“They allow new hires to get a better understand-

Enterprise, like many other training programs,

ing of different aspects within the business, while

puts their recruits through an initial orientation

giving them a chance to find their best fit.”

and training, and then assigns each individual to

According to Wellman, these programs encourage candidates to explore different career options within an organization, rather than simply focusing on the role they were hired into. “At the end of | october 2011

This is the logic used by hiring managers at com-

But what if one of those places offered you the

a branch office in their home area, where their hands-on training begins. During the first year of the program, the new recruit actively participates in everything from sales and marketing to

“THE PROGRAM IS LIKE BUSINESS 101 ON TEN CUPS OF COFFEE” customer service, to operations and finance. As

This doesn’t come as news to the team at En-

they progress, they are tested and evaluated to

terprise-Rent-a-Car, as they’ve experienced won-

determine their proficiency in each of these areas.

derful success with their management training

“The cool thing about it is that I have been a fulltime employee since Day 1,” said Jessica Ruston, a recent Carleton University graduate who is currently enrolled in the Management Consultant Training Program at Accenture Canada, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. “But instead of being thrown into the fire at a job and being

55 years at Enterprise,” said Marsden. “We truly believe that we have the best training program and our employees learn what we consider to be the right way of doing things. We want to bring someone in who has the core competencies, and then we want to invest our time and money and effort in their being successful.”

expected to figure it out by myself, I have been

But despite the appealing nature of job security,

trained constantly since the very beginning.”

management training programs aren’t neces-

If the new hires do well in their role, they are rewarded with pay increases and a wider breadth of opportunity for promotion. Many of the toplevel executives of Enterprise, Accenture, and other companies with this type of program have

sarily the best fit for everyone. “It’s definitely an investment,” said Wellman. “From an employer’s perspective, it’s time, it’s about mentorship, and it’s a buy-in from all the different areas of business that are part of the program.”

followed a similar track, as employees being

Wellman also stated that it certainly takes a

hired now at these companies swear by this type

unique individual to commit to a management

of career advancement.

training program. “Many grads in today’s era of

“Companies that offer these training programs are looking to move candidates into management roles,” said Wellman. “These programs are certainly not cheap either. They are strategic, and designed with a high level of learning, along with exposure to areas of the business that the company wants new hires to grow within.” The question then is: Are new graduates aware of this path as a possible career option? According to Wellman, new grads should consider joining a management training program if the opportunity presents itself. “I think it’s a fabulous decision to make of looking at it,” he said. “It should also be a strategic plan from the business perspective of the organization to sell the idea to new hires.”


program. “It’s a formula that has worked for over

work have this idea of ‘I’ll work at one place for a couple of years, and then move on to something else,’” he said. “But businesses invest a lot into their training programs, and it’s certainly a time commitment. They’re giving individuals solid foundations of skill sets and experience to better them, which in turn should attract them to want to stay within the organization.” For Ruston, the opportunity to join a management training program is exactly what she was looking for as she finished her degree. “I would definitely recommend it to my friends,” she said. “I am constantly being given opportunities to grow and change at Accenture and if that continues to be the case, I could see myself being here for a very long time.” october 2011 |

Are you looking to gain hands on experience before leaving school? With SIFE, you will not only make a difference in your community, but you will also gain real world experience. Be on a dynamic team that competes in national and global competitions while launching the career you’ve always dreamt of.

What are you waiting for? Your future starts now. Visit today! SIFE is a program operated by ACE in Canada

People may not always have very nice things to say about sales people, but really, are all sales people the same? Can we lump them all into the same cat-

5MISCONCEPTIONS SALES PEOPLE egory of being ruthless and only out to

sell, sell, sell? Let’s bust some common misconceptions about sales people.


(and how to be a good one)






John Marsh, owner of Ele-

So, you think all sales

This may be true some of

Sales people promise the

Sales people often care

compack Systems Inc., be-

people will fib a little (or a

the time. Marsh, whose

world to get your money

about more than just the

lieves having natural sales

lot) to make a sale, leaving

company supplies medi-

and disappear as soon as

number of bills they have

ability is an asset, but

you wondering how you

cal offices with products

you realize it’s not all they

in their wallets — they

there are still things you

ever got through the day

such as stationary,

said it was, right?

care about the well-being

need to learn. “The very

without their better-than-

labels, paper gowns, and

best sales people come by

sliced-bread product?

masks, says “the com-

most of the social skills

Simply not true.

pany tells you that you

one to be outgoing is not easy,” says Marsh. “Good sales people can deal with large amounts of rejection — try to teach someone that,” he continues. However, Marsh explains that training is still crucial, especially when closing a sale. “Obviously product knowledge in relation to your competitors is the most important.”

Brian Johnston, sales trainer for Brijon and Associates (representing

have to hit the numbers. And if you don’t you may lose your job.”

follow up post-purchase to see what worked out, and what didn’t. Amanda Fordham, CEO and president of Canadian Home

of their clients. “My emphasis is on fostering and developing the relationship for the long-term,” Fordham explains. “It is critical that clients feel they can place reliance

Hofstetter Business Tech-

But this doesn’t mean

Healthcare, says, “I do

nologies), says, “I’m here

that all sales people are

think that sales are highly

to give you an opportuni-

simply out for your hard

driven, and very competi-

Johnston agrees. “We

ty, and if it’s not what you

earned cash. “We aren’t

tive, but I’m more clinical

put the customer first

are looking for, you move

asking them for anything.

and focus on patient care.

and provide a service to

on.” Johnston explains

We ask them ‘Do you use

So, I’m there for the long-

that customer,” Johnston

that a good sales person

this?’ and if they do, we

term. I go back and I fol-

stresses, adding that, “In

needs to be honest. “Don’t

send them a price list

low up. If we can’t deliver

creating a relationship,

lie and say your product

and let it speak for itself,”

the service that they want

you create a friendship.”

or service can do for the

Marsh explains.

then I say we can’t.”

on us.”

customer what it can’t.”


by Alyssa Ouellette october 2011 |

Image: Digital Vision./ Photodisc/Thinkstockv

naturally. Teaching some-

Wrong. Many sales people

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Working in retail can teach you important, transferrable skills.



Retail is really busy during holiday seasons, es-

Static jobs are becoming rare. Korchinos says it’s

pecially in small stores. In addition to serving

extremely important for employees to be “open-

customers, you may be saddled with: restock-

minded to a dynamic working environment where

Retail work gets knocked almost every-

ing items, processing shipments, folding clothes,

expectations can (and do) change frequently.”

where. It’s underpaid and rarely glorified,

tracking inventory, cleaning, and/or more.

by Emma Woolley

but working in retail is educational and often enjoyable. I worked in retail and food service for eight years, and while some of my experiences were challenging, most were rewarding. I made enough money to finish my two degrees, and I learned a lot about people and high-pressure workplaces. Most retail positions are available during the summer and winter holidays when stores need extra people to deal with extra Image: Stockbyte/Thinkstockv

customers, and when you need extra cash. While the work may seem simple, there’s lots of important and transferable skills to be learned from retail. Here are the top four. | october 2011

Today you’re a cashier, but tomorrow you could

The best way to deal with a long list of to-dos is

be a salesperson. You might not like the pressure,

learning what Steve Korchinos, a manager at Joe

but it doesn’t hurt to try out charm and persua-

Fresh, calls “the art of prioritization.” Assess each

sion in selling things. You might even be good at

situation to determine what’s most important,

it! When I worked at a LEGO outlet, part of my

which in retail is always the customer. Messy

job was running birthday parties for young kids.

racks can wait, raving customers who may hurt

It wasn’t my favourite thing to do, but I learned

business cannot.

which games were most engaging and how to

You’ll also learn to multi-task more efficiently by figuring out which things can be done at the same time. For example, organizing clothes by size while answering a customer’s questions. Most positions will require you to manage mul-

deal with kids and their parents. Because many professions require you to adapt to new environments, such as management changes and acquiring new responsibilities, having multiple roles on your resume is always a plus.

tiple tasks, people, or projects, so it’s wise to really hone this skill.


 Coping with stress

Dealing with people

Holiday seasons in retail are the busiest and

Unpleasant people are everywhere. While many customers are

most stressful for everyone. With cranky cus-

perfectly nice, you may be shocked with how rude people will

tomers to deal with and a thousand other things

be to you as a cashier or salesperson. Whether they’re having a

to do, it’s easy to get upset. You’ll eventually

bad day or are simply cranky by nature, sometimes you just can’t

learn to roll with the punches: a valuable skill

please people. “Steve Dublanca, the Waiter Rant blogger, says that

for avoiding very public meltdowns.

80 percent of his customers just want something to eat and the

Brad, who worked at a book store to pay for his

When a customer is swearing at you because you’re out of me-

education, says to remind yourself: “It’s a store,

dium sizes, it’s hard to not take it personally. Don’t. “No matter

not an ER.” Take care of yourself to avoid burn-

how aggressive or toxic the situation, keep calm, genuinely listen

out. Going on breaks, staying well rested, and

to the customer’s concerns, and never take the situation as a per-

taking on only what you can handle is integral to

sonal attack,” advises Korchinos. “Remember that the attitudes

getting through any stressful situation.

of less-than-friendly customers... are expressions of their own

Even on the busiest days, try to loosen up. Wi-


ersema, who’s about to enter his 20th holiday

This is key in any work environment. You’ll have coworkers and

season, says that one learns to appreciate the

clients to deal with and some of them may behave badly. A little

positive. “Customers are going to be frantic and

patience and compassion go a long way. If someone’s lashing out

demanding, your boss is going to be freaking out,

at you, never fight fire with fire. “Treat the customer as you would

the music is going to be irritating, you’re going

like to be treated, and things often turn around,” says Wiersema.

to have dozens of demands on your time — you

The same strategy works for anyone else you interact with.

can’t fight any of those things and resistance just makes it worse,” he says. “Ride it out. Savour the moments in which you make the perfect recommendation or make a customer smile.” If you can stay positive while everyone else falls apart, you’ll succeed in any job — and feel a lot better.


other 20 percent are psychopaths,” says Brad.

While some customers and coworkers are awful, others can make your day and teach you something new. “My job gives me daily reality checks and opens up new worlds of interaction,” Wiersema says. “You really do meet the strangest, most wonderful sorts [of people] and it colours your whole life. As a writer, it’s so valuable for me to interact with people — readers — in the real world.”

october 2011 |

Image: Stockbyte/Thinkstockv

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 managing expectations Project Management pays dividends no matter your profession.

What does a shuttle

Not only is the program pan-industry, but there are

Games and a charity

doors are open to all interested parties. “Ideally, the

launch, the Olympic fund-drive have in common? Disregard the scale; they’re all multi-faceted


ects that require a lot

of planning and resource management

to pull off. Increasingly, businesses are recognizing the need to train their managers to tackle

large, complex projects. There’s a measure of calculation, know-how and finesse needed to keep

things running smoothly. That’s where the discipline of Project Management comes into play.

Traditionally, project management was considered the domain of civil and construction engineers

overseeing large development projects. While that still applies, the past couple of decades have seen

the principles of project management applied to other industries in Canada.

no formal academic pre-requisites, meaning the student should already be in the position of managing some kind of project or in that environment

so they can apply what we’re teaching them,” explains Barrett. “This is adult education at it’s best

— there’s tons of sharing, debates and discussions.

What our students bring to the classroom is a major chunk of the benefit of our program.”

For those looking to complement their post-sec-

ondary education, The University of Calgary offers a post-grad Project Management Program that is jointly offered by their Schulich School of Engineering and Huskayne School of Business. “Most of our students come from engineering and construction, but not necessarily,” says Janaka Ruwanpura, director, professor and Canada research chair of

the Project Management program at the university. “Technically, we admit students working in the

industry, but it’s not limited to any market, as long as they have the academic credentials.”

“I got involved in this business about 15 years ago

There are different branches of the program, each

were starving for better ways to manage their proj-

industry experience. “Project Management isn’t

when large companies like Bell Canada and RBC

ects,” recalls David Barrett, the Program Director of the Centre of Excellence in Project Management at the Schulich Executive Education Centre. Partnering with various universities across Canada, the

organization offers a Masters Certificate in Project Management that is meant to address these

needs. “We don’t focus on any one industry, nor any one type of project,” says Barrett. “Anyone currently making a living managing projects can benefit.”

of which requires varying amounts of previous

a field where you can pick it up right away,” explains Ruwanpura. “People need to see the real

world before they apply.” For those in the re-

source industry, the program also has an added

benefit. “We have a course called engineering management that teaches how to deal with

managing electrical, instrumentation, process,

piping and mechanical aspects of a project,” says Ruwanpura. “Specifically in this particular course,

it’s a highly interactive program that has both in-

dustry and academic input, as it’s taught by a top engineering company in Canada.”

In recent years the university has also added its own Project Management Certification Program that is a condensed version of the degree program.

“There was a large number of industry people wanting to attend our course, and we couldn’t

always meet the demand,” explains Ruwanpura.

Being a certificate program, there are academic requirements and it’s open to people from any field. “We condense a 39-hour graduate course into a 12

hour certificate course,” he continues. “Content wise it’s a little less, but the quality is the same.”

The common link between these programs, re-

gardless of provider or focus, is that of the formalization of management processes. “Managers

need the skillset to understand expectations and

to deliver the project successfully,” says Ruwanpura. “People always say, ‘on time, on cost, on quality,’ but there’s more to it than that — it’s a matter of

[a business’] reputation. If a project runs over cost, time or money, people jump at that.”

This more studied approach to managing large proj-

ects addresses a pressing need, regardless of indus-

try. “A lot of people out there managing projects are winging it,” says Barrett. “When people come to our program, they come with a need to understand a

more formal approach and understand what they’re missing from their projects. They need a process to

follow.” If those processes results in fewer headaches, more efficient work patterns and the opportu-

nity for risk-management, putting time into improving your project management skills is a no-brainer. by Kevin Nelson

What Do be You

want to 38

The Future of Learning october 2011 |

graduate school directory

Brock University

Niagara College

Brock is a rapidly growing University, offering 41 dynamic Master’s and PhD program within 6 academic faculties. With our strong sense of community and personal investment in our students, Brock is a great choice for your graduate education.

Top-rated for student satisfaction, Niagara College provides outstanding applied education for a changing world. With stateof-the-art facilities on newly redeveloped campuses & responsive cutting-edge programming, we offer students real-world experience before graduation.

Visit us at today at

Queen’s University

Ross University

100+ graduate programs with world-class research opportunities and strong support to enrich your educational experience and advance your career. Set your ideas in motion. Consider graduate studies at Queen’s.

Ross University is a provider of medical and veterinary education offering MD and DVM degree programs, and has over 11,000 successful physicians and veterinarians practicing in the US and Canada. If you are interested in a career in medicine, contact us today.

Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Sheridan College

The University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry provides state-of-the-art research facilities and mentorship by internationally recognized scientists. We offer 15 graduate programs. Create tomorrow’s discoveries today.

Our one-year graduate certificate programs enhance your diploma or degree with a blend of theoretical knowledge and work experience that fully prepare you to launch your career. Choose from more than 20 programs in the arts, business, technology and community service fields.

SCHOOL eez TUFF (Need some helpz!)

careers. education. ideas. all of it. | october 2011


To begin with, if you’re fresh out of school you

most likely, though not always, have student

debts to pay back. It was okay while you looked for

that perfect job and worked at Starbucks to just pay the minimum monthly payments, but let’s face it, if you’re even lucky enough to be me with

a debt slightly lower than the Canadian average student debt, you’re still going to be paying that thing off for 15 to 20 years!

Budget accordingly and talk to the people at your

student loan office, where you can negotiate a comfortable minimum payment that will shave

some serious years off your overall repayment timeline and also counteract a lot of the interest

What to do with all that money you’re making!

that you’d end up paying. I went one year where by paying the bare minimum, I only paid the interest accruing rather than slicing off any of my

actual debt. That hurts when you get that paper in the mail at tax time.

Next, if you ever want to get somewhere and hover out of the debt-pit; owning your own house, a

nice, new car, or take a great vacation once in a

while, you need to budget a monthly addition to your savings.

Let’s look at the current mortgage scenario in Canada: if you wanted to buy a house by acquiring a mortgage, under current federal mortgage

rules you would need to put down at least 15

percent of the total purchase price of the home. All other lending and repayment rules aside, that means you would need at least $30K to

even think about a $200k home, and if you’re

For many of you, this is the beginning. It’s where

like me and live in a major city like Toronto, the

you want to start, it’s the big plan, it’s where you

minimum price for a decent home (though that

forked off down that road to the career that you

may depend on your idea of decent) is $500k, or

think may sustain you for either the next ten years

a $75k down payment. Yikes.

or perhaps the rest of your working life. You landed

Put down what you can comfortably fit into your

your first gig, your foot in the door, and it may be

budget, and consider that you may also need to

the first real full-time permanent position you’ve

dip into that money from time to time for any

ever had. Before, you spent your hard-earned

health or other emergencies — but hey, at least if

money on food, drink, and housing or transporta-

you’re making the effort you’re on your way.

tion — suddenly you’re thrust into a world where the paycheques (though not necessarily huge) are

Of course, the more you put in the more you can

bigger than anything you’ve ever cashed before…

make, but as with the previous suggestions, fig-

now what are you going to do with all that dough?

started; most investment agencies allow you to

ment, big TV, nice computer, nice clothes — I even

body else when it could be going right back to me

only add a minimum between $25-50 a month

always worked so I could afford that stuff. I was

doing with all that extra cash I was suddenly pull-

of beer that could potentially earn you hundreds

term goals.

freedom, but that freedom includes a responsibil-

might also offer an RRSP incentive program that

ter Parker’s Uncle Ben was right when he told him,

small percentage each payday. Look into what

what are the responsible options?

are basically throwing away free money the com-

had a motorbike at one point, but then again, I

via a mortgage. And so I had to rethink what I was

— that’s one dinner out a month, or two pitchers

young, and had no responsibilities and no long-

ing in. Some say having more money means more

to thousands. If you’re lucky, your new employer

ity to yourself to do constructive things with it. Pe-

will match your contributions or give you a certain

“With great power comes great responsibility.” So

they offer because if you’re not taking part, you

Now, a few years later, I’m thinking about mar-

riage, which technically is starting a family, but I’ve also got student loans I’m tired of paying, and I’m really, really tired of paying monthly rent to some-

pany is willing to give you for being their bright, fresh new responsible face.

with Ross Harrhy


october 2011 |

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstockv

I’ve always been one for toys myself: stereo equip-

ure out what you’re willing to budget and get

8 launch ways to


Event Management Financial Planning Global Business Management Human Resources Management International Development International Marketing Marketing Management Public Administration

jobpostings Magazine (Vol. 14, Issue 2)  
jobpostings Magazine (Vol. 14, Issue 2)  

The October 2011 edition of Canada's largest career lifestyle magazine for students and recent grads. This issue's cover story outlines what...