Category Archives: Education

My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Although I often make goals for myself, I have never really made a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I guess once it’s written down, it creates more pressure for you to actually follow through – and makes you feel guilty when you don’t! This year, I want to be as pro-active as possible, so I have been thinking a lot about the most important things I wish to accomplish.

Instead of just calling them resolutions, I prefer to call them goals. There’s a stigma attached to the word resolutions, as if it’s just something we make in the new year hype and never follow through. The word “goal” is more concrete and will hopefully help me stick to them for the entire year.

2012 Goals 

1. Learn how to sew: I have wanted to do this for a while but have always said I don’t have the time or energy to try. I’m starting 2012 off to a good start by signing up for an introductory sewing class at The Sewing Studio in Toronto. It starts next week!

2. Read at least 2 books a week: As a student, I was often reading long essays, papers or textbooks daily. Now that I’m a graduate, it’s easy to work all day and spend your evenings with friends and family or watching TV. One of my goals this year is to use some of that free time to read books (and pursue more freelance writing opportunities). I’m trying to go to the Library at least once a week to take out a few books and especially 7-day rental ones to encourage me to read them in a timely manner.

3. Pitch at least one story a week to a newspaper or magazine: This was something I started at the end of last year and I want to continue doing this year. In particular, I want to have at least one story accepted by a publication I have never written for before.

4. Blog once a week: I initially started blogging as a way to keep track of my writing and create an online portfolio, but it is also a great way to meet interesting people and share your thoughts with the online community.

5. Take another writing course: This summer, I took a news and feature writing course at Concordia University and I want to take another one in Toronto. Unfortunately, they are more than double the price here! The skills you learn are really valuable though, so I’ll probably fork over the cash.

6. Work out at least 3 times a week. This summer, I was really good at working out – it was much easier when I lived a two minute walk to the McGill Gym and was able to go on my way to work. Luckily, I have a treadmill in my house so I have been trying to work out at home at least 3 times a week and attend one fitness class once a week (my favourite is Zumba!).

Those are my top 6 goals so far, and I’m glad that I’m already making progress on half of them. In a few months, I hope to add to the list!

Check out the Canadian University Report in The Globe and Mail today!

For the past few months, the team at TalentEgg have been working hard to produce content for The Globe and Mail’s Canadian University Report. My colleagues and I put together the section entitled “Working Knowledge” (page 35 onward), a career-focused look at the relationship between undergraduate education and post-graduation employment.

I’m really excited to be part of this for the third year in a row. In 2009, I contributed to the section entitled “What I Wish I’d Known as a First-Year Student” and last year I also helped TalentEgg with the “Working Knowledge” section. Check it out here or pick up a copy of The Globe and Mail today: the CUR magazine is included inside!

Changing the face of Gen Y Employment

If you’re like most students today, you know that finding a job is difficult. The hardest part may be finding out what employers want, how they make the decisions they make and why they act the way they do.

When I began my job search earlier this year, I was immediately frustrated with the process. It seems like I was putting in tons of effort, time and money to make my applications perfect and not only was I not getting many calls for interviews, I usually wasn’t even given a standard email confirming employers actually received my application.

This job process is tough – so why not change it? That’s the idea behind TalentEgg‘s new project, Student Voice. It’s a program designed to help fight Gen Y under-employment by letting employers hear what students actually care about. Annoyed that most internships are unpaid? Want some application feedback? Think you deserve an interview and don’t know how to get it? Express yourself at http://talentegg.ca/studentvoice/shareyourstory/ and tell employers how you actually feel because they want to know! It’s in their best interest to hear from students and graduates who have experiences to share. If we all put our voices together, we’ll help change the way employers hire their employees and change the face of Gen Y employment.

Read my story by clicking here and then share yours today.

The Harsh Reality of Competing for Unpaid Internships

One topic that interests most students is the dilemmas of unpaid internships. Read my article below, posted on TalentEgg.ca, for the scoop.

Competing for a job is never easy when you’re stacked against other successful candidates with the same education, skills and experience—and it’s even harder when those other applicants are willing to work for free.

Employers and students are calling internships the new entry-level job. In difficult economic times and tough sectors, employers are laying off workers and replacing them with unpaid, or low paid, interns.

Although it’s controversial among employers, students and their parents, internships are common and expected for university students and graduates who bulk up their resumés and get their name known in their industry of choice.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many companies began hiring interns to save on labour costs. It was a phenomenon that was popular in fashion, entertainment and creative industries, where getting a job out of university was near impossible and stellar networking could land an intern a full-time job.

Nowadays, from accounting to marketing, communications to engineering, employers are hiring and students are applying, for unpaid internships.

The idea of an unpaid internship is shocking to some parents. I grew up in a family that values hard work. It didn’t matter what type of work I did, as long as it was honest. The idea of working for free, even in exchange for enhancing my resumé, was not understood.

Students across the country have long expressed frustrated views on this issue. Unpaid internships are seen asexploitative, elitist and beneficial only for wealthy kids who can afford to pay expenses while doing unpaid work.

Others see it as necessary for advancing a career and a worthwhile opportunity to break into a field while having a meaningful experience.

Marisa Baratta, a former intern at Sweetspot.ca and 29secrets.com, studied book and magazine publishing and was recently hired by Sweetspot.ca.

She completed her fourth full-time unpaid internship this summer and she says each one has been a great experieence. “All my internships allowed me to learn things about the magazine industry that I could not have learned in university, and I was able to experience what I had learned in school in a real work setting.”

Baratta finances her internships with her savings—she’s had summer jobs since Grade 11.

Searching for a summer internship or a full time position as a graduate is not easy. I began looking for positions that interested me way back in January. I applied for 18 paid and unpaid internships, interviewed with six organizations and was offered three positions for me to choose from.

The process was exhausting but it paid off.

One organization accepted me into its internship program but was located in Washington, D.C. It was an unpaid position and there were no funds for any living expenses.

Even though it was a great organization and it might have introduced me to wonderful people in my field, I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars to work for free to myself or to my parents.

I turned it down even though I had no other job prospects at the time. Luckily, other positions pulled through, but that’s not always a chance most students are willing to take.

Cara Eng, a communications intern at CTV, was required to complete internships to graduate. Although most of the coveted intern spots were unpaid, she says it’s still possible for students to find relevant, paid experience. “It isn’t impossible. I think it’s about looking in the right places, and knowing how to do that is what they don’t teach in school.”

She stresses that internships are a way for you to get you noticed in a fast-paced field. “You really have to prove your abilities and skills before you’re given meaningful tasks. Even if your internship isn’t exactly what you hoped for, students have to realize their networking may land them a job in the future,” she says.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 21.7% of summer 2009 graduates who were in employment six months later had been taken on by an employer with which they had previously completed some kind of work experience.

At the end of the day, students have to do what’s best for them. If you can afford the time and money to complete an unpaid internship, the experience is usually worthwhile. You can even ask employers to cover some expenses, like transportation.

If you can’t afford to take on an unpaid position, there are still paid opportunities out there. They require more time and energy to search and apply for these jobs.

Start early, brush up your resumé and you might be able to avoid competing for an unpaid internship.

Studying abroad can benefit your education, your career and most importantly – yourself.

This article was published in The Canadian Jewish News. and posted on TalentEgg’s online magazine, The Career Incubator.

When I decided to study abroad last year, I knew that the decision would open new doors for me, academically and personally. But I never really imagined the impact it might have on my life.

As a third year student at the University of McGill, I knew that although I loved Montreal and the educational institute I was in, I needed a change. I felt that to truly benefit my education, it would be in my own best interest to take time to learn things from a different perspective – a new perspective.

As a political science student, I focused on international relations and my search for an exciting place to study led me to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. With a fantastic reputation and great incentives, I completed the long application form with just a couple months to spare before the term began. In early December, I received my acceptance letter, booked a flight to Israel, and left for a new experience.

Studying abroad is a new phenomenon among university students. A Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) study indicated that “91% of employers (interviewed) identified the importance of cultural and other benefits (from study abroad).” Learning a new language, living in a different culture, becoming more independent and self-sufficient are only a few of the skills students learn, and bring back, to their home university.

Abby Plener, an English Literature major at McGill University, spent a semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. “My semester abroad taught me a lot – probably more than I will ever realize or could even begin to process now,” she said. Employers and academics are remarking the importance of studying abroad in allowing students to have a well-rounded education.

Thevi Pather, Associate Director at Camosun College, said “After 15 years of work in International Education, it never ceases to amaze me when I see the profound changes that occur in a student after their return from a study abroad experience. Many leave our shores with nervous excitement, but very visible fear of the unknown. Most students return brimming with confidence, and ready to tackle the next big challenge in their young lives.”

Researchers are now even attributing an improved academic performance after students return to their home campus from studying abroad according to an in-depth analysis on study abroad headed by the Georgia Learning Outcome of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI).

Eden Sagman, a McGill graduate who now works in the high-tech industry in Israel, where she spent a year studying abroad in 2008, said her program has helped her break into the business she always dreamed of working in. “Studying abroad enhanced my education. It opened my eyes to other perspectives about controversial issues,” she said. Learning about new cultures is key to a flourishing economy, which needs new ideas to breed entrepreneurship and start-up companies.

Although studying abroad has been seen as beneficial, it can be difficult to arrange. Picking a school, approving courses, planning a budget and often enduring a longer semester are all part of the difficulties of studying abroad. You can look forward to meeting with ten professors just to get one course approved, and once you return, you have to ensure all your information is received in a timely fashion. However, don’t let this bureaucracy hold you back. Studying abroad helped me realize so much about myself that I never would have discovered. I learned to be independent in a foreign country, navigate across cities and met incredible people along the way. And I know next semester, my education will have benefited because of it.

“While at UCT, I often got the question, ‘Why are you studying here? The universities are so much better in North America.’ In general, studying abroad made me reflect a lot on the degree to which Western countries have a monopoly over education – defining the standards of what is “good” education, how the university system should work, what we value in or educational institutions, and even the texts and authors we focus on,” Plener said.

There are so many other viewpoints out there – and studying abroad makes us question everything we’re learning, and helps us become better people. We learn to always strive to demand the best out of educations and ourselves.