Tag Archives: new grad

My biggest weakness

I haven’t updated my blog in awhile because I’ve been quite busy but I hope to get into a better routine and update it more frequently.

Lots of things have happened recently. I graduated from McGill, with Honours. I got a great summer internship at The McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (which ends next week), I am almost finished a summer writing course at Concordia which I took to improve my writing skills and I got offered a full-time job in September.

But the thing on my mind today is group coupons, my biggest weakness. Since this phenomenon began just a few months ago, I have been addicted! I’ve bought manicure and pedicure deals, massage treatments, hair styling and even food. I keep on thinking I am getting an amazing deal, and usually I am, but it’s only a good deal if you actually would buy that item full price anyways. If you wouldn’t, then it’s just money wasted.

As I start moving on with my life after graduation, I hope to start managing a budget and tracking my expenses. I never really did that in university and instead just trusted myself to know how much I am spending and not waste money on superfluous things. Now that I’m “all grown up,” I want to keep a detailed account of what I do with my money so I can start saving for my future. My major obstacle will be these impulsive group coupon deals!

If that’s my biggest problem in life, I’ll count myself lucky. For now, I’m off to redeem one of my deals.


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.

Perspectives: Making the Most of McGill’s offerings

If I took a survey of first-year students, I imagine that most of them don’t use more than one or two services offered by McGill. I know I haven’t. In my first year of university, I was completely unaware of the many things I could do at McGill—it took me a year to discover the school paper (and another year to discover that there was more than one), two years to discover McGill’s career services (CaPS) and three years to discover the McGill gym. I knew the gym existed and that I paid $120.50 a semester in Athletic fees. But I believed that walking around campus and up the mountain to my residence was exercise enough.

Many soon-to-be graduates will tell you that as graduation looms closer, a sudden desire develops (coupled with a panicky feeling that the end is coming) to try everything McGill has to offer. Recently I’ve tried to soothe the anxiety that I will never again be a student, will never take another McGill class, and will never again walk the halls of Leacock, by making the most of the services I haven’t yet used at McGill. And so, after overcoming the protests of my out-of-shape body, I bought a gym membership and trudged up Pine Avenue to visit the McGill Fitness Centre.

I’ll admit that I’ve never really been to a gym. I’ve been blessed with good genes, and even though I love eating Oreos and Pillsbury cookies, my body hasn’t put on all the weight it should have. But when I run from class on Peel to my next one in Trottier, my heart is beating rapidly and I’m short of breath.

My desire to try the McGill gym might also have something to do with the course I’m taking called “World of Chemistry: Food” where, behind the details on which vitamins to take, and which food to avoid, the underlying conclusion is that we need to eat less and exercise more.

Visiting the McGill gym is both scary and exciting. At first, I had no idea where to go and couldn’t ask anyone for directions because I didn’t want anyone to guess that I wasn’t a real gym enthusiast. So, despite the wrong turns that led me to a locked stairwell where the only entrance led to the snowy outdoors, after walking around the gym back to the front entrance, I found the fitness centre, hopped on a treadmill, and started my workout.

You don’t need the details of my first workout. But I will tell you that I can now check another item off my do-before-I-graduate list.

It’s hard to believe that in first year, I didn’t even know where the gym was or that McGill offers activities other than academics. Did you know that there are clubs for virtually everything? There are even clubs catering to people who just want free food or people interested in playing imaginary games that only exist in Harry Potter books. If there’s one thing McGill and the Students’ Society should devote more time and money to, it’s promoting the many programs they offer that students may not already know about. Maybe they covered it in orientation week, but shockingly enough, students don’t remember everything they learn in orientation—I know I don’t. McGill students: get to know your school. You’ll save yourself much anxiety later on and when graduation comes, you’ll know that you got the most out of your university experience.


Perspectives: Drop the laptop!

The beginning of a new semester is typically similar to the beginning of semesters past. But this semester is particularly different for me, not only because it’s my last semester at McGill, but also because it’s the first semester at the beginning of which I have resolved to only take handwritten notes in class.

After three and a half years taking notes with my laptop, listening to the pounding sounds of the laptop keys, I decided that I would try something new. Little did I know how much I would actually learn.

I don’t mean to criticize those who take notes on the laptop—or to tell you how annoying it is. But I’ve started to avoid sitting next to anyone who brings a computer to class because it’s hard to concentrate while someone’s loudly typing every single word the professor says. (Seriously, when professors tell anecdotes, there is no reason to write it down verbatim. You also don’t need to write the same concept five times, just because the professor repeated it five times). Concentration becomes even more difficult when someone is browsing Facebook or playing Tetris right beside me.

Taking notes by hand is indeed more difficult. When I initially tried to write down the majority of the important points my professors were saying, I usually wrote too slowly and missed key information, while my laptop-using peers got down every word. But the point of going to class is not to have every word memorized; it’s to understand the material. This semester, I’ve been slowly training myself to think about the concepts the professor mentions and then take notes—rather than just writing down everything he says and trying to understand it later.

One of my professors has recognized that students who take notes on their computer are often multitasking, instead of solely paying attention to the lecture, and are therefore disrupting their peers. She banned laptops in her classroom, claiming that grades were significantly higher in courses where students didn’t use their laptops.

In a 2008 study, a professor from Minnesota found that the more students used their laptops in class, the lower their class performance was, the less attention they paid to lectures, and the less they understood the material. These findings go against older ideas which suggested that technology in the classroom actually assisted student learning. So what happened? Has technology failed students?

I don’t think so. Rather, we’ve failed ourselves. Instead of using technology to be more efficient, to take notes more quickly or to enhance our learning, we use it to check our email when the professor is answering a student’s question that isn’t important to us. And our insecurities, which make us feel like we’re getting smarter only if we do have every word down, don’t help either. I understand this insecurity, because I used to think that way as well. It’s much harder to trust that you’ll write down what is actually necessary—and that’s not every word that comes out of the professor’s mouth. It requires trusting your own judgment and knowledge.

Becoming a non-laptop user in the classroom isn’t an easy path to take. However, I wish I’d made the change earlier. I would have spent more time listening and learning, instead of just typing, and would have appreciated my classes that much more.

This was published in the McGill Tribune as part of my bi-weekly column, Perspectives.