Student Success Centre

Career Wellness

 

You've come to Western with goals for a healthy and fulfilling life, and your career goals are a significant part of your planning. We hope through reviewing this website, you will find some questions which may be on your mind and some thoughts to consider.

How Do I Get A Job When I Don't Have Any Experience?

Many students know that they need practical experience in addition to their degree, but are concerned about access to opportunities due to lack of experience. It's the classic dilemma: "I need a job to gain experience, but I can't get a job without experience".

What you may not have considered is that ANY experience can count! You can include your volunteering, extracurricular activities, and entry level or service industry job experiences. What matters to employers is that you have developed professional skills that are relevant for the job, such as customer service and teamwork. Employers also want to hire people who are enthusiastic, motivated, eager to learn, dependable, hardworking, puntual, and a good team player. You can demonstrate these attributes with minimal experience!

Click here for a great commentary on getting a job without experience.

What can you do?

I Know I Should Network But It’s Too Uncomfortable!

Think about a time when you had to learn something new. At first, it was probably difficult, maybe a little awkward, and took a lot of practice to become good at it. Well, the same is true for networking!

You may have heard the popular saying "It's not what you know, but who you know". Although your accomplishments and skills matter, there is some truth in this saying as many employers rely on referrals from people they know when hiring. The key to becoming known to employers is through building connections and relationships (a.k.a. networking).

You may feel concerned that networking is "using" other people to get a job, or that professionals will not want to talk to you. You may want to think about what you can offer others when building connections, sometimes referred to as "Reverse Networking" (Click here for an article on "Why You're Thinking About Netowrking All Wrong"). What you will find is that people who enjoy their careers are often very excited to talk to others who share their interests.

What can you do?

Is A Graduate Degree Worth It?

Are you an undergraduate considering graduate school?

The decision to go to graduate school is a big one! Graduate school may add value to your undergraduate degree, and give you an opportunity for in-depth exploration, collaboration, and the intellectual satisfaction of discovering and acquiring new knowledge. You can become an expert in your field and contribute to important research and discoveries.

Most regulated professions such as lawyers, doctors and teachers require preparation which must occur in professional programs. Other occupations may require graduate education in order to enter management or decision-making roles within organizations. The University Works - 2015 Employment report states that Masters and PhD graduates have the lowest level of unemployment, have the most stable employment rates, have experienced the largest growth of employment since 2004, and have higher earnings. However, while a graduate degree may offer the potential of higher paid positions, there is no guarantee. (Click here for additional excerpts and information.)

See a Guide for Potential Graduate Students for helpful information on your decision to attend graduate school.

There may also be some not-so-good reasons to pursue graduate school. Maybe you're not sure what else to do? You want to avoid the job hunt? You are dissatisfied with your current employer?

What can you do?

Are you a graduate student wondering about the value of completing your program?

Does this sound like you? Perhpas the program is different than you expected. Your debts are mounting, and you're not sure about the value of the program to your future career. You've already been in school for many years, and you are feeling exhausted. Do some personal reflection to assess the reasons for your doubts. Your decision dilemma may be driven by a lack of understanding in the skill set you've gained, especially if you thought you were on an academic track and now you wonder if a career outside of academia would be more appropriate to your goals.

What can you do?

 

I’m An International Student. How Do I Prepare For Employment In Canada?

Coming to a new country can be exciting, but also disorienting and overwhelming. Adjusting to a new environment and culture comes with many difficulties. One of the challenges of being an international student is experiencing "culture shock". Even students who move to London from a different Canadian city or province may still experience culture shock.

What is culture shock? According to International Student Insurance, "Culture shock describes the anxiety that a person experiences when he or she moves from a familiar culture to an entirely new culture or social environment. It occurs when the language, gestures, customs, signs and symbols that you are used to and previously helped you to make sense of your surroundings suddenly have no meaning or have new meanings. Perhaps most upsetting is the loss of social support system (family, friends, classmates, coworkers), and the necessity of starting all over again in an unfamiliar environment."

Finding a job in Canada for international students is part of culture shock, and may be difficult and confusing. It can be different from how you found a job back home. Job seekers and employers in Canada rely heavily on networking, and if you are new to Canada, your network may be limitted. Maybe it is hard to promote yourself because English is not the language you are used to using. Understanding legislation and regulations for international students working in Canada can also be overwhelming and confusing. You are not alone!

Canadian employers and our Student Success Centre team recognize that international students can stand out from other job seekers because they can bring unique skills and experiences that are valued by many employers. Examples include: cross cultural experience, sensitivity to diversity, second language experience, proven skills in adjusting, and the ability to be adaptable.

What can you do?

I’ve Applied For Jobs With No Results. What Am I Doing Wrong?

Job searching can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience, especially if you have applied to many jobs or cannot find desirable job postings. The generally accepted statistic is that approximately 80% of jobs are never advertised (also known as the "hidden job market"), as employers prefer to hire candidates through referrals. This means that if you are focusing your job search to online applications, you are only accessing 20% of available jobs. The #1 way of securing employment is through the networking process, which includes contacting employers directly, going to career fairs and recruiter information sessions (events are posted on CareerCentral), and getting referrals/recommendations from friends, family, and other contacts.

What can you do?

  • Start connecting with the people who can help you land your next job. To do this you must determine what you want, who you want to work for, where you'd like to live, and what you can offer. Then, you will be ready to begin your job search!
  • Visit our website for more information on common job search problems.
  • Visit CompleteStudent.ca for helpful e-learning modules, including Job Search Skills.
  • The Student Success Centre's career counsellors can help you. 

Afraid To Make The Wrong Career Decision? Overwhelmed By Options?

Many students may feel that their degree or career choice is a "life sentence", making career decision making a very stressful experience. On the contrary, your career is constantly evolving! According to the Multiple Generations @ Work survey, 91% of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) will have 15-20 jobs over the course of their working life. This may sound like a scary number, but consider it as an opportunity to try new jobs, test and develop your interests, expand your network, and build new skills.

The world of work is constantly changing, and contract positions are becoming more common. The current economy has moved from job titles to skill sets, according to Barbara Cooke (Parents Guide to College and Careers, How to Help, Not Hover, 2010). Skill sets are transferrable skills which help you adapt to changing needs: problem solving, communication skills, the ability to research, critical thinking, etc.

What can you do?

  • Be ready for change by developing transferrable skills, knowing how to talk about your skills during interviews and in your employment documents, and know what you want.
  • If you feel overwhelmed by the number of career options to choose from, one way to get started is by talking to other professionals who do the work that you're interested in to help you make an informed decision. These conversations are called informational interviewing, and Ten Thousand Coffees is one helpful resource to help you find others to contact.
  • Visit CompleteStudent.ca for helpful e-learning modules, including Career Decision Making.
  • The Student Success Centre's career counsellors can help you.

I’m Afraid Of Looking Like A “Failure” If I Leave Academia

Although graduate studies can be a rewarding route for a variety of reasons, some graduate students (both Master and PhD) may be concerned about the low job prospects for academic careers. Another common concern is that others (e.g., supervisors, peers, family, friends, etc.) may perceive leaving academia as a "failure". This may cause feelings of distress for those graduate students wanting to transition out of academia, either during or after studies.

Whether you are newly graduated or have decided not to pursue an academic career, you may have a lack of knowledge or comfort with transitioning into the industry, especially if you have spent many years in the academic setting. (Click here for some information on where Canada's PhDs are employed.)

What can you do?

 

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Many students feel that their degree does not qualify them to gain employment following graduation. According to the University Works 2015 Employment report, university graduates have the lowest unemployment rates, highest employment rates, and the highest lifetime earnings in Ontario. University graduates have experienced the highest employment growth of any educational attainment group over the last decade. On average, graduates of Ontario universities earned 58% more than graduates from other Ontario postsecondary programs.

Another popular concern among students is that their degree is limiting to a specific industry or type of job. In actuality, the majority of employers are not as interested in your specific degree as they are your skills and experiences. A 2012 North American survey representing over 700 employers across all industries found that only 19% of employers look for specific majors and do not consider candidates without them, while the majority (78%) will consider any major. Extracurricular activities and experience, like professional clubs, athletics, volunteer service, internships, and employment during school are valued more than academic credentials (i.e., GPA, major). According to It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, 93% of employers say that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate's undergraduate major.

What can you do?

My Original Career Plan Didn’t Work Out, What Now?!

Some people come to university with a plan for what degree they want to complete, whether they want to pursue graduate or professional school, or have a set career goal. However, sometimes plans can change! This could be due to new or different interests, competitive programming, life circumstances, or a variety of other reasons. These changes may cause you to experience distress or may feel devastating, especially if you feel that "everyone else has it figured out".

It's ok to not know what you are going to do next! Katherine Schwarzenegger, author of I Just Graduated...Now What? says "PAUSE - and take the time to find out what's important to you. Find out what you love, what's real and true to you - so it can infuse and inform your work and make it your own".

Some students decide to complete a 5th year while in this transition. If you are wondering whether this would be a good option for you, consider the following:

  • Do you want to raise your GPA for professional/graduate school applications?
  • Do you want to explore other interests through electives?
  • Do you want to gain experiences or involvement in university programs that you have not had time for?
  • Do you want to complete a research project/thesis?

What can you do?

Never used Career Counselling before? Start with an "intake" appointment.
 

1. Intake Appointment:

  • A quick, 15 minute appointment, which serves as the prerequisite for accessing further career counselling services. Available to be booked online using CareerCentral, by phone 519-661-3559, or in person in UCC 210 on the day the appointment is being offered.

2. Need Help With Your Resume, Cover Letter, or CV? Looking To Update Your LinkedIN Profile?

  • Get into Western’s Employment Resource Centre (WERC), Room 210 UCC, and talk to a Career Profile Advisor today. No appointment needed! At WERC we are happy to provide you with constructive feedback (e.g. format, overall appearance, relevant content, etc.) on your documents, but please be aware that this is not an editing service.
  • Can't make it to an appointment? Simply email your resume, cover letter, and/or CV to werc@uwo.ca to get feedback. Please remember to include your name, Western User ID and a brief description of what you will be using these documents for (e.g. job title/description). 

3. What Does The Student Success Centre Offer?

  • Career Counselling
  • Career Workshops and Job Fairs
  • Recruiter Information Sessions
  • Information and Resources 
  • Group Career Counselling For International Students
  • Experiential Learning
  • Work Intergrated Learning
  • Transition and Leadership Development#careermonth
  • November is Career Month in Canada! Invest in your future by accessing out many career services, such as attending an event, or accessing career counselling. Look for the #careermonth hashtag on our social media for more great ideas, or check out this career development knowledge quiz.
  • Don't miss out - find out about upcoming events at success.uwo.ca/events and westerncareercentral.uwo.ca