With thousands of students across Canada graduating this week and facing the next step in their lives, current students are likely looking on in anticipation. Job hunting and starting a career are exciting prospects to students, but you can do more than simply wait until graduation. Using your time wisely during your studies is key to getting a head-start upon graduation and landing your dream job. Read on to learn more about how to prepare in advance and make yourself noticeable to employers upon graduation.
While there’s something to be said for maintaining an excellent GPA, graduating with honours and keeping a strong focus on coursework, it is essential to diversify your target objectives and skills in order to be an attractive candidate post-graduation.
Many institutions support exchange and mobility programs that allow students to study at another institution for a set period of time. The benefits of this are twofold: students can use this opportunity to place themselves in not one, but two markets, which helps to expand horizons but also contact lists. Furthermore, many employers see a focus on international study as an indicator of a prospective employee who is flexible, adaptable, and culturally literate. These are increasingly attractive qualities as industry and the workforce becomes more globalised and interconnected.
Internships and Co-op Credits
When researching post-secondary schools, one key area to explore is internships and co-op placements. This direct industry experience helps to build skills, deepen knowledge and provide a broadened network of contacts. Work opportunities during your study program are often the best way to get a fast track into the Canadian job market, as you acquire Canadian experience and contacts. Moreover, by researching these opportunities you can learn more about a prospective institution’s career services, and what employment opportunities exist in your field after graduation.
Those who get involved with all aspects of life at college or university will get the most out of their experience studying in Canada. Take the time to socialize after class, start conversations in the hall, ask questions, listen and observe, actively participate in discussions and critiques, connect with faculty and staff, join clubs and organizations (and if the club you want doesn’t exist, start it!). Get to know your city and the people who are doing exciting things around town. Take advantage of every opportunity open to you — not only will you learn more, you’ll also have a lot more fun.
Seek Out Mentors
Whether it’s a faculty member or a professional who is excelling in your dream job, it always pays off to reach out to people who may be willing to provide their insight into a particular industry. After all, there was a point not long ago when they were likely in a similar position.
If the thought of reaching out to an established professional seems daunting, it’s good to keep in mind that if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Besides, the benefits of establishing a connection may far outweigh any perceived risks. Mentors can provide support, resources, and further connections that may lead not only to a job, but also to your own deeper understanding and knowledge of your field.
A primary approach to finding a mentor is to reach out through your network to find a personal connection. If you plan to cold call or introduce yourself to someone that you have no connection to, keep in mind that you want to be respectful of his or her time. Keep your email or call short, organized and direct. Be clear about the information that you are looking for, and avoid asking directly for a job (your first contact with a potential mentor is neither the time nor the place for this).
If you are able to connect in person or over the phone, it is a good idea to follow up your meeting with an email or note thanking your mentor for his or her time.
Maintain that Work-Study-Life Balance
As with post-secondary recruiters and admissions staff, employers are generally looking for candidates who are well-rounded, who show initiative, are innovative problem-solvers, and who are flexible and positive while working collaboratively in a team environment. Grades are important, but the post-graduation job market can be a competitive environment where soft skills can make all the difference. Students who prepare themselves throughout their study program with work experience, industry connections, and extra-curricular activities are more likely to stand out to employers when beginning the job search.
Most importantly, remember that your time at college or university is to be enjoyed. You are pursuing your passion, surrounded by highly educated and motivated instructors and peers, with many opportunities open to you to try new activities and discover your path.
International students and post-graduate workers in Canada can join the CanadaVisa Study Hub for a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Members also get access to exclusive notifications, tools and resources to help maximize their time in Canada and pursue a pathway to permanent residence.
If you want to discover your options for studying in Canada, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
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