by Meredith Dault
July 28, 2010
Whether you're on the cusp of an adventure in post-graduate work, or itching to put the books behind you for awhile, Career Services can help. "We'll take you when you're ready," says career counsellor Jane Good, adding with a smile that "sooner than later is generally better." Because even if (thanks to your academic cocoon) finding a means to bring home the bacon is low on your to-do list just at the moment, that isn't always going to be the case. Arming yourself will skills now will help you keep the what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life fears in check come graduation day.
The well-appointed Career Services office on the third floor of Gordon Hall is chock-full of people eager to help you draw up a great CV or practice your interview skills, and they're also keen to help with some of the more fundamental questions that come up when you start navigating the ‘real world'.
"One of the biggest challenges that grad students face is the question of ‘how do I engage others in conversations to explain myself and what I do?" says Good. "It's a question that gives everyone pause! What you find here are ways to try and answer that question so that you can make a match with work opportunities that are out there."
Good, who has worked as a career counsellor for 14 years, says that although graduate students tend to be curious and good at analyzing data, they aren't always comfortable turning the lens on themselves. "What we help you do is take a look at yourself," she says, "and then be able to describe the connection between you and where you're headed to open up new opportunities."
It's all part of knowing how to find meaningful work. "I have huge confidence in the ability of graduate students to make their way once they understand that all they skills they develop in their studies are the ones they will apply to their career search," says Good. She cites a recent CBC documentary on the ‘currency of ideas' as an example of how today's economic climate is ready for the kind of broad, inventive thinking that is par for the course for a graduate student. "This is an economy that depends on knowledge, innovation, and creativity," she explains. "And who better to take their work in pathophysiology or social statistics and apply it in organizations that are wrestling with questions that demand the rigours of academic insight?"
Good, who has done many things from secondary school teaching to working in publishing and staying home to raise a family, says it's important to realize that career paths can be meandering - but that doesn't need to be daunting. "I always think that you won't know what your career path is until it's done," she says reassuringly, "and even then, it will look like a big connect-the-dots rather than any single line."
Ultimately, says Good, what Career Services can do for graduate students is to "get them comfortable with not knowing, but confident in taking steps to move on," whether it's the question of what happens next, or whether the path you're running (or creeping) along is the right one for you. And whether you peruse publications on site or borrow something to read at home (with shelves stocked with books and magazines on everything from job-seeking, and various companies and organizations, to guides to different types of work, personality types, interview techniques and resume-writing) you're guaranteed to find something of interest. As well, you can check out the new website, meet with a career counsellor or take an Expanding Horizons workshop. Career Services is here to ease your transition to the working world. "We're a little bit of a rubber bumper," laughs Good. "Students can come here and realize ‘I can do this,' and then away they go! It's about encouraging them to go their own way, in their own time."