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Jumping into the big, bad working world … with both feet

I am aiming to submit my thesis in a couple of months, and one of the things I never planned for was the big, bad job search – how much time job searching takes, the different methods to use, the different styles of application, etc. Between editing manuscripts and addressing reviewer comments, balancing a busy life outside of school, and continuing writing/analyzing my mountains of data, it is challenging to find the time to start, understand and succeed in the job hunt. I thought today might be a good opportunity to share some of the things I have learned or experienced thus far.

When I grow up…

I’m not sure who else might be in the same boat as me, but I don’t have a career plan exactly. I like doing lots of stuff, and I don’t have an end goal in mind. Some people want to end up as a tenured Professor, lecturing and doing research at a University. Others might want to infiltrate the world of private industry or perhaps start a business of their own. I honestly do NOT know what I want to be when I grow up. I know some of the things I do NOT want to be, but I don’t have a “dream job” in mind. The more I chatted with colleagues the more I realized that this is not an uncommon “problem”. I found that by chatting with friends and acquaintances I learned more about myself as an employee and some of the things I might be happy doing.

In fact, for those of you reading this, if you’re in the same boat as me, don’t stress about not having a complete picture of where you want to be. It offers you a lot more flexibility and it opens your eyes to the sheer number of possibilities out there.

Finding allllllll the jobs

So, with little clarity, I jumped right into the job search … with both feet. How did I start? First I had to find out what kinds of jobs were out there. I compiled a huge bookmarked list of both general job sites (KEYS, Indeed, etc.), and specific job sites (for example: external postings at Queen’s, and Ontario Public Service Careers, etc.). I also found the careers section for various businesses I knew I was interested in, and discovered more by doing general google searches.

Applying for alllllll the jobs

After I had some postings to work with, I started to go through them. The problem is, I am applying to a wide variety of jobs, and needed to tweak my resume big time for each of those jobs. Certain jobs needed to highlight my research experience, others needed to focus on my teaching, and others were reliant on my management experience. I knew that sending out mass resumes was not a good idea. So, I decided that I needed help.

Asking for help

I went ahead and booked an appointment with Career Services. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed to this first appointment. I had a resume in hand, that was, a mess to put it nicely. I have a big file called “All these things that I have done”, and basically tried to pack every single item from that list (which was 236 bullet points by the way) into a 2-page resume.

At Career services, they helped me focus in on how I could combine my experiences into important and relevant categories. For example, with respect to a teaching-related management position, instead of just WORK EXPERIENCE as a heading, they suggested MANAGEMENT & COORDINATION EXPERIENCE and then TEACHING EXPERIENCE. They also helped me to take job advertisements and tailor my resume based on the qualifications they listed in the advertisement. For example, if the job was focused on having a lot of teaching experience, and didn’t involve working post-secondary as a teacher, then things like publications and conferences attended, although still included, were no longer front and centre.  Overall, my first experience with Career Services was a huge success, as were all of the subsequent ones too!

Although I have just begun the job search, my hope is to keep you updated as time goes by, and include more important advice I have picked up along the journey! So stay tuned, folks!

Is anyone else out there currently jumping into the job search with both feet? Share your experiences in the comments!

Posted in Jobs and Careers, Student Perspective Tagged with: , , , ,
One comment on “Jumping into the big, bad working world … with both feet
  1. Colette says:

    Nice honest piece here Amanda. I think you hit the nail on the head, when you talked about not knowing what to do and your suggestions to get started were perfect. As you mentioned Queen’s Career Services is awesome and in case you don’t know you all still have access to their resources up to one year after graduating. A great resource for you all.

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