When I was in the second year of my master study, it was also my second year in Canada. During this time, I had realized that my lack of Canadian work experience would negatively impact my future job hunting (the awareness, certainly, owed to an early career planning). As a result, my central task in the final year at Queen’s, was to try to get myself involve in some student organization works, community volunteering and internships.
My first job interview at Queen’s was at SGPS. I was applying to be a coordinator at the Equity Commission. With previous experience of working as a language tutor in China, I thought my interview experience was enough to tackle with this new job opportunity. However, it turned out (just like the turning point of many stories) as a total failure because my casual and scarce interview experience was so insufficient to “dress” the structure of a Western interview, and thus was unable to hand in some beautiful and professional answers.
I decided to take more interviews as practices to refine the skills. At this time, I also discovered that Career Services at Queen’s and Keys Job Center at Kingston are very helpful resources in terms of improving resume & cover letter writing skills, interview skills as well as networking skills. I made some resume review appointments and got advices on how I could best showcase my related skills and experience to the recruiter, which would pave a way to an interview; I attended several workshops (offered around academic years, sign up in MyCareer to see what is new in this week!) to understand the expectation of employers and extensive writing/talking strategies to hunt their hearts; I also registered with an employment consultant at Keys (given the appointment number is limited at Career Services per semester) who I could talk with and get feedback in a timely manner. Moreover, Keys also offers drop-in resume & cover letter advising hours (for up-to-date details, call 613.546.5559 or visit their downtown location at 182 Sydenham Street, Kingston, ON, K7K 3M2).
I did not succeed in getting a job immediately after these awesome career educations. Still in subsequent attempts, I did not survive in those interviews. After the 7th interview, I walked out of the door of the building and wondered about the next step, and told myself again: I need to learn more, practice more and become more competitive. This kind of positive attitude pushed me until I finally obtained a tiny, tiny progress at my 8th application: a volunteering job in the AMS Food Bank.
From an international graduate’s perspective, it is so important (and yet so difficult) to obtain the first and later more Canadian work experience in order to finally land a dream job. While it is sad that your unique skills and personalities might not be pretty much appreciated in a generic labor market, it never harms to do your career planning as early as you can.
Sharing the excitement in the air of fall graduation season, I sincerely wish all the recent graduates go well with their job searching.