Take advantage of career services at the U of M

As a graduate student in my final year of an MA degree, the question of what I’m going to do after I graduate arises with increasing frequency. I figured it prudent, both for my own benefit and for that of other graduate students, to explore the career services available to students here at the University of Manitoba. Such was the impetus for my recent discussion with Elizabeth Boyle, Lindsey Hiebert, and Lynda Peto, advisors with the Student Counselling and Career Centre, located at 474 University Centre.

I arrived early to my meeting and used that opportunity to look around the career services centre. Amidst the public use computers and comfy chairs, they had an extensive career library with books on job searching and networking, interview preparation, resume and cover letter preparation, and a variety of books on careers specific to the various degrees offered at the U of M. In addition, they had an area devoted to answering the question “What can I do with a degree in…?” and binders for specific areas of specialization.

Once 3 p.m. rolled around, I met up with the advisors, turned on my tape recorder, and enjoyed a 45 minute interview/discussion I wish had participated in when I first started my degree. I learned both about the extensive online resources available through the career services website as well as the benefit that an in-person meeting with a career or employment counselor can have.

Through an assessment of your education and extra-curricular background, they can offer you career paths that will use your specific background. In my case, a background with degrees in both philosophy and experimental psychology opened up career options in a field I hadn’t thought of before, that of “market research analyst.” If I were to pursue this career further, another great benefit of the career services department is their mentor program. The mentor program service is a very savvy way of looking for work and building a professional network. The advisors at career services can help you prepare for your meeting with a mentor and also make the initial contact, setting up a face-to-face meeting with a professional in your desired field.

Another one of the many functions of the career services department is in helping students find a career that they will enjoy based on their interests, values, personality preferences, skills/aptitudes, dreams, experiences, and life influences. They have tools such as the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which are tools used to assess your personality, preferences, and the types of careers that may be right for you.

One of the many important points I gleaned from my discussion with the advisors is that more education does not always mean more opportunities. A key factor in finding gainful employment is to be mindful of the needs of the employer. This is where the time spent outside of courses can make a big difference. Thus, to get the most out of your degree, it is important to self-reflect early on as to why you chose the degree you did. Ask yourself questions like:

“Which career am I interested in and are there specific employers I would like to work for?”

“Are there any skills or experience that can be gained through work and volunteering that will affect my marketability and help me get the most out of my time at the U of M?”

Although it is certainly possible to get a lot of help through the career services website and the webshops, workbooks and workshops detailed in the sidebar, I learned firsthand that there is immense value to talking in person with a career or employment counselor. They can help with the initial decision making process and steer you in the right direction for a career that best meets your preferences and needs, but they can also give you a push to take a chance and encourage you with the decisions that you do make.

The career and employment advisors at the U of M are here to help you to achieve your goals and I encourage you to make use of this amazing free resource we have available.

Career and employment advisors at the U of M are offer free, in person or online workshops in the areas of career planning, resume writing, CV writing, job searching, interview preparation, and career fair success. Pre-registration is necessary for these workshops, as space is limited. Resources are available online at umanitoba.ca/student/careerservices/.

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