By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele

The Student Success Centre and Graduate Studies have introduced new positions for 2019-2020 to support the academic, personal and professional success of international students.

“Enhancing the experience and academic success of our international students is a shared responsibility, which is why we are excited about creating a campus-wide support network around our students,” says Gina Robinson, assistant dean of Student Affairs and director of the Student Success Centre. “We want international students to know that we all care about their individual needs and are working together to get them to the right services on campus.”


Learn a little bit about the different roles and how they can support students:

International Undergraduate Students Program Coordinator

Ana Pereira has supported McMaster’s international students for eight years. In this role, she helps students adjust to their new lives at McMaster and in Canada through transitional services, personal development and the International Student Buddy Program.

“Being an immigrant myself, I understand many of the challenges facing students and love helping them feel comfortable in this new place they now call ‘home’,” Ana says.


International Graduate Students Program Coordinator

Francesca Hernandez joins the team in this role and will focus on establishing campus-wide partnerships that can support and contribute to the development and success of international graduate students.

“We want to ensure that the academic, social and cultural needs of international graduate students are met through new programming and engagement opportunities,” Francesca says.

“We also want to expand promotion of existing programs and services so that students and their families are aware of supports offered by McMaster and the broader community. We want them to enjoy a successful journey in their new country.”


Student Success Coach

In addition to programs and services, one-on-ones are also available. Andrew Staples, student success coach, will support both graduate and international students with their academic concerns, financial difficulties, transition, and navigation of university life. This position will support students on an individual basis and provide a more seamless support system.

Andrew shares, “We want to make sure students feel supported and welcomed during their time at McMaster, so we are encouraging students to ask questions and share any concerns they may be experiencing.”


Immigration and Mobility Advisor

Lajipe Sanwoolu, immigration and mobility advisor, can provide immigration consulting from both an inbound and outbound perspective, including international and domestic students who are interested in working in Canada or abroad.

“International students contribute greatly to our community,” says Lajipe. “It is important and beneficial that we continue to provide them with opportunities to contribute and develop themselves.”

International students provide an invaluable knowledge and perspective, both in and outside of the classroom. Lajipe’s role will support developing relationships between international students and employers, providing education about international hiring and dispelling hiring misconceptions.

Appointments with Andrew Staples and Lajipe Sanwoolu are bookable through OSCARplus.

For those interested in collaborating on initiatives to support international student success, email [email protected].


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By: Tanya Kett & Jillian Perkins Marsh

Some say that when they last attended a job fair employers told them to apply online, so they felt it was pointless to attend. If you have similar sentiments, I urge you to keep reading.

Employers may tell you to apply online (it does save paper!), but the real reason they are there is to get a sense of the person behind the resume that is submitted online — YOU.

Who are you? What do you have to offer? Why are you unique? Are you personable? Do you seem genuinely interested? What do you know about them? Answers to these questions can only be conveyed in an application to a certain extent. Make a real connection so that when your application does come across their desk, your name gets noticed.

How can you differentiate your application from other ones in the application pile?

Do your research. Explore the event website for the list of employers confirmed to attend and do some research on them before the event.

Tailor your elevator pitch. Make eye contact and shake their hand. Be bold, assertive, and with some confidence, introduce yourself. Tell them what you do or want to do, what you have to offer and why you are interested in them. Customize your pitch based on your research.

Ask useful questions. Based on your research, prepare some thoughtful questions to generate conversation after your introductions.

Be an active listener. Really listen to what they have to say; it is easy to start thinking ahead to what you will say next, but concentrate on being in the moment. After the conversation is over, jot down any suggestions they had for applicants before you forget.

Be ready to dig deeper. If you encounter an organization of interest that is not hiring in the area you are interested in, don’t despair. Remember that organizations recruit for many diverse roles and hiring timelines are often not predictable.

Invite to connect on LinkedIn. Visit your new contact’s profile and send your request from there, so you have an option to ‘Add a Note.’ Reference something from your conversation when you invite them to connect and thank them for their time in speaking with you at the event.

After you attend the event and employ the tactics above, you are ready to submit that online application. Don’t forget to mention the contact you spoke with at the Career Fair or Company Recruitment Event. Incorporate their suggestions and offer something you learned from them in your cover letter as part of why you are interested in applying.

Now imagine you did none of the above, just attended, had a few conversations and just applied online. Which application would you be most interested in?


Use what you’ve learned in this article at our SCENE networking night on March 21. This event is open to McMaster alumni and students in their final year. Register here: under Event Listings.


Read the full article on our Medium page.


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By Janice Phonepraseuth

OSCARplus, McMaster’s online career portal, has a "No-Show Policy" that is effective when students who have signed up for an event fail to show up and fail to cancel their registration. It seems, however, that students don’t know about it.

The policy states that after the first and second "no-shows," students will receive a warning email from the campus office. After the third "no-show," students will receive an email with a contact for the career centre. The student then has to explain why they didn't attend the events.

If there is no justification given for why the student has missed the event, the student will be barred from signing up for any more events for the remainder of the academic year. They will be able to register for events again in September of the following academic year.

When entering the event, students are asked to present their student ID cards, which will provide information that is used to track the student’s attendance.

Although the policy was implemented in 2007, many students do not know about it. The Student Accountability Policy is not stated on the OSCARplus website itself, but is found through a link under "Student Resources."

It was created by a student accountability committee, and is supported by career and co-op related offices in the faculties of business, engineering, social sciences, and science.

Students, upper-year and first-year, were surprised to hear about this policy and thought it should be clarified.

Souzan Mirza, a first year student, said, "I didn't even know about the policy until I got the first email. When I tried to find it, I didn't find it through legitimate routes, I found it through the MacInsiders website which isn't run by the school but the students."

"I don't condone it; I think there should be more than 3 strikes before you're out. People may want to sign up for many things and things happen and they can't make it,” said Lindsay Ceschia, a second year Honours Social Psychology student. “They should put something visible that everyone can see right when they are signing up,"

Gisela Oliveira, Employment Services Coordinator at McMaster's Student Success Centre, explained why the policy was established.

"We were having a lot of trouble with attendance for these events. Companies were coming on campus with a specific number of guests in mind, when only half of that amount showed up," she said.

"The issue here is kind of bi-fold: first is missed opportunities for students, and second is the school's relationship with the employers."

By following this procedure, students get their opportunity to participate in these events, and the school's relationship with the employer is unharmed.

"I thought it was a bit much that it's for the whole year, but I guess it makes sense because they don't want people registering for the events and not showing up," said Mirza.

One fourth-year honours political science and religious studies student agreed. “I understand the reasoning behind the switch,” he said, “but the fact that they’re limiting student opportunities for success is a little discouraging.”

The policy was set up to ensure students who signed up for these events showed up. If they cannot attend, students must cancel their registration online by 11:55pm the night before the event on OSCARplus, or by 9 a.m. on the day of the event, by phone or in-person. Students who fail to do so are marked as a "no-show."

Oliveira noted that there are exceptions for students who become ill shortly before the event takes place.

"So when we send you the ‘no-show’ email, you contact us and explain to us that you were ill, and the ‘no-show’ is removed. There are exceptions," said Oliveira.

“It was implemented…to teach accountability to students and also to keep the relationships we have with employers,” she explained. But it remains to be seen whether the students need to learn to be accountable, or whether the system could be more accountable to student needs.


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