Photos by Catherine Goce

This time last year, I was contemplating what my future in the sports industry would look like. I had just wrapped up my first year as the Silhouette’s sports reporter and though I gained a ton of valuable skills and experiences, I was really unsure if I wanted to continue as a sports writer.

Though despite my doubts, I saw the doors that opened for me through this job and I decided to give it another shot in my final year.

I took on this role because I knew that if I wanted to find a job in the sports industry, everything that I did outside the classroom would matter the most. Being a multimedia and communications student at McMaster has taught me a lot of the skills I need, but the practical aspects of the sports industry one can get at programs at Ryerson University or Brock University are not offered here.

So along with writing for The Silhouette I took on four major sports-related extracurriculars. From running women’s football on campus, to helping the men’s basketball team figure out their social media presence, I tried to get as much experience as I could.

This, along with my previous internship experience, allowed me to figure out what exactly I had a passion for. I knew that I could write, I had two articles every week for the last two years to prove it, but I also knew that it was not something I was passionate enough about.

Running women’s football gave me a chance to work out my organizational and operational skills. A major part of the sports industry is game operations. Although it is a bit different to what I am used to as a comms and media student, I have always had an interest in planning and carrying out projects.

This role had me overseeing over 150 students, both student-coaches and players, and organizing tournaments; it was no easy task. In my frustration I quickly came to realize although I once had an interest in sports operation, it was not something I envisioned myself doing long-term.

It was not until I was working with the McMaster men’s basketball team creating creative content that I discovered what I was truly passionate about. It combined the media skills I learned in class, my personal interests and my sports media knowledge.

Giving a team who struggled on the court an online presence that did not just reflect their losses was a fun challenge. We immediately saw the positive feedback in an increase in followers and activity.

Now that I figured out my passion, it all began to seem so simple. Apply to social media positions for different sport teams in organizations? I can do that no problem. Although it was not enough.

Part of looking for a job, especially in the sports industry, is through networking. This is something I have always struggled with, so it was something I challenged myself to do this year. I first met with Camille Wallace, digital media specialist for Team Canada, who reminded me how my job as sports reporter already helps me to build these networks.

As I had started the year before, I continued to interview alumni who work in the sports industry and found a mentor in Vanessa Matyas, Marketing and Media Manager at NFL Canada.

NFL Canada’s Marketing & Media Manager Vanessa Matyas on her journey from McMaster to her dream job, and how hard work and perseverance led her there. https://t.co/TiBu0xd8kq pic.twitter.com/Ln8gt6wVRd

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) March 11, 2019

 

Through her advice and help, I have been able to fix up the resume I used to see no flaws in, and even land myself my first dream job interview. Unfortunately for me, due to still being in school, I was unable to move forward in the interview process.

But with positive interview feedback under my belt, I am now ready to take on the job search by storm. I know it will not be easy, but I have been, and I am ready to work hard and use what I learned while at Mac in and out the classroom.

When I look back at the beginning of my journey four years ago, I never would have thought that I would be here today. Although I do not have it all completely figured out, leaving Mac with a sense of what my purpose is something I am grateful for.

As senior year comes to an end, I am extremely grateful that despite my doubts, I gave writing with the Sil another chance. Even though there were many times I felt like I was in over my head, I could not have imagined my senior year any other way.

 

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By: Jenna Tziatis, Marketing Assistant, McMaster University Continuing Education

In today’s tough job market a degree alone may not be enough to get you the job or promotion that you’re looking for.  Employer expectations are higher and are expecting more than the knowledge that comes with a degree. They are also scrutinizing candidates based on their enhanced skill-sets and experience to ensure they are hiring someone who will fit and integrate into their business and culture with the least disruption.

Savvy students are realizing this trend and responding by upskilling themselves to ensure that they stand out in the employment crowd and that their resume rises to the top of the pile.  If you’re thinking about getting ahead, McMaster Continuing Education offers a variety of learning options from diplomas and certificates to micro learning options. Whether your focus is in the field of business, health or professional development, there are many to choose from:

To make it easier for Mac students, McMaster Continuing Education offers a faster route to get you ahead with Degree + Diploma.  This opportunity allows you to earn a diploma or certificate while you work toward your degree.  You can use your elective credits in your current program of study toward a diploma or certificate with Continuing Education, allowing you to gain your qualifications faster. This opportunity is gaining popularity among Mac students and can be easily set up by contacting your Academic Advisor.    

If you’re not ready to jump straight into getting a diploma or certificate you can always try one of McMaster Continuing Education professional development courses or attend our upcoming free Business Entrepreneur Series micro learning session that is running in spring.  It’s a great way to gain valuable and recognized skills in a condensed learning format.  To attend this series you can sign up at mcmastercce.ca/events/free-business-entrepreneurship-series

Regardless of what you decide, by recognizing the demands of today’s job market and being proactive to acquire the skills that businesses are looking for will make you more visible and appealing to employers.  Continuing Education will give you that competitive edge to get ahead and land that job you’re looking for.

To learn more about these valuable learning options visit www.mcmastercce.ca

 

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Photo by Catherine Goce

By: Evonne Syed

The topic of integrating artificial intelligence and robots into the workforce rouses the concern of anyone wishing to enter the job market, and the same goes for postsecondary students.

Fortunately, the future is optimistic for students as automation is not expected to prevent graduates from attaining their career goals.

In fact, the rise of automation actually improves career prospects for university graduates, as it is creating a new job market. Forbes Magazine reports that artificial intelligence is predicted to create 58 million jobs as 2022 approaches.

As the popularity of automation systems and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace becomes more widespread, there will be more and more people required to actually build and develop these systems.

This will open up opportunities for those who wish to enter the fields of robotics and information technology. BBC News anticipates the prominence of data analysts, social media specialists and software developers, as a result.

For this reason, while one may argue that automation has resulted in the elimination of certain jobs, the introduction of automation in the workforce is actually creating more jobs and opportunities in our current digital age.

Luckily, McMaster University has many programs to equip students with the necessary skills to flourish in our digital age. The recent construction of the Hatch Centre shows McMaster’s testament to students advancing in these fields.  

Even if one is not interested in working in the field of automation, that does not mean that they are otherwise at risk of being unable to obtain a job. There is an increasing demand for “human skills” in the workforce since these skills are what distinguish robots from actual human beings.

University graduates tend to seek out careers that require a higher level of education which simply cannot be programmed into automation systems. It would be way too costly and time consuming to teach a robot the knowledge a person has acquired from their post-secondary education.

There are also plenty of skills, academic and otherwise, that students learn and develop through their time at university. Education and experiential opportunities prepare students to apply their knowledge in a variety of situations.

For example, critical thinking skills and problem solving are transferable “soft skills” that employers seek and students develop during their time at university.

Some jobs require humanistic qualities, which are simply not possible for a machine to replicate. For instance, no matter how much technology advances, robots may never be capable of understanding human emotions and experiences.

The interpersonal skills, empathy and compassion that people develop by interacting with one another are skills that are beneficial for the work environment. These skills equip anyone to thrive professionally as the future of the job outlook changes.

Technological advancements such as automation will inevitably impact life as we know it, and that includes changing our work environments. However, these changes are not inherently harmful and the possibilities for post-secondary graduates remain promising.

Students must be proactive, take initiative to educate themselves as much as possible and work on developing these skills. Provided that students make the most of their university experience, and are willing to undergo some extra training to keep their learning sharp, robots are sure to have nothing on them.

 

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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: alumni.mcmaster.ca under Event Listings.

 

Read the full article on our Medium page.

 

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By: Jillian Perkins-Marsh, alumni career counsellor 

For folks who are trying to figure out what an occupation is really like before taking the leap or for those trying to build their connections to help with their job search efforts, informational interviews can be extremely helpful. Really, what is better than one-on-one time with someone who can offer you career advice at minimum, and at the end of the spectrum, if all goes well, someone who may offer to pass along your resume to the right people and tell you about unadvertised jobs?

Informational interviews can be a highly effective way to build connections. If the meetings are done right, they can be an amazing way to make a positive first impression with a professional in your field of interest.

Be sure to be genuine in your interest in connecting and to follow up – and avoid the pitfall of ‘transactional networking’. The idea that networking is about focusing on the number of interactions, rather than the quality of the relationships. This is absolutely not what effective networking should involve. Life gets busy. But that is no excuse for not staying in touch and responding to others in a timely way…especially when you initiated the connection.

Try and think from the other person’s perspective. After you reach out to the person you were referred to in a timely manner, remember to circle back to your original contact to update them about your conversation and thank them again. Completing the networking circle will maintain relationships and not leave them wondering if you ever followed up with their suggestion.

These are the kind of recommendations that can help you turn a good strategy for building and using your network into a good and successful strategy for building and using your network, and that can make all the difference.

If you are looking to build your network and don’t know where to start, visit Firsthand, our online networking and mentorship platform. On Firsthand you will find McMaster alumni ready to have career conversations with you and give you advice on how to land a job in the industry of your dreams.

Visit mcmaster.firsthand.co to create your profile today, and potentially find your career match! It’s free, easy to use and right at your fingertips.  Any questions at all, email elnaien@mcmaster.ca.

Watch for upcoming employer – student networking event on March 14 – part of Career Month!

 

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Photo C/O Grant Holt

By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele

“We often don’t realize how resilient we can be,” says Kerri Latham, career counsellor at the Student Success Centre. “The truth is, the more times you fail, the easier it is to try.”

For the Student Success Centre, providing students with the resources and supports needed to develop their resiliency in university is important. One piece of this work is normalizing failure, uncertainty and other factors that contribute to wanting to give up on a goal, project, idea, or dream.

As Jenna Storey, academic skills program coordinator at the Student Success Centre, says, “Students often encounter challenges in achieving their academic goals. Resiliency in academics is about bouncing back after these challenges, and also recognizing and working through them by incorporating better academic and personal management skills.”

Most recently, the Centre led a digital campaign called #StickWithIt, a resiliency campaign that responded to student experiences the Centre addresses in its regular roster of programs, services and workshops. Staff have also participated in the CFMU’s MorningFile show, covering topics from Thriving in Academic Uncertainty to Developing Career Resilience.

In Kerri’s role, resiliency is an ongoing conversation and practice. Whether it’s through her one-on-one appointments, a career and employment session, or a Career Planning Group, one thing is clear: there is a shared uncertainty for many students around what they are going to do and where they are going to go next.

Kerri shares, “Though there are expectations, reflecting on your own priorities can help you stay grounded to pursue a direction that is best for you. Try not to get swayed too much by what others are doing. Know yourself and honour your own path.”

Knowing yourself does not necessarily mean “know your passion.” As Kerri suggests, “This puts a lot of false expectations on students, but the main thing is to pay attention to those seeds of interests and allow them to grow. Though it might feel like everyone has it figured out, there is always change, uncertainty and new directions.  It’s okay to not know right now – uncertainty is to be expected.”

For students focused on what’s next, Kerri recommends breaking big decisions into smaller chunks; and when job searching, focusing more on the opportunities and skills students want to develop. She also encourages students to use their strengths and supports, like family, friends or mentors.

The good news is: students don’t have to go through it alone. The Student Success Centre is a place for students to explore, from the moment they accept their offer of admission and up to ten years after graduation. Upcoming sessions include:

Register for workshops or a career counselling appointment on OSCARplus.

Visit studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca to learn more.

 

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People from all over the GTA can now head over to nearby Hamilton to benefit from McMaster University’s Data Analytics Continuing Education programs-- programs which could lead to a job in almost any industry.

The certificate in Big Data Analytics gives adult learners the tools and techniques to help guide organizations in the exploding field of data analytics.

As more ways of collecting data are being developed, professionals are needed who can turn that data into useful business insights.

As the demand for data analysts steadily increases and the talent supply remains low, this is a perfect time to train to enter the field.

McMaster has two data analytics streams: Big Data Analytics and Foundations of Data Analytics.

Haitham Amar, who teaches the Predictive Modelling and Data Mining course, says there is a wealth of job opportunities available for graduates.

“The program allows students to choose a career as a data scientist, data analyst, data engineer, and machine learning engineer. In general, you can think of the career as either leaning more towards model building or towards model implementation (programming).” Amar explains.

Amar also points out that a number of industries involve big data analytics.

“Every field that makes use of data in any way, shape or form requires big data analytics. This seems like everything in the industry right now. Insurance companies, car manufacturers, education institutions, the health sector, the banking sector, the entertainment industry, etc. are all interested in people who are skilled in data analytics.”

Because of the wealth of career opportunities, students looking for a rewarding career are enrolling in the program.

The program can also, in a way, help prepare students for jobs that aren’t even available yet as almost any industry can better use data to its advantage.

“The question would be what professional fields would not be able to leverage big data analytics.  Many companies still have a lot work to do in effectively leveraging data,” says Eleanor Smith, an instructor who teaches data management.

Smith also says the course has been invaluable to students seeking professional development.

“I have received feedback from students that this course has helped them in their professional lives. One topic we treat is enterprise metadata management, which many enterprise organizations have surprisingly yet to establish,” she says.

“A current student has provided me with feedback that her company is now investigating metadata management tools based on what has been presented in this course. Another student who works as a product manager at a big name credit bureau explained to me this course gave him the background and language to converse with his more technical colleagues.”

Overall, students say they learn an incredible amount of useful--and applicable--information in a relatively short period of time.

To learn more, please visit mcmastercce.ca/data-analytics

 

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The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3906, the union representing McMaster employees, will hold a strike vote from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26 for all unit two workers, which is comprised of sessional faculty.

A strike vote does not guarantee a strike, but gives the union the blessing to potentially call a strike at later time.

Sessional faculty have had discussions with administration since July. They are mainly concerned with improving job security for sessional faculty.

For more information, visit the CUPE 3906 website.

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On Sept. 12, 2017, the Ontario University Student Alliance released their annual “Educated Solutions” report, which acts as a forum for students and policymakers to discuss their thoughts on that year’s main theme. The theme for this year was student employment.

Throughout the report, authors discussed the problems at hand for students seeking work, whether in the shape of part-time work, co-op placements or filling the “skills gap”.

One report honed in on the failures of the Employee Standards Act for students, arguing it does not protect students from precarious working conditions.

“The ESA explicitly excludes ‘individuals performing work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or university’,” said Jennifer Lewarne, academic affairs commissioner of the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University, who wrote the piece. “This is particularly problematic as it exposes students to potential mistreatment and exploitation in the workforce.”

Much of the document argued that work-integrated learning programs must cater to students’ needs and listen to what students and faculty are saying in order to develop these work opportunities.

The report is clear: work experience during one’s undergraduate career helps students build skills and give them the right tools to enter the workforce after they finish their bachelor’s degree.

At McMaster, on-campus work opportunities are commonplace; between the McMaster Students Union’s employees, the work/study program and research opportunities, students have the option of gaining work experience while attending university. These jobs, however, have pitfalls.

One of the major downsides to working on campus as opposed to elsewhere are the limited hours many popular jobs offer. Ikram Farah, a political sciences and labour studies student, worked three on-campus jobs last year. Farah worked for Mills Library through the work/study program, as a customer representative for the MSU Compass and as a Residence Life community advisor.

“When I worked as a sales representative outside of campus they could give as many hours as I wanted and it was more feasible because I needed it,” Farah said.

With that in mind though, there are benefits to working on campus, such as open and discreet accommodations. Barkhaa Talat, a life sciences student, echoed this sentiment. Talat worked for Guest Resident Services with Residence Life last year.

“If there have been times where I’ve needed time off, she’ll ask me to come in person and sort it out but they’ve been pretty accommodating with that,” she said.

But it can also be difficult simply finding a job on campus at all. For example, becoming a tour guide for the office of the registrar is often challenging since they hire all of their positions for the entire year in April, when most students are either busy with exams or gone for the summer.

Ruchika Gothoskar, a political sciences student, worked as a tour guide but only found the job out of sheer luck when some of her friends stopped by the tour guide office for an application.

“There are lots and lots of jobs within the Registrar’s office for students, but they’re not advertised well enough. I found out about being a tour guide through my friends,” said Gothoskar.

“There’s little to no advertising for that job other than word-of-mouth which can be a good thing because you have tour guides recommending their very qualified friends  and not just [random people] who just want a job but I think there’s a lot of merit in being able to advertise a job well,” she added.

While work experience during one’s undergrad has had well-researched benefits, students still often have barriers accessing these positions.

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After weeks of ogling from afar, everything seemed like it went well when you finally met in person. You dressed to the nines. You felt like you made a connection. You radiated confidence, proved you were educated on all the relevant topics and you laughed at all the right moments. But they still haven’t called you back. You wait a day, then two, then a week. Still nothing. You start to wonder if maybe you didn’t come off as great as you thought you did.

Even worse, maybe they’ve found someone else. You think about nudging them with something along the lines of “I was wondering if you thought any more about last Saturday,” but eventually decide against it. You don’t want to look too desperate. And when they finally do reply, it’s with the words you’ve always been dreading. So you pull out that pint of ice cream and bawl in front of last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, trying hard not to question your self-worth. You just weren’t good enough for them. You didn’t get the job.

I’ve played out this scene so many times that, if I lived in the Harry Potter universe, it would be probably be my Boggart. In fact, I used to be so terrified of rejection that for the majority of my first year at McMaster, I kept my head low, and I refused to apply for anything and everything. Consequently, while my friends volunteered in Peru or earned money from either part-time jobs or their co-op term, I spent much of my summer in a slump. Only one good thing came out of it, and it wasn’t the abysmal grade I received from sacrificing my June and July to the godless art of physics: it was my determination to make the following summer fruitful.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that you simply cannot escape some kind of application for most of the things you encounter over the span of your university career. If you need a summer job, you have to apply. If you want to become a Welcome Week rep or a CA in residence, you have to apply. If you’re looking for a research position in a professor’s lab, you have to apply. Whether it’s a co-op job, an internship or even a higher-level entry program, your fate is inevitable. One way or another, you’ll have to apply.

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Taking the initiative to apply for new opportunities can be daunting. For someone who lacks confidence or struggles with social anxiety, the mere thought can be incredibly off-putting, if not insurmountable. After all, what’s the point of going to the trouble of applying for something, if you aren’t likely to get the position anyway? Why waste your efforts, when they can probably be better spent elsewhere? Why set yourself up for what can only be imminent disappointment?

I’ve been ignored a handful of times, and I’ve been rejected far more than I care to admit. I’ve had interviews where I tripped on my words, only for them to untangle once I left the room with my reputation unsalvageable. I once had an interviewer laugh at me because I was so unprepared, and there have been times where I didn’t end up with the position even when I felt that my interview had gone better than I could have ever hoped for.

I can say with the utmost certainty that I detest applications with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, and yet I still continue to put myself through it at the expense of my own comfort. While that might just mean I have masochistic tendencies, the more I face my old fear of rejection, the more it becomes clear to me that getting rejected isn’t my Boggart at all: my Boggart is never knowing whether I would or wouldn’t be rejected because I couldn’t find it in myself to try.

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to let our own self-doubts dictate what we believe we’re capable of. Just because you might not get a job doesn’t mean you won’t ever get a job, and just because you weren’t considered good enough for one position doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, period. You are. If there’s something you’re interested in, you have to try. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself, and if you don’t, something else will come along. Whether it’s in the context of other people or your career, while rejection is an inevitable part of life that everyone has to deal with at one point or another, it’s not the end of the world. Armageddon is. And when it arrives, I know I’d like to have something to show for it.

Photo Credit: Flazingo

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