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