Preparing for Your Career While at University

Posted by York & U on September 14, 2017

A YU Perspective | Careers | Goings-On around York

If you’re a York Lion starting your last years of study, you can reflect proudly on everything you’ve learned so far. Chances are you’re also starting to look toward graduation and taking the exciting next steps along your career path. To learn more about preparing for your career while you’re still in university, take a look at the #YUBlog’s tips and tools to aid your transition from undergraduate to young professional.

Start thinking about your career options early.

Explore your career options

Start exploring your career options early so that you can use your time at York to form professional connections and participate in volunteer placements and part-time jobs. To get started, research the occupational fields you are interested in and think about your strengths. For example, if you’re a Political Science student who enjoys writing press releases for your student club, you might become a political correspondent, a policy analyst or work for an NGO! To see where your education can take you, check out the “What can I do with my degree?” page on the York U Career Centre website.

Success tip: The Career Centre also offers a “What can I do with my degree?” workshop and webinar. Create your profile with the Career Centre to see when these sessions are offered and register online. The Career Centre’s system also allows you to search for and apply to full-time, part-time, summer, internship and volunteer positions.

While you’re exploring different jobs, you should also research the qualifications you would need for these roles. Finding this information is easier than you think: take your research skills to LinkedIn and look at the resumés of professionals with careers you want to emulate. You might decide to apply to a graduate or internship program. You can also learn more about your options by requesting an informational interview with professionals in your field. During an informational interview, you can ask about their career, how they got started and any advice they might have. To get in touch, send a polite email requesting a meeting at their convenience. Come prepared with thoughtful, well-researched questions and send a thank you note the next day!

A student gets advice from a professional.

Visit York’s Career Centre

One of the best ways to prepare for your career is right here on campus: visit the York U Career Centre! This excellent resource provides York students with career preparation workshops, employer recruitment events and job fairs. You can even book an individual advising appointment online to discuss your professional goals with a Career Counsellor.

Success tip: If you already know what you want to do and where to apply, book an appointment to get feedback on your resumé and cover letter or practice your interview skills. Can’t make it to campus? Most Career Centre appointments can be conducted over Skype or by phone! To learn more about the resources available to you, take a look at the Career Centre website.

If you are enrolled in The Schulich School of Business or Environmental Studies at York U, you can utilize The Schulich Career Development Centre or the Faculty of Environmental Studies Career Services. You can use these resources to prepare for specific jobs in your industry and connect with professionals and alumni in your field.

 Students take part in a skills development workshop.
Students take part in a skills development workshop.

Attend professional development workshops and recruitment events

To master key professional skills before you graduate, join the Career Centre’s workshops! The Career Centre offers sessions focused on career exploration, job search, professional etiquette and further education. You can learn a range of skills from these can’t-miss workshops, including transferring your academic skills to the workplace and how to use LinkedIn to find a job.

Although most job applications have gone digital, it’s still advantageous to meet a potential employer face-to-face. Once you have some career options in mind, attend as many recruitment sessions as you can! You’ll meet employers, discover new organizations and form a support network of your peers who want to enter the same industry. To find out about on-campus Employer Recruitment Sessions, check the Career Centre website.

Success tip: Attend the York U 2017 Career Fair on Tuesday, September 19 from 10am to 3pm in the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building (formerly TEL Building). No registration is required for York U students, but it’s a good idea to prepare by reading these guidelines about what to do before, during and after the Fair.

Students attend the Fall Career Fair at York U in 2016.

Prepare for your job hunt

Your next step in the job search is to prepare your application materials! Although it’s time-consuming, you should tailor your resumé and cover letter to reflect the skills and qualifications outlined in specific job postings. Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch; tell the organization why you’re passionate about the field and why you want to work with them specifically. Depending on your area of expertise, you may also want to create an online portfolio with samples of your past work.

Success tip: After you submit your applications, conduct some practice interviews to make sure that you’re ready for the real thing. Prepare your “elevator pitch”: a 60-second explanation of who you are, your education and qualities that make you a great applicant. Once you have your introduction down, it will be easier to answer the first “So, tell me about yourself” interview question.

Expand your professional network by scheduling an informational interview.
Expand your professional network by scheduling an informational interview.

Expand your professional network

One of the best ways to develop your career potential is to expand your professional network. To connect with fellow students who are entering the same field as you, take a look at York’s 300+ official student clubs and organizations to see if there are groups for young professionals on campus. Additionally, volunteering is one of the best ways to meet like-minded professionals who may be knowledgeable about your field. Not only will you meet people who are passionate about the same issues as you are, but you will also gain transferrable skills and discover new interests. It’s also crucial to develop your online presence by creating a LinkedIn account. You might want to write a few articles from the student perspective about work-related topics, which could attract the attention of recruiters.

Success tip: Looking to expand your network and learn more about a specific field? The Career Centre facilitates the TASTE program, which stands for Take A Student To Eat and connects current York students with alumni for career advice.

Finally, one of the best ways to expand your network is to get work experience. Visit the Career Centre job board to find full-time, part-time, summer, internship and volunteer opportunities.

What are your top career tips? Comment below or tweet us on Twitter @YorkUStudents.

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