Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Graduate School Application Process: Questions, Documents, and References

You've almost made it - only one more full academic year to go before you are free! ... Unless you are one of a number of students who would rather stay nestled in their textbooks and labs a little longer! For Brock students entering their fourth year (honours) of their undergrad education and considering continuing their education in graduate school - now is a good time to begin choosing your programs/universities and preparing your application documents. This is both a financial and time investment for you so make sure that you take your applications seriously and that you apply early. The following are a number of suggestions to keep in mind when beginning the application process.

"Why Graduate School?": 
This is a question you need to ask yourself. What are your reasons for choosing to continue your education instead of getting into the workforce? Does your ideal career/job environment require you to have a Masters or a PhD? Perhaps you are looking to obtain a job in academia as a professor or a researcher? Or maybe you are hoping this will leave room for career advancement in the future?

Whatever your reasoning is for going, ensure that your purpose is to enhance your career options and qualifications and not to avoid the scary world outside the comfort of a university campus. Are you prepared for another 1-3 years of school if you choose to do your Masters? How about another 4-6 years afterwards if you are looking to do your PhD? It's important that you understand what you are getting yourself into before you make the leap from your undergrad to your graduate degree.

Gather References Early: 
Graduate schools typically want you to have 2-4 references for them to contact as part of the application process. Be sure to check each program's application section to ensure you have the proper number of references on hand. Each school will also tell you the type of reference they are looking for you to have (for example, most prefer professors over TAs). If you haven't started gathering your references then you should start shooting off emails to professors and arranging office hours where you can discuss your post-graduate goals. Remember - the quantity of references you obtain will be worth nothing if the professor doesn't know enough about you to make it more personalized. Make a point to talk multiple times face to face outside of lecture hours so that they can give the highest quality reference possible. And don't worry - most don't bite!

Statement of Intent: 
On top of your Curriculum Vitae (CV), graduate schools normally require a statement of intent which is a short letter outlining your scholarly work to the admissions committee. Be sure to check each program's admissions page to see what each school wants you to include in your letter. Career Services can assist with both Statement of Intents and CV writing to all students applying to Graduate Studies.

Have a Backup Plan:
... and a backup plan for your backup plan. Always apply to more then one school. Even if your average is in the high 90s you never know what the competition will be like the year that you apply and you could end up going no where. Try to find at least 2-3 schools that are similar to your dream school's program and apply to those as well.

Your second backup plan should involve the nightmare inducing question of "what if I don't get accepted anywhere?". It happens. It might not happen to you, but that doesn't mean it isn't a reality for some applicants. It's best to already have a stable backup plan in mind that you can jump onto if the worst happens. This can include obtaining a post-graduate certificate in a more hands on aspect of your field or even looking for jobs that only require you to have your undergrad.

How Career Services Can Help: 
Not only do we have a number of resources available regarding graduate school prep, but a number of our student staff (including myself) are applying for graduate studies this fall. We can empathize with the stress of document preparation and selecting the perfect school and we are more than happy to assist you in making the application process as easy as possible. Copies of CV templates and statement of intents are available in our office as well as information regarding graduate studies abroad (New Zealand, England, Scotland, Australia, etc.) and general information on the application process. We also have GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, PCAT, and DAT study guides that can be used within the Learning Commons free of charge. 

Feel free to stop by the resource centre for any assistance from our Career Assistants. We will reopen on Tuesday, September 3 and our fall office hours will be from 9:00-4:30 from Monday to Friday.

Best of luck!

Ashley Paolozzi
Lead Career Assistant
4th Year History of Art and Visual Culture (Honours)
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More food for thought from other websites and blogs on Graduate Studies:

Friday, August 23, 2013

TalentEggs’ How to Land your Dream Job in 8 Easy Steps


 
Hey you! Are you going into your final year of university or college? Are you determined to find a job after graduation? If you answered yes to these questions, then this blog will be of great benefit to you!

According to Kate MacKenzie, who is TalentEgg's Campaign Strategist, 70% of employers hire in the fall and an even higher percentage of students are completely unaware of this.

TalentEgg is unique because it is a Canadian resource aimed at helping new graduates find careers. Additionally, TalentEgg has created an extremely useful guide to help students through the process of landing their dream job; because of course, getting the job you want takes effort!

MacKenzie’s suggestions:

1.      Eager job hunters know when employers plan on hiring. Keep an eye on job boards and company websites so that you catch new postings right away. The longer you wait, the more opportunities you may miss out on. Also remember to check out Career Services online job board. There you will find a vast variety of online job boards that will link you to employers looking for new candidates!
 

2.      Know what resources are available for your benefit. For instance, Career Services has an interview prep binder loaded with sample questions and information on what to expect during various interview process such as telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews, and much more. Career Services also offers online workshops accessilble through Career Zone to assist you with resume and cover letter prep, or come into the resource centre and a Career Assistant will go over your career documents with you!

 
3.      Research various employers and jobs to find out what fits you best. If you are unsure what career you would be interested in, check out Career Cruising on Career Zone. On this site you can participate in assesments that will help you decide which career will best fit your interests and skills.
 

4.      Develop a professional personal brand. For example, ensure all your social media sites represent a professional “you”. You don’t want party pictures so show up on your Facebook page when an employer decides to do a background search before contacting you for an interview.


5.      Once you have a polished resume and cover letter, start applying!

 
6.      Keep an eye on how you are progressing with the application process. If you don’t hear anything back from employers, you may need to re-evaluate the quality of your resume and cover letter. Remember, Career Services has online workshops accessible through Career Zone that can help you with these documents. You can also send employers follow up responses to find out what you could improve on.
 

7.      Prepare for the interview, seriously! If you want to perform well for the interview, develop answers to common questions that employers may ask. As I mentioned earlier, Career Services has many interview question samples and even appropriate answers to interview questions. If you are looking for a “real feel”, you can schedule a mock interview with Career Services which is a great way to practice your interview skills, and receive some constructive feedback.


8.      After the interview, respond with a thank-you follow up. For example, you could e-mail the interviewer thanking them for the opportunity to meet with them and discuss your qualifications; it also doesn’t hurt to remind them why you so greatly want the position.

For more detailed information on TalentEggs’ How to Land your Dream Job in 8 Easy Steps check out the link provided below:

The 2013 September Recruitment Survival Guide: How To Land Your Dream Job In 8 Easy Steps

Nella Paris
Senior Career Assistant
Psychology Major (Honours)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Resource Centre Closed August 26th to August 30th + Fall Semester Hours

Please be advised that the Career Services Resource Centre will be closed next week for Training Week. We will re-open Tuesday September 3rd 9:00am - 4:30pm. Our administrative office (lower level) hours will remain open 8:30am - 4:30pm.

Also, beginning Tuesday September 3rd, the Resource Centre will be open 9:00am - 4:30pm.


We can also be contacted via our Career Chat during office hours on our website or by email at career@brocku.ca.

Enjoy your last week of summer holidays...rest up and we will see you in the fall!!!



Jami Coughler, Senior Career Assistant
4th Year Public Health [Honours]; BA Sociology [Honours] '11

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Resources!




CareerServices has a variety of new and updated resources to make your career research process even better! We are always getting new resources in the centre and we expect to receive new magazines and other additional resources from external sources throughout the year.

What’s New So Far?

Graduate/Professional School
Some recent additions to the centre are the 2014 GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and PCAT graduate exam preparation books. If you are interested in applying to a program which requires any of these entrance exams, stop by Career Services to make use of these important resources…for free!

Job Search
Don’t jump into the job search process blind. Knock ‘em Dead Secrets and Strategies for First Time Job Seekers is full of advice and strategies on how to develop social networks, get interviews, ace the interview, and climb the ladder of professional success.

Career Documents
Need to write a cover letter and resume but want to inquire about the process with an informative read at your own pace? Career Services has two new detailed books to assist you with the process:

·         Knock ‘em Dead Cover Letters is a great book full of information that can answer all your questions when it comes to the dos and don’ts of cover letter writing.
 

·         Knock ‘Em Dead Resumes has examples, strategies and methods on how to write an effective and professional resume.

Interview Preparation
If you have been offered an interview, you may be wondering what to expect and what to say to improve your chances of coming out successfully. Career Services has an interview preparation binder that has been totally re-vamped this summer! It was out with the old and in with the new. You can find anything in this binder such as:

            ·         How to dress for success

            ·         Appropriate body language

            ·         What you should ask the employer during the interview

            ·         What the employer will ask you throughout the interview

            ·         Sample questions

            ·         Differences between face-to-face interviews, telephone skhhas iiiiiiiiiiiiinterviews, Skype interviews, and more!
 
       Be sure to stop by Career Services' Resource Centre to take advantage of these great resources. Remember; our services are always free and we are happy to help you!


Nella Paris
Senior Career Assistant
Psychology Major (Honours)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interview Anxiety: How We Can Help

Anxious about an upcoming job interview? There are a number of ways that Career Services can help your feel prepared and confident before you meet your potential employer for the first time!

Available in the Career Centre:
If you stop by our drop in centre you will find a number of interview related books including:
Don't stress out! Fear of interviews is treatable
with the right level of preparation and confidence!
  • 101 Dynamic Questions to Ask at Your Job Interview
    - by Richard Fein
  • The Job Interview Phrase Book
    - by Nancy Schuman
  • Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed
    - by H. Anthony Medley
  • Get The Interview Every Time
    - by Brenda Greene
  • Interview Magic
    - by Susan Britton Whitcomb

Also available in our centre is our newly updated Interview Techniques binder which includes sections on Interview Preparation, The Interview, After the Interview, and Specific Types of Interviews. Interesting topics covered include proper attire, portfolio resources, follow up/thank you emails, and the four types of interview questions.

These print resources are available to all students and alumni to view within the Career Services office and the Learning Commons. 

InterviewStream:  
Worried if you have any distracting habits such as playing with your hair or talking with your hands during a job interview? This innovative online tool allows you to practice your interviews with the assistance of a webcam and pre-recorded interview questions.  Having the ability to view a video of yourself getting interviewed will bring any pesky gestures and bad habits to your attention! With over 7000 questions to choose from, students are given the opportunity to tailor the type of interview questions asked to them based on the type of job they are applying to. And the best part is - you can do this in the comfort of your own home!

You can choose to keep your practice interview videos private or share them with friends and family for any additional suggestions. If you would like the opinion of one of our trained Senior Career Assistants you can email the video of your practice interview to our email at career@brocku.ca and we would be more then happy to provide you with feedback.
And luckily for future grad students, InterviewStream isn't limited to job interviews. If you are a current student applying for graduate school (including Medical School!) then InterviewStream is a great place for you to practice for academic interviews as well! 

This free service is available for both Brock University students and alumni with valid login information. InterviewStream, as well as additional assistance regarding interview preparation, can be found on our website at the following link: www.brocku.ca/career-services/students-alumni/interview-preparation/practice-interview
 
If you have any questions or concerns about the interview process feel free to stop by the resource centre and we will be more then happy to help you out! 

Ashley Paolozzi
Lead Career Assistant
4th Year History of Art and Visual Culture (Honours)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Balancing Work and School

The school year is fast approaching and of course we all want to be as successful as possible. Often a barrier to this success is the difficulty we experience in balancing work and school. We need to get good grades but we need a part-time or full-time job to pay for school, books, supplies, parking passes, food and the costs of everyday living. Sometimes you may get overwhelmed...especially during exam or term paper time when the pressure is on and you have to figure out how you are going to get everything done that week while still working your 3 shifts at your job!! I am here to give you a few basic tips for creating balance between your school work and your paid work (volunteer positions and co-ops/internships can also be considered under this category). 

Tip #1 - Start off on the right foot! Most of us have tried to get by the first few weeks of class without doing the assigned readings (or perhaps some of you don't even go to the few couple classes because you believe you are not missing anything important). I would advise against this for three reasons:

1) If you are missing classes for non-medical reasons, you may miss something very important;
2) Neglecting those first few assigned readings sets you back further than you may think; and
3) This can set the tone for your entire semester and starts you off on the wrong foot!

Tip #2 - Plan! Plan! Plan! I personally love buying my day planner for the school year. The first thing I do is write out which classes I have each day of the week and I leave enough space for that weeks assigned readings. Once I get my course syllabus (what I believe to be the key to success in any course), I write out all of the readings that I have to do each week for every class. In addition, if there are due dates already specified in the syllabus, I write those in as well and I highlight them in one colour (I usually highlight all of my assignments in yellow highlighter so it stands out from all of the other colours I may use). If the syllabus doesn't specify due dates, I write them in AS SOON as I know them. Other things you should include in your day planner are: important dates from the course calender for the year (i.e. dates that the school is closed, when exams start and finish, make-up days for holidays, etc.). This will help you to avoid missing class, avoid scheduling conflicts, and be able to schedule non-academic activities around your school schedule. I also save separate coloured highlighters for appointments and for work. In my planner, appointments are highlighted in orange and my work schedule and meetings are highlighted in blue. You can use your own system but I find colour-coded planners help distinguish important events and dates, and they also keep you alert!

Tip #3 - Organize! Organize! Organize! Aside from my compulsively organized day planner, I also like to keep my school books and notes well-organized. This helps you to keep on track with readings and assignments which can reduce some of the stress and imbalance you may be experiencing. Once I have my course syllabus and the assigned readings for the course (whether it be a textbook, journal articles, etc.), I purchase page tabs that I stick onto each chapter or reading that is assigned. From there, I write the date that the readings/chapter must be read by and once I have read it, I check mark the tab. This lets me organize my weekly readings because I can quickly glance at a textbook or journal article to see which courses I have readings for that week, and which ones I have already completed. In addition to keeping your books organized, I would suggest organizing your binders and/or notebooks in a way that keeps all notes from one course together and separate from other courses (i.e. separate binders/notebooks or dividers in a binder). I keep all of my binders and textbooks for the current semester on one shelf in my room, this way I always know where they are and can easily access them! Although it may be difficult, I also try very hard to keep my room as clean and organized as possible (especially my study space - wherever it may be). This helps keep you focused and your mind clutter-free!

Tip #4 - Don't bite off more than you can chew! If you know yourself well enough to know that you get stressed out and overwhelmed during the school year, perhaps reducing the number of hours you work/volunteer could help. If you choose to do this (and are financially comfortable with it of course!), I would suggest making sure that you use those hours that you normally would have been working to study and complete readings. This way you know for sure that you have added study hours to your week. If you are not able to cut back on work/volunteer hours, I would recommend creating a weekly (or even daily) schedule that you follow and schedule yourself a certain number of hours each day for school-related work ONLY. This is a good idea for anyone to do, even if you don't work. This guarantees that you can get a decent amount of work done every week, as long as you have the will power to stick to your schedule of course!

Tip #5 - Take time for yourself! As much as you may have a boat load of work on your plate every single day, you still need to take time for yourself to avoid overload and burnout. This step is going to vary depending on your individual needs, likes/dislikes, and personality. Some people may prefer to spend an hour or so a day laying in bed to unwind, while others may go for a run or to the gym. I personally enjoy taking my 2 dogs to the dog park or for a hike - it helps me unwind and relax because I am not thinking about work OR school. It also gets me outside in the fresh air and sunshine which have their own amazing benefits! Whatever you choose to do, make sure it's something you enjoy and that gets you out of your head and out of the books - even if it's only for a short while.

Tip #6 - Try something new! Trying something new may help to get you out of any slump that you have fallen into over the school year. It can also be a great way to unwind and meet new people. Since the theme of this post is "balance" might I suggest trying Yoga??

Our friends from Cosmic Coaching Centre were gracious enough to write an article again, this time about balancing work and school - take a look:
 
                                                      Balancing Work and School
 
As reported by Statistics Canada, around 72 percent of the college students in the country are employed part-time while attending school. This is not surprising at all considering how expensive tuition fees are these days. While it is ideal for students to have a steady source of income to support their needs, being a student and an employee at the same time is not an easy thing to do. Needless to say, it can be very tricky to try to balance both your studies and your job. With the help of these tips, balancing work and school can be quite easier.


1. Always have a plan. How many hours of work should you do to earn the amount that you need? Are you in a hurry to finish your studies, or do you want to take it slow? These are among the considerations you should make in making a realistic plan about how you could handle being a student and an employee.


2. Go for workplace flexibility. If possible, try to get a part-time job where your boss will allow you to have flextime. You’d want a job that offers programs such as job sharing, leave of absences, and the like. Work from home is another perfect option to pursue.


3. Benefit from school flexibility as well. A lot of institutions these days are offering tailored services to accommodate employed individuals who want to earn a degree. They do this by offering weekend and night classes, longer library hours, and the availability of online classes. Inquire about such programs in your school to make it easier for you to manage your time.


4. Make a list of priorities. Decide on your priorities and accept the fact that you will have to sacrifice some of them. Thus, you have to make up your mind as to which tasks you can address at a later time.


5. Be a smart-worker rather than a hard-worker. Consider your job as an internship program where you can apply everything you are learning in school. Write short notes and review them whenever possible. During breaks at work, you may also do your homework so you wouldn’t cram to finish them at night.


6. Avoid wasting time. There is nothing wrong with keeping in touch with your friends through social media, but make sure you will not spend too much time on doing it. Always try to focus on what really matters so that you can manage your energy and your time.


7. Don’t forget your goals. It is very easy to forget what our goals are. As a result, we lose the motivation to do what we should do. To avoid these, write your goals and career pathways on paper and post it somewhere you can always see. This way, you will always be reminded of why you should strive to study and work hard.


I hope that you find some of my personal tips, as well as the tips from Cosmic Coaching Centre, for achieving balance useful. While they may not all be best for you, I at least hope I was able to spark some ideas for how you can best balance your work and school life. My biggest tips are to stay on track, don't give up, and take time to enjoy yourself!




Keep Calm and Float On...
Jami Coughler, Senior Career Assistant
4th Year Bachelor of Public Health [Honours]; BA Sociology [Honours] '11

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Strangest, the Weirdest, and the Highest Paying Jobs Around!

It's finally Friday! :)

Here are a few fun job related lists to take the stress off your work week and/or job search!

Top 10 Strangest Jobs in History
If you think your current part-time job at a fast food restaurant is bad at least you aren't a human alarm clock or a medieval court jester! Check out this interesting top 10 list that covers some of the strangest employment opportunities in human history.

Best Paying Jobs in America
Looking to make over $200,000 a year? Or would you settle for a 'measly' $100,000? Find out who's bringing home the big bucks and what they do for a living.

Top 10 Weird Jobs
From shark tank cleaners to virtual gold farmers these are some of the most unconventional jobs around!

And finally...

Not-So-Glamorous Early Jobs of 23 Famous People
Did you know that Christopher Walken was in the circus and Gwen Stefani worked at Dairy Queen? Find out where your favorite celebrity worked before they made it big in their industry! Even the most famous of us have humble beginnings!

Enjoy your weekend! 
Ashley Paolozzi
Lead Career Assistant
4th Year History of Art and Visual Culture (Honours)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Post-Graduate Studies--The Journey Continues...


Further education is a great way to gain additional skills and education after graduation from university. Further education can also prepare you for higher level careers such as research, teaching at universities and much more.  
If you are interested in a post-graduate college program as opposed to graduate school, there are many programs available to you. Post-grad programs are one to two years in length and provide hands-on, practical skills and experience that compliments the theoretical aspects of a university degree. Many programs offer students the opportunity to gain related work experience via a practicum component, internship or co-op work term. Check out Ontario Colleges for a list of programs throughout the province.
If graduate school is your route of choice, make sure to prepare early if you are interested in applying to graduate schools. It is important to do a lot of background research on various programs to ensure you are applying to the right programs that are of interest to you, and that will lead to the career you want!

            Start searching for the program that is right for you!
-           Start researching graduate school programs as soon as you know that you want to go to graduate school. Starting early will allow you more time to compare various programs, and you may even come across other programs you never knew existed. Whether you want to study locally, nationally or abroad, Career Services has many links available online that can direct you to whatever it is you are looking for. Check out the Further Education section on the Career Services website to get started.
            Application expectations
-           Look into every school website individually to familiarize yourself with the application procedure, the documents expected in your application, and any graduate entrance exams required. Remember; every school is different and thus requires different documents. Also check out Career Service’s Graduate School Quick Tip for additional information!

            Letters of Reference
-           Many graduate programs will ask for letters of reference from professors. Make sure you get to know your profs early and make a good impression so that when you contact them for a reference, they remember who you are and will be able to write an exceptional reference based on your academic performance and work ethic.
            Letter of intent/CV
-           Once you have an idea of where you want to apply for graduate school, you may be required to write a letter of intent and/or curriculum vitae . At Career Services, we have many resources to assist you with writing these academic documents. You can also stop by at any time between the hours of 9am to 4pm to get your documents reviewed for free!
Applying to graduate school next year?  Start preparing early and layout plenty of time to study for entrance exams. Don’t forget to stop by Career Services to take a look at some graduate school study guides; we have one for every degree!

Nella Paris
Senior Career Assistant
Psychology Major (Honours)