Monday, 23 September 2013

Twas the Week of Careers Day

This week's blog post comes from Kristina Drozdiak. Kristina is in the Arts Work Experience Program (AWE) and is doing a one-year internship at CAPS.
Careers Day is almost upon us. This Wednesday, September 25 CAPS: Your U of A Career Centre will be hosting our annual multi-discipline career fair, the largest of its kind in North America. We understand that bigger isn’t always necessarily better; with nearly 200 employers registered, that is an awful lot of booths to stop by, especially if you only have the time to drop in between classes.
In order to refine your search and maximize the time you spend engaging with employers you share an interest with, we have a grid on our website that allows you to see from which areas each employer is interested in hiring. You can find the grid here.

Careers Day is a great opportunity to network with employers, to see what opportunities are available and to practice marketing yourself to employers. If you’re nervous about making a good impression, try starting out at booths that you are not as interested in. Because the stakes will be lower making mistakes will be less intimidating and you can begin to smooth out your personal ‘elevator pitch.’
To prepare for the connections you’re hoping to make, stop by the CAPS booth and pick up a Careers Day business card. On the back you can fill out your personal information (name, degree, year of graduation, e-mail, work interests). Feel free to take as many as you like! When you pass them along to employers, they will not only have your contact information, but these distinctive cards will remind them of where they met you.
This year will be my first helping to put Careers Day together, rather than attending as a student. I’m looking forward to seeing you there, and I hope that your experience this Wednesday is a good one! The best piece of advice that I can give is that you can only get as much as you’re willing to put in. Just keep in mind that the employers at Careers Day want to engage with you, so don’t be afraid to start the conversation.

We’ve been asking employers what the coolest thing about working for their organization is. If you’re still looking for a reason to visit Careers Day on Wednesday, here are some answers I found inspiring:
Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd – Grand Prairie Operations

Top Ten - #1. We love ice cream!
Because it tastes good. Also because it contains cellulose (wood) fiber. Countless products do: toothpaste, photographic film and insulation, to name a few.

Farm Credit Canada
As one of Canada’s top employers, we’ve created a culture by design that ensures respect, accountability and collaboration by valuing all our employees.

ATB Financial
So what can ATB Financial offer you? Career advancement opportunities without ever having to leave the province, direct access to senior leaders, and a voice in our future. Our organization craves change and with that, opportunities abound for the right people. As an award-winning employer-of-choice – we have the best of the best working for Albertans. Sound like a team you want to be a part of?

Otis Canada Inc.
After working for Otis Canada for one year the Company will pay for costs to take a graduate degree program on a part time basis.

The Balancing Act

This post is written by Sarah Coffin, Communications Coordinator at CAPS.
It’s no secret that students have lots on their plates these days. From school to work to everything in between, not to mention planning for the future, there is quite a bit to manage. Achieving balance can be tricky, but keeping balance in your life is so important. Many of CAPS staff members were (or some still are) students at one time and remember the balancing act. I asked them their top tips to maintaining balance while juggling everything that life threw their way:
- Find time for yourself. I am putting this suggestion first on my list as especially during stressful times, it is important to take care of you first. Take a yoga class, go for a walk, cook yourself a delicious dinner, meet up with friends, drop into an intramural sports game. Do whatever you need to do to unwind your mind. Taking breaks will make you more efficient when you are tackling your other tasks in the day because you can approach them with a clearer mind.
- Time management. Be realistic with your time. Break out your tasks that you have to do for the week - from school time, to studying time, to work time, to time for yourself.
-  Make use of your agenda or an online calendar and schedule in reminders for yourself as to when stuff needs to get done. Technology can be a great thing, especially when it comes to making life easier for you.
- That being said, don’t get sucked in by online time wasters. It’s very easy when you are checking your e-mail to also check your text messages, Facebook, Instagram etc. and then realize an hour has passed.
- This might seem like a simple idea, but make sure you have enough time in the day to do everything. If your schedule seems too packed, or like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything…
- … remember you are not superman/woman. It might be time to prioritize what you need to do or ask for help.
- When you are taking on tasks, remember that you can always say no. Being realistic as to what you can do and what fits into your goals is very important.
What do you do to keep balance in your life?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Building career resiliency

The Fall 2013 edition of Career Connections landed on my desk late last week. Career Connections is a magazine published by CAPS twice a year (fall and winter). The feature article in the most recent edition is about the role of career resiliency in coping with work-related stress.

Included among the definitions of resiliency I read in the compact edition of my handy dandy Oxford English Dictionary – you know, the one I need a magnifying glass to read – are: the tendency to rebound, buoyancy, and power of recovery. In relation to one’s career, I see resiliency as the ability to anticipate and respond to change in ways that move you forward – not only being able to bounce back when the worst happens but also being able to learn and grow from experience (good and bad).

I also see career resiliency as something that can be developed. One of the key ways to develop career resiliency is by building and nurturing a strong network of professional and personal contacts. According to the article in Career Connections, one of the four common causes of career stress that can lead to ambivalence and inaction is isolation. Friends, colleagues, mentors, etc. are people you can turn to for advice and support when you find yourself in career transition or dealing with challenges.

Another way to build career resiliency is to keep learning. I’m not suggesting further education, such as a second degree or other certification to supplement what you already have, although that may be something you want to consider. But you can also learn a lot by being involved in your profession and community; for example, by participating in professional association activities, such as conferences, or through volunteer work.

Maintaining a positive attitude and staying optimistic are often included among advice for building career resiliency. While I agree that always focusing on the negative, blaming others for your problems and other behaviours often associated with pessimism can inhibit your ability to deal effectively with challenges and move forward, being a Pollyanna (blindly optimistic) is not very helpful either. Let’s face it, bad things happen in life. And some of those things are beyond an individual person’s control. Allowing for ‘negative’ feelings (e.g. anger, despair) about those things can be helpful in terms of naming them so that you can move forward by, for example, accepting the situation or joining with others to try and change it.

Finally, staying fit – physically, emotionally and socially – is also key to building career resiliency. In addition to the strategies noted above, regular physical activity (you don’t need to work out like you’re training for a marathon), eating right (allowing for the occasional unhealthy treat, whatever that means for you) and taking the time to do things you really enjoy can help you maintain your physical and mental health.