April 28th, 2015
By guest bloggers Ainsley Goldman and Libby Whittington
We’ll be honest. We were pretty excited to find out that we would be writing a Gradlife blog post about career exploration. As the Career Centre’s two Coordinators of Career Exploration, not only do we get to shamelessly promote our upcoming events and programs but we can share our own career exploration stories as UofT graduate students!
Libby and Ainsley pose for a selfie at their graduation in November (Photo credit: Libby Whittington)
After working in the arts, not-for-profits, education, environmental organizations, and many restaurants, Ainsley had taken the plunge to complete a Master’s degree. Though she had taken personality assessments, gone for coffee dates and informational interviews to get a sense of the industry she wanted to enter before beginning her program, she had actually recently switched programs, and still hadn’t totally identified what she wanted to do with her degree or what her next step would be.
Libby has a similarly non-linear story. The few years after undergrad involved travelling, working abroad, and finally working in a language school managing the student services. Loving her work but hating the sales focus, Libby realized she wanted to work in student services but at a university. Not knowing in what capacity or how she could get there, she spent the year saving ‘dream job’ postings. One winter’s day with a large glass (or two) of red wine, Libby sat down and combed through the saved postings to figure out what skills, experience, & education she needed. All signs pointed to a Master’s of Education – so Libby quit her full-time job and returned to school!
Early in our grad studies, we both met on the first day of Work Study training at the Career Centre where we learned that we would both be Senior Career Peers Advisors. After our work study positions, we both decided to complete practicum programs at the Career Centre and then shortly after we were both “lucky” to secure full-time jobs that “happened” to become available at the Career Centre. Many people (ourselves included) look back at experiences and say things like “It was really lucky that job opened up” or “I was totally in the right place at the right time.” There is actually a theory to describe this phenomenon called Planned Happenstance Theory, which explains how we construct unexpected career opportunities. Whether you have a particular career in mind and you need to know how to get there, or you are feeling a bit lost, the career exploration programs we run can help you navigate your next steps, and construct the unexpected:
The Extern Job Shadowing Program connects you with professionals in your career area of interest for a half-day to five-day job shadowing experience. Many of our hosts have graduate degrees; this is a great way to explore non-academic career options where you can experience a day-in-the-life of a particular field, see what the workplace would be like and who your future colleagues would be. The next session is in June, and you can register for an orientation in order to participate.
In the Field is a half-day group field trip to an organization to meet professionals working in a variety of careers all under the same roof. This summer, we are taking groups of students to the YMCA, Free the Children, AGO, and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) to learn about various career paths. If you want to see how you can use your graduate level research skills outside of academic research, definitely check out the HEQCO event and/or their blog post about transitioning from graduate school! Register for an orientation in order to participate.
Students explore careers at a recent In the Field event at Sick Kids (Photo credit: Libby Whittington)
The Informational Interview Database gives you the opportunity to speak with experienced professionals to find out how they got to where they are today. To participate, attend a workshop on informational interviewing, Interview Them.
As a grad student you won’t be attending alone. About 30% of St. George participants are graduate students! If you want to chat more about programs, you can find us in the Career Centre or at firstname.lastname@example.org