Opportunity Awaits You!

Opportunity Awaits You!

By: Nichola Basara | Career Peer Educator
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It seems these days students are in such a rush to graduate and “move on with their lives.” But what exactly are students expecting to move on to in a society such as ours, where an education is just one of many requirements for a job, and doesn’t directly give you the “experience” employers are looking for?

This is the way I used to think: I’ll go to university, get good grades, and worry about finding a job once I finish. However, I have recently changed the way I think about my university experience. Yes, good grades are important, but so are the benefits you can obtain by getting involved in various programs and opportunities that can give you valuable experience and build up your resume.  

What kind of experiences am I talking about? There are many, but Co-op, exchanges, and various volunteer opportunities are good examples. Co-op for instance allows you to work in a real job related to your faculty of study. This of course gives you relevant work experience, all while being paid! Although Co-op may require you to take several semesters away from full-time classes and therefore post-pone graduation, the experience you can gain is well worth the wait.

A Co-op job can provide you with many skills that can prepare you for meaningful positions once you graduate. It’s even possible to land a permanent position with a company before you leave university! Is this common? On the Communications Co-op website they state that 63% of students find employment as a direct result of their co-op experience. Co-op is definitely an opportunity I want to take advantage of before I graduate. Every person I know that has done Co-op tells me how great of an experience it is and how much they have benefited from the skills they have obtained through there co-op position. A friend of mine was also lucky enough to land herself a position with the company she had been working for.

Volunteering is another way to contribute to the experience section of your resume. Due to the fact that volunteer positions are not paid, many feel as if their time is better spent taking classes or working a part-time job to earn money. Although many part-time jobs (such as working at restaurants, coffee shops, or grocery stores) build important transferable skills along with money to pay for tuition, they may not offer the field-related experience more directly relevant to the careers you hope to obtain.

Volunteering some of your time to organizations that interest you or events you feel you could contribute to offers up experience for your resume, field-related skills, and networking connections. Volunteer experience also shows an employer that you are willing to dedicate your time to help others. This semester I got involved in volunteering at SFU as a Career Peer. I am currently being trained to advise students on resumes, cover letters, and interview tips. This volunteer experience has allowed me to realize that career advising is something I am passionate about and is providing me with essential skills I will need in order to become a career advisor once I graduate.

The point I am trying to make: get involved! Look into programs and opportunities SFU offers students that can allow you to gain experience while you make your way through your university degree. Taking some time away from classes to invest in career-related areas can only benefit you in the long run and better prepare you for the world after graduation. By taking part in experiences such as the ones discussed above you are making yourself stand out from other students and therefore increasing your chance at success in the future.

Lead image source: Eric Rice via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Nichola BasaraNichola Basara is a third year student majoring in Communication and minoring in Psychology. She currently works for SFU Recreation teaching fitness classes, and volunteers for Career Services as a Career Peer Educator. After graduating, she hopes to complete the Career Development Practitioner program and become a Career Advisor.

Posted on October 16, 2013