Indigenous Student Transitions: Part Two

Indigenous Student Transitions: Part Two

By: Christina Coolidge
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Indigenous Student Transitions: Part Two

Students Transitioning to Career

As a University student, an SFU student in particular, there are many services to actively prepare for a career after graduation. Indigenous students have all of the career services available to them that any other student has; however, they also have Aboriginal resources as well.

SFU’s Career Services

When I first arrived at SFU, I took time during my first semester to adjust. I took advantage of the Indigenous Student Center and the First Nation Student Association and adjusted to classes. After I felt comfortable with my surroundings, I set out to find opportunities to get involved. The first thing I did was to apply for work-study. It was a very simple process and I was approved for 140 hours, then I looked through the different departments to find a work-study position that I felt was suitable for me. There were many to choose from and I applied for several positions, and was hired with Career Services.

Work-study is an excellent opportunity for those individuals, such as myself that demonstrate financial need and are interested in gaining work experience while also attending classes. It has been a rewarding experience and I would recommend work-study to everyone. 

Another way to gain work experience at SFU is through the co-op program with the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) department. The co-op program allows students to spend several months working full-time in an environment that supports their career aspirations.

“If you are ready to test drive multiple career options and develop resume-boosting experience that will set you apart – in a very noticeable way – from non-Co-op students, apply to the program today. The best time to apply is first year, second semester (or first semester if you are a transfer student). Be sure to apply before you reach 90 credit hours, and remember to apply two semesters in advance of your first intended paid work semester.”

For students that are unsure of the direction they would like to go in terms of their careers, SFU’s Volunteer Services can be an enormous help. It gives the student an opportunity to try many different career options, without having to make a long-term commitment. Volunteer hours can also help boost an résumé.

The Career Services department can help a student build an impressive résumé as well. “Students may utilize one-on-one advising, ongoing workshops and career fairs, or browse through career resources located in the office.  Employers can choose from varied on-campus recruitment options and guidance from our on-campus recruitment specialists.  They also strive to include staff and faculty from the university to help build an association of support for students, at every stage of their learning experience.” Career Services offers many different workshops as well, to enable a student to succeed at every stage of their post-secondary experience.

SFU’s Indigenous Student Career Services

Simon Fraser’s online learning community has a section dedicated to Indigenous students.

In it, there is information on various community resources such as the Aboriginal Mother Centre and Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC. There are links to Indigenous Volunteer opportunities and employers who have included employment equity into their hiring processes.

SFU’s Career Services department has worked diligently to create an environment for Indigenous students that will ensure success by giving us many choices and opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills about how to find a career that is right for each of us.

Tysun Tallman has been hired as a Career Peer Advisor with Career Services as well.

“My name is Tysun Tallman and I am of Blackfoot ancestry from the Blood Reserve in Southern Alberta. I am currently completing my 2nd year of a Health Sciences B.A and currently work as a Career Peer Advisor with Career Services at Simon Fraser University. I have a genuine interest in career planning and as a career peer I can help Indigenous students get the most out of their resume and cover letter, as well as utilize university platforms to search Indigenous job postings and register for special events.”

For myself, now that I have a work-study position and am gaining experience in a work environment, I realize the importance of networking. Once I graduate, it will be beneficial to me to have a network of people that I can call upon to guide me toward a fulfilling career.

The Indigenous Peoples Career Stories event is an annual event. I would encourage Indigenous students to attend and utilize the employers that are there to share their inclusion practices and build relationships with students.

My Best Advice

The best advice I can give, as an Indigenous student that has made use of many of these opportunities, is to reach out. Ask as many questions as you can and learn as much as you can about all that is available to you as you transition from a student to an employee. This is an exciting and empowering milestone in life. Here’s to a smooth transition!

Christina Coolidge is currently attending SFU as a Communications Major. She is the Indigenous Program Researcher with the Career Services department. Christina is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and her matrilineal ancestry includes Cree and Scottish. She hopes to help build a bridge between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities in order to better understand one another and to live together in a spirit of unity.

Posted on April 01, 2013