In April 2017, I received an offer of full-time employment with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) from May 1st to December 29, 2017. The Department is responsible for managing Canada’s oceans, fishing grounds, and freshwater resources, in addition to safeguarding its waters through the Canadian Coast Guard.
Over the course of these eight months, I learned some lessons which I believe any undergraduate student can use, regardless of the sector they’re interested in working for - public, private, or NGO.
- The most stressful part of any job is actually getting the job! The application process is long and there are many steps you must take before you can dream of how you’ll be decorating your cubicle. I learned that this process does NOT have to be stressful. Personally, I’ve used almost every one of the resources that the Telfer Career Centre offers undergraduate students, by completing the Career Development Certificate. I felt very well prepared and comfortable throughout the whole application process, and while at work. Through the Rock your Resumé and Interview Skills workshops, I made sure my application stood out to the employer and felt confident during the interview. The Networking Strategies workshop also helped improve my networking skills, which made me more at ease when networking with executives at my workplace.
From in-person workshops to online links, there are resources on everything from networking and interview skills to resumé and cover letter writing. Be sure to use them – they help make the process of finding work less stressful, and they ensure you have the skills you need to market yourself effectively.
- Networking may seem intimidating or daunting for those who have never actively practiced it. Unfortunately, this is a skill that you must use in every sector, so the ability to network effectively is very valuable. I learned that in order to receive opportunities for career progression, you must put yourself out there, be willing to meet new people, and take the initiative to make these opportunities happen.
During my time at DFO, I met numerous employees from every sector through social events, volunteering for the Workplace Charitable Campaign, and the professional network that spans across the Government (YPN). By getting involved, you open doors that can potentially lead you into a new role. Over the summer, one of my contacts had reached out to me with an opportunity to work for the Canadian Coast Guard’s Integrated Technical Services team. I spent one month on an assignment with them, and gained valuable skills, experience, and systems knowledge that will hopefully come in use as I further my career. Networking gives you access to opportunities that you may not have otherwise – remember that it gets easier the more you practice!
- I believe that the most important lesson I learned while working was that there will be countless opportunities waiting for me after graduation. This first full-time job, has helped me realize me that it’s only the first step in my career path. It taught me what type of tasks I enjoy doing, the work environment I would prefer to be in, as well as the main direction I want to go in professionally. All these factors will help shape the way of my career and will help me make the best choices relevant to full-time work. While at work, I would often receive emails regarding staff positions that are available to be filled, and links to job postings both in the National Capital Region and all over Canada. I appreciate that in the public sector, there is a wide variety of jobs available and that “lateral moves” between departments are common. Personally, I am interested in expanding my breadth of knowledge about different industries while working for the Federal Government, and I look forward to the opportunities that are yet to come.
I would like to thank the Telfer Career Centre for providing undergraduate students with the resources that have helped me with my personal and professional development. I encourage each and every one of you to take the time to learn more about the workshops and development programs that are offered to you as students of Telfer!
In summary: use the Career Centre’s resources, practice networking to expand your connections and create opportunities, and remember that there are many possibilities waiting for you in the future.