University Bound? This Website is for You

As part of my career coaching business, I am always looking for more resources I can use to educate both myself and my clients.  On that note, a while back I was talking to a woman about my business, and she happened to be a parent of teenagers. She told me about a website that she and her children had used as part of their research into universities and the various programs available, and she emphasized how helpful it had been in helping them to understand their many options. I had to check out this site myself, and it is truly excellent. I thought I would share it with you in this post.

The website is called eInfo, and can be found at www.electronicinfo.ca. This site is billed as a guide to Ontario’s universities for high school students, but would also be a handy resource for guidance counsellors. The website provides a wealth of information about university programs, admission requirements, and more. Users can search by program or university, and can also access information on finance (fees and scholarships), and the application process. The site also includes a handy video explaining the many ways in which users can search for information. Users can also print relevant pages of the website for future reference; these are available as PDFs.

After exploring the site on my own, I found it to be an excellent resource, but I would offer a few words of caution. Because of the exhaustive amount of information available on the site, it is probably best used by a student who is sure they want to attend university (as opposed to college or an apprenticeship), and feels pretty strongly about what they want to study, or what school they would like to attend. For a more uncertain student, the amount of information on the site might be too overwhelming and could lead to more indecision and confusion.

I would also suggest that the site would be helpful for parents who are wishing to gain a better understanding of their teenager’s post-secondary plans, or who would like to compare program offerings, fees, etc, without having to scour the entire internet. The site makes it easy to do this, by including an option to compare different programs or schools, by simply checking a box.

If you or someone you know is university bound, you would be wise to check out eInfo, and check it often, as the site is frequently updated with new information. I know it will make a valuable addition to my collection of resources, and I’m sure it can help you too.

Resume Tips for the Uninitiated: Part 1

Resume writing is a life skill, but it can be a difficult one to learn. Even experienced workers can struggle with crafting an effective resume, but knowing how to do so is empowering. Young people, particularly teenagers and those just starting to think about the job search, can find it especially hard to put together a resume, but it is certainly possible.

That said, in this post I will share the first of a series of tips on how to write your first resume.

  • Start early. It is very stressful when you find a job opportunity or promising volunteer role, but you have no resume. Having to write it when under pressure can make it harder to do. It is best to start gathering the information for the resume long before it has to be submitted. The beginning of a new school year is an ideal time for teenagers to start this task.

Encourage your teenager to start keeping track of any courses they have taken, as well as clubs, special projects, or volunteer work they have participated in, and the relevant dates associated with each. These items make up the bones of a good resume, and if they are noted as they arise, it’s easier to recall the necessary details when it comes time to write the actual resume.

Your teenager can also keep a physical file of achievements, such as certificates, ribbons and school evaluations, all of which might be relevant when it comes to assembling an effective resume.

Stay tuned for more resume tips for the uninitiated in upcoming posts!

It All Starts With Self-Awareness

In my last post, I wrote about how well universities are preparing students for the workplace, and wondered whether students’ perceptions about the working world are even accurate. I thought that for this post, I might explore some of the ways in which students can start learning about different workplaces, but then realized that would be overlooking a crucial step. Before a person can even begin thinking about jobs and employment, they must have a solid understanding of their own skills, interests, values and strengths. Without this knowledge, no jobseeker can be adequately prepared to choose a fulfilling work situation. I would even argue that this knowledge is crucial to choosing the most suitable option for training for a job; college, university or apprenticeship.

Here are some stats, courtesy of the publication The Decade After High School, to illustrate how lack of self-awareness and knowledge can impede students from making informed choices:

  • 60% of students graduate from a different program than the one they started in
  • 2 years post-graduation, 50% of Canadian undergrads are in jobs that don’t require the skills they gained in university

This information suggests that many students are not taking the time to really get to know themselves and their true strengths before choosing a post-secondary option. As a result, many students follow a meandering path, and frequently end up in employment that does not even require the costly education they acquired.

But what can be done to remedy this problem? After all, many teenagers are concerned they won’t have the time to really find themselves and uncover their passions before having to choose a career. Keeping in mind that no career choice is set in stone, it is still possible for young people to make informed choices if they start learning about what really motivates them, much earlier than when they actually need to make a decision. The sooner teenagers begin to explore their options, the better equipped they will be to make choices that allow for flexibility and ultimately, fulfillment.

This is where parents come in. There are many small actions you can take to help your son or daughter begin to think about what they might want to do with their life. If started early enough, the information gathered from these activities will help to paint a picture of what your son or daughter’s possible career path might look like. For starters, you can:

  1. Ask your teenager positive questions that will help them to determine their preferences, talents and abilities. Over time, they will begin to see patterns and possibilities.
  2. Observe how your teenagers spend their time. A great deal of useful career information can be gathered from noting what hobbies, teams, volunteer roles or classes your teenager is most drawn to. Help them to see how these interests might line up with their career ideas.
  3. Use your own experience to help. Talk to your teenager about how your own values, interests, skills and personality come into play in your work.

These and other actions can go a long way to helping young people develop the self-awareness and knowledge required to assist them in making informed decisions about their education and career. What’s more, this knowledge can serve as an anchor to keep them focused as they navigate the ever-changing world of employment and careers.