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Archive for the ‘career choice’

Mar10

should i stay or should i go

For the past 4-5ish years at uoft,lets just say I didnt work as hard.I thought a BA would get me pretty far in life,but sadly,I was told I needed a masters to get a decent job in my field. The issue is that most master programs in canada have the standard 3.0+cGPA requirement.I dont mind staying back to boost my cGPA but will it affect my application?do schools look at the #of years uve been in school?Not exactly sure what to do…
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hey,

while working hard is usually a good statement to live by, sometimes it just doesn’t happen for some of us (lol me) and that’s okay. there is always room for change!

because every school is different, i can’t say for sure that they won’t look at how many  years you’ve taken to get your degree. i do know that they will be looking at your most recent academic performance and because of that, it wouldn’t be a terrible to thing to boost your cGPA. however, if you are really far away from a 3.0 cGPA, you might want to reconsider staying behind. you may end up spending too much time (and a lot of dough) trying to get that 3.0 cGPA.

my feeling is that if you have experience with research in your field, it can definitely improve your chances of being accepted because it shows that you took the initiative to look for these opportunities. even if it isn’t a formal job, experience is always beneficial to your application.

remember that getting a 3.0 GPA doesn’t guarantee entry into a masters program! there are other factors that will be considered during the admissions process, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

if you haven’t already, check out the career learning network to see if there are any jobs open now that you are interested in!

hope all of the above makes sense, i’m sorry i couldn’t give you an absolute answer since they do handle each application on a case by case basis. your best bet is calling the schools directly. (or emailing their askastudent) 🙂

Distractify the clash

(click on the .gif for the song. its a classic)

peace and love,

aska

May07

graduate: v. afraid, qualified

Hey aska,

I’m about to graduate, and I have my last year of my undergraduate coming up in September. What can I do with a HBSc? What should I do in my final year of undergrad? I feel like I barely know anyone and I’m not sure how to establish a good connection with professors to ask for letters of recommendation.

Please help, I’m really stressed out and I’m not sure what to do in my last year to improve my outlook on life after graduating.
I’m enrolled in two majors, one’s the general human biology and the other is more specialized.

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hey there,

seems like all of undergrad is just about being afraid. in first year you’re afraid because everything is new, in second and third year you’re afraid because you don’t think you’ll be able to keep up your CGPA, and in fourth year you’re afraid because you realize your CGPA doesn’t matter nearly as much as you thought it would. i sure do love university.

here’s my opinion*: the market is so inflated with bachelor’s degrees that graduating with an undergrad in a certain area doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to go on to have a career in that area.

which, on the one hand, is super frustrating and unfair, but on the other, is incredibly liberating. you can start over now. and lots of jobs won’t care a hoot about what you did in your undergrad, so if you messed up a little, it won’t destroy your job prospects.

if you’re graduating with a B.Sc., obviously you have all the usual suspects available to you in terms of careers: medical school, nursing, pharmacy, graduate school, teachers’ college. if you’re not interested in continuing university, there are also college programs that you can take if you’re interested in becoming a scientific or medical technician/technologist.

whatever you decide, it’ll take some time to assemble application packages etc., so the best thing to do in your fourth year would be to figure out what you need to apply and start prepping (this applies even if you decide not to do another university degree: if you want to go straight into the workforce, it’s best to start looking and applying for jobs early).

as to reference letters, there is nothing to be nervous about. just remember: profs who teach third- and fourth-year courses expect to be references for students applying to graduate/professional schools. it’s part of their job. if they can see that you did your due diligence in sending them a proper request, they won’t hate you for it.

and you DON’T have to be BFFLs with a prof or have worked with them in their lab to ask them for a reference letter. if you did well in one of their courses and you remind them of that, odds are they’ll be willing to help you out.

of course, you can also just go out there into the job arena and see what you can find outside of science. there’s a whole world of random jobs out there – in sales, office work, shift work, you name it. there’re all sorts of wacky things to do – you just have to start looking.

best of luck in the real world. you can do it.

aska

* ‘opinion,’ as i’m sure you know, is internet shorthand for, ‘i’m just going to say this but i’m not going to provide any stats to back it up…so there.’

Feb05

a USELESS degree? in MY faculty? it’s more likely than you think

Dear aska, I recently saw a post where a student stated that his/her degree in poli sci was “useless” and they were looking for alternatives. Being a 2nd year Political Science student at U of T myself, I was wondering if I could get Aska’s opinion on this; being the knowledgeable person that you are. Why do you think such a stereotype exists? And what are the employment prospects for students holding a degree similar to mine?

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hey there,

knowledgeable??? nah, you must have me confused with someone else. they only hired me because i could juggle three watermelons while singing ‘the maple leaf forever.’

fact of the matter is this: no matter how much the department insists on calling itself ‘political SCIENCE,’ it’s about as much a “science” program as art history or celtic studies are.

poli sci. is a humanities program through and through, and as such, it does not give graduates a suit and a job along with their degree. as a poli. sci. student, you are not being trained for any specific job – except, maybe, the job of a political science professor.

you’re getting a liberal arts education, which means that you have to be CRAFTY about how you present yourself to employers. some people may say that because of that, your degree being ‘useless,’ but i would disagree. all it means is that you have to be a little more involved in your job search.

why does the ‘useless’ stereotype exist? because of a utilitarian outlook on education driven by capitalism and neo-liberals whose vision is so obscured by the free market that they can’t fathom the idea that there might be something worthwhile in learning for itself. also because of mike harris, probably. BUT i digress.

i would argue that just because your degree doesn’t fashion you into a pre-made corporate automaton, doesn’t mean it’s useless – even in a utilitarian sense.

political science degrees are great preparation for law school, graduate studies in political science, all kinds of political journalism, public relations or communications work, public policy work, and lots of obscure government jobs.

that said, the degree alone usually isn’t enough to get you a job right out of your undergrad. try to get some experience, if you can, in some of the areas you’re interested in, either by volunteering or interning or working.

for more information, i’d recommend you look at this incredibly detailed profile from the career centre at utm. this is another useful starting-off point.

peace,

aska

Apr22

ask what uni can give to YOU.

Dear Aska,

I’m supposed to be going into my third year at UofT next fall but I fudged up really bad and will be going into my second year (credit wise). Last year I decided to take only political science and international relations courses. I realized as much as I loved International Relations I could not do it in a classroom setting so I had to drop all those courses (LWD). I also failed astronomy by like 5%. So this year I decided to double up on my courses and took 6 per semester to “catch up”, that backed fired. I’m about to fail a political science course (pol200) and I did awful in my other courses. Last year I was on academic probation but I got out of it after summer school, but I’m pretty sure I’m headed right back or even academic suspension. I figured out that I want to major in Equity , that’s so far a definite because there’s a variety of courses I can take which I like. I was told to do a minor in sociology by my registrar because it was the one class I did well in, and I do like sociology but again I screwed up and will just get a passing mark (50%). I’m undecided if I should stay in political science. I love it but the classroom setting isn’t working for me. I tend to fall asleep in my classes because my professors are too dry as are my readings. But most of the opportunities I want, require a BA in political science. I was also thinking about doing a major in Urban Studies but I despise economics in a classroom settings. I have really bad luck when it comes to economic teachers, it all started in high-school. And for urban studies I have to take an intro to eco course. Another problem I have is that I’m almost all out of my LWD and CR/NO CR and have probably used up most of my first year course allowance figuring out what I don’t like. So I can’t screw up anymore. I’m going to make an appointment with the academic success centre later this week to see if they have any helpful advice. But I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m just so burnt out from school, I have no motivation. The problem is I don’t like any other university other then UofT (in Canada). Also no course sounds interesting to me anymore. Any advice? I know I didn’t really ask any specific questions, but just any input would be greatly appreciated 🙂

OH P.S. I forgot to mention, I eventually do want to get into law school (Idk if i’m gnna stay in Canada or go abroad for that) But at this rate I
do not have the grades.
P.P.S. All the opportunities I find for work or volunteering or internships require a GPA that I don’t have. And these experiences are amazing and will help me discover what I like and dislike, and if it’s for me.

Sincerely,
Need a Spark

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hey there,

you’ve got a lot of stuff going on here. i’m gonna be honest, i don’t know how much help i can be. like you said, you haven’t asked any specific questions, and since what you are asking seems to fall under the category of General School Life Advice, i’m just going to go that route, and let academic success handle the nitty-gritty details of your next steps at school (subject POSt stuff, LWDs, etc.), since they’ll probably be better at that than i will, anyway.

it seems to me that you’re interested in a lot of things, but a lot of them you don’t like in a “classroom setting.” you said that more than once about different programs in your question, so i get the feeling that the issue here is not you finding a major that you like, but the actual atmosphere of school. if a lot of these things interest you, but not necessarily in a university context, then maybe the university’s the problem. i think maybe it would be helpful to think about what you really want out of your education, and whether uni can really provide it.

keep in mind that i’m just making suggestions; i’m not going to tell you to drop out of school or make any drastic decisions, and of course you should definitely talk to your registrar’s office before making your decision, whatever it may be. however, i do think that every step of your education should be chosen by you, and for your own benefit. maybe sociology’s the best choice for you (just make sure you take a look at the program requirements before committing yourself to that route), maybe you need to take a year off, or maybe you now’s the time to move on from uoft.

ask yourself why you “like UofT”; if it’s just for the prestige or the pretty buildings, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons. additionally, i’d say your academic probation is definitely a cue from the university to take a good look at your school career, and make a serious decision about where you want to proceed from here.

finally, there are plenty of exciting, real-world volunteer opportunities that don’t have a GPA requirement at all. i’ve done my fair share of educational, rewarding, productive volunteering, and not once have i had to provide my GPA. university is definitely not the only path towards being a successful, productive member of society, and doing some volunteer work could be your entryway into a career you actually, y’know, enjoy. so take a look around!

best,

aska

Apr10

career choice SHOWDOWN

Hey Aska,
I’m in a real dilema here. I just got accepted into OISE J/I program, and I’m excited and all, but the horrible job market for teaching in Ontario is a real bummer. I also got accepted into nursing, but after a 5 year undergrad experience, I’m not too sure I want to go through another 4 years. Nursing is great but the shift work and immense stress is also troubling. Plus OISE is cutting half its program and extending the program from 1 year to 2 years starting in 2015. I’m at a lost here, and I’m really not sure where to go next year. Please offer me some advice ='(

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hey there,

it seems to me you’ve already done some research on this. you probably know more about the job market for teachers in Ontario than i do, and you probably know more about nursing. i could dig up some statistics for you that might tip you one way or the other, but i feel like you can do that on your own, so i’ll just try to change your perspective a bit.

to me, whether you do 2 years or 4 in school is not the main concern. either way, in under a half a decade, you’ll be finished with school, and ready to spend at least forty years on one career. since that amount of time massively eclipses the time you’ll spend in school, i think you need to focus on that. the question, then – which i will continue ramming down all your throats ’til you’re sick of it – is what you’ll enjoy more.

if you really want to be a teacher, then having to travel to another country to teach shouldn’t be enough to put you off that career. of course, moving is demanding, and trying to do your job in a culture (and sometimes a language) you are unfamiliar with is incredibly hard. shift work is also hard, especially in such a physically and mentally demanding job as nursing. but, like, life is hard, you know? jobs are hard. i have the best job imaginable, and sometimes even i wake up tired and don’t want to commute for two hours to get to it, and sometimes i mess up at work and i feel stressed out about my mistake for the rest of the day. it happens.

no matter what you do, your job is going to come with roadblocks. but the career you pick needs to be something that you love enough that you are willing to push through the roadblocks. and yeah, i think those roadblocks should be part of the consideration: are you willing to move province or country if you can’t find a job teaching in ontario* are you willing to work long shifts at strange hours? but also, consider what it is you really want to spend your life doing. i know that’s easier said than done, especially when there’s no way for you to test-run the job, so to speak, in a volunteer or internship position.** but that’s the thing that should ultimately determine your decision, i think.

sorry i can’t give more help than that. hopefully this gives you something to chew on, at least.

best,

aska

* by the way, i understand that it is super tough landing a teaching job in toronto, but it’s not impossible, especially if you start applying for tutoring jobs and stuff now to build your resume.

**though if you?can get a volunteer position at a school or hospital, i’d highly recommend it; that’ll definitely well-inform your decision.

Mar21

jobs???

what can I do with a major in biology and chemistry, in terms of available jobs?

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Hey there,

Here’s the thing. You can do anything with your university degree if you’re crafty enough. I hate to sound like a crotchety old whiner, but it’s getting harder and harder these days for university graduates to get jobs, and that means that people have to be increasingly creative in getting jobs. You can’t limit yourself to a set number of possibilities, because it’s very likely that you’ll have to apply for jobs radically outside the realm of those possibilities, and sooner than you might expect.

HOWEVER! It’s still good to explore your options and see what you’re interested in, and do your darn best to try and get into those careers that you’re excited about. So here’s a very modest list of possible paths you can take after getting a degree in bio and chem:

1. Medical jobs, including but not limited to: doctor, pharmacist, nurse, dentist, veterinarian, health policy developer, nutritionist, occupational therapist, bioethicist…the list goes on. I should note that all of these require a professional or graduate degree. You can browse all the graduate programs at uoft here.

2. Research. Typically done in a lab. Erlenmeyer flasks, very fancy and expensive pipettes; that sort of thing. Obviously, a Ph.D. (or an M.Sc. at the very least) is necessary if you’re interested in this.

3. Teaching. And if you pull the whole “those who can’t do, teach,” thing, EVEN IN YOUR MIND, my spirit will show up personally to your house tonight and PUMMEL you while you SLEEP.

4. If staying in school and getting another degree isn’t really your thing, and you’re adamant about getting a job in science, then a B.Sc.-holder can always become a research technician/technologist. Info about being a research technician with the Canadian government here.

As you can see, the vast majority of high-paying jobs listed here (and even some of the not so high-paying ones) require additional degrees or college certifications. This is one of the reasons that I’m so impatient with the whole “B.A.s are useless!” mentality. Sure they are, but they’re not that much more useless than any other Bachelor’s degree in Canada.*

So, what to do? Well, like I said, you can be creative – you can accept that your career might not lie in science, and start looking at any and all jobs that will take you (retail, executive assistant, etc.). Or, if bio/chem is really the one thing you want to pursue, you can look into some of these graduate/professional degrees and further certifications.

Would you like some sugar with which to swallow that bitter pill?

I hope that was helpful and that you are not too discouraged! Don’t worry: worst comes to worst, I can always sublet you my spare cardboard box on spadina. Just for you, friend. I’ll even throw in some spare newspapers.

Best,

aska

*In other countries, it’s a different situation. For example, did you know that in England, you can become a certified lawyer with just a first-entry, 3-year undergraduate degree? I know. I hate them too. Although, would you really want a 21-year-old representing you in a court of law? Food for thought.

Jan15

and dreams of para-para-paradise

Hello aska!

Weeeellll here’s the thing. I love history. I did it in highschool, and i plan to specialize in it in university. And I also want to be a teacher. However I’m also good at math, so I’ve heard being an engineer is good for this economy. So I was wondering, if it’s not too personal, if you’ve been through the same conundrum. Whether you’d have to fight society, your pressures, and all that in order to do what you love.

A person in my mom’s work had even told me that learning Philosophy was for rich people’s children who don’t need their degree, and that there are too many teachers. A relative told me that Uni was expensive so I best do the degree most likely to leave me a job in the end. But I love history – but I don’t like wasting $$$.

So, I’m asking, any thoughts/personal stories/go-seek-your-guidance…councillor?

Lots of tickles,

[name redacted]

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hey there,

whoa nelly, have i got war stories related to this. as it happens, my entire life so far has basically been an embarrassingly cliched back and forth between things i WANTED to do and things i thought i SHOULD do. however my life isn’t super-awesome now or anything, so don’t do everything i did just because i did it. i’ll just give you my two cents and then you can think about that and everything your parents/teachers/peers have said, and you make your own decision, yeah? make sense? alright, cool. so here we go.

in high school, i was good at math. and science. and everything. alright i’ll say it: I WAS GOOD AT EVERYTHING. i think i graduated with a 92% average, and i’d taken calculus, the three sciences and english – that’s not to brag, just to give you someone you can compare yourself to. i went into a life science program for first year and finished that year with an 82%. that’s not that bad, right? i could’ve easily continued on in the program and done reasonably well.

WRONG. see, this is the thing. i hated my first year. HATED it. and that’s not because i was unintelligent or too stupid to realize that science and math aren’t interesting (because they are) or because i was too selfish to think about what really matters – the money. i had an uncontrollable, visceral reaction to what i was studying, and it made me less inclined to study, and that made me MEDIOCRE. see, the thing people don’t realize is that you don’t study what you’re interested in because you are a selfish prick or a moron who doesn’t realize that you need to somehow get a job out of university; you study what you’re interested in because it’s a SURVIVAL TECHNIQUE.

if you go into a program you’re lukewarm about, you’re not going to do as well in it as the people who love it. that’s just true. it is in your best interest to pursue the thing you adore, the thing you obsess over, because that is your one fighting chance to be outstanding, and in this economy, as we all know, employers will not accept anything less than outstanding.

now, i don’t want to sugar-coat things: if you try to become a history teacher, it won’t be easy. you may have to move countries, more than once maybe. you will not have a great starting salary. maybe you’ll have to do jobs out of college like flower-arranging or selling shoes. but i’d say that doing poorly or even mediocre-ly in, say, engineering, because you just can’t produce the passion for it that would make you remarkable, is gonna produce the same result: employers won’t hire you. they’ll hire that guy who can’t STOP TALKING about fulcrums and shizzle that you don’t give two hoots about.

so yes. i have made the decision to pursue what i love instead of what i “should do.” but i would argue that that decision was a much wiser choice, economically and financially speaking, because now i actually might be able to do really notable things with my career. it’ll still be hard work, but i want to do it now, which means i’m outstripping those “rich people’s children” who are just in it for the lawls. and i think if you consider the logic carefully, you’ll find that the same is true for you.

right, i’ma get off my soap box now. i hope that helped.

see ya l8rs,

aska

Mar07

choo-choo-choose my career

Hi there! 🙂
So I’m currently a first year Life Sciences student at St. George Campus and I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life at this point. I did research and explore careers and I feel that nothing really catches my interest. I don’t know what I want to major or minor or specialize in Life Sciences. The reason I went into Life Sciences is because I felt there were more careers offered in this program but I’m still undecisive and sometimes, I feel I don’t know if its worth it to stay in the program. I did try thinking more of a career that reflects my personality and values, I really do like to communicate with people (especially children)and I wish to work in a field that I can provide care for people so I did gain more of an interest in nursing (hopefully in Sickkids) and I prefer working in a hospital than working in a lab or research. The thing is, I don’t want to study that long and I’m not that bright lol so a Ph D is out of the picture, 2 years of masters is fine though. The thing about nursing is that I think I have to transfer out of UofT and attend Ryersons nursing or?
York because my friend in 4th year life sci, (pursuing nursing at UofT next year) said they require you to finish a degree and then apply for the 2 year problem and they only accept B+ – A+ averages (I don’t think I can maintain a high GPA) whereas for Ryerson, I can directly apply and it’ll be a shorter time and they also offer placements. The problem is, I don’t want to transfer out of UofT, I really love the campus, I just checked out Ryersons campus and I realized how beautiful UofT campus is and how opened it is. I love the libraries here and I made a few good close friends here and the profs are great. I don’t know whether I should stay at UofT or transfer. It’ll be such an adjustment if I do transfer. The good part about Ryerson is the classes will be smaller, easier to interact with others and make friends and easier to have a social life too. If I stay here at UofT, I don’t know what career I wish to pursue, I do love psychology though! What’s holding me back from majoring in Psychology is that people are always saying that it is so hard to get a job in psychology unless you have a Ph D. Sigh.
Should I stay here at UofT? Or, is there any other careers you suggest?
Sorry for the long message btw and thanks for the help! 🙂
Oh yeah, do you reply back on the site or by mail?

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Welcome to the 80% of U of T students who have no idea what the hell they are doing with their lives. From what you have told me, you feel like (I hope you’re laying on a leather couch) Ryerson is better for you academically, but socially and for general enjoyment, you would prefer to be at U of T.

Yah … I really can’t make this decision for you … I can barely make it for myself. If you were 100% set on nursing, then I would probably support a transfer because you can always visit friends, the campus and even sneak into U of T libraries. If you’re not positive on this decision I would wait it out a little bit.

U of T has, after all of these years, realized that we (the students) have no effiing idea what we are doing.

The Career Center, I hear, is the bee’s knees. Or even an academic advisor could help point you in the right way … or at the very least hand you a tissue as your eyes fill with tears.

I’ll make you a deal: you choose my career and I’ll choose yours.

forever and always,

aska

May16

transfer credit help

Is there any way I can find out what my credits at another university will transfer to if I come to UofT, before I apply / get accepted / register / etc? Other than just going to the online calendar and guessing? I’d like something more official, if possible. I don’t trust myself. Hehe.

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