5 career tips for the clueless student – Interview with successful BCIT Grad Kemp Edmonds

Kemp Edmonds, Sales Engineer and overall awesome guy who works at Hootsuite (@HootKemp), graced us BCIT students with his presence and delivered an insightful presentation full of tips for clueless students.

It was great to hear from a fellow BCIT graduate who achieved professional success so soon after his graduation. But more importantly, he told us how he did it. His insider tips were so useful that I decided to interview him myself to get some concrete, actionable tips all students can use to get that dream job after graduation (or at least get closer to it).

1. Use the ‘student’ status to network and get to know professionals

Being a student in the eyes of a working professional means that you have the “I’m just here to learn” protection, and are not another job-hungry post-grad. It is paramount to recognize that this is a power that all students possess and need to fully leverage. Email people who work in positions you want to get to someday, and ask them for career advice. Actually apply their advice and mine them for more information. Follow up with them and show how you are actually applying their advice, and they will remember you the next time an opening comes up!

2. Learn about what you want from life, and get work experience in that field



One of the most common career challenges people face is not knowing what they want from life. Take the time to experiment and get to know your strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you happy. If you can get paid to use your strengths and do something that makes you happy, do it!

3. Teach yourself when school doesn’t cut it

Self-learning should be an ongoing process, and you should expect that school will not teach you everything you need to know. Absolutely great ways I personally teach myself outside of school are through Ted Talks and the Khan Academy for business topics. Forbes.com is another great resource. But a tangible example of self-learning is to just start up a blog and try stuff out with it! You can easily put ‘Familiar with WordPress/Blogger’ on your resume, and hey, that’s an in-demand skill.

4. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come up through friends. Eg. “Hey I’m going to this thing … want to come with?”

You will not only have the best adventures if you say yes to this question, but you will get to know a lot of different people and heck, maybe even learn a skill or two. Best of all, saying yes to spontaneous questions like this show that you are an open-minded person who fits into lots of different scenarios, and people might be more willing to ask you to do things/refer you to other people 🙂

5. Create content and get it published.

Start a blog, tweet, write for the local newspaper, and get your name published! Or even better, do some preliminary project work for some companies you really want to work at, and contact them with the work you did – maybe land yourself an internship with your initiative! It’s already tough to stand out from your colleagues with the exact same education as you. Creating content differentiates you from the crowd, and shows that you are an engaged individual who is curious about what’s happening around you.

Some food for thought: There are few who would say formalized post-secondary education is a bad idea, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to think about why we do what we do every once in a while. I encourage you to watch this video and redefine education 🙂

Why I Hate School But Love Education || Spoken Word (Youtube)

Good luck!

Shiv 🙂


Why I don’t want the 9-5 salary life

If you’re the odd one out who wants something different from life than the 9-5 job, suburban home and a slow-paced life – OH HAI! We have that in common 🙂

Well this is awkward.

From the standpoint of this naive early 20s kid, that sounds pretty awful, and I get a lot of judgment from my friends and family for wanting something different. I want 2.5 things that most people do NOT want –>

1. A job that pays me to travel

2. A small apartment in a central location

2.5. A kitty cat (Most people want dogs. I do not understand why.)

As a business student at the highly competitive Sauder School of Business, my peers are eager to finish school, get hired to the 9-5 job, take their money and move up in big corporations. They wear their suits proudly, network with confidence and will be very efficient workers. But it has been nearly 4 years in this environment and it’s never caught onto me.

I want enough money to get by, but I want my own life. I don’t want to give my entire week to giant corporations who give so many people great jobs but don’t offer the world anything of real value. I want to be able to blend my professional and personal life because I love doing what I do. What I want is a career that I actually like, and how many people can say they like what they do, honestly? Not that they are good at their job, that they are comfortable doing what they do or like the amount of money they are getting but actually enjoy working and would do it without pay? I haven’t met many.

And travellers get a whole other kind of stigma. Some of it’s good, but it’s not a lifestyle that works with the norm. After all, if you travel…

  • What will happen if you have kids? Kids can’t travel
  • You can’t keep a relationship with that kind of lifestyle
  • What if you have to travel to dangerous places?
  • Your cat will get lonely

Is it very hard to find a job you like, with hours that let you live a life and afford the basics? I understand the concern behind people’s questions because the life I’m looking for isn’t very secure, but I see no need for judgment.

If you want something different from the norm and are driven enough to work towards it, I say good on you and wish you good luck!

Thoughtfully yours,

Shiv 🙂


Some people who live a life I want include…

1. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Ian Wright from Pilot Guides is my hero. Being paid to travel, mingle with locals and express the beauty of the world is THE BEST JOB ON EARTH. And he’s hilarious. http://www.pilotguides.com/tv_shows/globe_trekker/travelers/ian_wright.php

2. The Travelling Canucks http://travelingcanucks.com/ – The couple that travels together stays together

Chronicles of a jobless student III

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A lot has happened since my last post. So much that I believe A NUMBERED SEQUENCE is in order:

(by chronological order)

1. I quit working at the Mom and Pop breakfast diner for the primary reason that the second impression of my boss did not match the first impression, and I could no longer work under someone who treats employees that badly. I am so glad I quit.

2. I picked up a 2nd part time job as a dishwasher at this popular piano bar in a nearby town. I’ve dishwashed in high school before. The work itself sucks – imagine scrubbing difficult pots and pans for 5-9 hours in a row in an industrial sink, up to your elbows in sludge – but the people are actually really nice, very patient with newcomers, and really funny. They could not be more different from the upstanding (yet strict and insulting) religious bosses at my old place – as soon as I entered the kitchen on my first day, I heard someone scream at someone else (jokingly) to suck on a nasty appendage, and they play the metal rock music radio station (which plays a lot of songs I like, and a lot of songs I am beginning to like!). I also get free fancy food 🙂 So it’s about as good as dish washing gets.

3. I picked up another part time job as a waitress at a Vietnamese classy restaurant in my town. And to get this job, I had to apply to it twice (I gave them my resume in early May, and then 2 weeks later I see that they posted a ‘Help Wanted’ ad on craigslist. So I bear down on them with another resume. And within a couple of days, I get an interview with the manager who is refreshingly honest and business professional, who explained she didn’t give me a call at first because I am not Vietnamese (darn), and being Vietnamese would make it easier for her to train me. I said I am willing to learn, I have some experience in Vietnamese cuisine (my best friend is Vietnamese, and it pays off!), and she in turn said that I seem smart, willing to learn and pretty (apparently this is another requirement for waitresses) so she is willing to give me a chance. I will be starting next week 🙂 And I’ve pretty much memorized the menu. Much easier to memorize than the breakfast place’s menu, because I think I’m more interested in Vietnamese cuisine 🙂 eheh

4. I got a call for an interview at a retail store you have probably heard of: Old Navy. I submitted my resume during a general online blast, and let me tell ya, the online blast of probably 100+ resumes did NOTHING but get me one phone call from Old Navy. My interview with the manager went really well, and he told me he would definitely recommend me onto the next stage of the hiring process: the interview with his manager. Great, right? That was about…6 days ago, and I plan on being pushy and giving them a call tomorrow to see what’s up. It’s a seasonal position selling clothes and being a cashier…and somehow, I think retail is much less stressful than restaurant jobs just because people who are shopping usually aren’t hungry, cranky, drunk and/or pressed for time.

5. I am getting a super small salary from my ‘unpaid’ internship because my internship supervisor likes what I am doing with the Twitter accounts! YES! I knew signing up on Twitter in February would pay off. I freaking love that site to bits. (Follow me @ShivaniMukerji SHAMELESS PROMOTION FTW or my professional yet awesome Twitter @studygoabroad you know you are curious.) And the internship is seriously paying off in about a million ways completely unrelated to money: it keeps me sane while I work blue collar jobs, it keeps me inspired to stick with my career path, I have gained great new contacts and insight into the industry of my dreams, tourism, and the work itself is directly beneficial to me! I look up sites, blogs, articles, flickr accounts, vlogs and anything else that would inspire students to STUDY AND GO ABROAD. As a result, I have many many many links to my inspiration and possible career paths I can take after I graduate.

6. I got rejected from the one ‘real’ job that I had gone through the interview process for. I applied to the general database of youth resumes for the Canadian Government, and got shortlisted for a position as a Youth Services Officer. After being shortlisted, I had to confirm I was still interested, give a written assessment, submit 2 references, be cleared by security, and undergo a conference call interview. All that effort down the drain. Ah well. I suppose blue collar jobs are now my next best option.

So there you have it. It turned out that what my stepmother said about jobs came true; no offers, and then all of a sudden you get multiple offers. I sincerely hope I get the Old Navy job so I can quit the other two, although they do have their good points. Mostly, I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the free food.

Oh! And I was pleasantly surprised to hear from my dad that my prospects of being hired after I graduate is low. I mean, I already knew that because they tell us this all the time at UBC, but hearing it from his mouth was a relief because it seemed like he didn’t believe the job market was as tough as it is until he saw a CBC report on it. Now, it’s OFFICIAL that it is ridiculously difficult to get hired after you graduate! HURRAH!

My plan on beating the market is to entirely escape it, take my own advice and go work abroad. I’ll teach English, be an Au Pair, or work in hostels as long as I can get opportunities to travel. Plus, any international experience will be relevant to my long term career plan.

On that note, I leave you with the latest thing I am excited about: VANCOUVER FOOD TOUR IS HIRING FOOD TOUR GUIDES. Could you imagine how ecstatic I would be if I were PAID TO LEAD GROUPS OF HUNGRY PEOPLE TO THE BEST SPOTS TO EAT IN VANCOUVER? YEAH.

I am also excited about this song. It plays all the time in the back kitchen of the restaurant I dish wash at, and I freaking love it. It is so damn gritty, has a great wailing vocalist, and reminds me of a grungy, bad-ass astronaut.

I’m now signing off! I hope my jobless chronicles inspire my fellow INTELLIGENT, HARD WORKING and QUALIFIED post-secondary students with a limited number of opportunities. The biggest lessons I’ve learnt are to keep applying, don’t be afraid to drop a job for a better one, keep searching for better opportunities, and above all, be as flexible as an acrobatic rubber band. Jack of all trades, baby!


Shiv 🙂