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 🙂

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Day 40: How to be a French student

It’s been 2 months since I’ve been on exchange at HEC Paris, and needless to say, French students are very different from Canadian students. So, without further ado:

Here’s how YOU TOO can be French – in the classroom!

  1. Don’t show up to class on time – there is always a 5-10 minute grace period of people arriving to class on time, and the professor’s need that extra time too to prepare for class. They don’t mind if you’re late, since they may be late too.
  2. Take an extra long coffee break – Sure, it’s supposed to only be 5 minutes long, but no one returns to the classroom for at least 10-15 minutes. You need time to drink a coffee and chat with your friends so your brain can keep working for another 1.5 hours.
  3. Don’t be surprised if participation is worth 30% of your mark, but your professor barely leaves space for you to get a word in. Participation is just another word for attendance. And on that note…
  4. Always always go to class, and do your homework. There isn’t even that much to do compared to the workload at Canadian universities, so you may as well take the time to do it.
  5. If you do address the professor, do so formally. French professors are happy to talk to students, but don’t expect them to meet you outside of class. If you have any questions about courses, email them or talk to them after class.
  6. Do not eat, sleep or even slouch during class. You need to take notes once in a while, understand the main concepts and do well on the assignments and exams and in order to do that, you need to be awake and at least look like you are listening.
  7. Don’t clap after presentations. No one claps in the classroom in France! When your peers give a presentation, the professor will thank them at them at the end and they go to their seat. And no one claps for the professor on the last day of classes, either.
  8. And finally, dress up for class. You are in France after all!

A small disclaimer: I have only seen one French university and spoken to French students about how students handle themselves in the classroom, so this list doesn’t necessarily hold true at every single French university. I didn’t think there would be so many differences between Canadian and French schools, but the culture and the structure are very different and fascinating. Gotta love culture shock!

Amusedly yours,

Shiv 🙂

Studying abroad helps your career, so why can’t the reverse be true too?

After 5 jobs, an internship and a couple temporary positions, there are a lot of things I’ve learned at work that I’m excited to take with me when I go on exchange to Paris in September! So without further ado, I present to you…

5 lessons to take with you when you travel abroad!

1. Do things that scare you

As a pretty risk averse person, the only way to get me to do something I really don’t want to is to pay me. In all the jobs I’ve ever held there have been oh, 100+ tasks I don’t been comfortable doing but have to anyway, like drive a fully loaded golf cart down a steep, bumpy hill (and I can’t even drive a car) for example. And after doing the scary things a couple times, it’s not that scary and actually kind of fun. The big lesson from this is to GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE because when you’re abroad, you’ll have to do this on a daily basis to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

2. Get used to approaching strangers

One of the jobs I had this summer was being paid to ask low income people to fill in a survey for a research study at UBC. So basically, hours and hours of approaching people and asking them to do me a favour. And you know what? People can be really nice, and I ended up having some great chats with people I would normally never talk to. It’s difficult to take people’s rejection after you approach them, but it’s so rewarding when you meet such cool people and especially useful if you’re travelling alone. I’m very happy that I’m not afraid to approach strangers anymore, because when you travel you will be relying on the kindness of strangers to get you by when things don’t go as planned (which will, by the way, be more often than not). And in general, people are good and you shouldn’t let suspicion stop you from giving them a chance.

Your opening line... in English speaking countries

TANGENT: Businesses like Couchsurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.org/) and Tripping (tripping.com) base their entire businesses on this, and look how successful they are! I’m looking forward to using them when I’m travelling too.

3. Fill up your schedule as much as possible

Studying abroad means juggling studying, travelling, and having a blast with your new friends, so get used to being 100% busy all the time before you study abroad so you know how to balance it all! My 3 current jobs and an internship have taught me this much. And on that note…

4. Be self disciplined

There are going to be some things you won’t want to do but have to anyway when you go abroad. If you’re going on exchange like me, then it will mean actually cracking open a textbook once in a while and studying. Or abstaining on buying the kitschy tourist shirts. Or ordering a second dessert. Once I set the goal to earn as much money as possible, I said goodbye to my social life for the summer and gave my entire availability to my jobs. I only ever see my friends before and/or after I work, and it sucks because there are so many cool events happening in Vancouver during the summer. But c’est la vie! I live my hermit life, work as much as possible and can travel that much more comfortably later.

And finally!

5. Make lots of mistakes, but take them in stride

I don’t mean ‘make lots of mistakes and don’t apologize’ like so many tourists do just because they’re in a foreign country, but take them lightly and learn how to do it properly for next time. This has been especially hard for me since I’m so used to getting the hang of things so quickly, but let me tell you – learning how to waitress has been a very painful process. But making mistakes is bound to happen when you’re in a new environment, be it a new job or a new country and the best thing you can do is learn quickly and don’t get too discouraged.

I can’t guarantee that these lessons will make sure your time abroad is awesome, but I’m pretty sure it will be 😀

BY THE WAY — ONLY 15 DAYS UNTIL DEPARTURE!

Excitedly yours,

Shiv 🙂