During those final months before graduation, the career world can feel both infinite and elusive, making it difficult for any new grad to know exactly what they want to do and be. It may be tempting to seek advice from the most accomplished professionals in their field, but is it the wisest decision? Is the job market different than it was 20 years ago? Definitely. The economic and technological landscape has changed drastically, so shouldn’t the advice you seek also have evolved?
Here are a few things I have learned during my post-Ryerson life:
1. Don’t worry, your first job won’t be the defining one
As our favourite Toronto hypeman, Drake, once said, “Start at the bottom and build your experience” – or something along those lines. He has a point though. No one will ever step into the position of their dreams directly out of school. It’s impossible. Use every experience that comes your way as a stepping stone to the next opportunity. In the digital age everyone wants immediate gratification, but when it comes to your career, always be planning for the long term and executing in the short term.
2. Shake 100 hands in your first year (virtually or for real)
Chances are your first full-time job will come through either an internship or from a family member or friend. So don’t be afraid to work any personal connections you have, even if the only time you met was in line for your OneCard. It’s about getting your foot in the door, and with professional platforms like LinkedIn so easily accessible, it has never been easier. Informational emails can be your secret weapon here – if you can find the right people, it can lead to a great info session or inside scoop about a position. Just make sure to be clear and considerate in your requests, as you are literally asking your contact to put their work on hold to respond. In most cases, you’ll see people are happy to help.
3. Hop on a plane and leave
With the world seemingly getting smaller by the minute, packing up shop and getting a job outside of Canada has almost become the norm for a vast number of millennials (at least 70 per cent of my friends from Ryerson have left Toronto). After you get over the initial period of doubting your decision, exposing yourself to a new country has the ability to increase your cultural competency, help you learn a new language and meet new people. Not everyone who leaves will find the same success, but at a minimum the experience will allow you to approach old problems with new solutions you may not have seen otherwise. Many countries also provide young professionals from Canada great opportunities to attain international experience via youth mobility programs that offer easily obtainable short-term visas (typically a year in length).
Your twenties are about taking the time to explore, discover the world and appreciate your freedom. So stop benchmarking yourself according to your Facebook feed and build your career and life according to your standards!
Jeff Aylen (Retail Management ’12) is the Marketing Coordinator for International Ski Federation (FIS) in Switzerland which organizes the World Cup and World Championships for skiing and snowboarding.