Applying for medical school can be an intimidating, rigorous process. One aspect that some applicants dread most is the face-to-face interview.
Therefore, when UWindsor alumna Dema Kadri BSc ’10 decided she wanted to apply to the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry—Windsor Program, one of the things she did to prepare was to contact the University of Windsor Co-op, Career and Employment Services office.
“I had been preparing for my medical school interviews and had been looking for preparation resources other than talking out loud to myself,” says the alumna.
“I went at the recommendation of many individuals who had found it a very helpful and useful tool.”
The staff were happy to oblige her. “I completed two mock interviews,” says Kadri. “The questions asked were relevant and the feedback was outstanding and honest. It provided an opportunity to pinpoint areas for improvement prior to interviewing.”
The centre also provided an “excellent debrief after the interview”, says Kadri, where she was given tips to improve her interview skills and resources and handouts to refer to for further practice.
Overall, the grad says that working with the Co-op, Career and Employment Services area, “allowed me to get out a lot of nerves that I had been building up inside. It helped to slowly break down the anxiety associated with being interviewed in an environment that simulated the real thing.”
Now in fourth year of medical school, Kadri says she and her classmates plan to use the service to prepare for their residency interviews.
They are the exception. When it comes to career services, many people don’t realize the impact that such a resource can have on their professional lives after they’ve left school.
Kerri Zold, manager of the Co-op, Career and Employment Services office and Chris Busch, executive director (acting).
“Just because a person graduates, that doesn’t mean our assistance to them ends in terms of their career development,” says Chris Busch, executive director (acting) of Co-op, Career and Employment Services. “They may have a need that we can help them address.”
He says that the wide range of services offered to current students is also there for alumni. “In fact, we basically deliver the same level of support to an alum a year out or more as we do for a student.”
Just how recent should a recent alumnus/a be to access this support? “The line is fuzzy,” says Busch. “We don’t really put a cap on it.”
When it comes to securing a job, a 2016 Gallup-Purdue University poll indicated that graduates who had visited a campus career centre at least once as a student were more likely to be employed full time (67%) than those who did not visit (59%).
But, even after snagging that first job, the average person will work in an average of five to nine more, says Busch. That means keeping career search and development skills sharp.
He notes that the trend now is for students and recent alumni to be more selective about what they want to do. “They are more willing to accept a position at a lower pay, providing the level of satisfaction makes up for the wage gap.”
A key to that satisfaction is finding a career that dovetails with what drives a person, not only what he or she is good at. This is just the sort of thing that an alum can discuss with a UWindsor career advisor.
Tools such as psychological assessment can help. The Co-op, Careeer and Education Services office assessments are free, and certified staff members interpret the results. The advisor may find a clear link to an academic program that might be worth considering. Or, just a one-time course or workshop.
Career assessment is just one weapon in the office’s well- stocked arsenal of available tools that range from one-on-one career counselling to workshops and online resources.
Kerri Zold, manager of the office, says that several workshops are held each term on such topics as how to prepare for an interview. Among other resources available are:
To that end, the office actually reached out to computer science graduates who’d moved out of town when Internet shopping behemoth Amazon held a recruitment fair on campus last fall.
“Co-op, Career and Employment Services did a fantastic job of publicizing the event,” says UWindsor computer science alumnus Kevin Yavno BSc ’13, a software development engineer with the Detroit office of Amazon involved in recruiting.
“In addition to promoting the event on campus, the office sent emails to out-of-town grads saying that, if they couldn’t attend the event in person, they could email their resumé to Career Services and the office would provide a printed copy to Amazon.”
That’s part of a strategy to be helpful to graduates who’ve moved away. The office will be expanding its online offerings and developing more material that UWindsor students and alumni can access, no matter where they currently reside.
Sometimes, older alumni find out how useful their alma mater’s career services office can be when they unexpectedly find themselves out of work. Says Busch, “Their job may have been downsized, for example. We’re not going to turn away people who are older and have lost jobs, but sometimes they may be better served by other agencies to which we can help connect them.”
Losing a job is one reason why an alumnus/a might come calling. Others simply want augment their education. “You may get an entry level job fairly easily,” says Busch. “but you may need to compete to reach a higher level by upgrading your skills and education. There may be a need for retraining.”
In that case, the Co-op, Career and Employment Services office can do an assessment of an alum’s strengths, provide access to job boards and resumé critiques. “These are things that may actually be of more value to older grads than new ones,” says Busch.
For example, writing a resumé may sound simple enough, he says, “but it’s far different than just a few years ago.” Today, online job listings may use algorithms that scour a resumé for the words and terms that fit the description of the job.
Busch notes that, “The applicants who understand this incorporate those key words and phrases. They are the ones whose resumés float up in the pile.”
Sometimes, alumni just want a career change. The office’s advisors can help them determine what they do—and don’t— like about their current job, and what they might need to do to find the one of their dreams. Or, at least, one more to their liking and suited to their capabilities.
“Maybe your tool box doesn’t have the right things in it,” says Busch. “We can suggest how you can upgrade them. Perhaps go back to school. Take a class or workshop. Knowledge gaining is what a university is all about.”
A growing demand from both alumni and employers has meant the University of Windsor is adding to its continuing education program offerings through the Centre for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE).
As an example, the Master of Social Work for Working Professionals allows a graduate to earn their MSW on weekends. It was developed based on feedback from employers, says Busch.
“Social work agencies told us they wanted high-level staff with critical thinking skills,” says Busch. “The new program completely fits with that need. It’s not research-based but builds on the skills in demand.”
CEPE Director Jennie Atkins says that, “we’re looking to promote what the university already has in place and to fully expand the continuing education options for our graduates, members of the community and beyond. This is an exciting time for UWindsor so stay tuned!”
Another way that alumni can equip themselves to compete more effectively in the job market is to consider one of the university’s Additional Qualifications (AQ) courses that CEPE co-ordinates.
More than 90 AQ courses are offered for Faculty of Education grads alone, say Atkins, in addition to TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and the recent launch of the International Educator Certificate for IB Certification program.
Certification and diploma programs that take two semesters to one year to complete can be found in such areas as:
Alumni can also sign up for one of CEPE’s workshops to augment or add skills in SAP for Management and Engineering, Research Methods & Statistics for Social Work Professionals, and Technical Writing.
Says Atkins: “We are positioning CEPE to work with subject matter experts within our faculties to launch courses and programs that are a mix of structured certification courses and professional development modules relevant to market demands for adult learners. This kind of micro-credentialing and programming needs to be easy to access and offer flexible scheduling.”
She adds that CEPE continues to see an increase in inquiries about their offerings: “People are more marketable in the field if they can diversify or re-tool their knowledge with short-term courses on innovative topics that complement their prior studies or work experience. The university has an important role to play in advancing the learning and career goals of Canadians and global citizens alike.”
While the Co-op, Career and Employment Services office is the most comprehensive of its kind on the UWindsor campus, the Odette School of Business and the Faculty of Law also have career centres geared towards their own students and alumni.
Kerry Gray, director of Odette Career Services, says that, “in today’s rapidly changing workforce, helping alumni to redefine and build on their strengths in response is of vital importance.”
Odette Career Services gives students and recent alumni access to:
Alumna Danielle Gifford BA ’14, BComm ‘16.
Alumna Danielle Gifford BA ’14, BComm ‘16, a business development manager at Pareto Business Group, started her relationship with the Odette Career Services office early in her UWindsor days.
“Throughout my academic career at Odette, career advisor Phil Baluyot was always available to talk and provided great insights into different options after graduation,” she says.
Today, Gifford still maintains close contact with her advisor. “Since finishing my degree, I have been in contact with Phil on a monthly basis. I find value in every conversation with him—from discussing potential career opportunities to how to approach specific situations at work like negotiating wages. We have even spoke about long-term plans such as whether or not a PhD would be the right decision.”
Gifford emphasizes how important it is to approach the Career Services office early. “Many students wait until third or even fourth year before they start to get guidance. Today the job market is arguably the most competitive it has ever been. To be successful, you must be an active agent in your role.”
The Faculty of Law’s Career Resource Centre also goes the extra mile to assist its students and alum. It offers:
“Over the last few years, the legal job market has changed significantly,” says Anna Maria DeCia-Gualtieri, the centre’s director of career services. “Lawyers are facing far more competition for coveted jobs. We provide our law students and recent alumni with career tools and advice to help them navigate these changes and thrive despite these new challenges.
Windsor lawyer J.P. Karam Dual JD ’12.
Windsor lawyer J.P. Karam Dual JD ’12 took advantage of “the great people” at the law school’s career services office, both as a student and as an alum. “While in law school, I worked very closely with Anna Maria with my resumé and applications to law firms in Toronto. Anna was instrumental in me landing a job at a top firm in Toronto.
When Karam elected to return to Windsor in 2015, “one of my first phone calls I made was to Anna. I needed help landing a job at a Windsor law firm, and I knew she had the right connections and knowledge to determine who was hiring, and when.”
She helped him secure multiple interviews and also helped Karam’s wife, a lawyer but not a graduate of the university, to land a job in Windsor. “Needless to say, we owe a lot to Anna.”
The more resources that the university can offer the better, says Busch. “The workplace is dynamic and ever-changing. If we can provide the help our students and alumni require to make the most of that, whether through our office or academic programs, that’s what we want to do.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more about how you can access career guidance support, please contact one of the following:
Co-op, Career and Employment Services
Phone: (519) 253-3000, Ext. 3895
Odette School of Business
Career Resource Centre
Phone: (519) 253-3000, Ext. 4937