The Career Centre Helped Me Get Started on my Professional Path

by guest writer Monica Khaper

I decided to seek additional support and advice on my resume and cover letter skills during the summer of my second year. I was soon to be entering my third year and had a goal of building my professional career during my senior years of  my undergraduate. I sought out the Career Centre to get started on my professional path.

As a fourth year student in the Environment and Urban Sustainability program, I’ve had my fair share of experiences from volunteering, attending conferences, and coursework in my academic and professional career. The Environment and Urban Sustainability program at Ryerson has allowed me to gain practical skills that can be applied in a professional context. I had obtained the skills through my program, but sought advice from the Career Centre on how to articulate these abilities in a professional manner. I never really realized that resume writing is a skill in itself—one that you will carry on throughout your life. Using the Career Centre to edit, revise, and basically revamp my resume and cover letter has allowed me to realistically map out my career ambitions, identify new skills I wanted to gained, and learn about professional communication.

I noticed some major changes in how I wanted to go about developing a career during the summer of my second year. This was the year I started using the Career Centre to look over my resume; I had no idea on how to go about crafting a professional resume. From there on out, I learned essential skills that I still apply to this day. For instance, having a professional based resume for applying for summer student jobs with organizations related to your field. Also, having another resume that is shorter and very different from your professional one, for applying for part time jobs in retail or hospitality.

During that summer, I started a Food Security certificate with the Ryerson Chang School. Having additional certificates, professional courses outside of school allows you to stand out from other applicants. At the end of the day, many people have an undergraduate degree, and other experiences not only build skills but are an excellent addition to a resume, CV, or even graduate school application.

During my third year, I managed to lock down a great internship with a local City Councillor in Toronto. I was able to learn about networking, references, and how the structure of municipalities work from attending different meetings on issues pertaining to Toronto. In addition, I started to develop communication skills, and learned some basic knowledge on how an office runs, what business casual means, going out for lunch with colleagues, and in general learn from the people I was surrounded with since I was one of the youngest people there.

I would recommend anyone to try out an internship. It’s extremely beneficial if you’re looking for a flexible experience where you can get your foot in the door or to try out different skills. My internship helped me gain some new experience, while allowing me to get my foot in the door, and securing a full time summer job the following summer.

There’s this reputation that a lot of Arts students hear about the integrity of their degree. I’ve been asked the question, “What are you going to do with your degree?” As a student in the Faculty of Arts, I was given the opportunity by the Ryerson Arts Society to attend a conference in Washington, D.C. on green infrastructure for sustainable cities. Attending conferences are great ways to get outside your comfort zone, from meeting new people or connecting on a professional level. Being out of your comfort zone can seem daunting at first, but it challenges you to engage with others on a different level, while practicing communication skills. As a student from the Faculty of Arts the curriculum and skills that we gain allow us to have very diverse backgrounds and skills set from technical skills, experiential learning, and theory.

From reflecting on my path of professional experiences during my undergraduate career, I am very appreciative of the support and help that I received from Ryerson’s Career Centre. Aside from the help I received on resume and cover letter writing, I received advice and guidance on future short term goals in my career path, how to succeed on the job, and how to maximize each professional experience. The Career Centre has developed my professional skills from seeing Career Consultants who taught me about using specific language in a resume, interviews, and how to maintain your network.  I continue to go to the Career Centre, since there is still a lot of developing that I am constantly doing, and it never hurts to get another perspective or feedback on a cover letter and resume!