Category Archives: Where to go with a BA

How to make Major choices


As you reach the end of your first year in college, you may begin to experience some anxiety related to your choice of a Major. Maybe you want to change your Major from English to Sociology, but wait Psychology is looking really good too… That is completely normal! Personally, it took me almost three years and multiple changes of my Major to finally settle on a Major that I loved. Or, possibly you have not chosen a Major yet, which also is completely normal.

The great thing about the world today is there are so many career and education opportunities available to you. However, you may also feel that this is a bad thing because out of all the opportunities out there, how can you only pick one?

Well, if those Bachelors and Bachelorettes can find their ‘soul mates’ on reality television, then you too can find your ‘soul Major’ while in college.

If you don’t feel a pull towards a certain Major, you should try this Choosing a College Major Worksheet to help you map out where you would like to be in the future, as far as education and your career go. If anything this worksheet will force you to think about what exactly your career and life goals are, so you will have a better idea of what steps are needed to complete your goals.

The main point to keep in mind about choosing a Major is that it is not worth stressing out about it! Don’t turn choosing your Major into a major headache. Utilize the resources available at RDC, talk to professors and professionals in a field you find interesting, find your passion and you will enjoy the rest of your academic career.

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Life after graduation


When I finished at the U of C last December, I had an anxiety attack of sorts. On one hand I was proud of myself for completing my degree, but on the other I was scared to leave the structured environment that university offered. I realized I had no idea where to go from here. I was done school, but I didn’t have a job lined up, or even a clue as to where I wanted to pursue a job. So, I wallowed in self pity for a few weeks before attempting to figure out which direction I wanted to go in life.

I have a degree in Communications, and I love it, but I still freaked out when I was done school and had to make decisions regarding a career path. It isn’t easy, especially when you don’t know what you want to do. So, I researched career options through Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS). I knew that there were a lot of career options for me, but I didn’t know much about the careers themselves, so ALIS helped me to research different career options.

I highly recommend becoming familiar with the ALIS website. You can find information on post-secondary programs, careers, scholarships & bursaries, etc. It is an excellent place to start when you are determining what you want to take in school and what you are going to do with it after.

Also, along with using ALIS, I talked to a few professionals in the communications field to help me understand what employers look for and how to obtain experience. They recommended volunteering to gain experience. For example, they suggested volunteering at a newspaper to gain writing experience or volunteering at a not-for-profit to gain experience in event planning. They also said they look for employees who have a wide set of skills, which is where having a BA comes in handy.

So, armed with this new information, I was able to embark on a career search that ended with me being over-employed a week after my June grad ceremony. Doing a little research on my career options made the job hunt more bearable and also more successful.

My advice is to research your career options like you would research your final term paper. Knowing your options and what a career in a certain field entails will help you to know if that truly is what you want to do. Also, if you can, volunteer! It can be hard to find a part-time job in a field that interests you, so contribute to a newsletter for your favourite charity, write for the Bricklayer, or plan events for a student group you are involved with. A little experience can go a long way when it comes to searching for a job after graduation.

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Why a BA?


What can I do with a BA? This is a question I have heard a lot over the past few weeks, yet I still don’t know how to answer it completely. The reason being, having a BA does not train you specifically for one career, like nursing or engineering. A BA gives you the education and tools to follow many career paths. So, what can you do with a BA? Pretty much anything!

During Perspectives: Canada in the World, Gwyn Morgan said that you make a choice and then you grab the opportunities that are presented to you. Sounds easy, right? Choose to take a BA and then grab hold of the opportunities that are presented to you.

What kind of career opportunities may be available? Well, you could become a journalist, events planner, advertising executive, politician, economist, librarian, human resources consultant, translator, consultant, freelance writer, editor, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. You may decide to go on to grad school and get a masters degree, or possibly a law degree. We say, ‘from here, you can get anywhere’, because we mean it. Your opportunities are endless once you obtain your BA.

It is not easy deciding what to do in college/university. Talk to academic advisors, program coordinators, teachers, your parents, anyone who can offer you advice and guidance. Still undecided? Come to the RDC Open House on November 7 and talk to the Humanities and Social Science staff and faculty.

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School Could Be Your Answer to the Recession


recession

Well, we’ve all pretty much been depressed out of our minds by the recession – the job layoffs, the decimated pensions and investments, the oilfield almost audibly creaking to a halt here in Alberta.

Not much can be said in favour of a recession, that’s for sure. But could there be a silver lining on this big black cloud hovering over us?

There could be, of course. It may come in the form of a wake-up call. When things are going well, we tend to just go with the flow, obviously, since we end up benefiting from it! It may have been easier than anything to find a well-paying job and get by with whatever education you had back in the “good old days” of – well, the last few years, basically. Maybe it wasn’t your dream job. But if it paid enough to make ends meet with some left over for good times, why worry about it?

If you find yourself either out of a job due to lay-offs, or losing pay due to lower commissions, or having hours cut back each week, or being told there’s no chance for a bonus, promotion, or raise in the foreseeable future . . . maybe this is a chance to stop the daily grind and really think about what you want out of life. That’s a luxury we don’t always have time for.

Getting the career you really want often requires training. It may require a certificate or diploma. Maybe a degree. Maybe you have a degree and want to go on with graduate work. Maybe you want an entirely different career and need an entirely different degree! Well, if the work force isn’t your friend lately, school can be.

Recessions are temporary (thankfully) – they typically only last 2 or 3 years. Pretty much the same amount of time it takes for you to go to school and get some education. While others are struggling in the job market, you can be focusing on learning and retraining yourself for a better career.  And assuming the recession begins to turn around after a few years, you might be graduating with your new credentials just when the job market is starting to pick back up again. Even if it’s not – you’re that much more valuable now, with that much more of a chance to stand out among your competition.

Sure, you aren’t going to be making any money. But a recession isn’t a time that you’d be cleaning up anyway, out in the job market. And remember that your education will last forever. Highschool graduates tend to top out around $31,000/year. Postgraduates can make over $75,000/year. That income change may well be worth the few years of living off of scholarships, bursaries and loans, because your education will continue to pay off over the rest of your life.

Even if income isn’t a major motivator for you, it is good to have a chance to prepare yourself for the career you really want if your current job isn’t really where you planned to end up. Call it the pursuit of happiness.

We all have to ride out the recession, no matter how unpleasant it is. You just might have a chance to ride it out while working towards a better future for yourself and your family.

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President Obama In The House!


Today is historic . . . for the first time ever, a black president is being sworn into office in the United States.

At a time when the economy of some of the strongest countries in the world is rapidly failing, when global warming is a swiftly approaching threat, and when so many countries, including the US and Canada, have military presences, and mounting casualties, in the Middle East, can this guy really bring about the change he stands for?

Nobody can say yet . . . but whether we support Obama or not, we will all be watching him really closely to see if he can truly change the world.

I like to think so.

And a shout out to the B.A. degree . . . Obama got his from Columbia University in Political Science in 1983. Before entering Harvard Law School, he worked for a number of years in Chicago in the non-profit sector. So let’s see . . . his B.A. allowed him to do really cool work with communities in Chicago, and his education and work experience combined would have been huge factors in getting into Harvard Law . . . leading to him becoming a senator . . . and then President of the United States! His wife Michelle, also a lawyer, has a B.A. in Sociology.

Not saying we’re all potential Barack or even Michelle Obamas . . . but hey. See what could happen with a B.A.! Whatever else you call it, don’t call it a waste of time . . . with this degree who knows how you can change the world.

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Dress for Success – Or, What Not To Wear At Work!


The university student is an interesting subject from a fashion viewpoint . . . I’ve been one and I see them daily here in my office and around the hallways at school. Basically, when you’re in school, anything goes. Some people are stylin’, wearing the latest trends and making you wonder “How are they paying for that?” Others are never to be seen in anything other than jeans and a hoodie. Still others just waltz out of rez to their first class in their pyjamas each morning. It’s all good.

When the first job comes around, though, it’s time to invest in the wardrobe a little bit. Unfortunately, that can be tricky, because typically the first paycheque isn’t all that huge. There are a couple of good reasons to be willing to spend some cash on professional attire, though.

Why Bother Thinking About This?

First of all, starting in the workforce can be tough when you’re a new grad. You’re probably going to be younger than a lot of people you work with, and/or a wee bit less experienced. You want to be taken seriously by co-workers (not to mention bosses!) and, well, people are shallow. They’ll take you more seriously if you look the part and aren’t schlepping around in a glorified take on jeans and hoodies.

Another reason is that if you want to stand out in a crowd and get noticed, the right clothes can help you accomplish this. Looking good could set you apart from a bunch of decently-dressed-but-boring wallflowers. And being set apart in somebody’s mind could mean they are more likely to remember you when they want to have somebody to head up a new project or possibly promote. Who knows!

Last but not least, first impressions count, each time. Whether you are dealing with customers, clients, or your co-workers, if they see you are sloppily clad, with mismatched socks and frayed hems, stained shirts, or just ancient-looking or super out-of-style clothing, they aren’t going to feel like they can trust you as much to know what you’re doing on the job. It’s not necessarily a fair judgment, and it may seem like a small thing, but it could make a big difference in how they respond to you and work with you.

Get Clothes. Don’t Get Poor.

So. If you want to start a new wardrobe without breaking the budget, how do you go about that? What’s the best practice here? Where are Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear when you need them? (And the $5000 credit card they provide?)

Here are a few expert tips:
– Choose pieces of clothing that will last. It may be tempting to buy a lot of cheap clothing, but a better investment for items that are classic like dress pants, shoes, or blazers, is to find fewer pieces that are high quality and are going to last you for years. It may mean paying a little more up front, so make sure to pick things that will stay in style for a long time and are not going to get stretched out of shape or fade quickly.

– Go with professional-looking comfort. There is nothing worse than being at work in a meeting or up front while giving a presentation when your clothing just doesn’t feel right. You don’t want to be having to constantly adjust the length of your skirt hem or wishing that your sweater wasn’t so itchy or your shoes so pinchy. There are lots of clothes available that are stylish but still comfortable, and remember that the eight-hour day can feel pretty much eternal when you have to keep telling yourself “that’s the price you pay for beauty!” as your feet start to blister in your super-fancy heels. Make sure you think about how the clothes will feel over the workday as you try them on in the store.

-If you want to look trendy or in style, then accessorize that way. So bottom line – the clothes are classic, but the accessories (like scarves, jewellry, glasses frames, colour of shirt or tie) are a nod to the latest trends. The good news is the accessories are the inexpensive items . . . so you can change them up every time the trends change. Sweet deal!

One Size Fits All?

Now, remember that jobs are different – different industries, companies and company attitudes, geographic region, and job requirements. So a suit and tie might not be the best choice when working with young kids, or your company may be cool with employees wearing whatever the heck they want. When in doubt, dress like the boss!

Here are a few things you should ALWAYS avoid:

-Flip-flops
– Workout gear
-Clothing that is too revealing
-Too much cologne  or perfume
-Athletic socks
-Grunginess

What About My Personality?

Can you show off your tattoos and body piercings? Can you get crazy acrylic nails? Can you grow a totally ragged beard? Can you dye your hair however the heck you want to? If that’s your style . . . why not?

Because your boss can come down on you. Yes, it’s true. According to lawyers, it’s perfectly legal (in most cases) for an employer to regulate how an employee looks. And even if nobody says anything, studies show that you are less likely to be hired or get promoted if you’ve got a ton of tattoos and piercings showing. It may not be fair. It may not be that way forever. But that’s the way it is currently.

AND, a final note.

I’m no fashion expert. (Though I work with plenty of them!) It’s pretty easy to find this kind of information online or in magazines if you’re looking for it. So if you want some more specific suggestions . . . have a look at these websites:

http://fashion.about.com/od/whattowear/a/weartowork.htm

http://www.bnet.com/2436-13068_23-212809.html

http://www.careerbuilder.ca/Article/CB-295-Workplace-Issues-Looks-That-Kill-What-Not-to-Wear-at-Work/?ArticleID=295&cbRecursionCnt=1&cbsid=5944e2d277cd4d75b746048fd49347f6-285182759-RP-4&ns_siteid=ns_ca_g_what_to_wear_at_work

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Upcoming Career and Grad School Info Sessions


Criminology Information Session: If you’re interested in a career in criminology or criminal justice, attend this session on November 25, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. in Rm 1328. Guest speakers include representatives from the RCMP, Parole, the John Howard Society, Parkland Youth Homes, and Correctional Services. You’ll also get information on graduate programs and volunteer opportunities.

Canadian University College Msc. In Marital and Family Therapy. Have you ever thought about becoming a registered therapist? Did you know that CUC in Lacombe offers a program for this? A representative from this program will be here at RDC to talk about the program and about how the U of C Collab Degree in particular can prepare you for it. Attend on Nov. 27 at 4:00 p.m. in Rm. 2505.

Both sessions are free and open to anyone with an interest in these areas! Even if you’re in your first or second year, come on in for information that can help you make choices about your eventual school/career goals.

If you would like more information, please contact Jennifer at 342-3313; jennifer.ramsden@rdc.ab.ca or Alison at 357-3674 or alison.morgan@rdc.ab.ca

Look forward to seeing you there!

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