What an undergraduate degree IS NOT intended to do…

graduationDear Brescia students,

Have you had a chance to read the article ‘Dear undergrads: Your degree was never intended to land you a job’ (By: Todd Hirsch, Special to the Globe and Mail, Published Thursday Sept. 26th, 2013)?

If not I recommend that you do…yes the title seems a little bit off-putting but don’t let that stop you…the messages in this article are so crucial to helping you better understand the value of your undergraduate degree.

Hirsch tells students that you can’t be too fixated on “landing a job in your field”…because you really don’t yet have a field. What you study in university may or may not lead to a career within that area of study. Students often ask us “What can I do with my degree” and unfortunately there is not an easy answer to this question. Your future career isn’t just determined by what you’ve studied in university, but really by a combination of your interests, your skills, your values and your personal style. Of course there are some fairly specific careers that require a specific educational route (e.g. Registered Dietician, Teacher, Lawyer, Doctor) but the majority of careers/jobs out there (and many don’t even exist yet that will exist when you get into your career) don’t fall into this ‘gated entry point’ category.

So what’s the benefit then of a university degree?  What does it really provide you with if it isn’t intended to directly land you a job?  Hirsch tells us that it teaches you how to learn, how to think and problem solve in more complex ways and develop the ability to make rational arguments. We know that these invaluable transferable skills and the knowledge that you gain with an undergraduate degree are going to apply in a vast array of experiences throughout your life, these are skills and ways of knowing that you will be able to use in any career.

We encourage you further explore this and think about what your undergraduate degree means to you?  What types of transferable knowledge and skills are you developing as a result of your studies?  What kinds of curricular (through your academic courses) and co-curricular (beyond/outside of your academic courses) experiences are you getting involved in to help you better understand your interests, develop your skills and help you clarify you values?

Our role in the Student Life Centre is to help you explore these questions and enable you to gather the resources you need to make informed decisions about your degree and your career development.  You can learn more about how we do this by visiting us in person in the St. James Building or by visiting our webpage at: http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/campus_life/student-life/career.html.

So what can you do with your degree?  Anything and everything!!!

Your friends,

The Student Life Centre

By: Pam Core


Dress to Impress!

From helping with the Community Development Community Fair and working on the Career Development Certificate workshops, a question I get a lot is “What do I wear to meet an employer?” Many times a student does not have a lot of experience in formal interview settings or professional interview settings. A few simple rules to live by will help make all the difference…and help you feel more confident!

1) Over-dressed vs. Under-dress: It is always better to be over-dressed then to make the mistake of looking under-dressed or ill-prepared. You cannot go wrong with a pair of black dress pants and a blazer, paired with a nice top and dress shoes (heels optional).

2) The little things: Are you wearing jewellery? How much is too much? Keeping in mind you want to look put together and professional, and don’t want the employer to be distracted by excessive jewellery.

3) Hair & Makeup: The rule here is simple; Be yourself! Look put together, like you were intentional in getting ready today, but not overly made-up. If you don’t normally wear makeup, today is not the day to start wearing lots.

4) Don’t Rush! Ensure you leave early so you arrive early (even if you have to go down the street and have a coffee before you go to your interview). Rushing into an interview because you are running behind will shake your confidence and starts the whole process off on a bad foot.

5) Be prepared: The best way to feel more confident is to be prepared. Have your clothes ready the day before. Practice interview questions. Know your resume and experiences. The more prepared you are, the better!

To learn more about interview strategies and being prepared, join us for our Career Development Certificate workshops! For more information visit slc.bresciauc.ca

Your Degree: It’s Just a Piece of Paper. Start Folding.

You’re into the second week of classes, so you’re probably not spending too much thinking about what you’re going to do with your degree when you finish at Brescia. Whether you’re in first year or fourth year, you’re likely focused on how you’re going to fit in all your readings, getting an early start on those papers or projects due in December (!), and finding a way to work part-time while still be involved….


We know you have so much on your plate.


We also know that in the next few months, you’re going to start wondering how to go about finding a (meaningful) summer job or where to look for (real) work after graduation.  That’s why we encourage you to START NOW.  Trust us when we say it’s never too early to begin your career education. In fact, the earlier the better! 


When you graduate, you receive an important piece of paper…an expensive piece of paper. It will say you were a Family Studies student, or a Leadership student, or a Foods & Nutritional Sciences student. However, that piece of paper alone will not designate you a career. “It’s not a paycheque, not a guaranteed job.” That might be hard to hear, but it couldn’t be truer. It will not be representative of all you have learned at Brescia. You will have to creatively play with that paper—the words on it, the experiences within it, and the lessons learned because of it, to make it useful.


The reality of today’s workplace is that employers hire people, not degrees. It’s important to start developing realistic expectations of the time it takes to research career options and build your skills and experience. University is a time to explore! The more time you spend investing in and exploring your career development, the more prepared and confident you will feel in making career decisions by the time you graduate.


Career planning is life planning.


You’re going to work for a long time. You’re going to add value and make a difference in the world. You’re not just planning for a job; you are planning for your life. Your self-awareness is imperative. Beginning to explore it now will make it easier to consider the ways in which you can fold your piece of paper and make it into something you never expected–paper transformed. Don’t wait until fourth year…

Let us help you imagine now—check out our Career Development Certification Program or Professional Mentoring Program.

Happy folding!

WATCH & LISTEN: It’s Just a Piece of Paper–Johnny Macrae, Imagine UBC 2013.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We love the first week of school! humour.wikinut.com

Here are a few ideas for helping you feel more comfortable and prepared during your first week or two of classes:

  1. Introduce yourself to at least one other person in your class: This could be the person sitting beside you…remember, that you are not the only one with the first day jitters, most people in the class will not know each other…reach out, say hi and exchange email addresses/phone numbers. This could be a great way for you to connect in the future if you need to share notes or study together.
  2. Get to know your professor/instructor: Even though it may seem nerve-wracking, approach your prof after class to ask a question or visit his/her office hours. A good relationship with your professor can help you down the road when you are looking for reference letters or research opportunities.
  3. Review the syllabus for the course: This is that piece of paper your prof handed out during the first class and serves as a roadmap for your learning in this class. Check out the assignment due dates, mark breakdowns and any resources listed. Write down these important dates in your planner right away, this will help you stay on track with assignments (Check out this handy Assignment Calculator...a time management tool that helps you break your projects down into manageable steps).  You can also find out your prof’s contact info and office hours on this sheet of paper.
  4. Block off regular times to study in your schedule: Know when you need to have readings and mini assignments done and then block off consistent weekly times in your schedule (usually chunks of time are best e.g. 1.5-3 hours) so that you know you can dedicate this time to be prepared…it will help you stay on track.
  5. Start your big assignments as soon as you can: It may seem daunting at first, but getting a head start on these bigger projects will help you in the long run. Even coming up with a rough timeline for completing the project is a great start (remember that helpful Assignment Calculator, try using it for this!). Other great ways to start a big assignment include brainstorming some topic ideas or even spending 20 minutes in the library looking at general research  resources.
  6. Try out different study spaces/strategies:  Maybe you already know where you tend to study best?  Perhaps it’s on your own in a library cubicle, or in a group setting in the dining hall…most first year students don’t know though at this point and need to take some time exploring different study areas on campus or off campus to find out what feels right and where they feel most productive. Connect with your classmates so that you can try a study group, see how that works for you…make sure that you find a bit of quiet reading time too though. Most students need a combination of different approaches in order to be able to get through the reading related to courses and then work through the material/problem solving in groups.

We hope that these tips will help you think about your approach to your first few classes!

Do you have other tips you’d recommend?  We’d love to hear from you!

-By Pam Core (Reference: ’10 Tips for the First Week of Class’, The University of British Columbia: UBC Learning Commons, Aug. 29, 2012: http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/10-tips-for-the-first-week-of-class/)

Fall is a time of change…

26/365 (feb 11, 2010)

The academic year is just getting rolling at Brescia and as you enter your second day of classes it is so refreshing to see campus come to life again after a quiet summer.  Students are experiencing a myriad of normal emotions as they begin this academic year from excitement to  anxiousness and everything in between…the fall is a time of change! How do you handle the inevitable times of transition and change in your life?  Here are some suggestions for thriving through times of change:

  • Expect to feel uneasy when change occurs: Whenever we move forward after a change occurs in our life, we leave something behind…this can create a sense of unease and even sadness for what was lost or what is different. This forces us to reach beyond our comfort zones and proceed into new and unfamiliar territory.
  • Think positively…view change as an opportunity: While the future may be unfamiliar when a change occurs, it can also be exciting!  “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”( Robert E. Quinn)
  • Be open to changing your routine: Routines can be comforting and predictable but when change happens, our routines can go out the window! This is a time to explore and stretch outside of your comfort zone. You will establish new routines as we are “creatures of habit”, but  being open to trying new ways of doing things will help you adapt and learn within your new environment.
  • Be realistic: You may find yourself getting tired of change or wishing the change had never happened, this can add stress to how you are experiencing the change and transition through it. It’s okay to feel this way if you can acknowledge you do and then try to move forward with patience and a positive outlook. Be kind to yourself, adapting to change takes time…days, months, years, it’s different for each person.
  • Reach out for support: It can be challenging to manage times of change on your own and it’s completely okay and often necessary to lean on others for support during these times. Know that at Brescia and Western we are here to support you always…you can reach out to your professors and instructors for support, Brescia staff members and of course your peers. Here are some helpful resources to be aware of and utilize if you want to seek support:
    • Brescia Academic Advising: Academic Advisors can help you plan your academic program, develop strategies for academic achievement and provide timely and appropriate referrals for academic and personal support resources.
    • Brescia Student Life Centre: Supports student orientation and transition through many programs including Career Coaching, Peer Mentor programs, and providing timely and appropriate referrals for academic and personal support resources.
    • Western’s Student Development Centre: Offers Learning Skills services, individual counselling, crisis counselling and group sessions for coping with anxiety and stress
    • Student Health Services: Offers counselling services and psychiatry and physician counselling for students currently on medication.
  • International Student Support: @ Brescia: Contact Christina Lord (clord3@uwo.ca), @ Western visit: http://www.sdc.uwo.ca/int/ to learn more.

For other helpful resources, please visit: Mental Health @ Western

-Pam Core

Looking Back & Moving Forward

As O- Week is coming to a close and everyone gets ready to start classes again I always like to look back…and with this year’s O-week theme being ‘Throw Back to the 90’s’ it is always fun to look back at what was happening.

In 1995:

  • The DVD is announced
  • eBay is founded
  • Quebec independentists narrowly lose a referendum to negotiate independence from Canada
  • Batman Forever and Clueless were successful on the big screen
  • Canadian Alanis Morrissette’s 1995 album goes on to win a Grammy for Album of the year
  • Jean Chrétien was the Prime Minister
  • Iqaluit is chosen as the capital of the new territory (known now as Nunavut)
  • The toonie was introduced

    Day 097: Toonie Friday -Flickr

    “Day 097: Toonie Friday” from Flickr

No matter what year you were born or what year you are in at Brescia, it is exciting to think about all the possibilities and potentials that await you and your classmates. With the opening of Clare Hall today it is true that a year or two can make all the difference.

Enjoy your time here at Brescia! Four years will go by faster than you can possibility imagine! So use this opportunity to try new things, get involved, ask questions, and meet all those around you.

We can’t wait to see you next week and over the year!
Shannon & Student Life

We Only Got 322,560 Minutes to Save the World

Hands on a Globe

Flickr: Image by Royalty-Free/Corbis

No, this is not another Madonna/Justin Timberlake lead single and super fun dance track—that one is currently playing on my Songza: ‘A Justin Timberlake Dance Party’!  It is, however, a timely reality check for me and for many of us in Student Affairs. 


Residence students moved in yesterday, Orientation Week begins today, and classes begin in one week. These are the hallmarks of a new year at Brescia. With this realization I have been thinking a lot about moments and how to spend them with real purpose in the coming year; all 322,560 of them to be exact. 


I’ve asked myself, “How do I make my time matter most?”; “What do I want to spend my time doing?”; “What can I do this year that will make real a difference?” The context for me has been around my work with students, campus partners, and our Student Life initiatives.


For you, it may be around doing well academically, maintaining your balance & wellness, doing things you are passionate about & interested in, exploring your career possibilities further, giving time to your close relationships…


As we embark on a new year, I remember how easy it is to get distracted with the busyness of every day and before we know it, another year is done.  As much as we may not realize it, our minutes add up quickly and are spent in the blink of an eye. 


To me, the difference I make in my world—and with my 322,560 minutes this academic year—can be fulfilled in three big (yet small) ways:

  • Identifying what is important
  • Knowing where my presence matters most
  • Being engaged in whatever I am doing, wherever I am

Such seemingly small actions can make tremendous differences.


Eight months can sometimes seem like an insignificant amount of time to do significant things…but trust me, it is more than enough to make an impact.


I believe impact or success in anything has one fundamental aspect—effort.  I like to think small efforts in the right places, repeated day in and day out influence our success and our impact.  By noticing, paying attention, and taking action—consistently each day—every one of us can make a real difference with our 322,560 minutes.


Happy New Year!  What do you hope to do with your 322,560 minutes?


By: Courtney McDonald