Looking through the Ask Leah messages that I received, I saw a lot of trends about what students are asking about careers and professional development. This week, I want to dedicate all blog posts to answering these questions to help you navigate your summer job search, writing a resume, managing a busy schedule, and more. Thank you for your questions already, and I encourage you to visit the Facebook page to ask me more questions either on my wall, or through private message! https://www.facebook.com/AskLeahBUC/
How do I manage summer school and a summer job?
This may be a difficult task, but it is the reality for many students in the summer months. You want to get ahead in your academic journey, but you also want to be making money to be able to do so, which is understandable and can be a possibility for most students. The first thing you want to be able to do is make sure that you aren’t sacrificing class time for work. Because class is never mandatory but extremely beneficial to student success, sometimes when you have shifts that interfere with class, you may be tempted to skip the lecture. Instead, try swapping your shift with another coworker so that you are taking care of both responsibilities. I suggest that you are always up front with an employer as well. If they ask you about your commitments in the summer, let them know you are completing summer school courses. This can even open the door to asking your boss to schedule your shifts around class time. Make sure you are being flexible for your employer, but also firm in regards to not missing class for shifts.
You may also benefit from following a schedule. Because you are so busy, a planner is necessary so that you make sure you realize what your commitments are. Even small checklists that you can make on especially busy days may help you get everything done. For example, if you have work in the morning, school in the afternoon, but still have an assignment due at the end of the week, you may want to make a checklist to complete three paragraphs of your assignment before work, and another two after your afternoon class. You may also want to consider scheduling in your leisure time as well, especially when things get busy with your commitments. This will ensure that you are making time for self care, and that you can also enjoy your free time in the summer as well!
Also, don’t be afraid to communicate. You may feel intimidated to ask your boss to schedule you on a day you don’t have class, or even to talk to a teacher about extending a deadline. The reality of a busy schedule is that sometimes you need some help from the people around you so that you can meet your deadlines and commit to your duties. Your professors and bosses want to see you succeed, and they will appreciate honesty and mature communication in advance if you cannot meet their expectations. They are usually able to negotiate with you so that you can make sure you are doing the best job possible at both work, and school.
It may feel impossible right now, but trust me, you will succeed! Make sure you are taking care of yourself with proper sleep, some exercise, and doing activities that make you happy- these things are very important to maintain during times of stress. Good luck!
How do I start a resume? I have an old one from high school, but I think it’s time to update it now that I am in university looking for more professional opportunities.
Great question! Resumes seem intimidating to a lot of people, but there are a few specific steps you can follow to make creating a resume as easy as possible! First, you want to make sure the layout of your document is clean and professional. Create a header at the top of the page with your name, large enough to stand out, and your contact info. This contact info should be where an employer can reach you, and also professional- don’t use your old Hotmail email! The layout should also be consistent. You want to make sure if one date is bolded and justified to the right, or all of your job titles are underlined, that all of them look like this. This shows professionalism because you are paying attention to detail and making the document readable. Also in regards to layout, make sure your resume is one or two FULL pages. Nothing is worse than having all this white space at the bottom of a document, because someone reading it will look right to that space, diverting their attention away from the important experience on your resume.
When collecting your experience, make sure you are choosing jobs or volunteer opportunities that can be tailored to the job you are applying for. Looking at a retail job? Use experience that you can highlight skills like customer service, friendliness, and communication. Applying for a kitchen job? Make sure to use your experience to highlight skills like organization, adaptability, and the food skills you may have. You may think your past jobs and volunteer experience aren’t relevant to the current position you are interested in, but in each position you are learning transferable skills that can be applied to so many different job opportunities! You may be wondering how you will actually talk about your previous experience, and the Student Life Centre uses a formula to help you with this! They are called “Accomplishment Statements”, and they include three things- task (what you did), skill (how you did it), and result (what came out of this for you or someone else). You want to focus on writing two or three strong accomplishment statements under each experience that you have had. If you are having some difficulty, check out the link to the Student Life Centre resource on Accomplishment Statements, and become an expert on them! http://brescia.uwo.ca/life/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/delightful-downloads/2014/07/AccomplishmentStatements.pdf
Finally, I have some final points about resume writing. Your education is important to include, but unfortunately, your elementary and high school information may not be relevant anymore, unless you are applying for a job at one of the schools you previously attended. Feel free to use your university degree on your resume, as well as previous degrees or diplomas you may have received. Also, if you have extracurricular activities that show strong commitment and leadership, put them on your resume! Employers love to see personality on a resume, and leadership is a skill that is transferable, and highly valued at any job. If you have any other questions about writing a resume, check out our past blog post that highlights five important things to pay attention to! http://studentlife.bresciablog.com/2016/10/13/is-your-resume-ready/