0 to 3 // Jobs after University

A lot of determination, a little bit of luck, and a positive, charismatic attitude. This is what it took to be employed. Well, with 3 part-time jobs, but they are all in my field!

Those who know me are aware that I moved home (to Toronto, Ontario) from Ottawa the last week of August. Immediately after my program – MA of Arts in English Literature at Carleton University – was complete, my dad drove to Ottawa, we packed the car, and flew out of 184 Aylmer. That being said, the minute I got home I couldn’t relax. Knowing I no longer had a job was giving me more anxiety then being away and doing my Masters.

Carleton University’s MA of Arts program provided graduate students with jobs, which was fantastic! From September-May I was a Teaching assistant for a first year English Literature class plus a TA Video Blogger (though unpaid, it was a great work experience), and a Research Assistant for Professor Pius Adesanmi from June-August. I did not want to give up those pay cheques.


At the time – so September – my dad was also unemployed for about 5 months. This was unfortunate for him, but great for me. He had a wealth of knowledge on how to properly job search online, and network (both online/in person). Dad motivated me by inviting me to his weekly meetings with other unemployed people. There I learned what a 30 second commercial was. (A 30 second commercial is a pre-rehearsed informational speech about yourself, so your qualifications/experiences, something interesting or unique about you plus the jobs you are interested in and qualified for. Often you say this commercial in interviews, or when you first meet someone). In addition to this, my dad forwarded me information on how to make personal business cards, and the questions I should be asking people who currently have careers that I desire to have. We scanned my resume for mistakes, and went to a job fair together. Without him I doubt I would have been as determined or excited to start my adult life.

King City, Ontario: Pine Farms Orchard

For these reasons, I believe that luck isn’t enough. It takes motivation and a desire to create opportunities for yourself when none exist. For example, I remembered meeting a friend of a friend – Evan – at the Midway State Concert, and we chatted about our passions. One thing led to another and I was networking. He told me about his family members: a cousin who currently works in Publishing, and his uncle who is a Professor at a Toronto College. Evan suggested that I contact him once I graduated, so I did. Long story short, his cousin who is the Artistic Director with Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Society became my mentor. She didn’t provide me with a job opportunity, but this informational session helped me to re-organize myself, and perfect my job searches.

Let’s fast forward. After a month of looking, applying, and contacting people I started receiving emails, and call-backs. First, it was Sylvan Learning Centre. Next came Cosmetics Magazine. Last, an Editing position for an international/visiting Professor from a German University that is conducting research for Carleton. I prepared for each interview by researching the organization/magazine/person and re-arranging my work experience plus personal information in relation to each position. Of course I was intimidated at first, but each interview taught me how to control my nerves and highlight qualities about myself that complimented each position.

At Sylvan I’m continuously learning how to teach one-on-one. My students are mainly in high-school, so I’ve brushed up on my Shakespearean studies. Not to mention, I had to re-teach myself the proper names for parts of sentences, paragraphs, some grammatical terminology, and the steps of essay writing. All of which I previously knew, but had forgotten. I love witnessing improvements in my students close reading and writing. Tutoring is more rewarding than I had anticipated.

Cosmetics magazine is like “The Devil Wears Prada”, and I LOVE IT. The day of my interview was an experience I’ll never forget. I was so nervous that my hands began to shake under the table. The dreaded question, “why didn’t you do journalism” was not something I had prepared for. My answer, “…I love english literature, and didn’t want to choose one career path. My blog has become an outlet for creative writing, so I had the best of both worlds while at school”?? Well, it worked. I was offered the position, Editorial Intern. I enjoy writing blog posts about new beauty products, and editing the Media-kit/Editorial Calendar plus information for the COSA awards. Not to mention getting to see samples of all the products before they hit the shelves!!

I’m not going to lie. The Editing position – sort of – fell into my lap. I have been friends with Kendra for a long time, and she is currently doing an MA at Ryerson University. One of her old Professors asked her to Edit his abstracts, essays, and projects for Carleton University, but she can’t afford the time to do it. She suggested me. I happily accepted, and am finding that I also love to edit other people’s work! I was nervous at first, thinking that I wasn’t capable of improving someone else’s work while honouring their views, but I did it and will continue to help this Professor improve writing in English.

To my surprise, I have begun to miss Ottawa’s night life. Who would have thought? With all the complaining I did in my 6th year living in the glebe, this feeling comes as a shock. I know that it would have been hard for me to create opportunities for myself if I had stayed in Ottawa. For one, I’m not bilingual, and I am not passionate about working for the government. I did have the opportunity to write for Herd Magazine, and that was an amazing experience. One that I continue to cherish. Luckily, I’ll be returning to Ottawa for graduation day, and this time my ENTIRE family – older brother included – will be there. I can’t wait!


About Dee

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12 Responses to 0 to 3 // Jobs after University

  1. cam says:

    WOOOOO! Adult life, here you come.
    I will say, I did not expect that last little bit about missing Ottawa. Daniela, miss Ottawa? I would have laughed if you told me you might three or four months ago.
    This year will change you in so many positive ways – keep growing!
    I sound like a Mom, why? Haha,
    The end

  2. Gizzle says:

    This is very helpful! I’m still dragging my butt getting a job. I still have to get my resume in order and round up some references. But this fills me with hope! Congrats Dee!

    • Dee says:

      Thanks Gizzzzzzle!

      I tried to help you get motivated while I was updating my resume…I guess I didn’t push you enough. But you had your comic and all… 😦

      The same will happen for you once you get out there 🙂 LOVE LOVE.

  3. Sue says:

    Dee, So proud of you and looks like you are moving forwards with your life in Toronto. All so exciting . You have such a great attitude and energy. Who wouldn’t want to hire you? I always enjoyed your energy. Wishing you the best life has to offer. Have a great graduation. I’m sure you are being missed by a lot of the Johnson’s. Sending a hug.
    Sue Johnson

    • Dee says:

      Hi Mrs. Johnson!

      Thank you for the kind words, and continuing to read my blog!! I miss a LOT of the Johnson’s too, well you’re whole family! I’ve even invited them out November 10th weekend when I’m back for graduation. You and Mr.Johnson are always welcome to come. I think we’re just going to all meet at a pub – very low key – and have some pints together. Just catch up 🙂

      Thanks again for reading, and being so supportive!!

  4. Love Mom says:

    With all the hard work and motivation to receive your Master’s Degree it has paid off. I have witnessed your hard work and challenges and with dad’s help and the experience and knowledge he has passed onto you it has paid off. With the work experience you are receiving at this time and I sure a full-time position will come along your way in the field you choose to love.
    Oh yes; let us not forgot mom; blood / sweat and tears…you know what I mean.
    Love Mom

  5. Love Mom says:


    I’m so proud of everything you’ve done from working hard in Ottawa at school and work for 6 years and obtaining a MA, the first in either family, to coming home and working three jobs. You keep going girl!

    Love, Dad

  6. you go girl, very inspiring!

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