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.
NEW LIFE PHILOSOPHY.
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!