Category Archives for "Students & New Grads"

Volunteering is Networking 2.0
Jun 13

Volunteering – Networking 2.0

By Rachel Van de Vooren | Students & New Grads

Rachel Van de Vooren


by Rachel Van de Vooren, Client Happiness Manager

The Importance Of Being A Volunteer 

Our very own Client Happiness Manager, Rachel, writes about how volunteering opened up a world of opportunity for her....

As a graduate from a professional program, fresh out of a year-long intensive internship, I knew exactly what I wanted for my career.

Unfortunately for me, it seemed impossible to break into the workforce, especially one in a new city. Resume after resume, interview after interview, I got the same message: “we’ve hired someone internally,” or “we need someone with more experience.”

I felt like I was stuck in a catch 22: I didn’t have the experience to land at the top of the pile, but I wasn’t sure how to get hired to get the experience that would get me there. So what is a young professional to do?


For myself, I have been offered multiple positions with little to no interviewing through the organization that I volunteered for, and have developed a wealth of knowledge about my specific industry.

Volunteering is like Networking 2.0: there is so much more to gain than just feeling good & giving back to your community (although that is definitely a nice aspect as well).

Here are 5 great benefits to being a volunteer:

1. Gain Experience

Some companies, welcome new grads as volunteers, who sign up for a few shifts a month or to help with an event. It’s a great way to add to your resume, and your humanitarian side is appealing to hiring managers.

2. Learn About Your Industry

Working with a company can teach you a lot about your industry, such as: relevant legislative, industry regulations, other companies in the field, and the way various roles fit together within a company. It’s a great way to parlay your school experience to the real world to see the big picture for your career.

3. Develop Relationships

Volunteering gives you the chance to be a part of a company, meet managers, people who work in HR and community partners. Making an effort to connect with people, to ask about their role and talk about your interests as well.

4. Inside Access

Being part of a company can get you access to internal postings before they hit the job boards and training opportunities. And with your good relationship with hiring managers and the HR department, your resume will move up to the top of the “Yes” pile.

5. Build Positivity

When you’ve been looking for work for a while, it can be hard to get out of the house, and your self-confidence can really take a hit. Volunteering taps into our altruistic selves, helping us feel good about giving back, as well as keeping us connected to the professional realm. Everyone wins!

Volunteering is a great way to open doors for your career.

You gain experience, develop your professional network, and can really grow your resume by giving back. Even if you don’t end up working for the company you volunteer for, you can be surprised by the opportunities that will come your way and the amazing experience that you will gain.

If you are interested in finding volunteer opportunities, you can check out your alumni association, your local library community board, or if you are in the Toronto area, check out

Make the most of your volunteering gig.

Here are a few more great tips:

  • Go above and beyond the call of duty.  Be the person they can call if someone cancels, be the person who takes on any challenge they can throw at you.
  • Take every opportunity you can to keep learning in the position. This not only helps you become more marketable, but also shows the company you are committed to growing and keeping current.
  • Talk, talk, talk! Talk to everyone that you can, and find ways to share about what you are passionate about, or opportunities you are looking for. You’d be surprised how much people talk about their amazing volunteers, and because they know you and your work ethic so well, your name will get put in the ring before you even have to ask!
How a Coach Can Get You What You Want!
Apr 22

[Q&A Interview] Early Career? How a Coach Can Get You What You Want!

By Shirin Khamisa | Students & New Grads


Written by Shirin Khamisa, Founder, Careers by Design

Early in Your Career?
Wondering How a Coach Can Help You?

Listen to this informative audio Q & A session between author, Laura Opoku, and Careers by Design Founder, Shirin Khamisa.

Laura & Shirin cover some of the following important questions that many early career professionals face every day:

  • What challenges do young professionals face when trying to reach their career goals?
  • How can young professionals find their way and be successful?
  • What myths hold young professionals back?
  • What has been our experience with young professionals who may feel completely lost?
  • What advice can we give to someone who feels unsure of their career path and doesn't know where to start? 


Laura Opoku

Laura Opoku
Author & Speaker

Laura Opoku is a life coach, speaker and upcoming author of "Motivation To Move - Drive Yourself to a Successful and Fulfilled Life - A Quarter Life Crisis Survival Guide." She helps young adults get unstuck in their lives and unleash their fullest potential!

Shirin Khamisa

Shirin Khamisa
Founder & Practice Leader
Careers by Design

Shirin founded Careers by Design, eleven years ago, to help people create “More Happy Mondays!”
She is a Career Counselor, Life Coach & Licensed HeartMath provider.  

Shirin has helped thousands of people in one-on-one sessions and through regular contributions to national news media and television. She currently leads a team of highly credentialed, talented career, life and leadership coaches focused on serving clients across Canada.



In School & Want to Get Involved?
Mar 24

In School & Want To Get Involved? 9 Quick & Easy Ways

By Karim Khamisa | Students & New Grads


This guest post is written by Karim Khamisa.

In school and want to get involved?

Here are 9 quick and easy ways.  Here's how...

Getting involved is beneficial for the individual and the community as a whole for a range of reasons.

However, there’s no denying the fact that sometimes it’s difficult to get involved.

I myself am still searching to find ways to get involved in my community post university. I can, however, give some recommendations to those who are still in university and are looking to make an impact.

Below are my recommendations to get involved on campus, in no particular order.

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

— Henry David Thoreau
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1. Join a club/society

Joining a club/society will help you meet people, learn something new, and put your ever-growing critical thinking skills to great use. They are a way of meeting people in the real world who are involved in issues or industries that you may or may not be interested in. Best part is, you can join as many as you want and often times can choose how involved you are with them.

2. Plan events

You do not need to be in an official role to help people gather and interact. Plan events for your floor/building/class mates, start a study group, create an intramural team, etc. We are human and we require interaction with others to be happy, to learn, and to grow.

3. Participate in community service

Whether it is volunteering on or off your campus, community service involvement creates a great sense of appreciation and gratitude within someone. It helps keep you grounded and humble while increasing the quality of life of others. Explore your schools website and see if they facilitate opportunities. If not, contact a shelter or food kitchen.

4. Get involved with your student union

If your campus has a student association, it can be one of the best ways to serve your peers. The association will have opportunities of involvement that are unique to student associations. Run for council, coordinate events, or work for the association. It’s great for your resume and gives you experience with how governing bodies function.

5. Athletic involvement

Understanding that this is a hypocritical suggestion on my part, getting involved on athletic teams is great for your health and for meeting others. It’s also awesome for school pride. Heck, if you are good enough, join a varsity team and have your schooling paid for!

6. Join a Greek organization

You are in university to learn how to think critically. That being said, put your critical thinking skills to use and break the stereotypes you may have about fraternities and sororities. They are not for everyone, but they are one of the greatest ways of getting involved and can actively benefit you for the rest of your life.

7. Volunteer for the campus paper

You don’t need to be studying journalism or media to write something. Writing for your campus paper will keep you engaged, teach you how to research, and help build your online presence. Some campus papers will even have staff available to coach you through your first few articles. It’s also pretty cool to be able to say that you are a journalist!

8. Participate in orientation week as a participant and a volunteer

By participating in orientation week as a first year, you will meet older students who can serve as mentors, answer your questions, and guide you through university. Networking is not restrictive to age. Participating in orientation week as an upper year student will help you meet incoming students while expanding your campus knowledge. As an upper year student, you will also meet other upper year students who are looking to network!

9. Get a job on campus

This will help you learn about the services on your campus so you can make the most of your resources. You are paying for them after all!

A big thing to consider is how you can get out of your comfort zone. When you get out of your comfort zone, you challenge yourself. Allow others to introduce you to activities and initiatives that you may have not normally done. Go to town halls, sit in on lectures, attend seminars etc.

At the very least, one of two things will happen:

a) you will learn something new
b) you will meet someone new

Getting involved may seem difficult and intimidating.

I do promise it will not only be easier than you thought, it will be thoroughly rewarding.

Beat Stress & Move Forward

We help you to build the skills for success and to stop sabotaging your career.  
Get started with our most popular service - the jam-packed one hour Turning Point career coaching session.

Get involved
Mar 24

Still In School? Give Your Career A Boost: 5 Reasons To Get Involved!

By Karim Khamisa | Students & New Grads


This is a guest post written by Karim Khamisa.

Getting involved in school can advance your career.  Here are 5 reasons why...

As a recent graduate, I spend a notable amount of time reminiscing on the best years of my life. Throughout my time in university I was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities from clubs on campus, to a fraternity, to serving on elected student association executives. Over the years a number of students have asked me for advice to get through university, and I always answer with the same answer – get involved!

Here are MY top reasons for why you should get involved in university:

1. Networking

You must look out for ‘Numero Uno’. If you don’t, no one else will. In this day and age you can no longer accomplish things without having a network. This includes getting a job after graduation. The people you are in school with are the people that will get you your future jobs…or introduce you to the people who will.

2. The busier you are, the less you procrastinate

This one sounds like it is contradictory, but it is true. You will procrastinate because you can. If you don’t give yourself time to procrastinate by filling all your spare time with extracurricular involvement, you will have no choice but to be productive in your free time. It’s a life lesson.

3. Builds your resume

Getting a job after graduation has become increasingly difficult over the years. It is no longer possible to get hired by simply saying yourself, or having someone vouch for you, that you are a great well-rounded individual. You need to prove it. Getting involved allows you to add beef to your resume in a way that proves you can work with others and put your skills into practical use.

4. Redefines who you are

University is a once in a lifetime opportunity to start off with a clean slate. It is an opportunity to redefine who you are and how others see you. Even more importantly, it is an opportunity to find yourself and who you are. Discovering who you are is a lifetime process that truly starts in university. Forget who you were, and begin to redefine yourself as who you want to be.

5. Builds confidence

This, in my opinion, is the most important reason. However, it is a result of the first four reasons. Getting involved, meeting people, and conquering challenges builds confidence and self-esteem. When you are confident, you are successful. When you are confident, you will invest in yourself. And frankly, if you don’t invest in yourself, no one else is going to invest in you.

As you begin a new semester and a new year, make involvement a priority. 

Beat Stress & Move Forward

We help you to build the skills for success and to stop sabotaging your career.  
Get started with our most popular service - the jam-packed one hour Turning Point career coaching session.

Job Fair Toronto
Jul 29

Job Fair Toronto – 5 Tips to Find the Job You Really, Really Want!

By Shirin Khamisa | Land the Right Job , Students & New Grads


Written by Shirin Khamisa, Founder, Careers by Design

Job Fair in Toronto? 5 Tips to Find the Job You Really, Really Want!

You see the announcement: “Job Fair Toronto.”

Perhaps you already have a job, but you’re looking for something new.

Or maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a few years to care for children or to go back to school.

Regardless of your situation, you may have mixed feelings about attending a job fair in Toronto. It’s natural to feel excited about potential opportunities, yet be unsure about how to get the most out of it.

Most people try to visit all the booths and talk to as many people as possible before they leave. It’s unlikely that this untargeted approach will help you find a fulfilling job.

Here’s how to enjoy and get results at the next Toronto job fair you visit…

1. Know what stage you are at in the job search process

Some people will use a job fair Toronto hosts to go “window shopping” for potential jobs. Often times, this is because they aren’t clear about the kind of job that they want. If this is your situation, then you are still in the exploration phase. This means that you will have different goals for attending the job fair and that’s okay. Use this job fair to learn more about what’s out there, rather than putting pressure on yourself to snag your dream job.

2. Have a job target and develop the courage to go for it!

Before attending a job fair Toronto is hosting, take a little time to examine your professional goals. This will help you figure out which jobs will be a stepping stone to success. Be honest with yourself and have the courage to go for what you want. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that they can’t be too picky. They end up in jobs that rob them of joy. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that don’t provide opportunities to work towards your long-term goals, unless you are facing a financial crisis.

3. Don’t get hung up on labels!

If you are clear about the type of job you are seeking, don’t get hung up on job titles. Even within the same industry, different companies use various titles to describe a similar role. Beware, some companies tend to use the words “manager” or “director” more freely than others. Don’t assume a fancy title pays more or gives you more responsibility.Understanding the type of role you want will be a powerful way to sort through all the options available.

4. Let your curiosity guide you…

Review the list or organizations attending the job fair in Toronto and spend your time at the ones that interest you. It sounds obvious but often people are so focused on getting a job that they don’t think about the type of company they really want to work for.Learning as much as you can about the companies that will be there, will help you figure out if the company will be a good fit for you.Take the time to look at each company’s website to understand what they do, what they value and what they are trying to achieve.

5. Don’t Just Pass Out Business Cards!

Having a few questions ready for potential employers will give you a reason to get better acquainted.Knowing about an organization will also help you dig deeper in the conversation, show your interest in the company and learn more. This will help you make a genuine and memorable connection. You’ll stand out from the crowd because most people don’t bother doing this.

Ready, set, go ….

When you’re at the job fair Toronto is hosting, remember that it’s ok to be a little nervous. Making genuine connections with others will make the process more fun and you’ll get better results. Expanding your network is an effective way of finding a job that will allow you to reach your full potential as a professional.

Now, it’s time to put these steps into practice, so you can make an interesting and rewarding job part of your reality.

Need some help with your career? We’re here for you!

Beat Stress & Move Forward

We help you to build the skills for success and to stop sabotaging your career.  
Get started with our most popular service - the jam-packed one hour Turning Point career coaching session.

The 5 Best Tips for Employment After Graduation
Jan 02

The 5 Best Tips for Employment After Graduation

By Sana Khan | Land the Right Job , Students & New Grads

As youth unemployment hikes to nearly twice of the national average rate, it is no wonder that more and more young Canadians continue to become disengaged as they try to find their right fit. What the students of today need to know is that times are changing and well…where there is a will, there is a way. Here are some ways you can prepare yourself for this changing economy and make the best of your situation after graduation.



So you have a degree and you can’t find a job?Before you go applying to 50 jobs per week, be sure to ask yourself this simple but important question.It may or may not be related to your line of work but the least you can do is be certain of the kind of work you want to look for at this moment in time. How it fits to the rest of your career is what brings me to my next point.



If you didn’t think about this before you decided to spend 4 years and 30k on a degree then now is not the time to panic. You’ve put all your energy and time and money and congratulations, now you have a degree! Whether it’s in Psychology, Business Management, or Radio and Television Arts, think about where you want to be in 5 years. Maybe you don’t exactly know the title of the job but narrowing it down to the industry or setting will give you a defined path to work towards.Don’t be discouraged, take a deep breathe and think long and hard about what you can do with your degree and what your options are.Having a short term goal, particularly if finances are an issue, will not only keep you focused but it will give you experience, transferable skills and most importantly the discipline to schedule your day and work towards your real dream.



Don’t just volunteer anywhere–be strategic about it.Think of the kind of industry you want to work for and then seek out organizations or positions that can aid in your long term goal. Assuming you want to do something that you love (highly recommended), you will want to volunteer at a place that not only falls in line with your goals but energizes you as well. Working with children when you hate working with people will not only drain you but will get you farther away from your goal than you already are.[box]FIND YOUR TALENT AND PUT IT PRACTICE![/box]

Some people want to volunteer to get them away from work related activities whereas others use it to get them closer to work opportunities.

Regardless of your situation, avoid being stagnant in your career path and volunteer. You will be able to focus more on your goals, network with like minded individuals, and most importantly keep your mind and soul engaged while giving back to the community. In addition, this can also help replace any gaps in your résumé and will make you look more responsible, outgoing, and focused. Many will find that this will open up doors to full or part time employment as the impression you make as a volunteer will follow you in your work history.



A résumé is a dynamic document in that it is constantly changing and evolving. If high school was the last time you updated your résumé then it may be time to speak to someone who can help you refine and target your tools. Having a competitive and up to date résumé will attract the right employers and set you apart from the competition.



I am saving the best for the last, networking may be your best defense to fighting unemployment. Building and maintaining relationships should be a constant part of your action plan and if you aren’t thinking about it now then take a few minutes right now to do so.[box]Do you know someone or someone who knows someone who works at a firm or a position that you are interested in? [/box]Ask your relatives, friends, old colleagues, teachers/instructors, dentist, hair stylist, etc. Rather than asking people for jobs that you are unsure of, why not ask for information on the jobs that you are interested in. Call up people, email them and set up an information interview.

Find out about the person, the industry, the position, and get advice on what you can do to get you closer to the job you want. This may be hard at first but if you do it right, you may never have to rely on internet job postings again. This is the real deal and is the best weapon to combat unemployment.

Try one or all of these tips if you are still wondering what to do upon graduation or are in the midst of applying for jobs. Remember, career planning is a bigger deal than you think so don’t be frivolous with your time and seek professional help if you are stuck. There are people out there who can help you and you are not alone.

This is a guest post from Sana Khan.