8 Steps to Your Career

career search

8 Steps to Your Career

By Keith Norbury, BA ’85

Frustrated with their career tracks, Denis Luchyshyn, BCom ’13, and Clinton Nellist, BA ’13, quit their jobs and went across the country to shoot a documentary called Road to Employment. Their quest was to answer an ageless question: How do young Canadians find meaningful employment?

During his 15-year career with the BC government, Eben Watt, MFA ’05, learned so much from his own experiences and in coaching people frustrated with their job searches that he prepared a brief instruction manual. This spring, Watt adapted it into a presentation on “informational interviewing” for UVic alumni.

While still at UVic, Dana Stephenson, BCom ’12, along with classmates Dave Savory and Dylan Chernick, did an entrepreneurship class project on landing a job without experience. That turned into Riipen Inc., a company that enables students to gain experience by completing small test projects for prospective employers.

On their separate journeys they learned what it takes to find a dream job. Here are a few of their tips:

1. Socialize. “It’s the relationships that you build that create opportunities,” says Luchyshyn. Or as Nellist says: “Are you going to hire somebody because you read about them on a piece of paper or are you hiring them because a co-worker or friend recommended them?”

2. Ask about someone’s job. Find someone on a career path you’re interested in and ask that person all about that job. “They whole deal with an informational interview is that you’re not asking for a job,” says Watt. “You’re asking for their life story.”

3. Know yourself. “Draft your story,” Watt says. Just make it brief – like an elevator pitch. “You want to be compelling and you want to communicate what it is that makes you stand out.”

4. Be interested, not interesting. “Be genuinely interested in whoever you (interview),” Watt says.

5. Arrange to re-connect. Ask for referrals and permission to drop the subject’s name when following up on referrals, Watt says. After the interview, send a thank-you email.

6. Start early. There’s no time like now to build a network and find a career path, Riipen co-founder Stephenson says. Build that network through co-op terms, volunteering, or internships. Don’t be afraid to commit 100 per cent. “You’ll figure out (sooner) if it’s worth going for.”

7. Build your portfolio. The resume is dead. “It’s really hard to stand out on a piece of paper,” Stephenson says. A portfolio distinguishes you from the herd. “Take the theory that you’re learning in school and then use that to practice the specific skills that companies (want).”

8. Your career is lifelong. “Career paths are more chaotic,” Luchyshyn says. “Start thinking about volunteering and making some connections in the industry you’d like and to find out, is it better on the other side?”