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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jobs That Will Help You Get Your Dream Job

I’m going here on the assumption that your dream job is why you are in school now; if I’m wrong, either I’ve missed something (please enlighten me!) or you are studying in the wrong program.
Working as an ASSISTANT to your dream job is a great training ‘program’ in which you get paid, earn experience, and test out whether this is really what you want to do.  The experience is what is getting you a step closer to your dream job, so get a reference letter before you leave (or right after).
If you can work as a RESEARCH ASSISTANT for a professor who teaches a class that is very important to your degree, you are receiving acknowledgement (for you and whoever will read your resume later on) from an expert in the field that you are so good in this area that you are wanted for work.  Approach professors in the winter term (yes, now) for a summer position; it may also lead to part-time work comes the fall.  In a similar fashion, there exist many student-work programs where the university-bursary program funds part of your salary and a professor or research lab funds the rest of your salary; this works well because the lab is more likely to hire you since they get you at a discounted salary and you get to work in a field you like.  Most of these are part-time during the school year.
Work at almost any job in the INDUSTRY you are interested in.  For example, after your first year of engineering, you are not likely to be hired to work in an engineering firm as a designer; however, can you replace clerks going on vacation during the summer? This will get you a foot in the door, prove to the employer that you are willing to work your way up (and are not so full of yourself that you only want a top job), and make a summer job a great learning experience as how other parts of the industry you will most likely work one day function.  If you are pre-vet (doing the mandatory undergrad before going to vet school), working at a pet shop, at a dog grooming salon (even if you want to specialize in large animals), or a kennel is a proof to future employers (and vet school) that you are committed and focussed on this goal.
Work in an industry connected to your MAIN FIELD of study. If you want to do math research, working in an accounting firm is not where you want to work.  However, it’s related and that gives you two advantages: 1. maybe you’ll find accounting a lot of fun and if you decide not to complete a PhD, you may decide to retrain as an accountant and 2. it shows that you can work in the general field of math.  Same deal if you work at a science day camp: 1. you may find that teaching science (and math) is fun and you could decide on a change of career and 2. you show that you can explore and teach (and therefore train another) in the general field of math and sciences.
If you are studying anything related to business, working in retail will teach you a lot and look great on your resume; moreover, these jobs are the easiest to get as a student AND you can work part-time during the school year as well.  My sister worked for a few years in a chain restaurant, moving from cashier to manager of the employees.  She learned to work as part of a team, to budget, and to lead.  After her degree in marketing and business, she started working at a bank and quickly moved up to manager, surely thanks to her great previous experience.
Many coop programs are designed that way: you work some terms and study others, but at the end of your degree, you already have experience in your field and fantastic connections to a few companies who may choose to hire you.  In teachers college, the practicums are included in the program.  However, if you are doing a degree beforehand, working at camps or before and after-school care will earn you ‘bonus points’ on your application.  As well, good references from your practicum mentors will help you get the job you want.
While every job opportunity is not the most financially-wise, it ‘pays’ to look beyond the salary.

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