Each winter, Management Career Services recruits a small team of students to work directly with first-year Commerce Co-op undergraduates as they develop and refine their job application documents. These Assistant Career & Recruitment Specialists help students prepare for their first co-op job search by providing peer coaching and suggestions for improvement of cover letters and resumes. This year, MCS hired 5 Assistant CRSs, 2 of which happen to be Bachelor of Management students: Katie Hewey and Hayat Showail.
Originally from Annapolis Royal, NS, Katie is in her third year of the Management Program and has recently secured an 8-month internship position with PepsiCo in Sales. Having completed the Internship Prep Seminar in the fall, Katie remarks on the importance of devoting time and effort to a self-developed job search in order to reach your career goals.
“If students can be prepared to self-develop a position by truly putting in the effort and continuously networking, attending company information sessions, leveraging family connections, and booking informational interviews to collect insight on different companies and positions, then they will be well on their way to internship success. Although the Internship program may seem challenging, the job search in the real world is even more challenging. I think that this experience has prepared me immensely for what is to come post-grad, and I encourage all Management students to participate in the program to help prepare them for their futures as well.”
Having come to Canada from the US, Hayat is in her second year of the Management Program, majoring in Environment, Sustainability & Society, and recently applied to participate in the optional Bachelor of Management Internship Program.
“Dalhousie is a beacon for sustainability and that drove my decision to come to Halifax. Looking at the program combinations that can be taken with [my major] I was intrigued by the Management Internship Program. Not only will I learn systems thinking, complex problem solving, and current events, but I can gain the tools and experiences that will empower me to make changes within the system.”
We recently connected with Katie and Hayat to learn more about what motivated them to apply their skills and experience to empowering the career success of first-year Commerce students as part of our Assistant CRS team.
How did you discover your talent for helping others and why did you decide to pursue the opportunity to be an Assistant CRS?
Katie: I was really drawn to this opportunity because having the ability to help younger students in a position that I was once in myself, seemed like such a rewarding experience. It was so exciting to me that passing on what I’ve learned about resume and cover letter documents could potentially help students to secure a work term or summer job. As I began advising, I soon realized that what I was saying actually resonated with the students and that each one of them left the session with a clearer understanding than when they came in.
Hayat: When I visited the Career Services office at the Bissett Student Success Centre, I found my US resume was not adequate for the standards of the Canadian job market. After revising my resume and creating a cover letter with a Peer Advisor I realized I wanted to help other students to do the same. As a Peer Advisor at Career Services, I found it very rewarding to help students with their resumes, cover letters, interview skills, job searches, and LinkedIn profiles. When I discovered the opportunity to be an ACRS and help students in my own faculty with their resumes and cover letters, I applied.
How has helping first-year students with their job application documents help you to improve your own? In other words, what have you learned and how do you think it will help you down the road?
Katie: It has made me more aware of the importance of a good cover letter and resume and the significance of ‘small jobs.’ Students often struggle with being able to highlight the skills they developed from jobs that they deem ‘unimportant’ such as working in retail or fast food. Having to remind students that these jobs are, in fact, very important, has helped me to grow as an advisor by continuously reminding me that no matter how insignificant a job or extracurricular role may seem, there is always value to be found and skills to draw from.
Hayat: I’ve learned from my students about current job market trends from their previous experiences as well as different job market standards worldwide. This has really opened my eyes to various regionally-specific standards, which is important to understand for when I apply to full-time positions post-graduation.
Based on your time so far as an Assistant CRS, what do students tend to struggle with the most when it comes to cover letters and resumes, and how do you help them work through it?
Both: Action statements and cover letters!
Katie: Many students have tremendous experiences, but simply do not know how to articulate the skills gained or how they can translate it into something an employer is seeking. Action statements follow a simple formula, they should always begin with the skill you gained, followed by how/why you developed that skill using a very specific example, and end with the result of that situation.
Hayat: I have most commonly found that students only include 2 of the 3 elements, most likely leaving out the “result” of their work. The result of the tasks you are doing are very intuitive to you and may seem like a nuance to add, but your job is to make it easy for the person reviewing your resume to see what you have accomplished
Katie: With cover letters, the middle paragraphs are what students struggle with the most. The middle paragraphs are where the student should be proving the skills they mentioned in their introduction through specific experiences they have had. I encourage students to think of a cover letter like an essay: it has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Hayat: For cover letters, I find that students struggle with formatting the letter correctly, I have seen cover letters of all shapes and sizes by now and I always say the simpler and cleaner it is, the better. Try avoiding Word templates, they usually aren’t the best.
If you are a first-year Commerce Co-op student looking for help with your job application assignment, you can take advantage of daily drop-in advising sessions until this Friday, March 8, 2019. Students can opt to book an appointment for faster service or drop-in to Room 4001 during the scheduled times as listed on the myCareer Events Calendar.