Is University Really Worth the Cost?

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I recently watched an interview with Mike Rowe that I wish I had seen 5 years ago. As the host of “Dirty Jobs”, Rowe learned a lot about the American job market & economy. Most often he mentions how much happier and more fulfilled people in the who work ‘dirty jobs’ are, not because they followed their passion, but because they learned to love the work they did every day.

I know a lot of this doesn’t apply to developing markets, where educated and skilled labour is still in shortage, but in many developed countries there is now a skills gap. Rates of unemployment and job growth are disproportionate; while more people enter the job market only after completing a University degree, the jobs being created are more focused around manual labour.

There is a mentality that the only way to wealth & to progress for those coming out of high school, is through University. Our parents worked hard, so that we could go to University and lead better lives than they did. The problem is, these days, a Bachelor’s degree isn’t special anymore. Moreover, the cost of education is rising at an unbelievable rate, and students are continuously drowning themselves in piles of debt, just to get a degree, no matter the consequences.

I was incredibly fortunate. I was able to study at a relatively cheap, yet reputable University, and graduated with no debt thanks to my parents. I have never taken this position and advantage for granted. But had I known better 5 years ago, I would have let my parents keep their money, paid less than half the price of my University, and researched the skills gap to find a job in a industry where people actually NEED workers. I would have chosen a career where I didn’t have to worry about job security. I went to University for status, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and because I was told it was “the only way forward”. Hindsight is 20/20, I don’t resent the hand I was dealt nor the choices I made, but I can learn, study, and research to make the best with what I have now.

What I really want is to end this mentality that University is the “only path forward”. That it is the only way into prestige, status and wealth. Even if you ARE in a developing country the manual labour industry still provides immense opportunities for growth, development, and entrepreneurship. I realize I may sound incredibly patronizing with all of this, but I am simply saying what I wish someone had told me when I was still in high school. University is NOT the only option.

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Online Job Search

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these, so I think it’s about time we have another career search motivation. If you have taken a look at my last posts you should have a solid CV and cover letter format set up by now. And you should also be very aware, at this point, that your format for both these items will change depending on which jobs you were applying for.

A few short posts ago I also said that I was going to start applying for one internship per day until I received an offer. Now did not get 2 days into it before I received replies from both of the two first internships I had applied for, and this was on a 1026_cheerful-job-search_400x280Saturday, no less. So, although I hate to say that I have all of the answers, clearly something I’m doing works. Bragging aside, I have momentarily stopped applying for internships until the interview process with these two internships is over. I’m sure not everyone would go about it this way, but I find it difficult enough juggling two potential job offers at once, not to mention they’re both very good and I have no idea which one to pick.

In spite of all of that, I think it’s time we broached the topic of actual job searches. You’ve got all of your information in order, but where are you actually going to find a job? There are always the traditional job search websites, of course. It’s no use for me to recommend any of them because each city has their predominant site, but one thing I’ve found a lot of people skip over is business websites. If you’re looking for a job in marketing, or fashion, or software development: go to the company websites! Find a company you really like or really want to work for, and check their website on a regular basis. At the very bottom of their webpage there will usually be a little “careers” tab that will either list their available positions or give you a chance to send in your CV should a specific position open up.

There are also the specialty websites. The internet is full of them. It seems like each industry has their own specific job search database these days, and they can usually be found pretty easily when you search for “marketing jobs” or some other general search relating to the industry you want to work for. Specialty sites are DEFINITELY worth checking daily, as they get updated most often with a greater diversity of jobs.

Finally, don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you may think you’re not qualified for. You would be surprised at how easy it is to learn on the job these days. Especially with Google to troubleshoot any potential questions you might have. I’m not telling you to flat out lie or to bite off more than you can chew, but if there is one small requirement or preference in the job advert that you think you could easily overcome, mention that in your cover letter. Let your potential employer know that you’re a fast learner and aren’t afraid to tackle knew challenges. Chances are, you’ll have an easier time learning by doing than taking an entire course just to learn one simple skill.

Happy November!

Winter has officially hit, it’s time to start closing our windows (for some strange reason we keep our open up until the very last possible day), I can no longer go outside without wearing a minimum of 2 layers of bottoms and I actually have to bring a bag with me to the gym now. This month also happens to be my mom and my best friend’s birthday month, so I think it’s quite fitting that this happens to be an important transition month for me.

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WILDsound Toronto Film Festival

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One of the best things about living in Toronto is that there are film festivals year round. On the rare occasion when there isn’t a film festival (and even during a few of them), there are hundreds of vans parked all around the place filming something or other. And if you’re not into indie films, there is always the big budget feature or TV Show that you can catch people filming (I’m talking Patrick J. Adams strolling casually through our streets – pause for drool). As a film buff, this city is heaven.

I’ve become a bit disillusioned with the big budget feature film scene lately. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a film snob, I’m just sick of having to choose between sequels, re-makes or Marvel films (I love a good Marvel flick as much as the next guy but it’s time for a bit of quality over quantity). In any case, it’s brought me into the short film scene. In fact, no film style suits modern audiences more than a good short. With youtube, netflix and twitter who wants to pay $20 to spend 2 hours watching Seth MacFarlane poke fun at history and try to get into Charlize Theron’s pants? What’s more with the barrier of entry into film constantly decreasing, high quality short films are not as rare as they used to be.

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Why is There no Opposite of Wanderlust?

It was my birthday yesterday and as usual I received lots of special, sweet messages from my family and loved ones all around the world, without actually getting to celebrate with any of them. I have always been grateful for the lifestyle I have had, and I always will be. In fact, if I hadn’t lived in so many different countries my whole life I would have never many many of the incredible people I have the privilege of knowing today, but it’s always a trade off.

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Cover Letters

After nearly two weeks off, it’s time to talk Cover Letters. Now I have to admit, this is my least favourite part about job applications. I get some serious cringe moments when I look back at my old cover letters, and in the interest of sparing you guys some of the same pain, I’d like to tell you not to make the same mistakes I did.

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The Nitty Gritty

Time to talk CV. Now I have done some job recruitment, interviewing and auditioning in the past and the most important piece of advice I can give you is to READ THE JOB ADVERTISEMENT.

I cannot tell you just how many CVs and Cover Letters were forwarded my way that were generic and seemed to have no real perception of what job they were actually applying for. I also can’t count how many interviews I’ve scored on the basis of “you seem like one of the few people who actually read the advert.” These days it’s so easy to hop online and just apply for 20 jobs in one go and feel satisfied that you’ve accomplished something for the day. DON’T! employers can pinpoint it straight away and you’re only reducing your application to interview raimagestio.

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Your Professional Online Image

You’ve gotten some rest, you’ve gotten yourself motivated and organized, you’re ready to start job hunting right? Nooooot quite. There is still a very important matter of you’re Resume to sort out. What image do you want to present to your future employers? Are you presenting the best version of yourself possible? Have you listed all your assets? What makes you different from all the hundreds of other candidates applying for the same position? Lets face it, few things are more demotivating than responding to 10 or 15 job adverts and not hearing back from a single one. So take your time to get your things in order before you start putting yourself out there.

Employers these days are more than likely to set about Googling your name right after an interview, or sometimes even beforehand, so you have to make sure the links that are attached to you are what you really want to represent. In fact, open a separate tab on your browser right now and Google yourself. What pops up? If you knew nothing about yourself and this was all the information you had, what would you think of yourself? How can you win the Game of Social Thrones?

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Self-Improvement

By now I’m sure most of you have followed the advice in my last “Left-Brain” post and are bored out of your minds. You’ve rested all you need to, explored all the hobbies you wanted, checked off most of your bucket list, slept in every day and forgotten more nights than you’ve remembered. Time to get serious.

But how? It’s difficult enough to motivate yourself to do any work without deadlines, peer pressure and a regular schedule. How are you ever going to convince yourself to do something productive?

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So What’s Next?

Congratulations! You’ve got your shiny new degree! Now what?

First and foremost TAKE TIME OFF. Some of you might be having panic fits while you watch your friends go off on their internships or new jobs but, guess what? They don’t get a break! So, for at least 1 month, go travel, take up meditation, yoga, pilates, surfing. Binge drink for a week, don’t leave your bed for a week, watch all the TV and movies you’ve been wanting to catch up on. Do whatever you need to do in order to RELAX.

Warning; this may not be easy to achieve. It’s likely that every now and then you will be plagued by a little anxiety. It will tell you all sorts of negative things and it will try to compare you to every one else who is seemingly better off than you. Your job is to ignore that pestilent little voice.

I cannot stress how important it is to take a break and congratulate yourself on your achievements. Honestly, even if you do have a job right out of uni, I still recommend taking a week or so off just to pat yourself on the back. No one else is ever going to truly appreciate the level of effort it took for you to achieve something because (obviously) they are not you! It’s that old adage; everyone has their own problems, they’re fighting their own battles and living their own lives. It’s not that people are mean, they’re just too busy to really care as much as you might want them to.

hobbes_quote_by_lizink-d54o8y7Ok so you’re super confident and don’t need to learn to appreciate yourself – you already do! Well congratulations, you’ve achieved something most people can’t do their whole lives. That doesn’t mean you don’t need rest. Any health nut will tell you rest is just as important as hard work. Our bodies and minds need rest in order to keep us going. It’s also extremely important to hit the point of absolute boredom, because that’s when real motivation starts to hit, but I’ll explain that concept better next week. For now; enjoy your rest!