Thinking about life after university can be quite the daunting thought. As corny as this sounds, graduating university is truly the start of a whole new chapter in one’s life.
Think about it… you’ve spent the majority of your life in and out of classrooms and various schools. But now it’s time to enter the real world – the one with cubicles and office spaces. Sounds like a blast, right?
This big step can bring about many questions like: “Where will I end up professionally?” and “What job opportunities are available to me?”
As someone who has recently made the transition from university studies to the job force, I can tell you that the job application process can be fairly intimidating. For one, many positions ask for years of experience within a given field. But without being given the opportunity to work, how are we expected to gain experience to begin with?
For this reason, I highly encourage university students to look into internship opportunities prior to graduating. Gaining some work experience can
be beneficial for your resume and give you a better shot at landing future job interviews and positions.
You’d be surprised to know just how many internship opportunities are out there. Of course, doing your own research and job hunting is a great idea. However, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t always have to look further than your very own university.
No matter your program of study, many universities across Canada offer co-op programs as a way to ease students into the workforce.
Here are a few that may be of interest:
McGill University – Montreal, QC
Best known for its Science, Medicine, and Management programs, McGill University offers quite a varied list of internship opportunities for its students.
Internships vary and change depending on the time of year but the good news is that new opportunities arise in both the Winter and Summer semesters.
Even more exciting is the fact that McGill’s internships are not solely limited to Canada or even North America, for that matter. Positions are offered and available internationally, giving you the chance to not only gain work experience but also to appreciate a whole other part of the world.
For more information, visit McGill’s CaPS (Career Planning Service) Internships page.
Concordia University – Montreal, QC
At Concordia University, rest assured that there is an internship program available for you. These opportunities are for both undergraduate and graduate students, and include a variety of programs such as Arts & Science, Fine Arts, Computer Science, Engineering and Business.
The internships are available throughout the year, during the Fall, Winter and Summer semesters and are divided into four categories: Undergraduate Co Op Program, Graduate Internships, Career Edge (C. Edge) and Accelerated Career Experience (ACE).
For more information on the available postings, you can visit the Concordia University website.
Dalhousie University – Halifax, NS
For a more hands-on approach, Dalhousie University has got you covered. Their internship programs include a combination of in-class studying with direct, physical experience in the workforce.
The fields of study included within this co-op program are Architecture, Commerce, and Science.
These opportunities are not limited to the province but rather are opened to the rest of Canada and international countries, as well.
For more information on job placement and who to contact, visit the Dalhousie University website.
University of King’s College – Halifax, NS
The University of King’s College offers an array of job opportunities for their students. These include on-campus employment, for the institution itself, as well as external career opportunities.
Whether you’re a student of the Arts, Management, or even Technology, the university has a list of current postings that can be of great use to you. Paid placements are also available for students in the faculty of Humanities.
The Student Assistantship Program (SAP) is another great option, as it provides students with a chance to work as an assistant to a professor. This can be a perfect instance to gain resume-worthy experience as well as the ability to grow your career network.
You can check out these various options as well as career advice on the University of King’s College website.
Memorial University of Newfoundland – St. John’s, NL
For Science, Social Science, and Humanities students, Memorial University of Newfoundland has ample options for your first step into the workforce.
Apply your theoretical knowledge to on-site work, be it in the field of Biology, Computer Science, Psychology, etc.
International placements are also available for students of the International Bachelor of Arts. This program is a great means of preparation for those who are interested in finding careers abroad.
To read about program eligibility and job listings, visit the Memorial University website.
University of Prince Edward Island – Charlottetown, PEI
At the University of Prince Edward Island, internship and cooperative learning opportunities are available for the following programs: Arts, Business, and Science.
The application process comes around every fall and opportunities are available for the entire year. The postings last between 14-16 weeks, allowing students to fully immerse themselves in their field, apply their knowledge, and leave with great newly-acquired experience.
To learn how to apply, visit the University of Prince Edward Island website.
Hopefully these resources will make what can be an overwhelming process a lot more manageable, and maybe even enjoyable. Just remember that so many other students are in the same position as you, and that this is a super exciting time that will inevitably lead to growth, new skills, and tons of valuable experience 🌟.
McGill Career Planning Services. “Internships.” N.D., https://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job/internship
Concordia Institute for Co-operative Education. “Internship Programs.” N.D., https://www.concordia.ca/academics/co-op/programs.html
Dalhousie University. “Cooperative Education.” N.D., https://www.dal.ca/academics/cooperative_education.html
University of King’s College. “Student Employment.” N.D., https://ukings.ca/campus-community/student-life/student-employment/
Memorial University. “Co-operative Education Programs at Memorial University.” N.D., https://www.mun.ca/coop/programs/
University of Price Edward Island. “Co-operative Education.” N.D., https://www.upei.ca/exed/students/co-operative-education?utm_source=co-op&utm_medium=redirect
Many of us seek higher education in the hopes of broadening our grasp of the topics and ideas we’ve found engaging as we’ve grown up. Though it’s true that universities can give access to resources, communities, and courses that allow for this kind of growth, they’re still one of the many institutions that are guilty of reinforcing a problematic status quo. Calls for addressing systemic issues of racism, classism, sexism, and the myriad of other harmful practices that continue to impact student life on campus are louder and more widespread than ever.
Students have been able to mobilize and share their experiences, directly call out injustices, and effect change in ways they never could in the past — through social media and the internet as a whole, institutions of higher learning are able to be held accountable for many things that would be otherwise swept under the rug. For instance, in 2019 a Black student was skateboarding on campus at the University of Ottawa, and was subsequently stopped and handcuffed for no apparent reason. The only way that situation was rectified was through the collective engagement of students who opposed such a violation. Koulmiye Boyce, the student in question, stated:
“After that incident, students organized. We released an open letter asking for very clear things. We asked for a policy review, we asked for transparency, accountability, information and representation.”
While all this can be empowering, it’s still difficult to understand how you as an individual can make changes that would benefit your own academic landscape. Universities are large and intimidating entities, and especially at the start of your academic career, it’s easy to feel like just one small fish in the massive sea of other students looking to scrape by.
The Issue of Diversity Implementation
A simple but disappointing truth is that “diversity” is often a blanket term used to gesture to a vague idea of inclusion wherever it is employed — quite often, the mere mention of diversity seems to appease the masses even if no actual set plan or measures are being taken. That is to say, talk of diversity with little follow through is an easy comfort to the conscience of people in positions of power, and such half-hearted gestures allow people to continue supporting these institutions guilt free. It allows for the illusion of acknowledgment to be pushed into the public awareness, distracting from the core issue at play. This is where tokenism flourishes, especially in student life.
When I was taking an African literature course in my third year, my professor (who was white — I have never taken a course in my field taught by another Black professor) pointed out in the first lesson the issue with the course existing as a whole. African literature is literature — it exists among the canon and has equal importance and impact on the history of writing in general. The need to make the course (and other such courses; Latin literature, Indigenous literature…) separate from our required English courses is an example of the lack of true acceptance in academic spaces, and the perpetual exclusion of people of colour. To condense such a broad concept into a single elective is a disservice to the work itself.
This isn’t to say advanced courses that focus on a specific region are inherently wrong, it’s great and necessary to take a deeper dive into overlooked aspects of your area of study. But when there is an intense lack of inclusion in “regular” literature classes, and other forms of writing are shoved into elective courses that students take at their own will (rather than the required study of mostly white, mostly male authors), there is an issue.
Though this acknowledgment from my professor was nice, it was also frustrating. I thought it must mean that many other faculty members must be aware of the issue. So what could be done?
Self Advocating at a Community Level
One thing that can help in taking a step forward in this issue is looking for other students who may share your sentiments. There is a long list of different student-run initiatives on campuses that advocate for marginalized identities; resources such as Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy and Student Union are just a couple examples. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a group fighting for diversity requirements in courses, but if you can find like-minded individuals, you can breach the subject and garner support.
It can be a huge relief just to have your sentiments echoed by your peers, and this also speaks to the power of solidarity strength in numbers. For example, petitions signed by a sizable number of people, or formal complaints written and co-signed by a group, can be shared at a quicker rate to a larger audience than they would if backed by a single person. Utilizing the power of connection through various forms of social media for these proposals can also draw more attention to the cause.
Another impactful move is to familiarize yourself with the people in your class, and your professors. Though it may seem as though there is a great distance between you as a student and your instructor, you’re going to be sharing a classroom and a considerable amount of hours with this person all semester. If you find the syllabus to be exclusionary, attending office hours with others to speak on the issue could prove helpful. While this may not necessarily change the system of the university as a whole, expressing concern over the course materials shows an active interest and highlights the issue. It’s surprising how many professors are blind to glaringly obvious issues within their classrooms. Having this connection with a professor, when successful, may be useful in bringing this concern to a higher level, although this process can be daunting, slow, and deeply frustrating. Professors can help guide you to who you need to speak with on an administrative level, and if the concern is shared, can act as allies to the cause.
In the midst of many global movements and uprisings, more universities have touched on the idea of diversity requirements through coursework. UCLA professor Gene Block stated: “When faculty are socially conscious and create safe spaces for people to share their experiences, more students feel a sense of belonging.”
On a general level, diversity in the classroom is something that does not need to be as contentious and elusive as it currently is. Diversity is something that should be embedded into the fabric of student life in a way that allows for students to access the full potential and scope of their learning material, offering perspectives that reflect the world around us.
Like all lasting, systemic change, these things take time and effort and can be frustratingly slow. While having to fight and waiting for change is quite discouraging, it’s important to remember that it is not only possible, but that you are almost never alone in what you believe in. In moments of exhaustion, look to your community for support. Take advantage of the resources you have at hand, and continue to do your own research as you take charge of your academic autonomy.
CBC Radio. “Students call for systemic change in wake of N-word controversy at University of Ottawa.” October 23, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-oct-23-2020-1.5772694/students-call-for-systemic-change-in-wake-of-n-word-controversy-at-university-of-ottawa-1.5774034
Centre for Gender Advocacy. https://genderadvocacy.org/
Concordia Student Union. https://www.csu.qc.ca/
DeRuy, Emily. “The Complicated Process of Adding Diversity to the College Syllabus.” July 29, 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/07/the-complicated-process-of-adding-diversity-to-the-college-syllabus/493643/
Imagine it’s October, you have been in university for a month now, and you finally feel like you have the situation under control. You grab your planner, open it, and realize that you have five exams practically back-to-back coming up in two weeks…and some assignments to hand in on top of it all. Congratulations, you are about to experience your first midterm season!
Although midterms are stressful for everyone, they can be especially difficult in your first year as you may not know what to expect. Don’t worry; we are here to help. Here are our five best tips to survive your first midterm season.
Tip #1: Find a study spot where you can be your best productive self
There are usually tons of places to study on campus, and you should try as many as possible at the beginning of the year. Why? Well, your faculty coffee shop might be the cutest little spot, but if you keep running into people you know, it might not be the best place to get some work done.
Try out different libraries and cafés and see where you work the best. By the time midterms come around, you’ll know exactly where to go to be the most productive.
If home is where you get the most work done, try to make your study space as cozy as possible. Plants, candles, blankets are all great ways to make your study spot more inviting. Nobody likes to study when hungry and to prevent going to the kitchen every 20 minutes, fill out a basket with some of your favourite snacks and keep it near your study space.
Tip #2: Do not, and I repeat, do not pull all-nighters
Time management is a skill, and you might not be the best at it right away. As your to-do list gets longer and longer, you might think the only solution is to stay up all night to catch up on your work. Although this might seem like a good idea, all-nighters are actually terrible for the body and the mind.
Your brain needs rest to work properly. If you avoid sleeping for long periods, your productivity and the quality of your work will go down. Also, chances are that you will forget all the information you tried learning during an all-nighter. Can you imagine studying for a full night only to forget all the information on the day of the exam?
If you want to make the most out of your studying, make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. You will be much better at memorizing if you are well-rested. You’ll also be sharper on exam day, and therefore less likely to panic, misread questions, or forget important details.
Tip #3: Do some exercise every day
It is no secret that physical activity is great for you. But, did you know that one of the benefits of exercising is improved concentration? In fact, physical activity is one of the best and easiest ways to improve focus, concentration, and mood.
If you are not a fan of the gym, do not worry. You do not need to spend two hours every day lifting weights to improve your concentration. An easy 30-minute walk is enough for you to feel the benefits of exercising.
A few lifestyle changes can also help you be more active. For example, you can bike to your classes, take the stairs instead of the elevators, or do a few push-ups while watching your favourite Netflix show.
Tip #4: Keep up with your nutrition
Cooking might not be your top priority during midterm season but living off instant noodles is probably not the best idea. Healthy food will give your brain the energy it needs to do well on exam day.
If time is an issue, make sure to have plenty of fruits and vegetables in your fridge. They are easy to snack on, quick to grab, and convenient to bring on the go. You can also freeze some healthy meals in the weeks before your exam season. Make a giant batch of chilli or soup and freeze half for later. This way, you will have easy access to healthy food without having to stress about cooking.
Tip # 5: Do not be afraid to reach out if you feel overwhelmed
Your first midterm season might be more stressful than you thought it would. If you feel like it becomes too much to handle, it might be time to reach out for help.
All universities have resources available for students in times of struggle. You can usually find them on your university website. For example, in Montreal, McGill University has a Student Wellness Hub for students. They can help you access the services of a dietitian, psychiatrist, sexologist, local wellness advisor, and more! Concordia University also has a website dedicated to students’ health and wellness. They list all the services students can have access to, but a few examples include psychologists, counsellors, and fitness coaches. If you feel like you can no longer deal with your stress alone, contact these services, and they will be more than happy to help you.
You do not have to go through this tough time alone. You can always reach out to friends and family members. They know you, and they might be able to give you great advice.
A final word. . .
Exams are difficult, and with all the pressure to succeed, your first “C” might feel like the end of the world. Rest assured, it is not, and you will have plenty of time to make up for it. Also, a bad grade does not mean you are a bad student or a bad person. Some professors will make their exams extremely difficult on purpose, and there is nothing you can do about it.
As long as you do your best, you should be proud of your accomplishment. Do not obsess over your grades, and do not forget to make the most out of your university experience!
Concordia University. “Health and Wellness.” N.D., https://www.concordia.ca/health.html
Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills.” February 15, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-can-boost-your-memory-and-thinking-skills
McGill Student Services. “Student Wellness Hub.” N.D., https://www.mcgill.ca/wellness-hub/
Suni, Eric. “How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus.” Sleep Foundation, December 11, 2020, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/lack-of-sleep-and-cognitive-impairment
To say the past two years have been “eventful” would be the understatement of the century… When we weren’t worrying about the pandemic or wondering where all of the toilet paper went, we were desperately trying to find new hobbies to occupy our time.
With no friends to visit or places to go, attention turned to social media more than ever before. Together, we rediscovered banana bread, puzzles, paint-by-numbers and collectively downloaded TikTok (even though you swore you never would). Guilty as charged 🙋
Besides these more superficial pastimes to distract ourselves, having more time for reflection sparked more thoughtful and much-needed conversations about social injustice. With everyone’s attention cast online, news of inequities and mistreatment travelled fast, and the reality of systemic oppression was unavoidable and inescapable. From police brutality, to Black Lives Matter, to Indigenous Rights or MeToo/Time’s Up – social media posts evolved into petitions, protests and so much more during the pandemic.
While movements like BLM finally started receiving the attention they deserved, the bandwagon effect left us begging the question of who was or wasn’t being sincere in their activism. More importantly, what makes the difference between an activist and a slacktivist? How do we most effectively foster change within and around us?
Large corporations now take to Instagram to post a single photo in support of BLM and then seemingly disappear from the discourse completely, effectively paying lip service and calling it a day. Real diversity, equity and inclusion efforts require organizational transformations and change most companies are less ready to undergo when they think a tweet or two will suffice.
Questioning intention and impact is also something we need to on an individual level; lest we forget the now infamous #blackouttuesday squares. For those unaware of this social media movement, the hashtag was originally intended to support Black artists and creators and contribute to the conversation of diversity within the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, the hashtag was misconstrued and users took to posting black squares and pledging to stay off social media for the day.
Despite wanting to help or participate in the dialogue, a lack of education, understanding, thoughtfulness or research in these areas can make it easy to get swept up in what has become known as “performative activism.” In other words, activism undertaken by individuals or companies for the purpose of gaining something in return – be it for social popularity, recognition, money or just to draw attention to yourself.
It’s always heartwarming that younger generations are often at the forefront of movements for change. But sometimes as a group, we need to remember that social media isn’t the only way to connect or learn about social issues. While posting resources on Stories and circulating news updates are definitely helpful to spread the word about a cause, it’s crucial to find more meaningful ways to truly spark change within our everyday lives.
Luckily for us, Canadian universities offer a wide selection of courses that can broaden our knowledge and deepen our understanding of all sorts of important social causes. Here are just some of the offerings worth checking out as you round out your course load…
10 electives at Canadian universities that school us on injustice
Concordia University – Montreal, QC
1. ENGL 369: African-American Literature 1900 to Present
In this class you’ll discover novels written by black authors throughout the 20th century. The course touches on segregation, Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights movement as well as modern day racial injustice and the impact of these issues on the black community and beyond.
2. ENGL 380: First Nations/North American Native Literature
Through the exploration of literature, this course delves into the challenges faced by First Nations peoples in North America including residential schools, misrepresentation of Indigenous people in media and much more. You’ll not only learn about these issues but you’ll experience their impact through film and contemporary literature.
3. HIST 242: History of the Middle East
This curriculum explores Middle Eastern political history, including the formation and rise of Islam as well as its present-day state. It also delves into the Arab-Israeli conflict and colonialist history. Social, cultural and religious timelines are discussed throughout the course, providing you with a decent background in the region.
McGill University – Montreal QC
4. ENGL 345: Literature and Society: Asian-American and Asian-Canadian Literature
This course will discuss the cultural and social barriers that surround the Asian community through a North American lens. This goal will be achieved by delving into literature written by Asian-American and Asian-Canadian authors and will discuss topics such as discrimination, politics and socio-economic related issues.
5. ENGL 444: Women’s Writing and Feminist Theory: Gender and African Literature
Discover feminist theory through various literary lenses. This course dives into gender and African literature and relates them to experiences based on politics, race, and more.
6. ENGL 440: First Nations and Inuit Literature and Media
Throughout this course, you will expand your knowledge of First Nations and Inuit culture through literature, television and film. In turn, you will learn more about Indigenous cultures and obstacles faced by Indigenous communities through discussing their representation in the media.
Dalhousie University – Halifax, NS
7. GWST 1015.03: Gender and Diversity
This course will explore the complexity of gender through a variety of different discussions. Besides defining the term itself, you will also have the opportunity to view the topic of gender through varying perspectives. These include its relations to other systems of power such as economic, social and racial status.
8. ENVI 5039 : Indigenous Perspectives on Resource & Environmental Management
In this course, you’ll learn about environmental issues and their relation to politics. More specifically, it tackles how the environment endangers and affects the Indigenous community.
Memorial University of Newfoundland – St. John’s, NF
9. POSC 1020: Issues in World Politics
For those unfamiliar with politics, this course could be the perfect introduction. Explore important political challenges from around the world and their overall effects on the population.
10. HIST 3131: Black History in Canada
In this overview of black history in Canada, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of racism and discrimination. You’ll also learn about important African-Canadian artists, activists and entrepreneurs.
Educating ourselves about politics, history and social injustice is an important step on the road to becoming a true activist.
By choosing to learn more about these topics, we can:
- Expand our knowledge of systemic problems and change-makers fighting for justice and equality.
- Actively join conversations to help others reach a new understanding of the issues facing our communities.
- Consider more meaningful ways to affect change in our communities, and reflect on our own engagement with the movements we want to support.
Your Instagram story is only up for 24 hours: what’ll you do once that time is up?
Coscarelli, Joe. “#BlackoutTuesday: A Music Industry Protest Becomes a Social Media Moment.” The New York Times, June 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/arts/music/what-blackout-tuesday.html