Experience: Trent Alumni Give You The Goods.

Hey there!  With all the negativisms surrounding university and inconsequential stuff like money and jobs Arthur thought it’d be nice to get the scoop straight from the source.  This week we got in touch with past Trent students Nicole MacInnis, James Kerr, and Sable Guttman in Seoul (South Korea), Peterborough, and Newcastle respectively.  This is what they had to say:

When did you graduate, what did you graduate with, what do you do now?

NM:  I graduated from Trent University in 2007. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. Currently I am an English Teacher in Seoul, South Korea at a Public Elementary School.

JK:  I graduated in 2005 with an Honours Cultural Studies degree in the stream of Writing & Narrative. I have been working for the past 4 years as the Programme Director at the student owned and operated Trent Radio, 92.7 FM, CFFF in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

SG: So, I haven’t actually graduated. I started off at Trent back in 2005 in the Business program and hated it. Then I switched to Geography. Hated that a little less, but by that point my grades had been so awful, let’s just say Trent “suggested” I take a year off. I then went to Fleming College in Lindsay and acquired a diploma in the Environmental Technician and Ecosystems Management Technician programs, respectively. I’ve been slowly working toward my Bsc in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences ever since, but university still doesn’t seem to agree with me. My last job was with Trent in the Biology department (somewhat ironically), and I’m currently in-between jobs.

How did your time at Trent affect your ability to secure employment?

NM: After Trent I went on to do my Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Although I did not get employment from my degree at Trent, it helped me to get into the Masters program.

JK: It provided me with the volunteer opportunities to cultivate my interests and a very good reading list. I approached University more as an opportunity for personal development than a 4-year training course, and I was not disappointed. Through University I was introduced to most of my favourite interests, which I anticipate will entertain and occupy me for the rest of my life.

SG: My time at Trent, so far, has done nothing to help me secure employment. All three jobs that I’ve had related to my field, including a contract at Trent, I was able to secure because of my college education. I don’t even see myself completing my Bsc any time in the near future for two reasons: 1) I just really hate University. I’m not good at it. We don’t get along. 2) My college education and job experience has been enough to secure me interviews. Now, whether or not I’m successful after the interview could be attributed to any number of factors.

Do you see yourself staying in the job or field that you are currently working in? Why?

NM: I never thought that I wanted to be a teacher, but after working in South Korea I have realized that I do actually enjoy this field and love teaching kids. It is extremely rewarding when the students learn due to your teaching. I am thinking now that I would like to go to Teacher’s College when I move back to Canada.

JK: I feel the work I do now ideally compliments my idiosyncrasies. It is creatively satisfying and even its caveats have advantages. For me, it’s perfect. When you are growing up you only really hear about the jobs of doctor, lawyer, teacher, police officer and so on – no one thinks necessarily of being a “systems analyst” or, like I am, a “programme director”, but it may well be the best job for you. You just have to find that thing that’s exciting and rewarding for you, and it’s not necessarily going to be easy to explain to your parents.

SG: I definitely see myself remaining in the environmental field for at least the next 5 years, or longer if things go my way. In my experience, the job market in Ontario isn’t ideal and the competition is fierce. The saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, definitely rings true in these parts. It depends on what you’re looking for though. It’s a lot harder to obtain entry level jobs, regardless of educational background. If you have the experience and skills an employer is looking for, a degree vs. diploma won’t necessarily make a difference. I’m definitely considering relocating to another province such as Manitoba, Saskachewan, or Alberta. This is mainly because my skills are in higher demand out west.

What employment advice would you give to new graduates?

NM: The major problem that I have found with seeking employment is lack of experience. My advice is to make sure that you try your best to get any type of experience during your degree, whether it be a job in your field or a volunteer position. Anything will be helpful towards getting your needed experience. Be aggressive and don’t give up.

JK: Be prepared to spend the next 3 to 5 years after you graduate unemployed, not employed in your field, or moving anywhere in the country in order to find relevant work. This happens to everyone, and however frightening it is at the time, it’s perfectly normal. During that time, I strongly advise people to volunteer as much and as often as possible. If you volunteer long enough at something, someday someone might pay you for it.

SG: I personally wouldn’t recommend university, but that’s just one woman’s highly personal opinion. I think it definitely depends on what kind of career you’re interested in. University would be completely unavoidable in some cases (e.g. engineering or nursing). I think a lot of new university students just study whatever it is that they’re interested in, which isn’t inherently wrong, but overlooking what kind of career you can acquire after the fact is a massive tactical error. I would also highly recommend college on its own, or in combination with a university degree because that’s where you’ll acquire actual employable skills that are quantifiable. I would also recommend using whatever career services are available to new graduates. Seriously. Take advantage of them. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to relocate. You’re young and full of piss and vinegar, move around and get the experience wherever you can take it.