Career Tips for International Students
Centennial College and Ten Thousand Coffees partnered to connect current students with alumni.
Centennial College can give you statistics about graduate satisfaction and employment rates, but it’s the people that are the most important. The College has a long history of setting its international students up for success, and is proud of its many accomplished alumni, some of which are helping the next generation.
Ten Thousand Coffees is all about linking students with alumni. It’s a networking platform to connect students and grads with alumni and industry professionals. Centennial College’s branch of the platform also holds events, like they did this past March, where notable college alumni gave advice to students. One of the sessions focused specifically on former international students helping current ones answer that big question: How do you get your Canadian career started?
How you can put your career in motion
Make sure you customize every resume you send out, and tailor it for what a job post is asking for.
“No one resume fits all the jobs that you're applying for. Be very careful and take the time to update your resume based on the jobs that you're applying for,” said Nikki Makkar, Director of Human Resources at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, graduate of Centennial's Human Resources Management graduate certificate program.
“Have a few different resumes on file, and then you can format them to match the criteria that the position is asking. If a position needs a driver's license, and you don't actually have your driver's license, you could put something along the lines of “working towards my driver's license,” so that your resume is picked up by the HR rep or hiring manager. I like to tell students to take the job description and underline the required skills and try to match those to your experiences, to relate it back,” said Trish Dolan, Job Developer at Centennial College, graduate of Centennial College’s Teacher of Adults certificate program, on top of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Brock University and a Human Resources Management certificate from Seneca College.
Include relevant international experience on your resume
“Everybody should have or will have skill sets that they're bringing from any position that they've worked in the past, whether it's soft skills or communication skills. Every time a student asked me whether or not they should include international experience on their resume, I've always said yes. There's always something from your previous positions that you could put onto your resume. But again, with that said, always ask yourself what will be of value to the employer?” -Trish Dolan.
Include Canadian experience
“The reasoning behind employers looking for Canadian work experiences is that different cultures have different ways of handling situations. Do you make eye contact? Do you give a firm handshake? Do you have a friendly smile? How do you handle feedback? In some cultures, I've noticed that feedback is taken as a personal attack, whereas here we view feedback as learning opportunities for personal and professional growth.” -Nikki Makkar
“Volunteering, part-time work, one-time experiences, whatever you have done in Canada, include it as well. Your studies in Canada is something that is valuable for the employer to know what you have done before,” said Maria Gabriela Bello, HR Generalist at TAL, graduate of Centennial’s Human Resources Management program.
“You can also include Canadian experience in your cover letter, if you don't feel that there's a spot that you could include it in your resume.” -Trish Dolan
Proper interview behaviour
“With virtual interviews a lot of people are very laid back, and they don't dress appropriately for interviews. Virtual is the way forward, but you still have to be prepared and dressed up. Were they smiling throughout? Do they make eye contact? Were they curious about the job? Did they have questions? To me, if someone has no questions about the position, or the company itself, it sounds like they just need a job and I don't know how they'll fit in. What was their attitude throughout the interview? Some people come in with a lot of ego. Will they fit into the team? We're thinking and connecting all the dots.” -Nikki Makkar
Have a success story or two lined up for your interview
“I have a kind of interview booklet, where I have key examples of difficult situations or difficult customers, because all the behavioral questions that you get asked in various interviews, more or less, will ask you for a situation. And if you have a couple of situations from your past experience, whether it's from your school days, a part-time job or your current job, those are transferable skills you can use in multiple interview questions.” -Nikki Makkar
Sometimes you won’t succeed, but you can always learn from it
“Don’t give up on the first try. You may think: I have applied to 200 jobs and have not received a call, so maybe I'm not good enough? No, you just have to keep applying to the jobs. It's not always about you, there is a lot of competition out there. You just have to be consistent, persistent and resilient.” -Maria Gabriela Bello
Networking is a key part of finding a job in Canada. Here’s how to do it.
“You can use tools like Ten Thousand Coffees, offered by Centennial, to meet people, or LinkedIn as well. Try to connect with people in your field and ask questions like, ‘I see that you've graduated from Centennial. I’m about to graduate and want to know more about your journey, and any tips that you can give me.’ Some people are very open, and maybe that person can actually open the door for you for a job in their company or other company that they know about…and that's the way that I found my first job.” -Maria Gabriela Bello
With over 800 members, the Centennial Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees is an excellent way to network and connect with industry professionals, Centennial alumni, faculty, staff, and students for informational interviews about the field you’re pursuing. Becoming a part of Ten Thousand Coffees means you're connected to fellow Centennial College students, alumni, faculty, and staff looking to network, and ask and answer questions. It’s perfect for helping you learn more about getting hired and getting in touch with the people who can hire you.
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