Taylor Joseph, Sociology Alumni, shares with us her experience finding her first full-time job after graduating. Taylor graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, in the Cooperative Education Program, along with a Certificate in International Learning.
Tell me what you do in your current position?
Currently I am the Student Services Assistant with the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Student Services office. My role mainly deals with a lot of student interaction, where I do front desk advising in regards to students’ programs, courses, withdrawals, deferred exams, and general inquiries about the BA degree. I also perform a wide list of administrative tasks, such as general front desk management and maintaining student records.
How did you get into this line of work?
Luckily for me, this job offer became a kind of “who you know” type of opportunity! During my degree, I enrolled in the Arts Work Experience (AWE) program and found a 12 month internship opportunity with the Faculty of Arts as the International Student Engagement Intern. I learned a lot in that role, and I developed many employable skills like data analysis, public speaking, student coaching, and developed the Economics English Conversation Club (EECC). To this day I still believe this role has been the most valuable work experience I’ve achieved so far, not only because of the work I did, but the mentors I had throughout who guided me to become the person/employee I am now! While I was in that role, my network grew within the Faculty and the greater U of A community, and after my internship I moved into the role of Career Peer Educator with the U of A Career Centre. It was in this position where I discovered and refined my advising skills, and also became a more critical and analytical thinker with student services. Both of these job opportunities helped me to get to where I am now, because of the relationships I built and the skills I developed.
What do you enjoy about your current position?
It’s a very exciting position, because you never know what questions or situations will come into the office! Since the BA program is so interdisciplinary, this position requires me to be well versed in the many different areas that make up our Faculty. The learning curve is steep, but it’s an exciting challenge and I am very happy to be constantly learning about new and/or different programs, and to be able to work for such a diverse workplace. Overall, it’s a great feeling to be able to guide and help students during their time here at the U of A, and being a U of A Arts alumni, it holds a lot of meaning to be able to work for my home Faculty. Working in Student Services has been a goal of mine ever since I first made plans to graduate this year, and it’s been very rewarding to be able to help students through all the stages of their degree programs, and to work with such a supportive team.
What advice would you have for current students to help them prepare for employment after graduation?
Get involved with work experience and internship opportunities! These chances are definitely worth taking as they will help you figure out the next best steps for your future. Maybe you will find a new passion, a hidden talent or an industry that you never considered working in before! Or maybe you realize you want to do something completely different from what you’re doing now! Whatever your takeaway may be, gaining some type of work experience is better than NO experience at all, and it will give you that competitive edge when you begin the job hunt process post-graduation. Before you know it you’ll be graduating and searching to find work in the “real” world, which makes your time here at the U of A the perfect opportunity to take risks and to experiment with different jobs and work environments. Use it wisely! Go check out the AWE program, and other internships/co-op/work experience opportunities and see what they have to offer!