Job search tips and tricks from one student to another

Finding value in online learning experiences.


Since the majority of my after-grad degree took place online because of the pandemic, I feared I missed opportunities to improve my chances of getting a job after graduation. The tumultuous job market that asks for years of experience for entry level positions left me wondering how I could revamp my resume and job search techniques. I spent the majority of the last few years sitting at my small desk glued to my computer switching from class to work meetings. Have I learned any new skills? How could I use my remote learning and work experiences to support my future goals? After reflecting on these questions, I found new life in my online learning experiences!

Online learning

The dramatic shift that we all went through in 2020 from in-person to fully online learning forced us to be adaptable to change and learn new online skills. These skills are super relevant to any future career. The self-motivation and time management required for online learning, specifically when courses are self-paced, is a great skill to share with potential employers. Many jobs are permanently shifting online, which I think we are all prepared for. Many of our classes required use of videoconferencing technology for presentations, breakout rooms and working collaboratively on group projects. Being placed in random breakout rooms for discussion has also taught me how to effectively facilitate online discussions. All of these virtual soft skills will be valuable for any job in the future. Many employers want to hire people who are flexible and adaptable. I think switching from in-person to online and back again proves our ability to quickly adapt.

Remote advising from the Career Centre

When I considered going to the U of A Career Centre for an advising appointment, I could never find the time. I always felt like my school work or job was more urgent. Deep down I knew this was a mistake, as focusing on future career goals is also a priority. During my first degree I was so focused on my school work that I missed the deadlines for job applications! 

When I saw the Career Centre offered virtual advising appointments, I finally booked an appointment to review my cover letter and resume. After years of writing and preparing cover letters and resumes, I thought I knew it all – but with overconfidence comes ignorance. In just one short advising appointment I was able to see my mistakes and find more active language and examples to highlight my skills and qualifications. Having another impartial person look at your resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profile can really help you see it from a new perspective, or give you confidence to apply for your dream job. I highly recommend checking out the Career Centre and the super neat services and supports they can provide. 

Online networking

I find it so intimidating walking into a large networking event; I struggle to push myself out of my comfort zone and initiate conversations with strangers. However, I know the benefit of networking and learning about other people’s experiences and careers. When virtual opportunities started to pop up in 2020, I actually started to enjoy networking. I felt a little more comfortable having smaller breakout room chats and one-on-one conversations. It even allowed me to connect with people outside of Calgary and Edmonton and expand my network. Networking can be intimidating, but find what works for you. There are many different ways you can network from large events to coffee chats in person and virtually. 

Online career fairs

I remember eagerly going to a job fair  in the last year of my degree when I was an engineering undergraduate student. I planned exactly which employers’ booths I wanted to visit, but I had only an hour between classes and only managed to see one employer. All the popular employers had massive line ups and the one I managed to talk to informed me that I had missed the application deadline for new graduate positions. After this experience, I was dreading attending another career fair. When I participated in a virtual career fair for education students, I was pleasantly surprised. They had virtual information sessions and it was a great opportunity to ask questions. Being online, I was able to talk to employers throughout the day when I had the time between classes. The most useful part of job fairs for me was finding out what the potential employers are looking for in candidates and the process to apply.  

Final advice

I know the process of applying and searching for jobs can be scary. I feel it closely parallels the dating experience of being "ghosted." For me, not knowing what I wanted to do after graduation and being unemployed created a lot of anxiety. I frequently have to remind myself that frustration and disappointment can be part of the process. 

Take the time to explore your interests in your career and understand which employers are a good fit. After my first degree I was obsessed with being hired by a particular company because all of my classmates wanted this job as well. Once I eventually got hired, I quickly realized it was not a great fit. Look beyond the flashy surface of employers and talk to people at those companies and in the jobs you are interested in to get the real picture. 

Lastly, you are not alone! Talk to your friends and family about your future career goals. They can provide you with ideas and connections to take the next step in your career journey.


About Rebecca

Rebecca is in her second and final year of the Bachelor of Education After-Degree program. She aspires to teach secondary science, but loves teaching all subjects. She holds a Chemical Engineering Degree from the University of Toronto and still has nightmares about advanced thermodynamics. Rebecca also loves hiking, camping and anything outdoors. She spends most weekends getting outdoors with her fluffy dog friend Ginny.