UVic Torch -- Spring 2004
Spring 2004,
Volume 26, Number 1

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Illustration by DAVID POWELL

It's not their parents' job market. Today's grads have different expectations and they face new realities. Campus programs that help them set their career course are changing too.

WHEN THE UNIVERSITY'S NEW GRADUATES SCATTER BEYOND RING ROAD this spring some will go to graduate school, some will travel, but most will head off to the workforce. What awaits them is a career landscape vastly different compared to even 10 years ago.

“Graduates today have seen the changes in the economy and understand that the nature of employment has changed,” says Eric Glanville of the International Financial Centre Vancouver and a speaker at one of this year’s Grad Year Workshops on campus. “While their parents’ generation may have had the stability and job security that let them stay with one employer for 30 years, times have changed.”

The university’s programs for helping students plan careers are changing too. Work experience, internships and career planning programs offered by Co-Operative Education, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives’ Internships, and UVic Career Services are evolving to help to bridge the gap between the classroom and the shifting job market.

Glenn Smith is a man who has seen his share of change. A two-time UVic graduate, he received his BA in 1995 and his MPA in 2001 and attended UVic’s Career Fair in February to share his experiences with students. He sees a definite shift in their priorities. “Years ago, people would work for the same company, raise a family, live in a nice house and retire with a pension. Today, you’ve got to be flexible and have your foot in several professions, and be willing to play five slot machines at the same time. Chances are, one of them will pay off, but it may take awhile.”

Erin O’Byrne agrees that new graduates should be open to a variety of career possibilities. A 2003 English graduate, she saw beyond the definition of a regular job when she found a job finding jobs with the Career Shop, a Victoria employment agency. “I wrote my last exam and moved right into my job. But it was a result of years of volunteering and networking.”

As a student volunteer with the Peer-Helping Program and with UVic Career Services, she helped other students with resumes and job searches. Today, she offers the same advice to graduates who visit the Career Shop. “I encourage new grads to cold-call companies. It’s the perfect excuse to say, ‘I’ve just graduated and I’m interested in this career path—do you have any advice?’ It’s a great way to make contacts.” O’Byrne points out that only 20 per cent of available jobs are posted. The rest require initiative from the job seeker. “There’s a myth that you can’t apply your degree, that there are no jobs. But you just need to dig a little deeper.”

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