One Major Criticism of the Workforce for Youths

images-2As a hardworking university student, if there was one major criticism of the workforce it would be this:

How are we initially supposed to get our first job, if no one will hire us because we don’t have enough experience?

I’ve been accepted to the work study program, and I have taken a lot of time to apply to dozens and dozens of the jobs posted at McGill. I haven’t heard back from about 70% of them, I’ve been kindly told that the spot has been filled by someone one else for about 29% of them, and the other 1% consists of an interview that I got, but got turned down for later.

Similarily, I have friends who want to get into med school but have such a hard time getting a research position relating to science or even getting a volunteering position at a hospital!

And you know what the even bigger problem is? Graduate or medical schools are less likely to accept you if your resume isn’t embellished with related work or volunteer experience. But how do we gain these experiences or seem appealing to employers if no one even gives us a chance?

During my journey in building up my experiences and trying to figure out what I want to do in life, I looked into getting a law internship abroad (because being an undergrad and trying to get a law internship is impossible in Canada) and I got one because I sent out so many (desperate) emails to different law firms, and one of them got back to me. The email that started it all was this:

Dear _____ , 

I was wondering if whether or not you would be interested in having an Intern in your office from Mid-July until end of August. 
I am currently a 19 year old student at McGill University in Canada studying International Development and Arabic. I am Canadian, and I speak fluent English, French, Farsi. Being a lawyer is my dream and I simply want to gain exposure to a law firm.
I would be willing to do anything around your office — from cleaning, to organising, or any other tasks in exchange for some experience. 
Please let me know if you are interested. 

Regards,
Nicki

I was serious about the cleaning thing. I just wanted any exposure I could get to a law firm. Luckily, what I really did was far from cleaning. I actually got to do some real law-related tasks, such as drafting court pleadings and editing, and working in the business development component of the firm, using my knowledge of computers and HTML to make email templates, surveys, etc. I ended up doing the internship and even got an unexpected cash bonus by the firm for my performance at the end of it. I worked to the best of my ability, staying 8-10 hours a day at the firm, and tried to help the firm and their team in areas that they needed it the most. Although I couldn’t offer much knowledge of the law, I tried to give back by being a fast learner, strategically applying the skills I had, taking initiative, being hardworking, and being enthusiastic.  I got to do this all because one person, the managing partner, gave me a chance.

Employers need to give people a chance. There are definitely people who may be more ‘qualified’ on paper, but who may not be as hardworking or as good as someone who doesn’t look so ‘perfect’ on their resume. I know a handful of extremely hardworking and intelligent people who just can’t ‘move up’ in the workforce because they cannot express this through a piece of paper or an interview.

Alas, my advice for you who are stuck in this situation is to show how eager you are (if you make it to the interview phase), and just keep trying to gain experience. You may need to start by volunteering, then seeking out internships, then paid jobs, etc. But don’t give up, and keep trying. And of course, perform to the best of your ability in any job you get to make it more enjoyable for yourself and so that you can get a good reference.

Final note: all these words like “getting references” and “building up your resume” make me sad. The world has become such a competitive place (especially amongst us students) that these esentially meaningless things are the things that so many of us emphasize on. Although the pressure reaps in and it seems as though you have no choice, try not to make those the only things you care about. Do things when it feels right or because you want to do it, and it will shine through you to your employer and the people around you.

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Hey guys, I’m Nicki, a second year student at studying Honours International Development and Arabic, and this will be my second year blogging for the CaPS blog. Feel free to comment or ask questions, as I’d love to interact with you guys! All the best and hope you guys continue reading our blog.

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