About Kamran

A graduate of Ryerson's Occupational and Public Health program and a current Graduate Student at McMaster University.

Stay motivated and be thankful!

We all know how difficult school can be in midterm and exam season. We have all heard about university drop-outs who became billionaires. At some point, you may have thought about whether school is still the right option for you. I will offer my thoughts in this blog post.Anxiety

University is full of new opportunities. From career centre to speaking with professors during office hours to participating in extra-curricular activities, you get to connect with people who are there to help you through your academic journey. They are there to offer you advice and help you become a better person. You never know what will happen once you take the first step. Sometimes there are unadvertised part-time positions and only way to know about them is through networking. Ask your professor about possible volunteer opportunities that will help you greatly with graduate school applications.

You may be enrolled in a professional degree program but don’t want to pursue that career after graduating. You may realize you wanted to be an actor rather than an engineer. Having a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree can open up new opportunities. It is much better to have a degree since it will give you a leg up when applying for jobs. Furthermore, having a degree or being enrolled in a university program allows you to apply for various internships. If your program has a co-op option, give it a try. It will allow you to gain necessary experience before graduation. Pursuing co-op option can help you land a job right after graduation while having no degree will put you at disadvantage.

Overall, being a university student allows you to meet people who may have the same passion and determination as you. You will meet friends who will look after you and support you during hard times. There is no better feeling than being surrounded by people who understand you. University allows you to discover who you really are and your possible career choice. Get involved in extra-curricular activities as soon as you start university. Do not lose hope and don’t give up easily. Don’t be afraid to do what you always dreamt of, and what’s a better time to do it than the time you have in university! There will be moments when you will notice that you cannot keep up with everything. This is when you have to tell yourself that giving up is not an option. Take one step at a time, stay motivated and be thankful for this opportunity.

Land the Perfect Summer Internship

Internships offer you the real work experience that employers go crazy for. Summer is here and how do you land the perfect summer internship?

Graduate studies is a chance to savour education.

Resume and cover letter
Book an appointment with Ryerson Career Centre to get advice on how to make your resume and cover letter stand out. Employers will simply run your resume and cover letter through a software and search for key words. Therefore, it is important to use customize your resume and cover letter for each position. You are competing against many other university and college students and you have to make sure your resume and cover letter are up to par.

Don’t forget to apply!
It is hard to find an opportunity that offers you everything you are looking for. Be open to all opportunities as your main goal is to gain the necessary work experience before you graduate. Apply to as many online internship postings as you can. Off course, this is time consuming but you must be willing to work for what you want.

Online Presence
LinkedIn allows you to connect with potential employers without having to be in the same room as them. The trick is to get your profile to all-star level by uploading your previous experience, responsibilities, projects and asking past employers for recommendations that will show up on your LinkedIn profile. Once you have an established profile, you can connect with a company or organization’s HR manager by sending a brief message introducing yourself. HR managers are always looking for someone who is professional, qualified and an enthusiastic candidate.

Practice your interview skills
Let me be honest. You will not hear back from each and every position or person you contact. However, you should hear back from at least a few. They may ask you for an in-person or phone interview. So always be prepared. Brush up on those interview skills that will help you land the perfect summer internship. Ryerson Career Centre also holds mock interviews and it is one of the best ways to prepare for a real interview. The number one piece of advice you can receive from someone who did not land the perfect summer internship last year is to start your search early. Research the deadlines for summer internship applications for the companies or organizations you want to apply to before its too late. Good luck!

Holiday break does not have to break the bank!

With holidays around the corner, some of you may be planning to go on a vacation. I wanted to write a blog post to help you save some $$$ before you go on a vacation.Canadian Money

You probably already know this; travel costs are much higher in the summer months. Therefore, if you are planning to go on a vacation, then you should be able to find discounted tickets in the first half of June and in late August. Avoid booking your flight during July and early August as costs are the highest. If you are already aware of big-name events (like Pan Am Games in Toronto) taking place in a city, avoid being there. You will find that prices will be much higher than normal months of the year. This includes hotels, taxis, food and so on. The other downside is the traffic. On the positive side, you get to be part of the big-name event and get to take a lot of pictures to keep in your photo book. Therefore, research your destination and if possible, avoid being in crowded places.

Travelling from alternative airports often costs less than major international airports. If you are planning to spend your vacation in the States, then it would be best to drive to US and then catching a plane at an American airport. It will certainly likely cost less to travel within US. While on vacation, stay at a bed and breakfast instead of hotels. Take benefit of websites like Airbnb and others to find yourself a private accommodation. This will cost you less than staying at a hotel.

While on vacation, find events that are free. These free events can include festivals, parks, concerts and markets. Often you will find that art galleries and museums offer free admission on one day of the week. Take benefit of these opportunities. You will also find that historic sites are often free or may charge minimal entry fee. Do not forget to get the vaccine before leaving. Visit the Toronto Public Health’s website or consult with your doctor before travelling. Get the right vaccine and this will help you stay protected against any exposures. The last thing you want is come back with an infection.

Be sure to open a high-interest vacation savings account and invest money over time to help you pay for your vacation. Banks and credit card companies have added many benefits for their cardholders to attract new customers. Take benefit of these offers. Spend and save wisely.

My summer school experience

After taking a lower-liberal geography course in my first year, I never thought I would be taking another geography course. I took it in the summer of my first year [because all other courses were full] and did not enjoy it. After this, I did not take any summer courses until my final year. I do not know if any of you have experienced this but I certainly find it difficult to study in the summer months. Staying in school for eight months and then going back for another four in the spring/summer does not work for me. I think summer attractions and hot weather are part of the reasons why I cannot focus. I do not want this to be a blogpost where I express my dislike towards summer school. There are benefits to attending summer school. Taking one or two courses in summer can help you reduce your course load for the next year. This means more time to work or study. If you are a first year student planning to take summer school, I recommend starting with one course (2 maximum). Remember, you do not get your full fee back even if you drop Chang School course on the first day (be sure to look into this before enrolling).Summer

Register early if you plan to take a spring/summer course this year. As a first year student, I was never told to register early. I thought I was among the few students taking summer school. When the time came to register, I was shocked to learn that most of the classes were either full or cancelled.

OSAP extension – In order to get OSAP for spring/summer courses, you have to submit an Extension Form before the appropriate deadlines. These extension forms are completed online, printed and submitted to the Student Financial Assistance Office (along with any other required supporting documentation) drop box (inside the front door of POD 59). The deadline for spring courses is in April – Visit the Financial Aid website for more info (http://www.ryerson.ca/currentstudents/financialaid/osapspringsummer/index.html)

How do I choose courses? Although only limited number of courses are offered in spring/summer semester, it is often hard to select one course. The Chang School website [http://ce-online.ryerson.ca/ce/] allows you to search for open summer courses. I recommend visiting their website and using it as a planning tool. If you prefer to take evening courses, filter your results and it will only show the ones being offered in the evening. You still register through RAMSS.

To conclude, plan EARLY and keep track of the deadlines.

Last Week of Classes

It is last week of classes at Ryerson. Some of you may be graduating and starting a new chapter in your life. Too bad we do not have a reading week before exams. Although, it would be a great idea to give students more time to study. Since we are all short on time, I would like to remind myself and you folks of a few coping strategies in an easy to read format.Exams

Be sure to drink lots of water as you must stay hydrated to think straight. You might have learned in high school science that brain is mostly made up of water. When studying, keep a refillable water bottle with you to ensure you stay hydrated. Be sure to eat healthy food. Avoid eating chips and other junk food from the vending machine. Grab a protein bar and keep them in your backpack. Sitting all day in library with no breaks can make concentration difficult. Stretch out your fingers, legs and shoulders occasionally. This will help you stay focused. Take breaks every couple of hours. Go for a quick walk to stretch your legs.

The other goal should be to work smarter and not harder. You can’t read the whole text book and expect to remember all the tiny details for the exam. This is not practical. The goal should be to summarize notes and focus on the important topics. I have found that by doing practice questions, I am able to understand the concepts better. If a professor has assigned practice questions, do them. There is a good chance that they will end up on the final. If a professor said that he/she will be holding an exam review session, be sure not to miss it. They will likely provide hints and what to expect on the final exam.

Try to limit the time you spend on internet because this is the time when you need to work your hardest. One of the things that have helped me focus during exam season is reducing the use of Social Media sites (such as Twitter and Facebook). Therefore, take some time off from social media sites as studies have shown that students do much better on exams when there are no distractions.

As we all know planning is the key to succeed. Plan your study schedule and include appropriate breaks. This will help you avoid cramming the night before an exam where you have to go through tons of reading material. If you commute to university, there is a good chance that it takes you between 30 minutes to +1 hours to get to Ryerson. Spend this time wisely by reading.
Goodluck on your exams.

Avoid communication breakdowns

We all know that miscommunication can lead to poorly produced work. In terms of group projects, it can be time consuming and difficult to correct the errors when reviewing your colleague’s work, especially if they misunderstood the assigned task in the first place. People can often feel like work/group meetings are a waste of time, with colleagues talking in circles and repeating the same facts as previous meetings. If this is something you have experienced, I have some tips to maximize your group meetings. These tips are not only applicable in a work environment but also school environment. In the world of professionals, miscommunication can be costly.

Summarize: Always end conversations with a quick summary. This will help everyone stay on the same page. For example, say “So just to make sure we’re on the same page, you’re going to research this section and I am going to draft the report due next Monday.” If the other person was unsure about something during the conversation or forgot what they were supposed to do, this will remind them of their task.Group Project

Write a follow-up email: Miscommunication is less likely to occur if everything is document and people are able to refer back to the notes. This allows them to reread any info they possibly missed. It is also helpful to summarize important meetings and conversations in the email by using bullet points. Be sure to include all those who were at the meetings and those who were not able to join in the email. Consider using italics and bold in the email. This will help if your email contains many sections and adding headings can help clearly distinguish sections. Ideally, you would bold or italic a few important things such as due dates.

Do your research beforehand: Without knowing all the details, do not start a conversation. This will allow you to keep your conversations efficient. Same logic can be applied to electronic communication. If there are too many back and forth messages, you will risk burying important info in the chain of emails. Therefore, do the research beforehand. For example, if you are planning a field trip, know how much it will cost, number of participants and location. Having all the information on hand can lead to superior results.

Before your meeting is over, always plan your next steps. End every meeting with an action plan. Ask around if anyone has questions to ensure all members are on the same page.

Change Bad habits

It is important to remember that there is always something you can be doing to change your current situation. The first step is recognizing what you might be doing (or not doing) that is stopping your career advancement. This week I blog about common habits of individuals that often become a brick wall in their career.summer job

Speak up: Employers like people who bring new ideas and contribute to growth of the company. Speaking up also shows that you not only care about your job but also about the organization you work for. Therefore, providing your input is a great way to express to your employer that you are capable of much more than doing assigned tasks. This demonstration can lead to bigger and better opportunities within your organization. It does not matter if you are a new graduate or a current full-time Ryerson student, you can develop these skills in any environment. If you are someone who does not like to participate in class discussions, start by speaking up in class.

Take the initiative: No employer has the time to babysit a worker. Employers are looking for quick learners and those who can help the company grow. If you are not able to handle small tasks and constantly approach them for help; they may find your irritating and not assign you additional opportunities. The best way to win confidence of an employer is through taking initiative and getting the task done before you are asked. Learn from your university experiences. Be the type of employee who is always one step ahead of the employer. This will lead often lead to better working environment and possibly a promotion.

Be positive: No business is perfect. No matter how intelligent or efficient you are at your work, there will always be a difficult time when you not able to perform your best. Employers look for individuals who are not willing to give up. Employers often promote people who are passionate because individuals in management positions are expected to represent the organization in a positive manner to their clients and public. One of the ways to be positive is by smiling, greeting your colleagues on regular basis and participating in team meetings. You may feel that you are forcing yourself at first but this will change as you make effort to change your old habits.

Remember, change is a process. It does not happen overnight. Work on your behaviour everyday and learn from your experiences. Getting a promotion takes more than just showing up for work on time. It requires an individual to go above and beyond expectations. Ask for feedback and learn from your mistakes.

You are (almost) there: Do not give up!

Every year when school starts, I feel the pressure to do well in school. First comes the reading week and we get to take a week off before writing back to back midterms. Then we have assignments, presentations and group projects due. At the same time, Ryerson Exam Schedule is released and we get busy with finding our exam date and time, finish any outstanding projects and get a head start on studying for finals. Whether you are fresh out of high school or in your final year, at some point in the semester you will feel that there is a tremendous amount of pressure on you to do well. We all have been there. I certainly have been there many times in my undergraduate career. The key is to figure out what works for you and how to make the most out of your school year early on.Stress free zone

You are not alone – according to a recent survey, over 84% students rated academic performance, saving money and time management to be their biggest worries. If you are having a hard time keeping up with your work, chances are someone else is also in the same position. Do not give up and learn from these university experiences. These experiences will help you develop skills such as working under pressure and meeting deadlines that employers find extremely valuable. If you are having a hard time managing time, stress and preparing for exams, don’t be afraid to ask for help from instructors, fellow students and Student learning groups. For example, FCS Academic Support offers writing circles to all FCS students and these can be of great help when it comes to writing papers and essays. In addition, students can visit Therapy Dogs on campus to help relieve the stress associated with being a student. Follow @RUTherapydogs for event updates and locations. Furthermore, Ryerson Health Promotion Department offers Counselling for Personal Concerns, where students can share what they are experiencing by participating in one of the group or individual counselling programs.

Maintain balance – This simple matter might be the trickiest, but also the most important factor in your success at school. Take time for sleep, meals, exercise and social activities, so you don’t burn out. Taking a break can often help. The first step is to recognize that break is as important as the concentrated work. Work with great intensity and focus, and then make taking a break an integral part of your thinking, planning, and problem solving.

A study done by Berkeley School of Public Health showed that children who have an access to tablets or Smartphone in their bedrooms get less sleep than those who do not have the device with them at night. I thought it was important to note this here because as young adults, it is getting a habit to spend more time on a Smartphone and we may not realize this but small screens (such as Smartphone, tablet etc) are responsible for insufficient rest or sleep and may lead to higher stress levels. Therefore, during the last few weeks of semester if you find yourself in stressful situations, take some time to relax and get a good night sleep to feel better. Hang in there, the semester will be over and summer will be here before you know it.

Group Projects – Avoid the conflict

As winter semester is coming to an end, project deadlines are also approaching fast. I am sure everyone has been there. Being on a team is not always the easiest task, especially if you prefer working alone and relying on your own abilities and skills. But in some courses, there is a lot of group work and you cannot get out of it. If you find yourself in this situation, try to look on the positive side (yes, there are positive things about teamwork). Not only you are getting extra hands to work on the project, you are also getting diverse set of skills and eyes to catch mistakes that you probably would not have found yourself. Team work is a great skill that everyone should have and in fact, most jobs require applicants who can work well in a team-environment. Therefore, it is quite important to get over your differences, power through tasks and come out on top as a team.Group Work

One of ways to do this is by communicating effectively. It is crucial for everyone on the team to contribute their ideas, thoughts and opinions. Avoiding communication will not do any good. Keeping your communication positive and professional will lead to a better outcome. If I do not like something, I try to offer constructive criticism and provide a solution rather than simply voting against the idea. As always, communication is the key to success in a team environment.

Another way to succeed is through utilizing everyone’s strengths. Every group member has unique skills and if you can figure out a way to utilize their skills, you will likely have a great experience. During your first group meeting, ask each and every member what they feel comfortable with rather than simply assigning a random portion of the assignment. I have found that not only this saves the trouble of not finishing the project but also produces a higher quality project.

Teamwork is not always the ideal working environment for everyone but if you communicate effectively with each other and set the deadlines early on, it can lead to best work. Overall, being open to opinions of others is a key component of team work and it is also considered to be one of the hardest skills to develop. It is easy to focus on discussion and planning without putting together the right information. The vital part of that process is giving everyone a chance to ensure their input is heard.

Internship vs. volunteer experience

As February comes to an end, you may have seen posters for job fairs and summer job advertisements. Often you will find positions labelled as internship. While some of them may simply be volunteer positions. Should you choose an internship over a volunteer position? I will try to answer this question in today’s post. Both positions may have similarities but there are qualities in each role that may or may not suit your current lifestyle or position.

Graduate studies is a chance to savour education.

Commitment: Most internships run during regular business hours (five days a week). This means that there may not be much flexibility in your schedule. It may put you at a disadvantage due to the fact that you will have limited time to earn money from a part-time job. If it is a paid internship, you are in a better position as you are earning some money and gaining valuable experience. Volunteer opportunities have more flexibility as you are able to make up your own schedule. They usually do not require an extensive time commitment. You are able to continue your part-time job while volunteering during scheduled hours. However, since you won’t be putting in as many hours, or doing the work as regularly, it may take longer to adjust to the role and sharpen those skills

Responsibilities: What would be some of your responsibilities in either position? Will there be a chance for growth? In an internship, you may work on smaller tasks to support the professionals and get mentored by folks in the leadership position. You may eventually find people who you want to look up to as you may end up in a position you aspire to hold one day. In a volunteer position, there may or may not be flexibility for leadership opportunities. If you are the type of person that is great at calling shots and delegating, you should know that many organizations now hire volunteers to take on management roles. At the end of the day, any experience that is related to the type of job you are applying would be considered an asset.

Environment: Off course, you will get great experience by taking either one of the roles. It will open more networking opportunities for you. This is extremely valuable for new grads and students who are looking to land an entry level job. Volunteering often takes place in a laid-back setting. Often you will be working with other volunteers; it may not be the best place to get the workplace experience over an internship. However, volunteer experience is still valuable addition to your resume. Therefore, choose wisely and choose a place which works best for great career experience.