Getting ready for life after graduation...
Deconstructing Success: How our social sciences alumni built their careers?
Do you ever wonder how alumni from your program became successful in their careers? What is the story of how they “made it?” What set them apart? What are their skills and secrets, and could you apply these to your own journey?
The Faculty of Social Sciences invites you to « Meet the future you », a series of talks who feature alumni who have succeeded in their professions and lead fascinating careers.
How do I prepare for the job market and for the conference?
Below you will find various tools and advice to help you better prepare for the conference series and insure that you have an enriching and satisfying experience.
1. Define your career interests and the type of job that you seek.
Given that university studies in the social sciences can lead to various professions, it is useful to determine your strengths, your talents, and the academic training that you have completed within your program of study. By playing on your strengths, attributes, and skills, you will be able to plan your entrance into the work force, in a specific type of job and job sector, in an efficient manner.
Various skills are developed throughout one’s university studies. You learn to:
- Manage you time, respect deadlines, and prioritize
- Communicate your ideas clearly, logically, and efficiently
- Carry out tasks thoroughly and precisely
- Problem-solve in an analytical manner
To this list we can add other skills specifically acquired through studying social sciences, such as the ability to:
- Use various collection methods for quantitative and qualitative data
- Identify, understand, and analyze various theoretical frameworks
- Understand a text and identify its principle arguments
- Write in a clear manner while demonstrating the ability to critically think, use good judgement, and support arguments with pertinent scientific research
- And many others…
In addition to theoretical and practical knowledge, you are also able to add these skills to your competencies gained in your program of study throughout your academic career. As a university student in the social sciences, you are able to highlight these competencies that you acquired when pursuing a career.
Skills and learning acquisition by program of study and links to employability:
- For more information on acquired learning and skills, please consult the tool “What can I do with my studies?” which will also provide you with examples of jobs by program of study.
- If you want to learn more about employability skills, you can visit the website of Career Development Centre and the Conference Board of Canada.
Understanding yourself, your interests, your strengths, and your talents:
- Career Development Centre has provided a “Career Development Guide” to guide you through your reflection on important career-oriented questions.
- In addition, you also have access to a career counselling service, with which you will have the opportunity to meet with a counsellor who can provide you with guidance with regards to your options.
- You also have the opportunity to take affordable psychometric assessments that can provide you with additional information.
Understanding of the type of job sought after
- Lastly, you can also consult the website of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to find job descriptions for professions in the social sciences.
2. Know the job market that you are interested in and target employers whose mandate, mission, and values resonate with you.
The jobs sectors within the social sciences vary greatly. It is often easier to determine what you cannot do than what you can do. For effective networking, it is important to identify which employers you would like to work for, understandably according with their expertise, mandate, mission, and values.
For a complete and detailed list of potential employers in your field of study, we encourage you to consult the tool “What can I do with my studies?” as well as the website of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Furthermore, do not hesitate to do your own research.
Your professors are also sources of pertinent and detailed information regarding job opportunities, employment trends, and the career demands within your field of study.
In addition, social sciences alumni are evidently valuable sources of information who can guide you towards job opportunities that may interest you. Seize the opportunity to ask them questions.
If you wish to start a job search, would like to simply get a better idea of the kind of jobs currently offered or to familiarize yourself with useful resources, you may consult the website of Working in Canada or the job posting portail of the Career Development Centre called JobsNow.
3. Inform yourself on what potential employers value and look for in an employee and establish links to these qualities with your own experiences. Know your assets and develop a plan of action.
The required experience, skills, qualities, and qualifications vary from job to job. A solid understanding of the different requirements for different jobs will allow you to better situate yourself in relation to the job market and understand the expectations of potential employers that you would meet. When speaking with the latter, you will be better prepared to promote your strengths and assets.
Once again, there are a number of useful resources available to you throughout the campus that can guide you through these reflections.
- Employability Skills Checklist
- What can I do with my studies?
- Career Development Guide
- CO-OP Programs (if you are a CO-OP student)
- Your professors, friends, and network.
You may also organize an information meeting with a potential employer. This will give you the opportunity to acquire useful information on the job market, on potential employers, and also to introduce yourself.
If you wish to acquire experience or perfect certain skills, inquire about the programs offered at the University of Ottawa. These may allow you to acquire sought-after experience before entering the workforce.
4. Learn the best practices and strategies to demonstrate your assets and stand out
- Know yourself well, what you are looking for, and how to convey those qualities that will help you stand out.
- Have a positive attitude. Demonstrate an open mind and be attentive to what the representative is and is not telling you. Body language is just as important for you as it is for them.
- Try to gain something from each exchange. Whether it’s new knowledge about the field of work or the employer, a business card, or the promise of a future meeting, each interaction with a professional is a valuable occasion to learn and opens the door to the field of work or an organization that you aim to work for. Take advantage of the experience!
- Participate in the networking workshop offered as part of the “Deconstructing Success: How our social sciences alumni built their career” conference series. (details to come soon)
5. Brainstorm questions that you could ask to break the ice.
Breaking the ice and engaging in a conversation with someone you do not know can be intimidating. Here are some ideas on how to put yourself out there and engage in conversation when networking.
- Make a general comment on the event that you are attending: your appreciation, the presentation, the setting, the atmosphere, the subject, etc. This can open the door to other discussion where you can introduce yourself and pursue the topics that you wish to cover.
- Ask a question precisely related to the presentation of the person with which you wish to speak.
- Be yourself and demonstrate that you are listening to what the person is saying by asking questions that are pertinent to what they are discussing. The conversation will develop more naturally and the person will come to ask you questions as well.
- Ask open questions that encourage continued discussion. A question which can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” is ineffective in maintaining and developing a conversation.
- Never hesitate to take initiative!
6. Drop-in Consultations for Career Development and Job Search.
Every Thursday from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the Faculty of Social Sciences Mentoring Centre (FSS3023)
Presented by the Faculty of Social Sciences, in collaboration with the Career Development Centre. Are you seeking career or job search advice? Would you like to find-out more about the career services and tools that are available to you? Come and see us! These consultations will direct you to the appropriate resources and services in order to help guide you with any of your career related questions.
Some statistics on the social sciences job market
In general, those who have earned a postsecondary degree are successful within the job market and also benefit from having greater stability during times of economic uncertainty. This can be seen in the lower rate of unemployment and the higher rate of employment among this group throughout the years (Statistics Canada). In effect, 25% of the Canadian population has a university degree; within this group, about 4 out of every 5 individuals (82%) are employed. This employment rate is higher than that of Canada overall (75%) and for those who have not completed their secondary school diploma (55%) (Statistics Canada).
La Presse Canadienne. Ref. August 9, 2013.
Statistics Canada. "Economic Downturn and Educational Attainment", Fact Sheet n. 9. Ref. August 9, 2013.
Statistics Canada. "Employment rates, by educational attainment". Ref. August 9, 2013.
For more detailed information on the salaries, rates of job placement, and employment opportunities by profession, place, and job sector, visit the Government of Canada’s website.
Have a question or concern?
For all questions regarding the events and programs related to the Student Experience section, please contact
Nathalie Saumure, Student Experience Officer
613-562-5800, extension 1893
If you would like more information on events organized by the Alumni Relations Office, which would give you the opportunity to meet other Social Sciences alumni within your field of study, please contact:
For all questions on resources and services offered by the Career Development Centre, you may contact them at 613-562-5806 or by email at cdc@uOttawa.ca. Their offices are located in the University Centre, room 312