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OLC Student Community Coordinator

student volunteers holding up SFU big Fair signs

The BIG Fair was back at Burnaby campus Wednesday.  If you can make it to campus on Thursday you should definitely check it out, but if you can’t, this recap is the next best thing.

The BIG Fair is split into three sections, each taking up one side of the AQ.

Volunteer and Community Engagement Fair

There were a lot of new volunteer opportunities this year, and I highly recommend checking some of them out, they’re a great way to gain work experience while getting an “in” at a cool organization and doing some good.  A few highlights:

  • The BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program: They run several information tables at campus throughout the year, and you could man them. Learn about responsible gambling, how to direct students to determine if they have a problem, and you can work on your sales and promotions skills.

  • The Canucks Autism Network: There’s a whole variety of opportunities here. The representatives were taking down contact details so they can share volunteer opportunities. They run a lot of different programs or events, so depending on if you want to work with children, adults, or fundraising you can find something that works for you.

  • The Girl Guides of Canada: You’re probably familiar with their work, there are always opportunities to help girls, but if working with kids every week isn't your thing other opportunities are available as well. Plus they have their famous cookies up for offer.

Graduate School Fair

The Graduate School Fair isn’t just for aspiring lawyers, doctors and future TAs. Plenty of law schools are represented, you can stay local with UBC, head East with New York Law School, or take your studies overseas.

Some other highlights:

  • BCIT: If you feel like your degree hasn’t quite prepared you for the career you want, consider continuing your studies by earning a certificate at BCIT. They have some great business and marketing courses often taken and taught by professionals working in the field right now.

  • Centre for Digital Media: In a joint venture between SFU, UBC, Emily Carr, and BCIT, you can earn your Masters of Digital Media. The program has been around for less than a decade, but they help fill a real need in the digital media industries – helping teams work together and understand each other's needs to complete successful projects.

  • Education First: You often hear that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.  Education First helps you do that. They offer language courses all over Europe, and even have home-stay programs in place. Whether you want to spend two weeks or four months, you’ll come home being able to do more than conjugate a few verbs.

Career Fair

The employer booths tend to be the highlight of the fair for many students. After all, landing a job is a pretty big goal post-grad. I noticed a bit more diversity in employers than in previous years, and the recruiters are all eager to tell you about their requirements, internships, and programs for Co-op students and new grads.

Some highlights:

  • Microsoft: In addition to the usual opportunities, they’re hosting a coding competition on September 26th with a $150 cash prize.

  • CSIS: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has many Co-op opportunities in Ottawa. They have departments that range from intelligence collection to science and technology, to law, to health, to communications. While they do have a local office, most of these are in Ottawa.

  • Canada Revenue Agency: The CRA is a great choice for Co-op students and new grads. As someone who barely manages to figure out her taxes every April I didn’t think the CRA would have much use for me, but they hire many Communication grads in their call centres, especially before tax season. The representative I spoke with recommended looking up old postings, since they’ll be up again in November. She also stressed that a huge portion of government employees will be retiring soon, leaving lots of room for young workers to advance quickly. Even if you’re not looking for a job, they also have tips for students on filing their own taxes.

  • Pepsico: Yes, you can work for the people who bring you Pepsi and Lays chips. They offer leadership programs in sales and operations for recent and soon-to-be grads. To find out more visit their career site and search jobs by keyword: Leadership Program.

  • E-Comm 911: In addition to business and technical skilled jobs, E-Comm was really promoting their emergency call taker roles. You don’t need to complete your degree to qualify, though they do prefer candidates with some sort of Criminology background, and volunteer experience with local emergency services. Their training rate is $22.65, and it sounds a lot more rewarding than bagging groceries.

Day Two Recap

The second day of Burnaby’s BIG Fair was a little more low-key than Day One, but that just means you have more time to talk to exhibitors who aren’t as busy with other students as they would be when it’s busier.

The Student Prep Zone was still up and running, offering drop-in resume advice and professional LinkedIn profile photos, the entire area was expanded this year, so you can discuss your resume options away from the noise of the main hallway, which I found to be a definate improvement.

The Graduate School Fair and the Volunteer and Community Engagement Fair were largely the same as day one, although a few tables didn’t return for Day Two, so next year if you can only attend on one day, I suggest coming for the first one.

That said, there were several new employers on Day Two:

  • IKEA: The blue and yellow mecca of Swedish furniture and tasty meatballs is looking for students to fill part-time positions in their Coquitlam store. It could be a pretty cool way to break into the huge company, and maybe they’ll share the secret of how they put together so much furniture with nothing more than an Allan key.

  • Vancity: The bank brought some example job postings, but they’re primarily looking to fill entry-level positions, which is perfect for most students and recent grads. The representative I spoke with stressed that while your degree may influence how you can move up in the company, when hiring entry-level employees for their call center or in-person customer service positions, they look at individuals much more than what kind of paper they hold. They look for candidates who share their company valuables, are knowledgeable about the company, and can work well with their customers, they can teach you the rst.

  • Apple: While the hallways were a little emptier than Wendesday, the table occupied by Apple caused quite the traffic jam. Armed with iPads and wearing the classic black t-shirts, Apple reps were on hand to take applications and answer questions. You likely won’t be surprised to learn that they’re primarily looking for Engineering students – both in hardware and software development. However,  as this handy chart shows, the company needs employees of almost every background to make it run.

OLC Student Community Coordinator

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