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This journey of self-discovery is not the same as what I would have expected from my first solo trip with my sister, but it has been a special experience nonetheless.

SFU student Hannah Nielsen had big plans with her sister for the summer - a trip to Western Europe. That is, until COVID forced them to cancel. Can you relate? Here's her story of how COVID kickstarted her summer of opportunities and the career moves that took her from gloomy to inspired, solo to community, and volunteering to getting a job she loves!  

It all started with an idea shared by an awesome Career Education Specialist at SFU's Career Services, who encouraged me to check out the Career Peer program. She noticed that my previous volunteer role as a FASS Connections Peer Mentor, plus my interest in advising students, could make this program a great fit. I applied right away, was fortunate to have an in-person interview (on one of the last days before everything at SFU transitioned online), and shortly learned I was accepted.

The anticipation of starting the program really brightened those dark early days of the pandemic, and turned into an absolutely wonderful time training through the summer. I especially enjoyed meeting all sorts of like-minded individuals who shared my passion for advising, and learning about the various career tools we would be advising on. My favourite part of the training was the training I did with other SFU student Peers on how to conduct appointments.  

The experiences I’ve had since, include real-time consultations, advising students on resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn, facilitating a resume workshop (something I could not have imagined doing a year ago!), and with my newfound sense of confidence, writing this article today. 

"With no trip to look forward to, I had lots of time to think...and booked an appointment at Career Services to get some ideas about what to do."

One of the greatest blessings about being a Career Peer is that I got hired as the Communication and Engagement Specialist at Career and Volunteer Services! I’m now helping Career Peers conduct workshops, and assisting in recruitment and training of a new cohort, something I’m very much looking forward to.  

Being a Career Peer has given me a sense of clarity of what I want to do after I graduate - something that has been lacking ever since I left high school nearly six years ago. I know now that I’m interested in the field of career education and advising in general, and that being a Psychology major really compliments this interest. 

"Being a Career Peer has given me community and clarity."

It is true that the past year has not been easy, and I certainly would not say that I am glad that the pandemic happened...but now that I am in a job that is connected to what I want to do after graduation, I can emerge from my time during COVID in a much stronger place than I went in. 

This journey of self-discovery is not the same as what I would have expected from my first solo trip with my sister, but it has been a special experience nonetheless. I hope that you are able to find a silver lining, or some hidden opportunities, that help you to make the most of a difficult situation. If not, the people at Career & Volunteer Services are pretty special, and might be able to help you, too.

Beyond the Blog

  • To get help with your resume, cover letter or online career related resources, like LinkedIn, meet with a Career Peer.

  • To start your career exploration and learn what your degree is going to mean outside of post secondary, talk to a Career Education Specialist. Appointments can be made at careers@sfu.ca.

SFU Student
Hannah Nielsen is a fifth-year psychology student. She is currently working at Career and Volunteer Services as a Communication and Engagement Specialist, and volunteers as a Career Peer. She loves volunteering at SFU and in her community and also volunteers with Looking Glass BC, an organization that supports individuals affected by eating disorders.

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