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Feeling lost or poor at university? Experts are there to help

Financing your post-secondary studies and parlaying them into a careercan be daunting, but that’s why universities employ experts to helpstudents navigate a successful path.

This is the last edition of Metro Workology’s monthly series, Working at School. Don’t miss next month’s series on the careers in the food industry. Yum!

Financing your post-secondary studies and parlaying them into a career can be daunting, but that’s why universities employ experts to help students navigate a successful path.

Polly Liao, financial awards officer at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, says she often sees students concerned about footing the educational bill.

“I need to discuss their personal circumstances first, to determine what exactly they’re looking for,” she says. By getting a clear picture of their finances — what they have and what they need — she can show them what help is available. Internal scholarships are largely based in GPA, but external awards, scholarships, bursaries and grants help a huge and unpredictable range of people. A quick browse at the school’s website, Ecuad.ca, shows money targeting people who live in social housing, students who have had tuberculosis, the children of people who work in the pipeline industry, golfers and students of Italian origin.

“We also have a First Nations area and they administer their own scholarship pool,” Liao says. “We also have disability service in cases where students have medical conditions.”

If students do opt to take out a loan, student services can then help them through the application process.

Once the finances are in place, the next step is picking a career path. “Career planning is very complex and challenging,” says David Ness, coordinator of Career Services at the University of Manitoba. “Most people have uncertainty about that at some point. The challenge is, how do I get more certain?”

His staff offer career counselling, career information and employment advising to help students figure out what they like to do and how to do it for a living.

“There’s a large number of university students who are unclear about their career paths and what they want to study,” he says. “There might be conflict within a family about what path they want to pursue.”

Career counselling can help resolve those issues.

The second phase focuses on providing information about hundreds of careers, including a career mentor program. “We hook the students up with someone working in an occupation they’re interested in and they get to interview that person,” Ness explains.

The information can help students eliminate potential paths and open their eyes to ones they might never have even heard of, let alone considered. Ness says working as prosthetist, the people who design artificial limbs, or as a non-destructive tester making sure buildings are safe against earthquakes, might be the perfect fit for some students, but “that’s not the kind occupation most students think about coming out of high school.”

Finally, employment advising staff help with resumé development, job searching and interviewing skills. The centre also holds career fairs and links to personal counselling if students have issues like social anxiety difficulties that are affecting their job hunt.

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