Saturday, 25 February 2012

March 4th has never been this exciting

I absolutely have not given up my series on finding a translation job, but there was something I needed to tell you. Today. Before it was too late. Something you must know. Something that could potentially change your life forever. So here it is: Glendon’s Spring Open House, lovingly known as Expérience Glendon, is happening in 7 days and counting. 7 days! If you’re still undecided as to whether Glendon is for you, checking out the campus is the sure-fire way to make up your mind. Know you want to do translation but still don’t know where? This open house is the perfect opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at the life of a Glendon student.

Expérience Glendon

If you've applied to a number of different schools and are currently trying to sort through the 56,473 things you've been told over the course of the last 3 months, you might be feeling panicky, overwhelmed with information and bursting with questions. Have no fear. You’ll get to meet a professor from Glendon’s School of Translation and ask a student in the program whatever’s on your mind.  And by whatever is on your mind, I don’t mean “should I eat seven burritos in one sitting?” (But in case you were wondering, the answer to that question is always “no.”) I mean questions like “Why Glendon?” “If I’m in the Translation program, can I still go away on exchange?” “What are the classes like?” “What are the professors like?” “What does it take to make it in this field?”

There will be something small and sweet and delicious to eat

Not only is all of the above true, but you can also take a tour and check out our beautiful campus, sit in on some information sessions on how to succeed in your first year plus—PLUS!—there  will be cupcakes.

Blue, blue blue

Like winning free stuff? Don’t pretend you don’t. You know you do. But here's something you didn't know: if you wear blue to the event, you have the chance to win an on-the-spot prize. Nothing could be simpler. Just grab that blue sweater in your closet, you know, the really soft, comfy one you got on sale. Then wear it on March 4 to Expérience Glendon for a chance to win free stuff.

So what are you waiting for? This is about your future people, and time waits for no one. Register here:

Friday, 24 February 2012

Fourth-Year Student Guide to Finding a Translation Job-Step #2 Cover Letter

Shoot me if I’m wrong (um, please don’t actually shoot me; it’s an expression) but cover letters are really hard to write. The problem is, of course, that you are expected to write in full sentences. Oh, the horror!

Full sentences please

It’s pretty hard to mess up point form, which is the standard way people structure their résumés. But ask me to be pithy in full sentences with a main clause, subject, verb etc. and I’m suddenly at a loss. I know: you’re shaking your heads thinking “How could this be? Chloe, you’re sooo smart, and I distinctly remember that at least one of the sentences in your past blog post had a subject and verb and everything.” My first response to this is “thank you, but I think you might be mistaken.” Once in a blue moon I am capable of adhering to the rules of English grammar and sentence structure, but not often. Plus, it’s so much harder in a cover letter. 

So, first things first, brush up on your grammar. You can start here if you want: 10 Words you Need to Stop Misspelling. Grammar, punctuation and spelling is where HR managers or anyone else reading your application will be incredibly critical, especially if you’re applying for a job that requires you be a perfectionist and/or detail oriented like, I don’t know... a translation position for example.  Look, finding a job is hard enough on its own being a student with little to no experience. Give yourself a fighting chance by not making careless mistakes. Even the teeniest, tiniest typo will get you out of the race before the shot’s even been fired.

Let’s talk content

The content of the cover letter should be very specific to the job you’re applying for. A professor once told me to write an entirely new cover letter for every position I apply for. It’s good advice because how many times have I found myself plugging in the job title and company name into the same generic cover letter only to find I forgot to change the company name, and now my application says how much I want to work for Zellers, when I actually applied to Wal-Mart? More times than I’d like to admit. They want to know you thought long and hard about the company and what they’re looking for. More importantly, they want to know that you have what they’re looking for. There is almost no excuse for not knowing anything about the company. Google anyone? Mention something—anything!—that proves you know what their mission and values are. Then show how your skills will help them fulfill that mission. If it’s a translation position at a customer-focused company, which many are, try something like this: I know that an organization that prides itself on providing their customers with accurate, timely information, needs detail-oriented employees who blah blah blah. See? Easy. Now you try it.

Tone it

And I don’t mean your arms, although if they’re looking anything like mine they might be due for a good work out. When it comes to your cover letter, adjust the tone to the company’s style. I once applied for a position at a company with a very young, hip, trendy vibe. I knew they were looking for people with a sense of humour so I did my best to inject that into my cover letter. I actually remember using the words “ninja-fast typing skills” in the body of the letter. And I got an interview! My interview was awful, and will be addressed later, but at least my cover letter got my foot in the door.

Make your conclusion chocolate cake

Leave them salivating and wanting more. You know, the way you feel after you’ve finished the last slice of cake but aren’t completely satisfied. I’d like to suggest you make them believe that choosing anyone else but you would be the worst mistake of the lives.  But we have to be realistic. At the end of the day, what’s really important is that you communicate your sincere desire to be part of their organization.

If you need any more help writing a cover letter, you can always visit one of Glendon’s Counselling and Disability Services workshops or even drop in Mondays: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm and Thursdays: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm for résumé and cover letter writing help. See my past blog post for more information on that. And follow them on Twitter: @GLCandDServices

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fourth-Year Student Guide to Finding a Translation Job- Step #1

Job hunting is fun…for the first hour and a half. Then it’s excruciating. But all of us—millionaire heiresses and criminals aside—have to do it at some point. So I decided to share my vast job-hunting knowledge and experience with you. And ok, YES, I haven't yet found a job in my field, and NO, I have no proof these steps will work (stop harassing me!).  But let's try them out together and first one with the job wins...the satisfaction of having a job (and money)!

I’m not the first person to think of sharing my job hunting tips with the masses. Many have done it before me, and better:

Exhibit A: York University's Career CentreFind the Job You Want

Exhibit B: Globe and MailPrimer for student job hunters

But here it is coming from a fourth-year Translation student perspective, coming from someone who’s starting to sweat a little as graduation comes nearer and the list of experiences on her résumé seem to be smaller than ever.

So here’s my how-to.

How to find a Translation Job if you’re a fourth-year student who

a) Does not have a parent or relative who owns a translation agency and would be willing to hire you no questions asked
b) Has zero to little professional translation experience
c) Is not francophone; or
d) Fits all of the above.

Let’s... begin at the beginning.

Step #1 Create an Awesome Résumé

Yeah, yeah I know…you’re résumé is a masterpiece, a work of unparalleled imagination, the embodiment of all that is literary genius. Shakespeare would be envious. If this were 1860, Mark Twain would be ripping the pencil from your hands in a fit of jealous rage.

But, let’s get real for a second. We all think our stuff is amazing. It’s really hard to be objective when we’ve spent hours writing a description of every awesome thing we’ve ever done throughout our entire life in the most flattering way possible. I thought my stuff was amazing too…until I brought it over to Glendon’s Counselling and Disability Services.

Get a Second (or Third Opinion)

You may be pretty proud of the lemonade stand you set up when you were five, and for certain jobs maybe it’s relevant. But for others, maybe it’s not. So, perhaps it doesn't need to be included in your list of work experiences. To confirm whether something on your résumé is relevant or not, it's always helpful to get opinions from an objective critic: your teacher, your most honest friend, or your school’s Career Services (all three if you can manage it).

Choose a Style that Suits Your Experience

My professor suggested that I use a functional résumé. For those of you in the crowd scratching your heads, don’t feel bad, I did that too. A functional résumé is a résumé organized based on your skills. It’s ideal for students because most of us have not yet had an opportunity to work in our chosen field. That doesn’t mean you wasted the year you served at McDonald’s or the 6 months you worked at Kernels Popcorn (yes, it’s true, I wore the popcorn shirt and everything) or the summers you spent as a camp counsellor. You gained valuable experience that can be applied to other positions and a functional résumé lets you highlight them. Monster explains Functional Résumés Here. My functional résumé is organized like this:
This isn’t verbatim, but you get the idea.

Take Advantage of the Free (Yes Free!) Resources at Your School

After having my résumé reviewed by my mom and my professor, I brought it over to Glendon’s Career and Counselling Services, now called Counselling and Disability Services. As you can see, it’s in a cute little building attached to the Glendon Manor.

They were super nice, super friendly and gave me candy, which was a nice bonus. More importantly, they also showed me the glaring flaws in my résumé that I would not have been able to spot on my own. 

Throughout the year, they have a ton of workshops on preparing for job interviews, writing resumes, networking, marketing your B.A. and exploring the hidden job market. And, as a Glendon student, you can also attend many of the workshops offered through the York University Career Centre.

I could go and on. I really could. But there are so many useful places out there for résumé-writing tips like here and here.

The next piece of the puzzle is the Cover Letter, and it's coming soon to a screen near you.