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Career Services Informer

…brought to you by SFU Career Services

Backpack to Briefcase: Event Recap and Live Tweets

Saturday marked the passing of another successful Backpack to Briefcase conference here at SFU.  We had a dynamic and diverse line-up of speakers, an incredibly engaged audience of SFU students and alumni, and a lot of fun!

Did you miss this year’s ultimate one-day career conference? Not a problem! I was live-tweeting the event this year, and am happy to bring you my most tweet-worthy impressions, from all speakers. Enjoy!

Elena introduces Penny Freno


conference getting underway. First speaker is Penny Freno from @ - how to deal with uncertainty?

Brenda Badgero – networking just talking to people, with the subtext of how they may be able to help and you them.

“moving forward when nothing is certain and everything is possible” you CAN find work with an arts degree – Penny Freno

Penny Freno speaking to audience

“I took a job that was 3 weeks long” to start in a new career direction. – Penny Freno

career myth #1 – you are your major

fact: most careers do not specify majors. Employers more concerned skills and experience, plus fact you have degree.

career myth #2: you need a plan. 70% of graduates’ careers significantly influenced by unplanned events

Need a strategy, not a plan. Taking action most important.

myth #3: there is one perfect career for you

career myth #4: your first job sets the stage for your career

careery myth #5: you should choose an occupation that’s in demand.

career myth #6 – an undergraduate degree won’t get you a job.

waiting for a perfect job to materialize doesn’t work. Take action to craft the perfect job for you

Next speakers: John Grant and Candy Ho. 10 Commandments for work search success.

John and Candy start their presentation


work search cmdmnt #10: check thyself. Discover your strengths.

work search cmdmnt #9: know thyself. What can you contribute to employer? Not other way around.

attitude is key. Often more important than qualifications. Can’t change attitude, but can teach skills

work search cmdmnt #8: expand thy knowledge. Learn from others’ experience. Do INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS

work search cmdmnt #7: explore thy opportunities. It’s about the experience, not necessarily the $

work search cmdmnt #6: acquire thy experience. Be flexible – volunteer, job shadow, join associations/organizations.

John Grant: “if you say there are no prof associations in your career path, you have not looked hard enough”

worksearch cmdmnt #5: practice thy skills. Polish your resume/cl, do mock interviews, but don’t memorize answers.

work search cmdmnt #4: leverage thy tools. Use your network to get message out – SOCIAL MEDIA a big help.

Lots of questions from the audience about social media

work search cmdmnt #3: gather thy promoters. Everyone is a potential ambassador

work search cmdmnt #2: extend thyself. You get out what you put in. Dedicated work search feels like a FT job

work search cmdmnt #1: mobilize thyself. Take action! That’s it for John and Candy

btw, John is from @ association, Candy from SFU Student Life.

next presenter: Carey McBeth – Networking Essentials for Today’s Business Professional.

Carey demonstrating a proper handshake

Carey gave lots of handshake demonstrations such as the one above.

Carey McBeth: “people will look down to your shoes.” Make sure they’re polished, business people!

Carey McBeth: “number 1 networking killer is bad breath”

ask yourself: will this company want me representing them? re: appearance

effective intros: use “hello” instead of “hi” and first AND last name.

@ is getting a lot of love today! I see a lot of students going home to start accounts tonight.

small talk: news, sports, weather, tv, fashion, animals, industry, international. Avoid politics/religion!

“gender does not exist in the business arena” – Carey McBeth

the key to any relationship building is never to make the other person feel uncomfortable

be ready for  - carry business cards at all times, even to grocery store.

creative (and humourous) networking tip: get a dog! Nature’s greatest networkers – Carey McBeth

“people see you differently as a volunteer” – Carey McBeth on volunteering as a networking opportunity

 - never interrupt a conversation between 2 people. 3 or more is ok. Also, “cheese = instant bad breath”

avg length of time a hand written thank you card stays on a desk = 7-10 days. Email = read, delete.

that’s it for Carey. Great, interactive presentation. Time for lunch!

btw, Carey’s twitter account (brand new!) is @

Natashia Cox presents on eco careers


Natashia Cox is the next speaker, topic is @ and environmental careers.

did you know? 15% of educational backgrounds in environmental sector are social sciences

73% of employers in environmental sector want you to excel in written communicaiton. 59% project management/planning

@ gives 5 students/year $1000 awards for environmental research. Employers “snatch” award winners up.

@ also offers a MA and MSc in Environmental Practice, through Royal Roads University. Neat!

really intense music to go with a video about environmental mapping.

. Turns out it’s Coulfleurs by M83.

showing the @ website to explore careers. I’ve used it personally before, and must say it’s a good resource.

common theme today in all sessions: connections are important!

Murray Baker is now presenting. Topic: from cash drain, to cash gain!

Murray Baker discusses debt, among other things


once you graduate, credit companies are going to come after you for your money – Murray Baker

“failing to plan is planning to fail” re: finances

get off the junk – swear off junk mail, shop in secret, decline ballots, boycott phone book and other directories

hold off on major credit purchases in first year of your job, i.e. new car – Murray Baker

step 1 – pay off credit card debt. Consolidation loans half the interest of credit cards

but, do NOT pay govt student loans with consolidation loans, as govt loans have interest relief

why start investing in rrsp? Can use to take loans out of, for education, etc. well before retirement.

discussing TFSAs and RRSPs. Advantages to both – taxed at different times.

Murray actually recommends having both a TFSA and RRSP

when young, can afford more “volatile” investments as money not needed for a long time.

claim all possible student deductions on taxes. i.e. govt loan interest, work relocation expenses, donations

low debt vs high debt can mean a difference of $ millions come retirement time 

Murray Baker is done. That concludes the conference! Great group of students this year – very engaged

btw, Murray has a book: The Debt-Free Graduate

twitterWant more career-related information via Twitter?  Follow SFU Career Services at @SFU_Career.

-David Lindskoog

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