How Can I Study 12 Hours a Day?

I get this question all the time from students. How can I study for 8, 12, 20 hours a day? Have a look at all the study questions over on Quora – this comes up all the time.

As always, I have to say that I don’t think setting study goals by the number of hours is very effective. But because I see this question so much, I wanted to address it. I actually think this is a question about focus, motivation, and time management. I have previously written about time management and motivation, so in this post I’ll focus on… focus!

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First of all, focus on learning the material, not on the number of hours you study. I do not recommend that you build your study schedule around the number of hours you’ll study. It’s more important to study effectively, and figure out how to best use your time. You could pretty much always spend more time studying, more time reviewing, and more time working on that paper. Your time will be better spent finding the most effective study methods and then utilising those, rather than focusing on the number of hours you study for. Studying for 12 hours a day isn’t helpful if you’re not learning from it – you’d be better off studying effectively for a shorter period. 

But if your struggle is focusing or concentrating on your studies, so that you can spend more time studying effectively, there are some things you can do:

Take Regular Breaks When Studying

Make sure you are taking breaks. When someone tells me they want to study continuously for 12 hours a day, I get worried. Humans need breaks!

You can’t study all day every day and not go completely insane. You need to have leisure time, rest time, social time, fun time, etc. Not taking enough breaks can result in a lack of motivation and interest in studying. These can generally be short breaks (the 5 minutes in pomodoros), but make sure you are also taking longer breaks, take a day or a half-day when you can and do something you find relaxing. Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks – you need them, and you will do better if you plan for them. If you don’t plan for breaks, then you’ll end up burned-out and just crawling into bed for five days because your brain is fried. I know, I’ve been there. Take a break, and then get back to work more refreshed.

Eliminate Distractions When Studying

Eliminate as many distractions as you can. Put away your phone, put on your headphones, and just focus on one thing at a time. Close all those other browser tabs, maybe even turn off your wifi if you don’t need it. I am guilty of forgetting to put my phone away, and that can have a big impact. If you want to use it as a study timer or calculator, put it in airplane or do-not-disturb mode first.

Having a dedicated study space is helpful, but not always possible. You might live with family, roommates, share a room or common space. If you are not able to have a quiet study space at home, there may be a place on campus or in the library that is available to you. You might also work in a coffee shop or some other public space. If you do not have access to a quiet space, then headphones can help you drown out distractions around you, too.

Use the Pomodoro Method

I wrote about the pomodoro method here, but it’s basically where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. If I’m not feeling focused, I use a pomodoro timer because I know I can focus for 25 minutes at a time. Then I take a break, and focus for 25 more minutes. Eventually, I will have either accomplished something in 25 minute increments (yay!), or I will be working on something when the timer goes, and I’ll just keep working because I’m in the study zone (yay!), so this usually works well for me. If you are having a really challenging day getting your studying done and concentrating for a long period of time, this method can help you still get work done.

Try Different Study Methods

If your study methods aren’t helping you learn material as efficiently or effectively as you would like, try something new. I have worked with so many students who study for hours and hours a day and are still not getting the grades they want. Usually, once I ask a few more questions, they’ll admit that they are just reading the textbook. Reading and re-reading the textbook is not an effective study strategy for most people. Just reading something doesn’t always help you understand and remember it. Usually, more active study methods like active review or self-testing will be more helpful.

Active Review

Active review is a study method where you basically write down everything you remember from a lecture or reading, and then go back and fill in the blanks using your resources. So, for example, if you read an article or chapter on a topic, you would then write down everything you could recall. Then, you would go back to the article or chapter and use that to fill in the blanks in your notes, usually in another colour.

Self-Testing

This is exactly what it sounds like – testing yourself on a topic. This might be through making up your own questions and trying to answer them, using questions from your textbook or other course materials, or even having questions on cue cards. Once you are comfortable with a question, move on to the ones that you’re not getting.

The reason these methods are more effective than just reading the textbook is because you are activating the information in your memory. It would take you hours and hours of re-reading a textbook to get the same amount of learning done.

Trying different study methods can also just be somewhat of a change in what you’re doing so you can bring more energy to it. If you have been studying with cue cards, try the active review method or other forms of self-testing and see how those go. Mixing different methods is ideal for helping you learn best. I have written more about study methods here, and there are loads of resources online so Google can also be a big help.

So, how can I study for 12 hours a day? Stop thinking about the number of hours, and start focusing on effectiveness. Instead, ask yourself, how can I study more effectively for less time?

How to Choose Electives

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This week’s post on How to Choose Electives is a guest post from the founder of Legitscholarship.com, whose goal is to show students scholarship opportunities from all over the world. They offer plenty of information, particularly for international students who want to study in Canada.

Entering into University and being faced with choosing your electives can be challenging, so this article will outline some of the courses you can consider and some reasons you should consider them. Students find it difficult to choose a discipline, and then selecting your optional courses can also be tough. You should consider a variety of subjects when filling the number of courses to take in a semester, year or degree program.  

What are electives/elective classes?

Electives are courses that you get to choose in your undergraduate program. They will vary depending on the degree and major, but typically programs will either ask you to choose courses from particular lists of electives, or have other options for you. Some programs, such as Engineering, may not have a lot of electives or options, and some programs, such as a Bachelor of Arts, may have much more choice. Make sure you find out what your elective requirements are for your specific program. Some courses may also have restrictions on them, such as only being available for students in particular programs, so you should also check any registration requirements for a particular course.

What electives should I take?

For example, if you plan to Study Professional Journalism, students may consider taking Courses like Writing, communications, and language Courses; These courses will further help you improve your fluency and accuracy in research when you are faced with an assignment to give a pressing report about current issues. Enrolling in these courses is the best fit in your first year because it will immensely improve your effective communication, proper research and analysis, and give a well-detailed report. 

If you plan on studying abroad, perhaps to study in Europe in a country like Germany, it is in your best interest to take a German language course starting from year one because you will be exposed to the German people’s culture and diversity, background, customs, and traditions. After Graduation, you will be exposed to many wide areas in Germany, which opens a wider opportunity to get you a job as you are now familiar with the environment, culture, customs, and traditions. 

The following are some of the best elective courses to study as making the right decision in the right direction will help you succeed faster than you can ever imagine in your Academics.

Language Courses: 

Learning language courses is one of the best course options for university students as you are exposed to a variety of opportunities after graduation. This is good for your CV/resume as this makes it easy for employees to designate more work entry in an organization as you will be able to attend to clients who do not have or speak the most common language. i.e., a customer services representative can be exposed to numerous languages as this helps make work easier if the clients have to communicate in a language other than English. 

Getting a certification in a language course helps build the momentum to achieve more by acquiring knowledge about people’s diverse cultures and backgrounds. With the Spanish language, which is widely spoken in about 20 countries worldwide, there will be opportunities in any of these countries to get your dream job not just because of your qualification but because you have acquired a “Goldsmith” skill in diverse languages and this helps you to solve societal problems in any part of the world. 

Business Courses: 

One of the best elective courses for students in the first year is an ideal course in business. Picking up interest in business courses like marketing, finance, or making money online gives you an entrepreneurial mindset to become a successful business owner even if you do not work in a government or private institution. Therefore it makes it easier for you to learn and be exposed to business skills and ideas with just a few seminars; you are bold and confident on what business plans to take when setting up a business. 

You are exposed to many ideas when you take business courses in year one and may decide to chase down this path by studying any of the branches of business. They will teach you practical skills you can use in your workplace. Personal marketing and finance are not only applicable to your business or organization but also applicable to your own life as you get to take caution in your day to day spending, plan and manage your shopping for groceries, weekly or monthly, manage your bank account without the help of a bank manager and be more knowledgeable in every aspect of human life.  

Economics Courses: 

Studying economics courses may not sound great, but if you want to succeed as a successful business owner, you need a wide knowledge of the economy. The positive or the negative effect of the Economy means there are adverse effects and implications not only to our personal life but also to small businesses, cooperation, trade, etc. 

Micro-economics helps you take note of the interaction between the demand and supply of the market, hence helping you with a wider horizon of how to handle business and services. Macro-economics helps to see how the economy works while you focus on your business or organization.

Consider taking the economic course in your year one or later in any of the semesters. This will help you in your personal life and your day-to-day activities of the country’s economy you live in. 

Sociology Courses: 

The best course year one? Sociology, which deals with society, often best describes why people react and behave the way they do, how individuals take certain actions, and what prompts them to react the way they do. Taking sociology courses in your year one or later stage helps you better understand how to communicate and interact with people, study their behavior to know best how you can handle circumstances when the need arises. You can take numerous courses in sociology, such as:

  • Disabilities and Culture
  • Urban Poverty
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Law and Society
  • Modern Communication Systems
  • Criminology
  • Wealth, Power, Status: Inequality in Society
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Social Movements, Protest, and Conflict

Writing Courses: 

To develop good writing skills as a student in year one, taking essential writing courses is important to improve your skills in writing. At a later stage in your education career, there are many writing materials you will have to present, which could be from research, presentations, and seminars. It is essential to acquire these writing skills from your first year. the Importance of including Writing Courses in colleges and universities either in year one or any semester cannot be overemphasized, and these reasons include:

  • Students develop new concepts: A student will have no issues when they have developed new concepts in writing, and these new concepts will help such students to be able to take long notes during presentations, seminars, regular classes, and research Wwork. Students need to take into their knowledge the skills in writing and how to improve on these skills. 
  • For Effective Communication: Enrolling in writing courses also helps you to be able to pass meaningful Information across; it will be difficult if a book author with no pedigree in writing can effectively communicate information to readers of his publications or students trying to reply to important emails or apply for scholarships. 
  • Useful for Academic purpose: Writing skills help students overcome academic challenges; therefore, you must acquire this skill as often as possible because this will help you in research, take-home assignment, and you could even be asked to write an essay or recommendation letter for an award. 

Conclusion

Getting Admission into Colleges and universities is a step, Choosing the Right and Appropriate elective courses is another step, the latter is very important because it makes ease of Your Academic and Improve your performance Overall in your first year in school. Meet appropriate Academic chancellor in Your formal school or Someone with diverse knowledge on Which elective is best for you along with your main course of study. 

About The Author

Team Eligible Bachelor is an enthusiastic writer and a graduate of Geology, the founder of Legitscholarship – Reliable Scholarships Website. Contact them on Facebook and Twitter for more enquires and guides about scholarship opportunities for colleges and universities.

Thank you for the guest post from Legitscholarship.com! If you would like to read more about course and program selection, check out these posts: How should I choose my major? and learn How to Read Your University Course Syllabus here (where you can also download a syllabus-review checklist!).

How to Set Study Goals for the Semester or Year

Setting goals at the start of a new semester or academic year can help you build towards your long-term student goals. Are you wondering how to set study goals? Below, I use the SMART goals system to outline how to set and achieve realistic student goals, and then provide examples of both short-term and long-term goals for students.

SMART Goals for Students

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. These are the characteristics your goal should have in order to make it realistic and help you clarify how to reach it. Making sure you’ve addressed all these categories will provide clarity on your goal and how to reach it. This is a great way to set study goals for yourself!

Specific

Specific goals are detailed, and broken down into the steps it will take you to achieve them. For example, goals like get higher grades, study more, start networking or get a job are not specific enough to be helpful. Let’s take a look at some examples of possible student goals:

“Get Higher Grades” or “Study More”

What are the details you need to add to these to turn them into specific goals? Here are some things you should think about:

  • Which grades are you raising, and to what? Comparing last semester’s grade in an English course to this semester’s grade in a Math course doesn’t make sense, so think about what this means.
  • How will you work towards this goal? Are you trying some new study skills? You could review every day after class, or join a study group to practice explaining content to one another.
  • How can you break this down into smaller goals so you can see progress over the semester? For example, you might choose a couple of new study methods to try for a week ro so to see what works best, or create a new study schedule and try that out.

For some suggestions on trying new study skills, check out this post on Study Skills for University Students.

“Start Networking”

This goal is not specific enough to make progress on, either. Again, think about what the steps are for this. Is your goal to attend one networking event per month for the next year? Or are you wanting to reach out to a certain number of folks for informational interviews? Maybe you would like to find a mentor?

You could set a more specific networking goal by determining who you want to reach out to, or how many people you would like to meet or events you would like to attend.

“Get a Job”

This is a really great goal, but once again you need to fill in more of the details. What are the steps you need to take to reach this goal? You could decide to apply to a certain number of jobs, or you could set a goal to get your resume and cover letter reviewed by a friend or professional by a certain date. Or maybe you are even earlier in the process, and you need to decide what type of job you’re looking for and where you can look for postings (for example, does your university have a student job board, or are you looking on a public site like Indeed.ca?).

You can also include several of these goals by breaking this down into steps and setting a timeline. Maybe you will get your resume and cover letter reviewed in the first week, and then apply to five jobs in the second week, and reach out to three people for informational interviews the following week.

Measurable

The M in SMART is for measurable – how are you going to measure your goal so you know whether you have achieved it or not?

While grades are really easy to compare and give you a measurement, you should be really cautious in using grades to measure whether you have met your goals. As I mentioned above, comparing last year’s English grade to this year’s Math grade is not necessarily a good comparison. Additionally, although in a perfect world your grade would be a direct reflection of the work you’re doing, this isn’t always the case. You may be doing really good work but still get a lower grade than you would like. In some ways, your grade is not entirely within your control, so use caution when using them for measurements.

You can also break your goal down into steps and update it as you go. If your goal was to apply for ten jobs in two weeks, but then you get the first job you applied for – no problem! You don’t need to hang onto applying for nine more jobs. It’s time to revise that goal, so what’s next? Likewise, if you applied for the ten jobs but didn’t get any, what’s your next step? It might not just be applying for ten more jobs (although it could be); Maybe it’s time to reach out for some help with your cover letters or resumes, or do some networking in your desired industry.

Achievable

This is really about being realistic with your goal. If you got all D’s last semester, and you want to bring your grades up to all A+’s this semester, you will need to determine whether this is a realistic goal for you. If you got all D’s because you didn’t study at all and skipped half your classes, then this might be more attainable than if you studied 18 hours a day and still got all D’s.

This relates back to the specifics of the goal: Setting up all the details of the goal is going to make it more achievable. As you start breaking your goals into smaller pieces, you will be able to see whether they are achievable within the timeline you set. So even if you can’t boost your grades from D’s to A+’s this semester, what are some of the steps you could take towards that? Maybe you are trying out new study skills, visiting your university’s student success centre, or hiring a tutor.

Relevant

Your study goals need to be in alignment with your larger goals, which hopefully your university courses and program are! What are the things you can do this semester or year that will move you closer to your career goals for after graduation?

Time-Bound

You are way more likely to meet your goals if you have a timeline to follow or a deadline to meet. As I mentioned above, breaking your goals into steps will help you set a realistic timeline. Smaller goals and shorter deadlines will help you see how you are moving towards your bigger goals and you will feel more encouraged that you are making progress.

Getting your bachelors degree and starting your career are huge goals, but when you break them into years, semesters, months, or weeks, they become much more manageable. Even a semester goal can be more likely to be met if you break it down over the months and weeks of the semester.

List of Goals for Students

Here are some possible goals that you could set for yourself by filling in all the details for a SMART goal as outlined above. These are just examples of student goals – use these to inspire you for your other goals!

  • Try out a new study method (or more than one)
  • Take steps to build your network
  • Find the perfect summer job
  • Learn how to write a better paper
  • Improve your exam preparation skills
  • Build a network in your desired industry
  • Figure out what you want to do after you graduate
  • Improve your time management
  • Organize all your work and deadlines
  • Improve your resume and cover letter
  • Practice your job interview skills
  • Bring your GPA up

If your goal is to improve your time management, prioritize your work so you can get more done, or organize your semester and deadlines better, sign up for the upcoming Time & Priority Management Workshop.

Setting Study Goals

What are your goals for this year and semester? As always, I would love to hear from you. Comment below, message me on social, or send me an email and let me know!

Scary Student Scams to Look Out For

There are so many student scams out there. Scammers are after your personal information, or your money, or I don’t even know what! This list is not exhaustive – there are other scams, so stay aware!

University Student Tutoring Scams

It can be really hard to find a tutor! And then some of them will scam you. There are two types of tutoring student scams that I’m aware of.

First, look out for tutors who will do the work for you. Tutors should help you improve your own knowledge and skills. They should not be doing the work for you. Don’t buy your papers. Don’t hire someone to do exams or assignments for you. The consequences of these things can be disastrous if your university finds out. It can range from a dishonesty mark on your transcript, to being expelled or forced to take time off. You can check your university’s conduct policy for more information, but make sure you also do all your own work! 

There are also tutors who will blackmail you. I can barely believe this one, but it happens! These tutors will do your assignments for you, or write your paper for you (again, don’t hire people to do this!). But then they will extort you for more money – if you don’t continue to pay them, they say they will go to your professor or university with evidence that you cheated by hiring someone else to do the work for you. 

University Admissions Scams

I can’t even imagine how devastating it would be to discover that your admissions offer wasn’t real. To think you’d be starting at your dream university and then find out it wasn’t true! These student scams are related to fake offers of admission and collecting fake confirmation deposits from students.

Always make sure you’re communicating directly with the university. You should have some kind of online application log-in where you can check your status. If you’ve received an offer via WhatsApp or another online messaging system, you should follow up directly with the university to confirm that it’s true. 

You also want to make sure that any payments you make are going to the university. If you are asked to pay by any method other than through the university’s website, you should make sure it’s legitimate! 

Student Loan Scams

Again, confirm that any messages you receive about your student loans are coming from wherever you borrowed from. Student loan systems vary by province, so you just need to work with your home province on this. But if you receive emails, voicemails, or texts about your loans, double-check the email address/phone number before you click through or panic about them. 

Scholarship Scams

As with everything else, check that the organization you’re communicating with is legitimate. Do they have a website with all the scholarship information on it? Or are you just sending all your personal information to some random email address? 

Apartment Rental Scams

These are abundant! They are trying to get a deposit or portion of your rent, but there isn’t usually an actual apartment for you. If your university has a housing website for off-campus housing, you can use that as a resource to help avoid these scams. Otherwise, keep an eye out for suspicious signs: The price is too good to be true (rent is lower than average) or the landlord has a story about how they are not in town and you have to wire the money. They will often target those who are out-of-town, because you won’t do a tour of the apartment ahead of time. 

Things to look out for

  • .ca shows canadian org (most unis will use this)
  • Institutional email: @universtiy.ca (give some examples)
  • Payment through secure website (not sent on Whatsapp or email transfer)
  • Confirm information through registrar’s office or institutional email

The Government of Canada actually has a pretty comprehensive scam and fraud website, probably because so many scams pretend to be the CRA or CBSA.

If you liked this post, you will probably find these helpful: Getting a Bad Grade and University Student Study Skills.

I hope this post has helped you know what to keep an eye out for to avoid being scammed. If you know of any other student scams that I’ve missed here, please send them to me at email@chooseyouruni.ca.

Getting a Bad Grade

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It’s happened. You failed a course, failed a semester, failed an exam, got a bad grade on a test, failed a course. We’ve all been there! It’s a terrible feeling. It can feel like your world is ending. Especially if you’ve always been a good student.

I have worked with probably hundreds of students who received their first “bad” grade. The system is rigged against you – you probably had to get an 80-something average or higher to get into uni, but so did everyone else. So once you get there, everyone is super-smart, and a lot of programs use a curved grading scheme.

Curved Grading

What does curved grading mean? It means that your professor may adjust grades in comparison to other students. Curved grading means, very roughly, that if the highest grade on a test is 60%, that person could get an A+ and you may have needed below 20% to fail. On the other hand, it may mean you needed 99% to get an A+ and that an 85% ended up being a C+. Your instructor should have let you know if this is how they are grading – check the syllabus or the program website for any grading criteria. Not all programs grade in this way. 

Is it okay to get a bad grade?

The not-so-helpful answer to this is “it depends.”

First, what is a “bad” grade? It will depend on your program and goals. Your program should have minimum grades and minimum GPAs (grade point averages) listed on their website. You may only need a D or C- in some courses, or you may need a higher grade. Make sure you know what the requirements are before you panic!

You will also want to check the impact of a low grade on your GPA. And remember that the GPA is an average, which means that as you take more courses, each grade matters less. This also means that when you only have a few courses, in your first semester or first year, each grade can impact your GPA more.

If you are planning to go to grad school or a professional program, you’ll want to check what their GPA and grade requirements are so that you can do your best to adhere to those. Their requirements may not be the same as your undergrad program, so you should be checking with both.

What happens next?

Explore your university’s options. Some universities have academic forgiveness policies, or course repeat policies, so you may be able to find a solution for bad grades. Review your university’s policies and speak to an academic advisor if you can. There may be some good options for you! It may or may not be possible to fix some low grades.

Academic Probation

Most universities have some form of academic probation – this is when your GPA falls below a certain requirement and you get a warning. After a certain number of warnings, if you have not brought your GPA up, you may have to leave the university. If you are worried that your grades are too low, you should find out what your university’s requirements are. Don’t wait to receive notification from your uni! Start working to bring your grades back up before you end up on academic probation.

How to Get Over a Bad Grade in University

Why Did It Happen

The first thing you want to do is figure out what happened. Why did you get that grade? And be honest. If you didn’t put in the effort, that may be the problem.

Understanding what happened means you will have to review your assignment or exam. For exams, this may involve going to see your instructor. Have a look at the feedback or marking so that you can figure out what to work on. If you don’t understand what you did wrong, speak to your instructor or TA. Once you have an idea of where you went wrong, then it’s time to figure out how to do better next time.

If you just didn’t put enough effort in, be honest with yourself about it. On the other hand, it may be time to try out some new study methods. If you studied a lot and aren’t sure why it didn’t help, then it’s definitely time for you to engage some new study skills.

Next Steps

You can talk to your professor and any TAs, and your university probably has staff who can help you assess and improve your study skills. Look for an academic or study centre through your library or student services areas. Your professor may be able to let you know where to find it!

You may also consider finding a tutor so you can get additional one-on-one help. Make sure you find a reputable tutoring company. Your university may have a tutoring service, or may be able to recommend one. Otherwise, ask around.

Are You Crying Over Bad Grades?

Of course, there is also the emotional aspect of getting a bad grade. This can have a big impact on you. A bad grade can impact your confidence and self-esteem. Remember that you are not your grades. Your grades don’t define who you are as a person. Grades don’t reflect your value as a person, or even your intelligence. Seriously, grading systems are flawed, and although a good grading system will measure how well you mastered the content of a course, that doesn’t necessarily indicate whether you’re smart or not. Many grading systems are set up so that not everyone can be successful, which obviously can feel very personal if you are the one getting the bad grade, but part of this is the result of the system.

Finding out what happened and taking steps to correct is also going to help you move forward. Don’t spend too much time being upset about your grades before you start to do something about them. One of the challenges at university is that nobody talks about their bad grades. There is a sense of shame about them, so students don’t tend to share their experiences with bad grades. It makes you feel like you’re the only one who is struggling!

So many students struggle, especially in the first year of university. Most of those students are able to recover and complete a degree. You can also find all sorts of examples of folks who either struggled in university or didn’t go, and yet had massive success. It can be inspiring to learn about folks who’ve been really successful without a degree. Although my work focuses on university, there are many other ways to be successful in life that don’t require you to go to university. Find some examples that you can learn about and look up to.

It might also help to talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be one of your classmates! If you’re not comfortable talking with them, you can talk to your other friends, family members, or someone else you know will support you. And don’t feel like you have to tell anyone you don’t want to! Just make sure you stay away from people who will make you feel worse. And if you find that your grade is dragging down your mental health, you should reach out for support from a professional. Check your university health centre for counselling services, they will be experienced in this topic.

Hopefully this has helped you get ready for a bad grade that will never come! If you have any questions or worries about your grades, please reach out at email@chooseyouruni.ca.

How to Ask for a Reference from your Professor

How to ask for a Reference or Letter of Recommendation

You’re applying for a scholarship, study abroad, grad school, or a job, and you need to submit a letter of reference (aka letter of recommendation, character reference, letter of support, or academic reference) from a professor. Now you have to ask your prof for the letter! How do you do that?

General Information About Asking for a Reference

These are the basics: You are asking for a favour from your professor. Make sure you give them the time and information they need to help you with a minimum of effort. This post is really about how you can make this easier for them, so they will be happy to write you a positive letter of reference.

First, you’re going to choose how you will ask for the reference. Ideally, you will ask them in person and then follow up with an email. However, I recognize that’s not always possible, so you can also start with the email. Below, I’ve described how you can ask via email, but feel free to take this first step in-person and then write a follow-up email with all the details.

Writing an Email to ask for a Reference or Letter of Recommendation

You want to make sure that you are polite and professional in your request. Your professor may have been asked to write dozens of letters or provide multiple references, and a high-quality reference takes time to write. And of course, you want them to spend time on your reference so that it helps you in whatever you are competing for.

Your first question is whether the professor is willing and available to write a positive letter of reference. This is the part that you can easily do in person. Let your professor know what the reference is for, roughly what is required, and the deadline. Once they agree, then you can follow up with an email with all the details.

Think about what your professor needs to know to write the reference, and make sure to include that in the follow-up email:
*what the reference is for (ie scholarship, job, grad school, etc)
*requirements of the reference (there aren’t always requirements listed, but if there are make sure you include them)
*how to submit (ie email, online form, paper letter, PDF or Word doc, etc)
*deadline

What Will Be in the Letter of Recommendation or Reference?

Your professor can only speak to things they know about you – they are not able to speak to things that they haven’t seen you do. It is okay for you to remind them of who you are and what kind of student you are, especially if it has been a long time or even several years since you worked with them. If it has been some time, you can remind them in the body of the email and even attach one of your past papers and/or a transcript to remind them of who you were and how you performed in their class. If you went to office hours and got to know them a little, you should also remind them of that.

You can also (politely) ask them to talk about specific things in your reference if you think they are particularly relevant. For example, if you are applying for grad school, you may want them to speak more about your academic research and writing skills. On the other hand, if you are applying for a job, you may want them to speak to your ability to analyze and synthesize texts as well as meeting deadlines.

Letter of Recommendation/Reference Request Checklist

  • Did you remind them where they know you from?
  • Did you remind them what they know about you?
  • Provide details of reference (what’s needed)?
  • Purpose of reference?
  • Is your email polite and professional?
  • Is it clear from the first sentence of the email what you are asking for? 
  • Are you sure they will say positive things? 
  • Deadline/due date? 
  • Format and any other requirements (PDF/word, emai/mail, etc)?
  • How do they submit it?

What if Your Professor Says “No”?

Unfortunately, this happens. Your professor might not feel that they know you well enough to provide a reference. They may be too busy, or have too many upcoming deadlines, or maybe they need more time.

The best way to avoid this is prevention. Getting to know your professors and building those relationships ahead of time is the best way to make sure you can get references when you need them. This is something you should work on right from the start of the semester – read this post for more tips on how to start your semester off right!

But, if your professor does not want to give you a reference, it’s time to move on to the next person. Is there another professor or employer that you can ask? I have also worked with students who were not able to get references from their undergrad professors, so they ended up doing a post-grad diploma before they could apply to a Masters program. I was one of these students. It’s very frustrating to have to go back to school to be able to get an academic reference. That’s why you want to work on this now. Your bachelors degree is the best time to build those references in case you need them later.

Where can I learn more?

If you are interested in learning more about communicating professionally as a student, sign up for the Communications Skills for Students Webinar on December 6th.

You may also find this post on The Top 5 People to Get to Know at University helpful as you navigate your university career.

Early Career Tips for University Students

Are you wondering what you should be doing as a student to prepare for your career? Today I’m sharing some early career tips for university students, so you can get ahead on your professional development planning.

Let’s take a look! Here is some top career guidance for students who are just starting their careers. You are probably working your first jobs now and starting to orient yourself towards your future career. As you set professional goals for yourself, you can start taking steps to build and develop your career.

Text reads: "early career tips for university students: Build your career foundation; start building your network; impress your boss; read more below."

Build Your Career Foundation

The first step in career management involves seeking out opportunities to develop a solid career foundation. That means you should be doing things that not only build your skills, but also provide recent examples of your aptitudes and expertise so that you can put them on your resume and highlight them in job interviews. This is not always about learning new skills, it is also about having concrete examples to speak about when you are applying for the jobs that will lead to your future career. This is an opportunity for you to begin building your professional network. Read on to find out how this will help your career development!

Start Building Your Network

Look for Mentors

You will encounter people who are willing to invest in helping you reach your career goals. They will help you build a network, support you, help you navigate your career. These can be official mentors, or just people you work with who are willing to help.

I have had numerous mentors, both official and unofficial. One of my previous bosses was a great mentor – she would help me find opportunities to expand my skillset and add new activities to my resume. Mentors outside your workplace can also provide neutral advice when you are dealing with complicated workplace situations.

Your university may offer mentorship programs where you can be connected with a mentor – possibly even someone in the industry you want to work in. You can also look into joining networking groups, particularly related to your future career. Think about reaching out directly to people whose careers you admire. Many folks are open to talking to students about their own careers. Finding out about the careers of others can help you build a career and explore your own options.

Get to Know Your Coworkers

Your coworkers are your current and future network. These folks can let you know about new job opportunities, connect you to future employers, and recommend you for upcoming opportunities. Additionally, people are happier when they have a “work best friend”. Wouldn’t you rather work with people you know and like?

Accept invitations to social events when you’re new – this will help you get to know the culture and your colleagues. Someone gave me this advice after I graduated, but I wish they had shared it earlier! It would have been really helpful when I was working on my Co-op term.

Impress Your Boss

Your early bosses are usually going to be your references, so you will want to impress them (exceptions can be made if they are terrible bosses – but then you need to find other references!). Your boss may also have the power to recommend you for a promotion or other position.

You can impress them by taking your new role seriously. This may involve taking notes, doing homework, and asking questions when necessary.

As you are learning your new role and going through any orientation, make sure you take notes. This will mean that you don’t have to ask questions that have already been answered. Review your notes and make sure you clarify any confusing points. You may also have to do some reviewing outside of work. Some “homework” may be necessary in the beginning because there may be a lot of new information. This should not continue into your actual work, but there may be some details in the beginning that you need to review.

In the past when I have started new roles, in order to disrupt my boss less, I would keep a running list all day of my questions for them. That way, if I saw them just once a day, I would get all my questions answered so I could get on with my work. In between getting the answers, I would just work on other tasks. This worked well to keep me moving forward on my projects, while also ensuring I didn’t have to disrupt my boss with questions all day.

Expand Your Skills

Make sure you’re building new skills. Keep an eye out for opporunities to do new things in your workplace, especially ones you can excel at. This also means that when you run out of opportunities to learn new things in one role, it may be time to move on.

When you go to a job interview, or you’re writing a cover letter, you can’t just include a list of your skills. You also have to give examples of when you’ve used those skills and show effective you were. In interviews, you’ll be asked to describe times that you exhibited certain skills, or dealt with certain situations, so you’ll want to keep track of these.

As you work and build your career, you should keep a running list of accomplishments. Put them in a spreadsheet or a Google doc, or a note in your phone. Write about projects that you completed successfully, compliments your boss gave you, and any other workplace successes. You can also use this list during performance reviews or when you are negotiating for a raise. You can start the list with things from your courses and add in more experiences as you bild them. If you want some ideas for skills to include, you can also look at this post on transferable skills. This will also benefit you when you have formal (or informal) reviews. You will have an opportunity to highlight accomplishments and indicate how much you deserve a raise!

If you’re looking for more information on doing career research, make sure you check out this post: How Can I Explore my Career Options and find out your different options for building work experience in this one: Work Experience For Students. But if you’re having trouble knowing where to start with your career research, sign up for the Beginning Career Research Webinar coming up soon!

If you’re thirsty for more career knowledge, you should also check out my recommendations of The Top Ten Career Podcasts for Students.

Work Experience for Students

Half of the students who graduated from university in 2021 had participated in some kind of practical experience in their program, whether it was a co-op, internship, or other arrangement (data from CUSC). And that doesn’t include external work experience! You want to remain competitive, so make sure you are building your resume now and not waiting until you graduate. The value of student work experience pays off when you graduate with a resume full of examples of your skills and experiences.

The Importance of Work Experience

Student work experience allows you to try out different jobs and see what you like and dislike. This will help you make decisions about your career. Another benefit of student work experience is that you can begin building your network and collecting references for future opportunities. You need to build and demonstrate your skills, both transferable and technical, for future job applications and interviews. If you are planning on (or even thinking about) going to grad school, it is probably better to have specific types of work experience for your application, so make sure you look at your desired grad programs ahead of time.

How to Choose Your Work Experiences

What are your decision criteria for your work experiences? First of all, you might want to think about the pay rate. If you are working to support yourself while you’re at university, you may want to look for roles with the highest pay rate. Unpaid internships may not be the best option for you.

You may also want to consider how the position fits into your future career. Are you still building new skills that will help you, or have you learned everything you can? Are you building your network so you can have access to future opportunities? One of my biggest regrets from undergrad is that I stayed in the same minimum-wage part-time cashier position pretty much until I graduated. I wasn’t able to articulate my skills well enough to understand how I qualified for more interesting or higher-paying roles. If only I had known more about transferable skills at that time, I could have sought out more valuable work experiences for myself! Below, you’ll find nine ideas for student work experience.

Nine Ways to Gain Work Experience as a University Student

  1. Co-operative Work Terms (Co-op)
  2. Internships
  3. Volunteering
  4. Practicum
  5. Service Learning
  6. Research Assistantships
  7. Teaching Assistantships
  8. Other On-Campus Work
  9. Off-Campus Work

Co-operative Work Terms (Co-op)

Co-op work terms are organized through your university, and you may receive credit for them. The university will likely have specific requirements for Co-ops. These may be around the type of work or employer, or the number of hours you have to complete.

If you know you want to do Co-op, make sure you do your research when you are selecting your program and university. It is not necessarily available for every program at every uni. Some programs may also require you to do Co-op, so keep an eye out for that when you’re applying.

Your university will typically have advisors or other staff to help you through the Co-op program. Co-op students represent their university, and if the employers aren’t happy with how the students do, they can stop hiring from that university. However, you will most likely still have to apply, compete, and be selected for hire by the employer. Students are not just assigned a job, but these employers know that they’re hiring students, so they know you probably don’t have tons of work experience when you apply.

Internships

Internships can be similar to Co-op jobs, but may not meet all the requirements. They may be part time, or less than a semester in duration, be unpaid, or have other differences. However, they are similar in that they know they are hiring a student, and that you may not have as much work experience as other employees. Some industries really focus on internships for their hiring pool. If you work in one of these industries, you may need to do an internship in order to access higher-level positions.

If you do an internship, make sure you check the labour laws in the province where you are working. Some provinces permit unpaid interships and some do not. If you’re considering an unpaid internship, check with the labour laws or your university’s career centre to see if that’s acceptable.

Volunteering

Volunteering is unpaid work at a non-profit or charitable organization. If you don’t have very much previous work experience, this can be a great way for you to build skills and find your first references. It can be very rewarding to support a charity or non-profit organization.

I have built a great deal of my work experience through volunteering. The network I built also connected me with people who offered me paying work later on.

Practicum

A practicum is a specific work experience where you have the opportunity to demonstrate the skills needed for the field you are studying. Applied fields (such as nursing, teaching, counselling, and others) often require practicums. A supervisor will usually assess your practicum and provide feedback in order for you to receive credit. If your program requires a practicum, it should be listed as one of the requirements, along with the courses.

Service Learning

Service learning is typically unpaid work that is done for a class that supports the community. It may be the whole class, or it may be one assignment. Students can support their community while also building their skills. If this is something you are interested in, you should ask around your department. If you have academic advisors, they may be able to connect you with these opportunities.

Research Assistantships

A research assistant works with a professor on an academic research project. Universities usually pay research assistants, but there may be exceptions. If you are planning on applying to grad school, this experience will probably be helpful, and will help you get academic references from your professors. Universities usually prioritize grad students for research assistant roles, making it difficult for undergrads to get into this work. Speak with professors and staff in your department or program to find out about opportunities.

Teaching Assistantships

A teaching assistant supports a professor’s teaching. That might mean grading assignments and exams, or teaching tutorials, or preparing slides, or a variety of other tasks. This will give you an opportunity to work with younger students and get a reference from your professor. Grad schools often value this experience, depending on the program. As with research assistantships, universities normally prioritize grad students for these positions, so they can be difficult or impossible for undergrads to get. If you are interested, ask around your department or program, and speak with your professors.

Other On-Campus Work

Most universities also hire students for a variety of on-campus work, from shelving books in the library to working in an administrative office. They will often pay higher than minimum wage, and these positions can be helpful because you don’t have to comute after class, since you are already on campus. Check with your university’s human resources office to see what’s available.

Off-Campus Work

This is the broadest category. Off-campus work is literally anything you can find off campus. Some students work at Starbucks, or as servers in restaurants, or cashiers… the options are extensive. My suggestion with this is that you make sure it contributes to your future career (through skills, networking, or references), and try to find what works best for you.

The Govenrment of Canada runs something called FSWEP – the Federal Student Work Experience Program. This is a hiring program for federal government jobs. They tend to post a high number of summer jobs, but there are positions posted all year, an the rates of pay are clearly published.

Getting Paid to Study

I wanted to add a note about this because I have met students who are very strategic with trying to find work that allows them to do homework. It might be worthwhile to find you a job where a lot of the work is just being present in case somebody needs you. That way you can study or do homework in between, and still get paid. The examples that I am aware of where this is possible are night receptionist at a hotel, an event technician, and a pet or house-sitter. If you know of others, I would love to share them here so please reach out – email@chooseyouruni.ca.

Do you have questions about work experience for students? Send me an email (email@chooseyouruni.ca) with your questions and I’ll get back to you!

You can also join the free Beginning Career Research webinar that’s coming up on November 29. Details and registration are on Eventbrite.

Seven Tips to Increase Study Motivation

It’s getting close to midterm time. You’re tired. You’re stressed. You have so much work ahead of you. It’s getting dark and cold out (or warm and sunny as we head toward summer). You’re tired of studying. You need to increase your motivation to study!

We’ve all been there. First, please don’t be hard on yourself. Being a student is hard. It’s stressful! A lot is being asked of you. Depending on where you are and when you’re reading this, you may still be dealing with a pandemic. But even at the best of times, student life can be overwhelming. What can you do when you’re not feeling inspired to study? How can you rebuild your motivation and get started again?

Here are my top 7 tips for increasing study motivation:

  1. Break it into pieces
  2. Make a ta-da! list instead of a to-do list
  3. Focus on the end goal
  4. Take time to celebrate
  5. Take a break
  6. Study with friends
  7. Find new ways to study

1. Break it into pieces

Break your homework/studying into the smallest, tiniest pieces and just do one tiny thing at a time. Each tiny thing can remind you that you are super-capable and smart, and encourage you to do the next tiny thing. And if not, at least your to-do list will be less overwhelming than one with items like “write a 20 page paper” and “study 17 chapters.”

What will this look like? When you have to write a paper, you’re going to build all the steps. This will also help you to plan out your time because you can map them out before the due date. If you have to write a paper for a history or English (or other social sciences course), it might look like this:

  • Pick a broad paper topic
  • Scan the research on that topic
  • Refine your topic (narrow it based on available research)
  • Do a literature review and organize it into an outline
  • Outline your conclusions from your research
  • Turn your outline into a paper (this may take multiple to-do list items)
  • Review and refine your paper (you can also do this in several steps)

Similarly, when you are studying for an exam, you can break it down into chapters or topics and then sections of each chapter or sub-topics.

Although this will give you a much longer to-do list, each item on that list will be much smaller and less overwhelming. Plus, this gives you a much clearer outline of what actually has to be done.

2. Make a ta-da! list instead of a to-do list

When I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done, I like to make a ta-da! list. This is the OPPOSITE of a to-do list: instead of writing down things you should do, write down EVERY SINGLE THING YOU ACCOMPLISHED TODAY.

  • made bed
  • showered
  • brushed teeth
  • walked dog
  • did laundry
  • emptied and reloaded dishwasher
  • ate a healthy breakfast
  • read one article for history class
  • reviewed two chapters for biology
  • made a dentist appointment

This helps to remind me that even if I’m not the best at studying today, I am doing great at life and I have clean laundry. As students, we have a lot on our plates outside of studying, too, and it’s important to remember that. 

3. Focus on the end goal

Remind yourself of your end-goal. At the end, you get a degree! I assume that degree will get you into your desired career! Think about that. Remind yourself why you’re at university – you are growing your brain so you can have an awesome career.

If you like to make art, you could build a vision board about your future life, including the career that you are working towards. This doesn’t have to be something specific, like “doctor” or “accountant.” You can look for images that capture the vibe of your ideal work place. Do you work with people or not? If so, are they adults or children? Do you have a big office, or work outdoors, or in some other setting?

If a vision board is not your jam, just use a sticky note or cue-card. Write something on it that reminds you of your end-goal. Something like “full-time work to move out of mom’s basement,” “$100K and 6 weeks vacation.”

One of the reasons I wanted to return to uni and do my PhD was so that I could do research and read and write all day, so I could write that out, or put a picture with a desk and a lot of books on my vision board. I like to make collages, so chose the vision-board option.

4. Take time to celebrate

Celebrate your wins.: The end of every semester (no matter your grades). Fnishing that paper or exam. Getting the good grades, or the times you passed when you weren’t sure you would. Celebrate alone or with friends and family. Celebrate with a treat, or a day off, or champagne and sparklers – whatever will help you acknowledge that you’re accomplishing things and making moves towards your big goal!

Getting a degree is a process of completing so many smaller things: semesters, courses, assignments, readings. You’re also building your career, so you’re gaining work experience, adding references to your resume, discovering what your skills are and how to best communicate them to employers. But doing all of this takes a long time, so it can feel like you’re not getting anywhere. This is why it’s so important to acknowldege and celebrate all of the mini-accomplishments within your degree. Seeing and celebrating all the steps you’ve taken so far can remind you how far you’ve come, which can also increase your motivation to study.

5. Take a break

I have posted a lot about this. Sometimes you just need a break! If you’re feeling tired and burnt out, you may just need a day off. I know it can be hard to justify a day off in the busiest times of the semester, but you need to weigh the impact of NOT taking a day off on your ability to learn. Not getting the rest you need is counter-productive – skipping your breaks will leave you tired and unfocused. It may be that a break is just what you need to increase your study motivation when you come back to it.

6. Study with friends

Accountability groups and study groups are wonderful for increasing study motivation, especially if you are an obliger like me, which means I tend to be more accountable to other people or external sources. When you are in a study group, you are very likely to show up and do work during that time because there are other folks there doing the same thing.

Your university may offer study groups. I have been in one writing group and one productivity group (both online) since I started my PhD and I find them really helpful for keeping me on track. I am also in a group with some other PhD students where we just send each other a WhatsApp message when we start working to see if anybody else wants to join the Zoom meeting. Sometimes this will prompt me to start studying, and having someone else there keeps me accountable.

You can organize these groups however you like, but at the ones I go to, we check-in every hour or so and set goals. At the end of the hour, we say what we accomplished on our goal and whether we’re going to continue or not. One of the groups I’m in does 40-minute pomodors with a break in the middle. You can find a group organized by your university, or you can organize one yourself, but studying together can definitely help increase study motiviation.

7. Find new ways to study

Finally, try to vary your study methods to increase your study motivation. If your study methods are effective and you know that you are learning and improving, you’ll be much more motivated to continue. I have shared some of my top recommended study methods in this post, and I regularly post and re-post study tips on my social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Quora). You can also find other studygrams, or look for solutions on sites like Reddit and Quora, or just use Google to see how others study.

Your university is also very likely to offer supports for study skills, either through the library or student services. Make sure you see what they have to offer – they may be able to sit down with you and talk about the challenges you have and offer individualized solutions.

Other tips to increase study motivation

  • Eliminate distractions. Put your phone away so you can accomplish more during your study time.
  • Gamify your study time. There are loads of study apps where you can earn points for studying, or build things (growing trees, feeding digital pets, etc). Check out what’s out there and find something fun!
  • Manage your time well. If you want to learn how to manage your time and priorities as a university student, sign up for the upcoming Time & Priority Management webinar.

How do you increase study motivation?

I hope you found this helpful! I would love to know how you increase your own study motivation. Do the methods I’ve listed work for you, or do you have your own tip to add? Comment below, on social, or send me an email at email@chooseyouruni.ca – I’d love to hear from you!

Top Ten Career Podcasts for Students

As a student, you want to make sure you are exploring your career options so that you can align your education and experiences towards your career goals. I’ve found the top ten career podcasts for students and listed them below, along with some recommended episodes. These are in no particular order (this is not a ranking), so make sure you read right to number ten!

1. Happier in Hollywood

This podcast is a spin-off from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier, which she makes with her sister, Liz Craft. Happier is a great podcast, but it’s not specifically career-related so didn’t quite make the list. Liz Craft created Happier in Hollywood with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, to talk about how to be happier while living in Hollywood and working as tv and film writers.

This is in my top ten because I like to learn about different industries, and this podcast gives some behind-the-scenes details on what it’s like to work in the tv industry. Even though I work in a completely different field (education and academia), I find a lot of their lessons and tips relevant. They talk about how they work together, work-life balance, how to pitch, and – my favourite – when to swear in a meeting (which is industry-specific – in many industries, the answer is never).

They share about their own career paths and often interview others in their industry, to talk about career paths and goals. Whether you’re interested in pursuing those positions (tv and film writer, casting director, etc) or not, seeing the career paths of others can help you envision your own.

Picking a new work mantra is helpful for anyone! Even as a student you could use a good mantra! A phrase to remind you of why you’re doing this and why it’s worth it.

Climb the Wall and Enjoy the View talks about hitting the wall, but then finding the energy to celebrate your accomplishments (so important for students!).

In Make Your Own Relationships at Work, they talk about why building relationships at work is important, and also why it’s important to take time off.

2. Women at Work by Harvard Business Review

Although this podcast is aimed at women, so many of the topics are relevant to anyone who is starting, or even already has, a career. They cover topics from salary negotiations, leadership and work-life balance, to career planning and side gigs. It’s a good career podcast whether you’re a student or a mid-career professional, and you’ll find all sorts of great information here.

We Answer Questions from Early Career Listeners answers some excellent questions from early professionals, and I’m sure you’ve wondered about many of these. Questions are about career planning, dealing with weird work situations, and working well with your boss.

In Seeing Ourselves as Leaders, they talk about leadership – and not just for those in official leadership roles. As a student, you can start building many of the transferable skills required for good leadership, such as critical thinking, inspiring others and taking responsibility for decision-making.

Step into the Spotlight talks about how to be visible at work in a positive way – how to get noticed so you’ll get the promotion.

3. Ask a Manager

Unfortunately, this podcast recently ended. But I am keeping it on the list because the focus is on listener questions, and also because she includes some really hilarious questions and situations that will keep you entertained. This podcast generally focuses on useful questions, like how to deal with awkward work situations or how to figure out how to work best with your boss. But there are also episodes about lunch thieves, weird coworkers, and inappropriate bosses. Hopefully you’ll never encounter any of these, but if you listen to this podcast, you’d be prepared!

How to Say No to Your Boss is helpful for knowing how to set some boundaries with your boss. It can be hard to say no to your boss – and to know when you can and can’t do it, so having some guidance will be helpful for you.

You might like Help – I work for a Micromanager! because you might run into a micromanager at some point, and these can be difficult to deal with. This kind of manager probably got where they are by knowing everything that was going on and controlling it, but at some point that has a negative impact on their employees. What should you do in this situation?

How Do I Start a New Job on the Right Foot? will be helpful as you go into any internships, co-op positions or part-time jobs as a student, and then also when you are launching your career after graduation.

4. HerMoney with Jean Chatzky

Chatzky’s advice is really helpful when you’re starting out – she talks about paying of debt (student loans), starting to invest for your retirement, and maximizing your company’s benefits. There are also episodes about negotiating salaries and overcoming financial obstacles. What I like about this is that she is a realist – she gives advice and provides options depending on your situation.

An Insiders Guide to Cars: Buying and Selling will be helpful for anyone who is looking to purchase a new car.

Reinvent Your Career will be helpful, even if you’re inventing your career. This episode is really about figuring out what your career path should be, and will apply whether you’re chaning careers or just starting out. I’m very excited to read the book mentioned here, too! I’m sure I’ll post a review once I’ve finished it.

How to Earn Seven Figures is for the go-getters who have strong financial ambitions. This episode is an interview with Rachel Rodgers, who also has a wonderful podcast (I will give it an honourable mention, but I did not include it here because I consider it more of a level-two career podcast). Rodgers’ stance is that rather than having a restrictive budget, we should all figure out how to make more money, and I love that idea.

5. More Money

More Money is a Canadian personal finance podcast hosted by Jessica Moorhouse, and she’ll give you all the advice that’s specific to Canadians – which is helpful because so many personal finance podcasts and websites are US-based and not everything applies for us up here in Canada. Rather than learning about IRAs (American Retirement Funds), she talks about RRSPs and TFSAs, which you’ll find more useful here.

Why Getting Good with Money Doesn’t Have to be Complicated gives some great tips for having a healthy money mindset and simplifying your financial dilemmas.

How to Secure Your Dream Job During a Pandemic has lots of career-finding advice that will still be relevant outside of a pandy. I highly recommend this one when you’re beginning your career search.

How to Master the Art of Self-Promotion will help you brag about your accomplishments and show off your skills and achievements, without sounding braggy. This is such an important skill for networking and job interviews, and something all students should be working on.

6. TGIM

This is a podcast created by a Toronto-based networking group, Monday Girl, and they only have a few episodes so far but they are great. They interview women about career transitions and success tips, and about their career paths. It is so incredibly valuable for students to start exploring the career paths of others to see more possibilities for themselves and maybe even stumble on their dream career.

Stressed & Unemployed is an interview with a top recruiter, who shares her tips on how to stand out and get hired in a competitive environment.

Ryerson Grad to Raptors Reporter follows the career path of a sports reporter, and also talks about the discrimination she faced on her path. This is a good listen for POC and people who want to be better allies in the workplace.

7. Women With Cool Jobs

This podcast is exactly what the title sounds like! The host interviews women who have cool jobs, to find out more about their jobs and how they got there. This will help you see the millions of career options that exist out there and might open your eyes to your dream career! I have listed some recommended episodes, but honestly just look at the cool jobs in the titles and find ones you like!

Paleontologist Puts Dinosaur Fossil Puzzle Pieces Together interviews a paleontologist, which is fascinating becuase this is a job we all learn about in elementary school or on tv, but don’t actually know much about. The interviewee talks about her career path and what her work actually looks like.

VP of Casting at CBS Studios Finds Top-Tier Actors and Talent for TV Shows was fascinating because, as I mentioned above, I am fascinated by the film industry and always find takeaways in industries that are so different from my own. The interviewee talks about her own career journey and how she went from being an entry-level employee to a VP at a massive company.

Informational Interviews and How They Can Help You Find A Cool Job is exactly what the title says: a no-nonsense guide to why you should be exploring your career through informational interviews and how you should do it.

8. Career Contessa

I’ve put this podcast on the list becuase it will help you not just begin your career, but navigate it the whole way through. There are episodes for managers, aspiring managers, new employees – you name it, you can find advice here.

How Much Are You Worth And How to Ask for a Raise gives great advice on asking for a raise. This can be one of the more difficult topics for early-career professionals because we don’t tend to talk about salaries and wages in an open way in our culture.

The Dos and Don’ts of Making a Mistake at Work goes over how to handle making a workplace error. This is something none of us want to do, but handling a workplace error can mean the difference between getting fired or earning your boss’s respect.

5 Red Flags to Avoid in a Company tells us what to look for in our job-search to make sure we end up at the right company. The job-search process is not just about you finding a job – it’s also about screening the workplace and making sure you end up in an environment that you like, and that will support your career growth. This episode will help you find just that.

9. Frontburner

You might be wondering why I’m including a news podcast in this list. Some career advice that I received years ago was to keep on top of what’s happening in the world and in my industry. It’s helpful for making small talk, showing that you connect your job to the bigger picture (the whole company and the industry), and also for networking. Knowing what’s going on in the world can give you an advantage when you get the opportunity to spend some time with higher-ups.

I’m not going to recommend episodes, because you should just listen to some of the most recent ones. Frontburner takes a deep dive into a headline of the week and provides additional background information, so you can take 20-30 minutes to learn more about a story without spending a ton of time reading or watching the news.

10. Freakonomics

When I worked in a business setting, I was always finding ways to talk about these episodes at work, so I just kept listening to it. It’s kind of a random podcast, but if you sift through you’ll find ones that are either of personal interest to you, or relevant to your industry. These have helped me provide examples in business discussions, or start conversations, or just add some random facts in a networking situation. I’ve recommended my two favourites, but just take a look through them and find ones that are interesting to you!

I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the Trader Joe’s episode. You’d be amazed how many times I’ve used the contrast of Trader Joe’s business model in conversations. They also talk about decision-making and how much trouble humans have making decisions when there are lots of options, which can help you in working with colleagues and communicating options (keep it limited).

This episode on American Individualism actually talked a lot about cultural difference and used Hofstede’s model of national culture to analyse American culture. This model can actually help you to understand cultural aspects of communication and working that you may encounter, which is why I recommend this one. While the American individualism factor is interesting, you will also learn about other categories of cultural difference in this model.

Where to find these podcasts?

I listen to all of these podcasts on the Spotify app on my iPhone or iPad, where I can download them and listen to them on or offline. I believe most of them are available on a variety of services, or you can listen online through the links I’ve provided.

Want more career-focused content?

Check out my posts on University Student Career Exploration, Understanding Your Skills and Interests, and How can I explore my career options?

You can also sign up for the upcoming Beginning Career Exploration webinar on Eventbrite.

Share your thoughts!

What do you think are the best career podcasts for students? Did I miss some important ones? Share them in the comments or send me a message at email@chooseyouruni.ca.