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Career Spotlight: Thrive Natural Family Health

We all know about Family Doctors, and surgeons, and many of us pursue these careers, but how many of us know about complimentary health professionals? At our Thrive Medical coffee chat, GEM girls were able to sit down with a chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise, a Naturopath Dr. Kristen Heins, and a Psychologist Dr. Chelsea Sherrington to chat about their careers, and the path they took to get there.

It is an expectation, that by the time we get into high school, we have a career path planed out. As if we are supposed to know at 14, what we want to do for the next 50 years of our lives. Many of us choose obvious jobs in fields that interest us; if you are interested in medicine, you chose Doctor, if you are interested in the Arts, you chose painter, and if you are interested in Law, you chose lawyer. The Doctors at Thrive, thought us that the career you choose in high school does not necessarily have to be career you end up pursuing.

The three women, who seem to have everything planned out, and in order at their cozy midtown office, reveal that it was not always that way. In high school, Dr. Sherrington took advice on her major from a stranger on the phone, and ended up with many classes she did not like due to this Major in politics. Eventually she figured it out, and found a way to switch her majors and her classes to suit her interest in Psychology. Doctor Kristen, was on the path to become a lawyer, until she also eventually found her passion, and became a doctor.

The point is, being high school students it’s okay to not know, or to be unsure of what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life, and it’s okay to change your mind multiple times. That’s the point of University, you get to explore the different career options available in the field you’re interested in, or maybe even fields that you have never considered before.

Thank you to Dr. Wise, Dr. Heins, and Dr. Sherrington for hosting the GEM girls and for the insightful coffee chat.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

 

GEMinar 5: Networking IRL

No matter what field you are in or decide to go into, networking is crucial. You shouldn’t miss any opportunity to do so because you never know how many connections the other person may have. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and networking but I never realized how it was such an important skill to possess. It will always be beneficial and aid us in our future career prospects.

Luckily enough, our girls got the chance to attend a ‘Networking in Real Life” GEMinar on Friday February 5, hosted by Lisa Orr of Orr Etiquette. Personally, I thought this GEMinar was amazing and I feel that I really needed this. It was especially relevant at this point of the school year and before going off to university, where I’ll be meeting new people every day. By the end of the event, I felt a lot more confident about the way I interact with other individuals and meeting new people.

GEMgirl Fatima Waheed said, “This was, by far, one of my favourite GEMinars and also the most applicable in real life. People say ‘first impressions aren’t the last’ but I think when it comes to job interviews, this isn’t true because people don’t have time to get to know you personally. First impressions do matter a lot but now I feel more confident about mine,” We couldn’t agree more, Fatima!

The GEMinar facilitator, Lisa, was very friendly and made the GEMinar fun and informative at the same time. When I came into the room, I saw a bunch of people in shiny, blue capes and stepped back thinking maybe I came to the wrong room. However once I stepped in, I realized I was just in time for the second activity, which was introducing yourselves to a new people and then having them comment on the back of your cape. I was astonished by the results of this and still have pictures saved of what was written on mine. Someone said “You’re very friendly, very confident and I could talk to you all day.”

Throughout the session, one of the most important things I learned was how to strike up a conversation by asking people questions about themselves. A simple “what’s your favourite book?” is a very good trick because who do people like talking about most? Themselves, of course.

To end off the event, we got the best swag bags ever; our own business card! Thank you to the GEM team and Orr Etiquette for that. Can’t wait to start giving those out!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.

How to grow your network, when you’re only in high school!

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

I was always (and still am) a shy person. Hearing these words was often discouraging for me. Networking was something I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach. Having immigrated to Canada as a teenager, my family knew nobody. There was tremendous stress to learn, adapt and compete. I saw first-hand the struggles my parents went through in securing employment with a lack of Canadian connections or networks. These barriers shed light on the importance of developing relationships to achieve goals. For better or for worse, it’s not always what you know or are capable of doing; it’s who you know and what they know about you. Your network can open doors for you that otherwise could not be opened.

So how can you start mastering and growing your network? Networking is a skill that you can learn even if you’re not a natural conversationalist. Building a sense of confidence is key to developing networking competence. If you have the right focus and determination, cultivating confidence is readily achievable.

  1. Be open to new people and experiences – I never liked moving beyond my comfort zone, but I have come to realize that’s really where the magic happen. Growing, learning and developing in a way that expands our horizons beyond what we thought was possible builds character and leadership. Start getting to know others outside your peer group. Join school clubs that broaden your exposure to other areas. In high school, I organized our first Career Day that allowed me to meet people from different spheres and build leadership skills.
  2. Practice makes perfect – I attended countless Career Fairs and Information Sessions as a student to get in front of others. No matter how much it forces you to step out of your comfort zone, take the first step and approach someone at an event and introduce yourself. The more you do this, the easier networking will become later on.
  3. Have an elevator speech – Perfect your hand shake and know your elevator speech (click here for tips & examples). These set first impressions, so make sure it’s strong and confident.
  4. Go the extra mile – Set yourself apart with sending follow-up thank you notes and questions related to your conversations. Even if you “don’t need to network”, you do. You never know when you’ll need someone to help connect you.

Remember, it’s never too early to network. Networking is an essential part of a job or internship search, and it is best to start practicing and refining this skill while in high school. With time, it will become an indispensable skill that you use for years to come. Starting to practice and build confidence now will enable you to become an expert at networking by the time you enter the working world.

Blog by Sharon S.  Sharon is a GEM Mentor who is a logistics professional with one of Canada’s top retailers. 

The Art of Small Talk    

We’ve all been there. That moment when you are standing next to someone you’ve just met with nothing to say. Or maybe you’d like to start a conversation with someone but you don’t know how. Small talk is an art. There are those of us who are naturally gifted and those who have to work at it, but I promise you it does get easier and you will get better.

Depending on your personality and the situation you’re in, your approach will vary. I find I change the topics and the tone of my conversation depending on the setting – social vs. school. Small talk is often the starting point of a conversation and the goal is to find a common thread with the person you are engaging. I often find that some conversations never move past the “small talk” stage, and that’s ok. Other times small talk will lead to a more meaningful connection.

These are the three key things to keep in mind when you’re trying to make “small talk”

Keep it Light – Small talk is not a time for serious conversation. I always stick to light themes and topics that everyone can talk about. Maybe I mention the weather: How cold it is today and that I am not a fan of winter, at all! If it’s an early morning meeting maybe I’ll joke about how I only become human after my cup of coffee. I pick topics that others can relate to and the conversation develops from there.

Listen and Ask Questions – Asking simple questions really gets people to open up. I listen for cues from the conversation to ask follow up questions. This strategy not only lets the other person know that I’m listening to them but also keeps the conversation flowing, avoiding those awkward silences. For example: If after I complained about the winter, the other person said they ski and therefore look forward to winter, I will follow up with something like “Where is the closest ski hill to Toronto?”. People generally like to talk about themselves (whether they admit it or not) so asking questions about them is an easy way to get things going.

Share Your Personal Experiences – Now that you have the other person talking about something that is of interest to them, keep the momentum going. Contribute your own story about what you are discussing. For example: I would mention to my new skier friend that “I skied as a child, but nothing serious. And that a few years ago my younger brother convinced me to try snowboarding, which did not go well. So these days I prefer to sit inside with a hot chocolate.”

The hardest part of small talk is getting the other person engaged. Starting the conversation with something generic like the weather gives you an opportunity to listen for the next direction in conversation.

So the next time you’re at in an elevator say hello, mention the weather, or compliment the person on their shoes. It’s amazing how open people are to small talk and how easy it really is, once you put in the effort.

This article is written by GEM Mentor, Vanja Peric, CFA and Assistant Vice President at Bell Kearns & Associates Ltd. She’s a mentor to GEMgirl Maryam Hasam, avid traveller and loves to help others through mentorship and story telling.  

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Exam Writing Tips

Years of exam writing has prepped me for this moment: the day I get to share all my exam writing wisdom with you! Kidding. The truth? I didn’t know I had tips. That was until my brother called me a few weeks ago, panicked, half an hour before his high-pressure exam asking for help. This is what I shared with him moments before his exam (he passed!). Note: if you haven’t started studying, first check out our Study Tips blog.

  1. Stop Panicking & Put on Some Gangsta Rap. Yes, it’s stressful, but getting yourself  “In The Zone” will serve you better than a downward spiral. Put in your headphones, turn up some Biebs (or whatever your flavour) and get into it.
  2. Put Away the Notes. You aren’t going to learn anything new in the next half an hour. Studying right up until your exam will just cloud your head. Put down the notes, I repeat, put down the notes!
  3. Don’t Talk to Anyone. Stay away from the other people panicking—not cool energy. You don’t want to be picking up wrong answers from friends or classmates and clogging your mind before going into your exam. It’s okay to be rude right now.
  4. Skip What You Don’t Know. The first time through the exam, skip the questions you don’t know. Answering what you do know will keep you feeling confident and flowing. Come back to those answers you skipped after you’ve worked your way through the exam. Now that you’ve done a first-read you may pick up clues to help you answer those pesky Q’s
  5. Cover the Answers (Multiple Choice). Multiple-choice is designed to throw you off.  Answer the question, in your head, before you look at the prompts and select the answer that best reflects your initial thought.
  6. Get to the Point (Long Answer). Graders can read through filler language. Use key words that will get you marks, bullet your answers where you can. If the passage is graded out of five, be sure to write down five points to your answer.
  7. Stay Calm. You’ve read our Study Tips blog. You’ve prepared. You got this! Stay focused. Remain calm. It will be over shortly.

This article is written by Cassandra Hammett, Project Manager at Girls E-Mentorship. Cass loves to write, loves to laugh and hates when people don’t have a plan. She keeps GEM running like a well oiled machine and always has a helping hand and a cup of tea for anyone on the team that needs it.