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How to help your mentee deal with job rejection

At GEM, we believe that young women should be ambitious and unafraid to go after their dream job. As many of us know, ambitious people often face a lot of rejection before they land in a place they want to be. Learning to deal with job rejection is an important part of a young woman’s professional development.

With summer fast approaching, our GEM girls have started searching for summer jobs. Mentors play an important role in all stages of their mentee’s job search, from helping to prepare for the search to dealing with job rejection to celebrating success. Here are some ways to help your mentee deal with job rejection.

Validate her feelings

Many high school students searching for their first summer job may have never faced job rejection before. Being rejected can really hurt, especially the first time it happens. It’s important to let your mentee know that it’s okay to feel down. Interviewing can be very tiring and it’s easy to feel like giving up after not getting the job you wanted. Remind your mentee that she’s not alone; a 2014 Times Higher Education poll found that students apply for 12 jobs on average before getting their first role. Almost everyone goes through job rejection a few times in their lives!

Help her put her rejection into perspective

A high school student may have difficulty seeing the bigger picture, especially if this is her first attempt at getting a job. Remind your mentee that job interview outcomes are not a measure of her success or her professional growth. Interview decisions are made based on all kinds of reasons that may have nothing to do with the interviewee. Tell your mentee that she should measure her success based on her own goals and accomplishments unrelated to the outcome of a job interview.

If you can, share your own story of job rejection with your mentee to help her put her situation in perspective. Emphasize the fact that you continued to learn and grow professionally after the rejection and eventually ended up where you wanted to be. It just takes a bit of resilience and patience!

Talk about next steps

The most important part of dealing with a job rejection is to learn from the experience and continue moving forward. Encourage your mentee to request feedback from the interviewer so she knows what she needs to work on. Although many interviewers will not provide detailed feedback, it’s worth a shot!

Start talking to your mentee about her plan B (or C or D or E!) and discuss how she is going to prepare for her next interview. It’s important to stay positive and energized during a job search. After all, when one door closes, another one opens!

Sarah McNeil is a volunteer with GEM, a recent graduate from Mount Alison University and is currently pursuing her diploma in Corporate Communications at Seneca. She is an avid traveller, photographer and writer. Sarah has seen the power of mentorship in her own life and is thrilled about the opportunity to give back at GEM. Follow her on Twitter: @sarahleamc

Mentorship Tips: How to help your mentee land a summer job

The weather is warming up, final exams are approaching and summer is just around the corner. For most high school students, the end of the school year means the start of a summer job. In cities like Toronto, jobs can be competitive and difficult to find, especially for high school students. Here are some ways you can help your mentee prepare for her summer job search:

1. Help her think outside the box.

Your mentee may be tempted to return to that retail or restaurant job she’s had for a few summers now. But, remind her that summer jobs are a great way to check out an industry she may be interested in. Is she an avid reader or writer? Encourage her to drop off her resume at some bookstores. Does she want to improve her leadership skills? She could apply to work as a camp counsellor. Help her think of creative ways to build the skills and experiences she’s looking for.

2. Tap into the hidden job market.

A lot of jobs aren’t advertised. They go to the manager’s daughter or to the teenager who just happened to drop off her resume at the moment the employer decided to look for some help. Do you have a friend or family memberwho may need an extra set of hands in their small business? Think about how you may be able to connect your mentee to a potential employer and encourage her to look for other connections, such as through a teacher or guidance councillor at school.

3. Cover letter and resume help.

Your mentee may have never written a cover letter before. A little help from a mentor can go a long way. Make sure that her resume contains keywords from the job description and that the cover letter is addressed to a real person (none of this ‘to whom it may concern’ business!) Also, help her brainstorm any experiences she might have left out of her resume, such as swimming lessons, a soccer club, or working on the yearbook – all experience counts!

4. Practice the interview.

Helping your mentee practice interviewing is one of the best ways to help her prepare for her job search. Interviewing can be difficult and intimidating, for teens and adults. Write down and rehearse some questions and answers together. While she practices, make sure that she comes across as confident and enthusiastic about the job she’s applying for.

5. Don’t forget a Social Insurance Number!

If your mentee has never had a summer job, she may not know what a SIN card is or how to get one. If she doesn’t have a SIN card, there are instructions on how to get one on this website.

Searching for summer jobs can be overwhelming for a high school student. A little encouragement can make a huge difference for your mentee!

Sarah McNeil is a volunteer with GEM, a recent graduate from Mount Alison University and is currently pursuing her diploma in Corporate Communications at Seneca. She is an avid traveller, photographer, and writer. Sarah has seen the power of mentorship in her own life and is thrilled about the opportunity to give back at GEM. Follow her on Twitter: @sarahleamc

Time Management for 2016

Stepping into 2016 was refreshing; inspired new ideas, ambitious goals and rejuvenated energy. That is, until I opened my inbox. GEM also has ambitious and exciting plans for 2016, and two weeks away from GEM headquarters can really fill up your To-Do list quickly. By day two into the first workweek back, I felt overwhelmed and scattered. As a project manager, the goal of my role is to be organized; I am managing after all. So where does an organizer turn when they’re feeling disorganized? I opened up the GEM handbook, plugged in Time Hackers podcast, and scoured the Internet. Here are my top five tips to help you manage your time and keep on track for your 2016 goals;

1. Wake Up Earlier

I get up at 5:30 every day—that’s a lie, I get up at 5:46 every day. I get my workout in, drink my smoothie, check my calendar. That wake up time might seem early for some – it did for me for the longest time—but it means I have more hours in my day. As much as you plan your day, the unexpected always happens; you run into a friend you haven’t seen in a while and get chatting for 30 minutes, you have an important email come through that you need to address, your boss/teacher gives you an unexpected assignment, and before you know it, your well planned day gets high jacked by The External. Waking up early allows me to get in what I need to do before the day runs away on me.  

2. Triage Tasks

I write a To-Do list weekly, and daily. I know it may seem a bit redundant, but taking a few minutes to write a list helps me manage my time for the day/week and keeps me focused on tasks. Seeing all my to-do’s written down, also helps me recognize what is most important/pressing. This is the triage part. I prioritize tasks based on immediacy; this may be deadlines, looming meetings, or the most time consuming. When I tackle the most immediate tasks I feel less pressure and stress knowing that I’m hacking them off the list. And does it ever feel good to strike off items on your list!  

3. Put it In your Calendar

I live by my calendar. It is the most used app on my phone and laptop. Without fail, I check my calendar before I go to bed and right when I wake up (nothing’s changed while I’m sleeping, so it may seem strange, but I like to know what’s in store for me that day). I schedule everything; meetings, GEM events, coffee with friends, phone calls to my mom, emails I need to send. I self-deadline. Putting it in my calendar holds me accountable to my intentions and helps those around me keep on time too – don’t tell me you didn’t think I send calendar invites to my friends for coffee dates? 

4. Unplug

Yes! The saving grace most of my days. My inbox runs my world. I’m sure it does for many of you too. This is where all the traffic of my job flows through and how I keep connected to everyone. But, in order to keep on top of all my assignments, sometimes I need to disconnect. I will shut down my email for an hour at a time, just to plough through some work. Not letting email, text messages or social media distract me, means that I keep focused on tasks. This was a lesson I learned in my first role out of university. New to the workforce, I felt I needed to be on top of every email immediately. Responding to every email popping up on my screen, sometimes meant a 30-minute distraction, and by then, my mind had shifted so much from the original task. Being able to unplug throughout the day– while still responding within a reasonable time—enables me to be more efficient and successful.

5. Keep a Clear Mind

The enemy of productivity is anxiety/stress (which leads to procrastination). We’ve been there. I was there just yesterday. You’ve been sitting at your desk all day writing assignment after assignment, sending emails, running to meetings, it 4 o’clock in the afternoon and you realize you haven’t even eaten today! When you’re in this frazzled daze you feel like everything needs to get done now. Well, now, probably isn’t when you’re going to get your best work done. When I’m feeling most overwhelmed I take a break. I go for a walk, grab a coffee, chat with my colleagues or do something mundane from my list (think dusting the office). Allowing myself to just have a minute helps to control the crazys that we feel when we’re overwhelmed. You can’t be on all the time, and it is important to shake the energy, clear your mind, and refocus throughout your day.

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.



Looking back on 2015

New Year, new beginnings; or so they say. I believe it’s less about new beginnings, and more about improving what’s already there. 2015 was a relatively calm year for me, yet at the same time very eventful. My resolution for 2015 was to get out of my comfort zone, and get more invested into my future. I had a resolution to stress less, and get more involved in my school and community. My main goal was to be more confident.

The beginning of 2015 didn’t start off as well as I had hoped.  My daily routine started out pretty drab. After I completed my volunteer work every day, I only really went to school and returned home. I started off 2015 just getting out of a state of mind that was not good for me at all. I lacked a lot of self-confidence and didn’t socialize much. If you’ve even been there, you know how much of a toll that can have on your mood. I was able to start 2015 with a fresh mind, but still had a lot of work to do.

I started off by looking for a job- which by the way, is a bad idea when you have no experience- I didn’t get any jobs or even job interviews. I blamed it on my lack of experience, but it also had a lot to do with my no-good resume. Instead I worked on passing my G1, and focused on my cooperative education placement for the following school year. I worked hard on it, and was able to get a placement at Sunnybrook hospital, which I really invested some hard work for during the duration of my placement. The following summer, by recommendation of a close friend, I applied to GEM. I had no idea about the internship opportunities available, but I really wanted to get into the program, for the opportunity, and also so I would have something to do with my free time. I ended up with an amazing mentor who I love talking to. I didn’t think I would be comfortable with a mentor, and doubted it at first. But what I’ve found is that my mentor is incredibly relatable, and we have more things in common than I thought. Sometime after I got accepted into GEM, and before I met my mentor, I applied for this internship opportunity, and got it.

All of those things happened in a span of only a couple of months, and I doubted myself all the way through. I even thought I would fail my G1- even though all my friends reassured me that it was incredibly easy. Although I did have many, many successes, I also had many failures. 2015 helped me understand that it’s not about those failures; it’s about the actions you take after those failures. It’s important to not let your failures keep you down.

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

2016, It’s a New Year!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again! The year is ending, it’s holiday season, winter break is here, exams are starting and 2016 is about to begin! The past year has gone by in the blink of an eye and I cannot emphasize its importance in my life. It has made me stronger, smarter and a much better person then I was in the beginning of the 2015, as I’m sure this is the case for a lot of the GEMgirls.

I’ve lost family members and friends but have many additions to the family and made even better friends then I had before. My mom always tells me “Patience is the key to success. Just give it time.” This year, specifically starting grade 12, has taught me just that. Time doesn’t stop for anyone; the most important thing however, is how you decide to spend it.

I’ve figured out my priorities and stopped over thinking all my decisions which, hands down, is my biggest accomplishment and the main reason I’m happier. The year had a rough start because of a death in the family and that affected my grades but second semester, I told myself I have to start working harder for what I want- which is getting into a good university. I realized that I don’t have a lot of time left with my friends and family because I’ll live on campus, so I spent the summer with them and I’ll remember every single moment for the rest of my life. Towards the middle of summer, I applied to GEM because of a friend. And look what it’s meant now! I’ve got so many new friends, an amazing mentor and a lot of women I can look up to. With grade 12 starting, I diverted all my attention to my marks and extra-curricular and now with the semester ending, I’m focusing on applying to good universities. The point I’m trying to make is, through all of this I was extremely stressed and didn’t think it would ever get better but in the end, it has all worked out. I’m positive that I’ll say the same thing at the end of 2016 too and laugh at stressing to get into a good program.

Being a senior, everyone expects me to have everything together- from my personal life to my marks and getting into coveted universities. Sometimes I don’t have it all together and I’ve learned to accept that. Sometimes I get confused too. So what do I do? I turn to my friends and my family. They’re my real treasure, my most prized possessions and even if I lose everything else, I’ll still have them. Not just in 2015 or 16, but for the rest of my life.

And to all the GEMgirls, we’re just in high school and there a lot of thing we haven’t figured out yet but all I’m going to say is that it doesn’t have to make sense right now. Our careers and even our lives have just started. Eventually the puzzle pieces will fit. Have an amazing year!

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