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BSS Summer Academy Math Scholarship

The Bishop Strachan School and Girls E-Mentorship have a Summer Academy Math Scholarship available for young women entering Grades 9 and 10 next year. Last year, Isha received this scholarship. After her summer course, she was offered the chance to apply for a scholarship for Grade 9 at The Bishop Strachan School. The following is an interview with Isha about her experience and why she says she’s always on the lookout for new opportunities.

What made you decide to apply for the Summer Academy Math Foundation Scholarship?

Getting this scholarship was really important for me because I want to be a good role model for my younger siblings and I want to show them how it’s not impossible to do great things in life. Before this summer course I never thought it would be possible for me to ever do something this great in my life. I thought my life would be like my elder sisters, but I always wanted to do something different. I wanted to show myself that it’s possible to change the way life is going, that there are lots of different paths you can choose from. I really like the feeling of not knowing my future, now that I’m on a different path than my sisters. I think this helps you take more risks in life. My parents always said that I wasn’t ever afraid to try new things. They always tell me how nothing will ever stay the same and you can’t ever depend on anyone, that you need to write your own story, a story different than everyone else’s.

What was the Math Foundation course like? What did you learn?

It was like a regular course, but with less people. It was clear what was expected of you and what you need to do in order to be successful in this course. The course was really focused on math, and you had to keep up with the class, otherwise it was really hard to catch up later. The lessons were always well planned and there were always moments when you were allowed to do what you wanted. I thought it was a great course and I got to meet lots of new people. I’m really glad that I was able to get ahead by doing my grade 9 math course before I started high-school.

Why would you recommend the Math Foundation course to other girls?

I had a great time and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on this. It’s a one time opportunity. This course opened up lots of new doors for me and made me think about life in a different way. I love math and in my old school I couldn’t ever go ahead and learn new things, but this course made you explore and try new things. My teacher in this course encouraged me to explore grade 10 math.

What other opportunities did the Math Foundation course open up for you?

This course changed my life, and made it possible for me to get enrolled in a school like a BSS after the course was done. After taking this course I’m in grade 10 math, while I’m still in grade 9. Also, it showed me the real world and how there are so many great opportunities in life and you just have to look for them. You can’t ever stay home and just expect a great opportunity coming knocking at your door, you have to go out and look for them. Through this course I met great people, like Ms.Powell, Ms.Dias, Rochelle, Ms.Ranson and my math teacher Mr.Underhill. They guided me through the hardest moments, and were always there for me.

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

March Break. Are you bored yet? Ideas to make the most of it

March Break: a much needed time off from high-school. The obvious thing to do during these 120-hours of freedom is to sleep in and relax. But in order to make the most of your March break, you have to do the most. There are little distractions, like school, homework, and extra-curricular during the break, so the opportunity is ideal for getting things done.

University/College Campus touring:  If you are going to spend more than a year at one school, it is in your best interest to tour the campus. Taking tours will also help you learn about the resources, and events available on the campuses, before you start classes. Most schools hold open houses during March break, so high school students can attend.

Catch up with the newest episodes: Normally I would never recommend binge watching TV shows due to how time consuming they can be, but for this one time, I’m making an exception. I’m sure we can all relate to being several episodes behind due to real life obligations. It’s alright if you take just one day to stay in, make some popcorn, and watch some Netflix.

Staycation: You only have one week off, so why not go and see all of the Toronto and nearby attractions that you’ve never seen. Maybe a day at Ripley’s Aquarium, or talk some friends into heading to Niagara Falls?  We all look forward to getting out of our normal routines, so make the most of it and act like a tourist in our fantastic city.

Make that Appointment: I happen to be one of those people that always puts off making appointments.  Make that doctors or dentist appointment, and while you’re at it that hair appointment too, because if we’re all being honest, those split-ends need to go.

Try A New Recipe: One of my favourite things to do is to try new recipes. Usually the outcome is worth the pain you go through. One of my favourite things to make are dessert or snacks. If you’re into really sweet, and chewy cookies, try this recipe. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9589/chewy-coconut-cookies/

Volunteer: In case you’re not doing anything, and have time to spare, there are many places looking for volunteers. A quick Google search can find you plenty of kids’ camps and workshops, who will love the extra help. It’s also a great way to finish your 40 volunteer hours requirement for school.

Don’t forget to make time for your family and friends. March break is the perfect time to tick things off your checklist, so don’t waste a moment.

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

Career Spotlight: Finance with Burgundy Asset Management

During the last coffee chat on February 19, myself and twenty-two GEM girls got to spend their time at Burgundy Asset Management. Burgundy is a global investment company that provides discrete investment management for private clients. GEM mentor Anne Maggissano organized an afternoon where GEMgirls were shown the red carpet. Roz McLean, a private client associate, gave us an amazing presentation with group discussions. Not to mention the fantastic food and free taxis for everyone there and home!

Roz started out the by telling us about her journey, and how she was hired to start working for the company. Roz didn’t have a business degree, she wasn’t even finished taking her exams in University when she got the job. Roz told us how important and effective networking is. It proved to be very effective for Roz; as she expanded her circle, her resume soon got passed on to her boss at Burgundy Asset Management, and she got hired before she even finished university.

Roz gave the GEM girls honest advice that a lot of us could relate to. Many members of Roz’s family had careers in the business field, which led to her having an interest in business too. In high school Roz was still interested in economics, but believed she would get a job at the Central Bank of Canada. Roz didn’t let her gender pose an obstacle for her, although she did admit it was difficult for her at times. In an Economics class Roz was the only girl, and felt intimidated to ask questions. It’s important to be engaged in the class, and not hold back for any reason.

We also had an interactive session, where we got into groups of 5 to talk about how to differentiate a good investment, from a fad. Certain items that can be considered fads are; Beanie Boos, Crocs, or Silly bands. Those are items that have their fifteen minutes of fame, before they disappear and are only spotted on those few odd occasions. A good investment would be a company with a wide age range of loyal customers, a product/service that provides something the customers will want or need for a long time, an affordable product that still brings in profits, and a company who can always one-up their competitors. Our GEMgirls had great insights and questions which really impressed Roz. Roz had many compliments and comments that were really valuable to the girls in the audience.

We all left with a better understanding of what a job in asset management is like, and the confidence that a woman can have a great career in finance too. Roz left us with some advice: that overall it is important to be curious and open-minded in all situations, and to never be hesitant because you’re a girl.

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