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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.

GEMinar #4 and the Power of Mind-Mapping

The human brain is probably the most complicated thing in the entire world ; even more than physics and calculus! People have been trying to understand how it functions since the beginning of time and yet find something completely new every day.

Have you ever wondered how many thoughts and ideas go through your mind all day? More importantly, how to you deal with them? The truth is, with all the school work and extracurricular activities, most of us don’t pay any attention to it.

We have these plans in our heads about how our future should be and we want to accomplish them but we never think of the steps we need to take for us to be able to reach those goals. In order to do this properly, all of us need to learn to make mind-maps, get a sense of what our priorities are and things we should start changing.

Luckily for us, the team had a GEMinar on mind-mapping, which, personally, was extremely helpful and helped me clear up a lot of things. For those of you that don’t know what mind mapping is, it is a graphical way to brainstorm ideas and concepts and the GEMinar was focused more on ideas about our future. One of the first activities we did was brainstorming our future goals and the steps we need to take in order to accomplish them. This is something all of us should do every once in a while. Here a few tips:

  • Come up with a central idea- the basic problem you have that you want to solve.
  • Write down your goals/ dreams/ aspirations no matter how difficult they might seem – the mind map doesn’t work unless you do!
  • Now jot down the steps you’ll have to take, in order to achieve that goal.
  • Be sure to think about how each of those steps will affect other things in your life, ie living on campus and finding a part time job to pay for it.
  • Go out there and do it!

After creating our maps, we were asked to explain it to a friend first and then a stranger. Something very interesting I learned was that the more I explained it, and the more I talked about it, the clearer it all got for me.

Since we need to be relaxed to make our mind maps, the GEM team gave out yoga mats towards the end of the program. What better way to take a break from all the busy things going on?

Overall,like every single GEMinar in this year, this was amazing as well. As GEM girls, we are getting opportunities that many other students wished they had- Lets make the most of it!

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

GEMinar #3: Stylized Study Tips

“I’m not really a math person.” Says every other person I have ever met. I happen to be one of those people who will always understand math. I can ace the test without studying for it, but chemistry really confuses me. It takes a lot of hard work for me to maintain a grade in Chem. Maybe a week ago I would’ve said, “I’m not that much of a Chemistry person.” But after the fabulous GEMinar with Devra D’Urzo, I know that’s not true.

Devra helped the GEMgirls understand that not all people will learn the same way. Each person has a unique learning style and she helped us determine ours by giving us a survey. Devra was also able to give us lots of tips, on how to study and keep moving forwards.

Devra’s Stylized Study Tips

  1. Optimism: You’re most likely going to have to take a course you don’t necessarily need or like. You might even go through a unit in a course that you absolutely loath. But the thing is, no matter how much you dislike the class, you’re still going to have to take it and get a grade at the end. You might as well make the best of it, and keep a positive attitude to keep yourself motivated.
  2. Prioritize: All of your assignments won’t always be equally important. Invest more time into the assignments that have the most reward whether it’s the portion of your final mark, or the importance of the class to your future.
  3. Get Organized: Despite what your opinion on agendas may have been in middle school, the truth is they are really helpful. Students and adults living everyday life can really benefit from having an agenda. It’s nice to jot down your to –do list on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. This way you won’t forget that really important thing you had to do. Plus do you know how satisfying it is to cross something off of your to-do list?
  4. Get comfortable: I find myself getting very easily distracted when studying. Things as simple as the temperature in the room or the kind of clothes I’m wearing can really change my mood when studying. I study best when I have a healthy snack to eat-that won’t cause a mess, a comfortable space to sit where I can keep a good posture, a comfy sweater, and all the supplies I may need easily accessible. I also turn my phone off, and keep it out of arms reach. That way I won’t always be compelled to pick up my phone every time it bings.
  5. Expectations: Simply doing only the assigned things won’t do. Take initiative to find some practice assignments you can do on your own, or even some reading. If you work better with other people, find a focused study group who you can work with, or maybe even a tutor if you think you will need it.

It’s terrible when you’re not prepared for a test that is the next day, or you don’t have the assignment that’s due tomorrow. Don’t be one of those people who start studying at ten p.m the night before. The best thing to do to ease the work load is to study a little bit every day, even if it is just ten minutes uninterrupted. Make the best out of your education. You only realize the value of what you have when it’s gone. It may sound cheesy but you know it’s true. Not everyone gets an education, or so many opportunities in school. And even though you absolutely hate math, the best thing to do is suck it up and learn the quadratic formula. You never know, one day you might actually need to find the line of best fit, or the slope of a hill in the park.

Special thanks to Devra D’Urzo, for presenting at the GEMinar.

Here is an online self-assessment to find out the type of learner you are right now. http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

Apps to keep you organized

http://www.cnet.com/news/best-calendar-apps-ios-android/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2600401/5-apps-that-keep-you-organized.html

For those of you looking for something simple, try a to-do list app.

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

First Impressions

Three weeks ago we said goodbye to summer and hello to a whole new school year. We met new classmates, and reconnected with old friends. Some of us were ready to get back into that old hectic routine, but other’s just wanted to climb back into bed. Personally, I was more than ecstatic to begin my eleventh year; not because I looked forward to learning the Binomial Theorem, but because I was closer to embarking on a journey, that was completely new to me.

Last Friday, GEM held their first meeting at the AGA Khan Museum. Twenty-eight girls showed up, which meant it was a full house. Now although I had a small lost girl moment in the lobby, I got to the designated room on time, and all the other girls made it in as well. I was surprised by the favourable positive atmosphere, which was more than welcoming. I got to say hello to some old friends, but most importantly make new ones.

Top 6 things I loved about the first GEMinar:

  • Speed Dating: Although I’m horrible with names, somehow I managed to remember the names of all three girls I ‘dated’.
  • Snacks: Riding the TTC can be a little hectic, so It’s nice to refuel before starting the meeting.
  • The GEM handbook: The handbook was not only tumblr worthy, but also left us a schedule that we can plan our other events around.
  • The Location: We didn’t get to see much of the museum, but the little we saw had us in ‘awe’.
  • Polaroid’s: Polaroid’s are so “in” right now, and even the girls who hate getting photographed were getting into their photo shoot.
  • Photographs and Videos: Maybe not everyone is into getting snapped when they’re not ready, but at the end, we all will be able to sit back and reminisce about the day we all met.

If that wasn’t enough to make the girls look forward to the next meeting, we also got wonderful Schwartzkopf SWAG. Now thanks to the staff at GEM, not only will we able to get some good life advice, but we’re also going to have flawless hair- even if it is under a hijab.

A lot of people can leave a good first impression, but GEM was able to leave a lasting one.

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

Career Skills Workshop: Dress to Impress

GEMgirls attended a career skills workshop on Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at the Aga Khan Museum to learn how to dress your best for interviews. Marlo Sutton and Caroline Young, who are experts in the fashion industry, were our presenters. Sutton is a personal stylist who worked in the fashion industry in Paris for 13 years and Young owns OIZO Fashion and Wardrobe consulting. GEMgirls participated and had fun, discussing tips on “what to wear” and “what not to wear” to interviews.

Clothes – “Start with the basics.” No interviewee can ever go wrong with the simple black dress pants, white buttoned up shirt and a blazer. This outfit will make you look professional. However, do not be afraid to try something new too! Instead of wearing the wide dress pants, wearing the slim dress pants is always an option too. Moreover, pencil skirts are also cute and professional! Just make sure the skirt isn’t too short. Lastly, make sure everything fits well. “Comfort, portion and simplicity” are key when deciding on an outfit to wear for an interview.

Shoes – Black shoes are best. Black patent shoes are even better. You can easily wipe them off and go! If you’re going to wear heels, make sure they are comfortable and easy to walk in. If it is raining or snowing, it is best to bring your shoes with you so that you can change into them for the interview.

Hair – If you’re someone that plays with your hair, it can distract the interviewer. In this case, the best hairstyles would be a neat bun, a pony tail, or combed back away from your face. If you like your hair down, keep it down as you’ll want to be yourself and comfortable for the interview.

Make-Up – Lip gloss, mascara, and blush is perfect when going for an interview. Avoid bright and bold colours for the interview as this could distract the interviewer. You’ll want them to remember you for the amazing things you said not the bright colour of your lips.

Accessories – Pearls are a girl’s best friend too! Pearl earrings and a necklace will make you look classy. A small black purse will go with any outfit you choose. For nails, have them fully painted or clean. Not a visible accessory, but the amount of perfume you use should be minimal or none since a strong smell could upset the interviewer.

BE YOU! – The best piece of advice from Sutton and Young was to remember that, “it’s about your voice and who you are.” Besides looking great, it is also about being prepared for the interview and having confidence. “Let yourself shine through!”

This was a fun and practical workshop. Sutton and Young gave extremely helpful dressing tips for the interview. They wrapped the workshop up by also giving tips on how to make a great impression at Prom! We left with a brochure that displayed photo examples of outfits for a formal interview, a work event, and a casual meeting (see visual below). Without a doubt, GEMgirls will be more than ready for future interviews

Four Basic Looks for Interviewing
Four Basic Looks for Interviewing

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.