A career chat with Priya Singh

“I landed my dream job! Here’s how Western alumni helped”

Priya Singh BMSc'08 landed her dream job and had a few things to say about how attending a Western Alumni Career Management workshop gave her what she needed to make it all happen!

You attended the 2-Hour Job Search alumni career workshop; tell me a little about what motivated you to register?

When I saw the advertisement in the e-newsletter, my interest was piqued to register as I was starting to look to take the next step in my career, and the title spoke to my goal.

What were you hoping you’d get out of the session?

The appeal of the title of the session really spoke to me. To be able to get tips on how to optimise my search strategy was very enticing. I found that my job search strategy at that time was very scattered, just mass applying to various random jobs online and never hearing back from employers.

Was the workshop what you were hoping it would be?

It was way better! I often sign-up for seminars or information sessions both online or at conferences and am so disappointed to hear cliché answers. This was not the case.

Tell me a bit about how you used the information you took away from the workshop?

I was very pleased that bringing a laptop was encouraged to the event. Steve Dalton was an excellent speaker and spent time explaining as well as demonstrating techniques in a hands-on fashion. He showed some very interesting techniques on how to use “backdoor” methods of communicating with people on LinkedIn, he gave specific examples of how to approach people already working in companies that you are interested in effectively and gave very detailed timelines and strategies as to how to log and manage your applications, interactions and follow-ups.

What was most useful? What was the trickiest part?

For me it was the idea that you don’t have to blindly hit send on hundreds of application forms knowing that your chances of hearing back are pretty low. This method can get very discouraging and frustrating. Steve made us take the time to think about only a handful of “dream” companies and develop a strategy of contacting someone in that company on an inquisitive level, rather than jumping straight to the favour of “can you recommend me for this position”. In the end, you said that attending the workshop helped you reach your goals.

Can you expand on that?

After much thought and research, I decided that I wanted to make a switch. I began by speaking to senior colleagues in my field. Those colleagues set me up with introductory emails. From there, I approached people who were working in the positions that I was interested in. I even approached the CEO of one company I really wanted to work for! My new contacts helped me review my resume, invited me to come tour their office and I actually landed an interview and finally a position. If I had not started these conversations, I would have never been confident enough to make a switch in my career. Though I was content with my position at that time, seeing what else was out there really pushed me to take the next step.

What advice would you give to other Western alumni?

My advice would be to read this book, The 2-Hour Job Search, whether you are searching for a job or not. The tools and techniques that I learned from this seminar were so valuable. My personal take home message was to not remain complaisant in a position that I was comfortable in but not satisfied with. Taking the time to talk to people in various industries helped me see that there were tons of jobs out there that were exactly what I was looking for and that I was actually a great candidate for. The majority of the conversations resulted solely in information gained, but I met people and planted seeds, and as a result, my network grew. So even though a job doesn’t immediately come out of every interaction, networking is the number one tool for accessing the hidden job market.

If you missed The 2-Hour Job Search workshop, you can access it online along with many other career resources curated exclusively for Western alumni!