Step by Step: Calling All Grads!

Hats off to the future

-By Susan Biagi
So many choices, so little time! With graduation looming, many students feel pressured to make a career choice. “Do I go to university? Get a job? Enroll in trades training? Volunteer overseas?”

We at Career Link can help:
1. Go to university? With costs the way they are, this is not a decision that should be made lightly. At the University of Victoria, students pay $15,500 a year on average, once living expenses are factored in. At today’s prices, a four-year degree represents an overall investment of $62,000. Some degrees are a wise investment: a Bachelor of Nursing is almost certain to result in a well-paid job. Other degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Anthropology, may not pay for themselves in quite the same way. Researching the options in advance will prevent headaches down the road.
For grads who balk at university, there are a host of college programs to choose from, ranging from one to three years. Wise grads choose a program that helps them enter the workforce as quickly as possible. Later, if they choose, graduates of these programs can pick up additional courses, thereby “laddering”  their diploma into a university degree. 
A third option is to enroll in post-secondary programs delivered over the Internet. Such programs can offer significant cost-of-living savings, by allowing students to study from home. For more information on these and other training options, check out the Career Link education and training webpage at
A word of caution: Carefully research the institution before embarking on a post-secondary program. Private institutions especially can vary widely in quality.
2. Get a job? Entering the workforce immediately after graduation helps new grads “try on” a career while gaining valuable skills. While formal, on-the-job training is not as common as it once was, there are still some industries that help ambitious young people rise through the ranks. Banking is a notable example.
A word of caution: Failure to use this time wisely can leave grads trapped in a low-paid, dead-end job. Focus on a) identifying jobs with prospects for advancement, or b) investigating post-secondary training, while putting some money aside for tuition.
3. Trades training?  The current shortage of skilled tradespeople provides today’s grads with a host of exciting opportunities. In BC, there are two routes a new grad can take to acquire trades certification:
a) Enter the workforce directly by finding an employer willing to comply with all the requirements set out by the Industry Training Authority (ITA), or
b) Enroll in an entry-level trades training program at a recognized college. While this is a more expensive option than direct entry into the workforce, it is a good alternative in an economy where few employers are willing to train apprentices.

4. Volunteer? There are several options for youth seeking to develop their skills in a challenging environment:
a) Katimavik offers youth aged 17 to 21 the opportunity to participate in volunteer projects across Canada. The organization covers the cost of travel, housing, food, and basic necessities. A small contribution is required from participants.
b) Canada World Youth (CWY) provides youth aged 15 to 29 with the opportunity to live in other countries while developing their leadership skills. Participants are required to fundraise $2,800 (with help from CWY) to cover costs.
c) International Youth Programs: Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 can obtain a one-year working visa in a number of countries. To initiate the process, go to and click on the “Youth and Education” tab.
Grads struggling with their next step are invited to call 604-485-7958 to book an appointment with one of Career Link’s job coaches. Try it. It’s easy and it’s free!

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