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Why Toronto undergrads may be justifiably confident in their job prospects

“Good luck!”

Second-year business management student Brenda Truong hands out one last exam tip sheet before ending her shift for the evening.

It’s 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

After a long day of lectures, capped off with a shift at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers Student Resource Centre, an exhausted Truong is ready to head home.

For many students, balancing school with work is a tough reality. But it’s because of her employment experience now that Truong, who hopes to get into human resources, is confident she’ll get a job in the future.

This makes her part of the 54 per cent of Toronto undergraduate students who feel either confident or very confident that they’ll find employment in their field after graduating, based on a recent poll.

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Conducted by Ryerson’s School of Journalism and political science department in January, the poll surveyed 1,155 students from across institutions such as Ryerson, University of Toronto, George Brown College and OCAD University. The poll is accurate to within plus or minus 2.29 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

As Truong sees it, students feeling optimistic about finding employment are likely older and more mature, having had more time to prepare for their future.

“Upper year [students] probably have more of the knowledge and skills used in the industry,” Truong says. “So they’re confident.”

But others, like Ryan Ostrowski, a first-year performance production student at Ryerson, believe those confident 54 per cent are instead in their first few years of post-secondary education, both naive and “unaware of the challenges [of getting a job].”

According to Caroline Konrad, director of Ryerson’s Career Centre, both theories are equally viable. What's more important to note is the trend emerging in both cases—notably, that students only really begin preparing for their future as they get closer to graduating.

“Too few students engage with career planning in the early stages of schooling,” she says.

This is particularly troubling because it takes more than just a resumé to get a job nowadays, Konrad says, with things like networking skills becoming increasingly valuable.

And students agree.

“My field is really competitive,” Ostrowski says. “So [networking] is very important, especially for an arts student.”

Connections become more desirable in a market where students can expect to hold multiple jobs just to make ends meet— a market that seems to have become a reality today.

According to surveys conducted by for a report last year, 44 per cent of Canadians have held more than five jobs within a single career, and 59 per cent have pursued at least two different career paths. The polls are accurate to within plus or minus between 1.08 and 1.17 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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If things continue in this direction, Canadians may end up holding an average of 15 jobs throughout their careers.

“Change has become the new norm,” Konrad says.

But with the constant introduction of new jobs, there's light at the end of the tunnel for graduates, the director says. Success, however, will take time, contacts, planning, and hard work.

Her advice to students: start gaining experience as early as possible, like Truong.

“[Getting a job] is an art,” Konrad says. “It’s all about preparation.”

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