If there's one consistent message in this Geography and the Environment's Careers e-Guide, it is this: start early, and take advantage of the opportunities available to you as a student as soon as you begin developing some ideas about what kind of career options you may want to pursue.
By "start early", we don't mean two months before you graduate. We mean two to three years (or more) before you graduate. Look for summer positions, sign up for paid work semesters through co-op education, ask your instructors about research and work-study opportunities, and volunteer with organizations where you can practice the type of work you hope to do someday.
Furthermore, always keep your résumé up-to-date. Your first résumé should not be drafted right when you're looking for your first job after graduation!
View the UFV Career Centre's resources to learn how to write an effective résumé and cover letter and to see other career-related resources.
Internships and practicums require shorter-term commitments (up to one semester) on your part.
Many placements are unpaid, but nonetheless provide valuable experience and professional connections.
Explore the differences between co-op, internships, and practicums to see if one of these options is right for you.
Don't wait until you're finishing your degree to identify what you need to enter certain fields.
Begin searching earlier, so that you can pick up skills and knowledge well in advance.
Those 'fun' classes that you're interested in, but which aren't related to your career, might not be a good idea. Think again.
Often, courses outside your field introduce you to new ways of approaching problems and developing solutions, and encourage you to explore fields of inquiry that you might not have thought of as important in future employment.
A Bachelor of Science student may take a creative writing course to learn more about different forms of expression — including those used and enjoyed by a public that, in general, has a hard time understanding 'science-speak'.
A Bachelor of Arts student might want to pick up a Kinesiology course to learn new ways to integrate health concerns into a career in urban planning.
If you have specific interests that you would like to pursue after you graduate, see if there are ways to build on these while still in school.
One of the best ways to do this is to tailor assignments, when possible and practical, to incorporate service or specialized research questions.
Speak with an instructor well in advance of the class starting.
Respect that your instructors may not be able to deviate much from the planned assignments. But they may identify other options that will allow you to further your interests as part of your studies.
In addition to co-op, internships, and practicums, you can gain practical experience and skills development through work-study placements, volunteer positions on or off campus, and certificates in specific skills.
If you're considering employment in fields with specific training needs, look to see if there are UFV certificates available in these areas. Geographic Information Systems training, for instance, is valuable for those going into planning, policing, and natural resources management.
Agriculture certificates (e.g. in Horticulture) would be of value for those interested in urban gardening policy and planning.
Continuing Education offers a number of practical skills courses and programs every term.
If UFV doesn't offer the certificate, look at options at BCIT, Selkirk, or other institutions, and consider ways that you can ladder from your degree into these certificates.