Regina Job Search Strategies Forum Report

Transitioning from School to Work

Watch streaming video of Nicole Jacksic

Nicole Jacksic, BMO Financial Group

There are two key factors when transitioning from school to work, said Nicole Jacksic: “Understand yourself as a commodity, and nurture your own well-being.” Performing a self-assessment will give job seekers a better understanding of their skills, interests, personality, values, and the tangible and intangible characteristics that make them unique.

“You can’t sell something that you don’t understand,” she said.

Jacksic said job seekers should define their personal and professional goals through a self-questioning process. They must discover what motivates them, what interests them, and what they enjoy doing, and they should know their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Part of the self-assessment process is defining a professional brand, which is “how people describe you when you aren’t there.” The brand is the combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make an individual unique; it is a collection of perceptions and impressions about that individual.

Body language, words, and tone demonstrate a person’s confidence, skill, trustworthiness, competence, and motivation. These factors make up the personal brand, which indicates how that person might work with others, and the kind of work that person might deliver.

Jacksic suggested participants define their career objectives by researching their career goals. Find out about a prospective employer’s business objectives, and the market challenges in that industry. Look into the culture of the workplace, the employer’s reputation, and ask why someone would want to work for them.

Jacksic said job seekers should get involved in experiential learning opportunities such as job shadowing, volunteer work, co-ops and internships, and mentoring. Define and commit to specific and achievable actions towards attaining career goals. These actions might include networking, seeking out informational interviews, and volunteering.

Developing a professional brand and evaluating the chosen industry or career will give job seekers their career plan, Jacksic said.

She summarized the process points:

  • Know yourself: evaluate your goals and skills, interests and values, strengths and areas for development.
  • Focus on your uniqueness and your accomplishment. How you will add value in a way that someone else may not?
  • Understand the current employment environment. Where are the opportunities, what are the growth industries and why?
  • Have conversations and seek feedback; network and sustain mentoring relationships.
  • Know the business. What are the issues, challenges and objectives for the industry, the company and the role?
  • Create a plan: commit to an action plan based on specific and obtainable career goals.