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Lots of education but no good experience? What to do?

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 28th, 2019 7:04 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 8, 2007
5 posts
3 upvotes

Lots of education but no good experience? What to do?

Hi everyone, I'm in looking for a bit of advice on how to move forward. This is actually embarrassing to talk about, because I've squandered so many opportunities through sheer ignorance

I completed my undergrad in 2013. I always had a strong work ethic and worked retail throughout high school, junior college, and undergrad. However, I never understood how to transition from those kinds of jobs into the jobs I wanted (at the time, something in government).

Towards the end of my degree, I had no prospects and no idea how to even go about finding a "real" job. I was excelling in research so I started to think I might have a future in teaching CEGEP or university. I decided to pursue graduate studies at a well-respected university abroad.

Although I was on the research track leading to a PhD, I quickly realized I was in it for the wrong reasons. I didn't like studying at all. I was there for the adventure, to get away from my family, to please my parents, and because I had no better idea what to do. Once this dawned on me, I couldn't continue. I switched out of the PhD track and left with a "taught masters" in an obscure subject (same level as underwater basket-weaving in terms of employability).

On the bright side, while abroad I was able to participate in a student consulting practicum and a start-up incubator program. Those were much more interesting and I started to think about "business" as a career, with no real idea what that meant.

After a couple months wasting my savings bumming around Asia "teaching English", I returned home. There were several reasons, a family member was sick and I felt ridiculous swanning around the world aimlessly. I resolved to help take care of my family and buckle down.

Finding a job was still a total mystery and seemed impossible to me. Except now, with my "prestigious" masters degree, everyone expected me to do something amazing. I decided to go to business school and get some actual, practical skills that would lead to a real job.

However I am not any closer to having a "career" or a set of skills that fit a particular field. It seems I've educated myself out of the job market for my skill set. Your advice is much appreciated. Thanks.
Last edited by salvatore on Nov 18th, 2019 12:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.
17 replies
Member
Sep 29, 2014
216 posts
173 upvotes
Toronto, ON
A lot of people get jobs through networking and connections. This is one of the reasons you attend a higher ranked business school to begin with. Most people are not working in fields related to their degree. University was never meant to get you a job; this is why we have college and apprenticeship.

Where did you get your MBA? Did you network? It is an enormous downgrade to be working in an administrative position with a BA, MA, and MBA obtained from Canadian universities. You are overqualified for that position. In fact, I have never ever heard of someone with your credentials working in such positions unless they are immigrants or international students.
Deal Addict
Jun 18, 2018
1275 posts
798 upvotes
Toronto
You definitely wasted some opportunities. You should have been looking for a job WHILE in school vs after. There are programs that are made available for fresh MBA graduates, though I would only know they exist in Ontario, not sure about Quebec.

It seems you do not even know what you want to do (and a lot of people fall into this), but the best advice you're going to get is stop going to school and expecting a different result afterwards, unless you want to go into something technical like you mentioned (Accounting, Engineering).
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3688 posts
2480 upvotes
OP, I personally do not think you squandered opportunities. Looking at it this way is just going to bring you down and not provide you with anything productive. IMO, in life there's no right or wrong, there just IS.

First of all, travelling provides EXCELLENT real-world experience. Many Americans and Canadians have never ventured outside of North America unless it was for an all-inclusive resort so you're fortunate have the foresight to gain this experience. Leverage your teaching and travelling experience in your resume (e.g. working with diverse groups of people, enhanced communication and interpersonal skills, etc.) . List your Master's under "relevant experience" (e.g. Master's Researcher or Research Assistant and talk about the relevant experience/skills indicated in the job posting). List your "student consulting practicum and a start-up incubator program" as experience too.

Look at job postings and determine which ones interest you. If you don't have the skillset acquire them while job searching. Definitely apply to as many jobs that you're qualified for and interested in (even if you're not qualified). Network by going to corporate events, job fairs, LinkedIn, opportunities provided by your university. Biggest thing, be honest and authentic.
Electrah wrote: You definitely wasted some opportunities. You should have been looking for a job WHILE in school vs after. There are programs that are made available for fresh MBA graduates, though I would only know they exist in Ontario, not sure about Quebec.

It seems you do not even know what you want to do (and a lot of people fall into this), but the best advice you're going to get is stop going to school and expecting a different result afterwards, unless you want to go into something technical like you mentioned (Accounting, Engineering).
Why so harsh and judgmental? Instead of pointing out all the ways he/she was "wrong" (which they already know and have stated) why not give helpful advice on what to do in instead?
Before responding to someone (online or offline) ask yourself: is it true? is it helpful? is it kind? is it necessary? This comes from an old Sufi adage that is so relevant today.
Deal Addict
Jun 21, 2008
2932 posts
382 upvotes
Toronto
Go back and finish a PhD maybe? Become a professor and do the teaching track instead of the research ones.

They earn a very very generous salary plus benefits.

Is that at all on your radar?
Jr. Member
Jan 16, 2009
178 posts
71 upvotes
I'd say try to find any type of meaningful work in a field that you can see yourself long-term in. Competition will be a little less for contracts, and they are a good way to gain experience that you otherwise would not be able to gain. Once you start building a portfolio of experience, you will probably start to gain momentum. And at each stop, there is always the potential of "being in the right place at the right time". Every job gives you an opportunity to learn, so being proactive can lead to gaining valuable experience that you can leverage in the future.

Also, you will have to be "creative" with your resume. Tailor it to each posting, and emphasize all your relevant skills, even if it's something you hardly did. Nothing wrong with a little exaggeration... And if you feel your education is making you seem overqualified, perhaps you can present your resume in a way that focuses on your relevant experience and transferable skills, and downplay the education section.
Jr. Member
Jan 8, 2010
160 posts
87 upvotes
Ticco wrote: Go back and finish a PhD maybe? Become a professor and do the teaching track instead of the research ones.

They earn a very very generous salary plus benefits.

Is that at all on your radar?
It's very difficult to get tenure now at a Canadian university. I know plenty of PhD students and graduates struggling in the job market. Academia is the last place you want to be now.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4042 posts
664 upvotes
Toronto
Brown Thug wrote: It's very difficult to get tenure now at a Canadian university.
I would instead say that it's hard to get a tenure-track faculty position (assistant professor), but once you have one, getting tenure is not that much further of a stretch.
Newbie
Nov 5, 2019
53 posts
25 upvotes
Eragon wrote: Most people are not working in fields related to their degree.
So true. Especially considering the rampant and frequent firings and layoffs done by many companies, especially by big corporations.
And the rise of the temporary/gig jobs as the norm.
Also less and less employers are willing to pay full time benefits, much cheaper for them to go contract or outsourcing or even Automated A.I. replacement. Global trade wars and worldwide economic instability & competitions are not helping things either.

So I believe that most workers (including myself) cannot even imagine building a career anymore, as no job would be stable enough to last long enough. Prehaps 1~3 years tops, frequently much shorter terms though.

So don't be too hard on yourself OP, you are far from being alone facing this horrible job prospect predicament, which is actually very prevalent here in Canada (maybe even worldwide right now.

If nothing else seem to work, maybe try volunteering at local charity groups or churches, while applying for provincial welfare at the same time. This hopefully should get some paid jobs connections and leads and pad your resume at the same time.
Also don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, such as dumbing down your resume to apply for janitorial or gig jobs. if you are really desperate for cash.

Yes it is a shame to waste such educational level, but apparently the employers don't care anymore, as most of them are just too busy being super0-nitpicky finding their "perfect candidate".
Connections is definitely the much easier way to go; otherwise you are going to spend many months of even years in futility trying to apply for jobs online.


Related news article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/millen ... -1.4009295
"'The millennial side hustle,' not stable job, is the new reality for university grads"
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
1363 posts
1469 upvotes
Toronto
If you are looking for practical skills, college might be a better route than going for an MBA but that depends on what interests you. You probably have some valuable skills in research and analysis but most jobs require some sort of experience today. Do some research on what interests you to determine what sort of background/education is required. GL
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1382 posts
945 upvotes
Edmonton
The key thing is just to apply to jobs. As many as possible. The better quality job the better. Leave low quality jobs like retail / CSR off the resume because they will not jive with the rest of the story that you're trying to tell - that you are high calibre professional.

You can still put your MBA to good use - apply to MBA recruitment programs, utilize your alumni network, use your school's career resources, etc. Management consulting firms could be a good fit for you. Maybe business development. The incubator stuff could be resume gold if you spin it the right way. You can also spin your English teaching experiences as meeting facilitation and communication if you can back it up by coming off as a strong speaker in the interview. You also seem to have no specific career goals in mind other than "real job". Maybe put some time into that. You definitely can't come off as someone who is lost in life in the resume or interview.

You mentioned before your edit that you are not good at selling yourself. Well, get good at it. It's a skill like anything else and it will get better if you put in time and effort. Same thing with job search. Put in the time / energy and get good at it. If you're unemployed or underemployed then you should consider your full-time job to be job search. Put in 4 good hours of job search and resume crafting every single week day. Pay for professional help if you have to, but you should just be able to put in the time to learn it yourself. One good application package tailor made from scratch should take you 2-4 hours if not more. Network hard. Attend every single relevant meetup or networking event. Introduce yourself to people, tell them you're interested in working in their field, follow up when they give you their contact info.

Also, ignore the people crying woe on the internet. It's not productive. Is it hard to get a career? Yeah, it can be really, really, really hard, especially at first. That doesn't mean you give up. It means you need to work really, really, really hard to get what you want. It's totally doable. It could take you 6 months or 12 months of hardcore networking and job search, but it will happen if you keep at it.

Good luck.
Newbie
Nov 5, 2019
53 posts
25 upvotes
What pisses me off right now its all the top-to-down forced mentality against workers that
"you will succeed eventually if you work really really hard", and "blame and fix yourself first if you do not succeed",
coupled with extremely limited positions for university-educated level jobs along extremely nit-picky bosses and interview nowadays. This also leads me to think the economy and unemployment statistics are actually much worser than officially reported. Including Canada and USA of course. If you rely on the traditional ways and insist on Master-degree level jobs, you might be out of work even longer, prehaps much longer than the 2 years unemployment that has been reported in news articles.

What these actually produces are actually tons of unemployed desperate highly-educated workers out in the streets suffering in poverty and starvation. And those who are in the jobs right suffer from frequent job anxiety panic attacks. Trust me, I have personally seen firsthand fellow co-workers taking more and more time off then eventually hospitalized due to forced over-work conditions. plus all the forced unpaid overtimes becoming the norm. The workers who do not obey and try to save themselves, shall quickly get fired/laid off in the next batch of cuts. In addition. The bosses won't care, they got mass automation along with mass foreign cheap outsourcing as quick replacements.
So even if you manage to be lucky enough to get in, it will not be smooth sailing, you will constantly have to worry about keeping your job too, so brace yourself. And I have over 10 years of IT work experiences in North America, I have seen this tragedy way too much.
And lots of news stories proving my point as well, just do a quick web search about overwork to death/Karoshi /youth suicides, and you will quick seen what I mean.

The harsh truth is: neither university education or honest hard work will pay off anymore. You will have to resort to deceitful up-selling yourself or even much more drastic and deceitful measures to even get your foot in the door (eg. exaggerated boasting//blackmailing/sexual tactics ... etc.)

It is like the rich bosses want to kill all the workers or something, just so they can hoard even more wealth and resources all to themselves -> leading cause of all the inequality and widespread poverty nowadays.

Anyways I wish you luck OP, and I hope you do not suffer the same terrible fates that me and many of my former ex-coworkers have suffered, especially that frequent corporate layoffs and seemingly-impenetrable barriers to entry.
Member
User avatar
Mar 24, 2016
338 posts
79 upvotes
Toronto
ander20t wrote: What pisses me off right now its all the top-to-down forced mentality against workers that
"you will succeed eventually if you work really really hard", and "blame and fix yourself first if you do not succeed",
coupled with extremely limited positions for university-educated level jobs along extremely nit-picky bosses and interview nowadays. This also leads me to think the economy and unemployment statistics are actually much worser than officially reported. Including Canada and USA of course. If you rely on the traditional ways and insist on Master-degree level jobs, you might be out of work even longer, prehaps much longer than the 2 years unemployment that has been reported in news articles.

What these actually produces are actually tons of unemployed desperate highly-educated workers out in the streets suffering in poverty and starvation. And those who are in the jobs right suffer from frequent job anxiety panic attacks. Trust me, I have personally seen firsthand fellow co-workers taking more and more time off then eventually hospitalized due to forced over-work conditions. plus all the forced unpaid overtimes becoming the norm. The workers who do not obey and try to save themselves, shall quickly get fired/laid off in the next batch of cuts. In addition. The bosses won't care, they got mass automation along with mass foreign cheap outsourcing as quick replacements.
So even if you manage to be lucky enough to get in, it will not be smooth sailing, you will constantly have to worry about keeping your job too, so brace yourself. And I have over 10 years of IT work experiences in North America, I have seen this tragedy way too much.
And lots of news stories proving my point as well, just do a quick web search about overwork to death/Karoshi /youth suicides, and you will quick seen what I mean.

The harsh truth is: neither university education or honest hard work will pay off anymore. You will have to resort to deceitful up-selling yourself or even much more drastic and deceitful measures to even get your foot in the door (eg. exaggerated boasting//blackmailing/sexual tactics ... etc.)

It is like the rich bosses want to kill all the workers or something, just so they can hoard even more wealth and resources all to themselves -> leading cause of all the inequality and widespread poverty nowadays.

Anyways I wish you luck OP, and I hope you do not suffer the same terrible fates that me and many of my former ex-coworkers have suffered, especially that frequent corporate layoffs and seemingly-impenetrable barriers to entry.
I cannot agree more! and it get worse year by year. Thousands of mostly highly experienced and educated people come to Canada every year and competition gets tougher.Nowadays having a university degree does not much value unfortunately.
On the other hand housing cost is getting more and more expensive...
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 23, 2009
4977 posts
2093 upvotes
I think it says a lot about our economy when bright minds aspire to work in the government.

The decline in society is real.

Just enjoy it and let the suckers who don't understand pay for your lifestyle choices?
Deal Addict
Apr 14, 2017
1908 posts
610 upvotes
DT Calgary
renoldman wrote: I think it says a lot about our economy when bright minds aspire to work in the government.

The decline in society is real.

Just enjoy it and let the suckers who don't understand pay for your lifestyle choices?
It is very disappointing, and especially rampant in Canada. Private sector pensions and salaries typically lag (on average) with the public sector. Not to mention, you are typically working longer hours in the private sector.

Doesn’t leave me with an optimistic outlook on Canada’s prosperity.

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