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Faculty of Arts & Science

Arts & Science News

Students discover career options in Explore It program

Shazia Shaikh, Julie Chan and Rebecca Dreezer. Photo by Brian Summers.

Shazia Shaikh, Julie Chan and Rebecca Dreezer. Photo by Brian Summers.

A new program called Explore It is giving students an opportunity to job-shadow alumni mentors in their preferred fields to see firsthand how their academic skills and knowledge translate into possible careers.

So far, Explore It has been piloted in three Arts & Science departments — ecology & evolutionary biology, history and political science — pairing students in select second-year courses with mentors who’ve graduated from their program. The students make good use of their time with mentors asking questions about educational decision-making, experience and the lifestyle that goes along with the jobs they’re interested in. Students also tour workplace facilities and meet other professionals.

Nicole Grabowski, a student in political science and, ethics, society & law, says that the Explore It experience helped her recognize how valuable the research, writing and communication skills that she’s learning are to the career that she wants to pursue.

“My mentor is a policy analyst at the Wellesley Institute. He has constant communication with peers and the community and he also writes a lot of reports. A career in policy analysis involves quite a bit of research, which is a skill that I have and wish to utilize. Since meeting my mentor, my interest in various issues have played a role in which courses I’m picking for the future. I now have a better understanding of what I am looking to achieve and through U of T I am able to pursue those interests.”

Ecology & evolutionary biology student Diane Lopez says that visiting her mentor at his lab in Mount Sinai Hospital was an essential experience.

“By listening to an informal overview of the lab’s research and touring their facility, I recognized how relevant the information and skills I was learning in my courses are in a research career. I was able to follow along the points he made in the overview because the same topics were discussed in my lectures and practicals. The teamwork, communication and critical analysis skills I practiced during my practicals were also evident in the lab.”

Explore It is co-sponsored by the Career Centre and the Faculty of Arts & Science, and draws on the expertise available in the Arts & Science alumni relations team. It is one of the programs offered through STEP Forward, a new Arts & Science initiative that will help students connect their academic learning to their personal and professional development within and beyond their time in Arts & Science.

“STEP Forward will give students a more comprehensive framework to think about all of the steps they have to take in order to set and achieve their short- and long-term goals,” says Julian Weinrib, a research officer in the Office of the Dean.

“They’ll reflect on a wide array of processes that are central to their time in Arts & Science, like how and why they choose a program of study, what they hope to get out of relationships with peers and instructors as well as possible life and career pathways. Students already have had great support through their colleges and student life, but we believe every moment of their stay in Arts & Science should be preparing them for life after university.”