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Corporate Careers that Make a Difference

18 Dec

Found this resource on the Net Impact website. It’s a great resource, especially if you’re a new grad (like myself) looking to set yourself up for a career that goes beyond traditional barriers. Activists typically view corporations as the “bad guys”. But let’s face it, they’re here to stay and have the power to make a difference. Rather than fighting corporations, this resource shares ways of allying with corporations to work for change.


Careers in CPG

5 Aug

I had a conversation today with a friend about salaries in marketing, while I had a rough idea, for the most part, I was pretty clueless. As an almost graduate, I’ve been asked about my “salary expectations” in interviews. That’s an important thing, I mean, if my number is substantially lower, will I be underpaid? If it’s too high, will I be overlooked? More importantly, in any interview, you need to sound like you actually know what you’re talking about. So, I did a bit of research. is always a useful site when preparing for interviews. If you’re lucky, you’ll find approximate salaries published as well. My only issue with Glassdoor is that the salaries quoted are sometimes way out of date or for a different country. I wanted to find Canada-specific information. This is where CPG Connect made my day. They published their 2011 Consumer Goods & Retail Salary Guide not too long ago. The report goes over salaries and benefits at CPG-related companies for:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Category Management
  • Trade Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Human Resources
  • Retail
  • Finance
  • IT
  • Customer Service
  • Quality Assurance/ Research & Development
  • Supply Chain
Yes, it’s pretty comprehensive. So, let’s take a look at the results in entry-level Marketing positions. For the most part, they ranged from a low of $30,000 to a high of $95,000 with most offering cash incentives as well.  If you’re a new grad, just a heads up: that $95,000 job in CPG marketing won’t be yours anytime soon! When reading through any report, it’s always good to be critical. At one company, you can get an Assistant Brand Manager (ABM) position straight of school, at other companies, an ABM position usually requires a few years of solid marketing experience. Plus, the higher the salary, the more hours and pressure you have. That’s why the salaries have a large variance. In all, I’m going to say that this means that I know more about CPG Marketing salaries than I thought – my “salary expectations” were in the right ballpark. Pat on my back, yes indeed.
Take a look at the complete results here. You’ll need to sign up for CPG Connect – but odds are, if you’re interested in CPG, you’re already signed up!

Gen Y Employment

29 Jul

The Globe & Mail did a little video series discussing Gen Y & the Workforce with Lauren Friese. They also got some student perspectives through interviews with 3 unemployed students and recent graduates (I’m one of them).  Some key takeaways for employers are that they should be open to hiring students across the country rather than just the areas that they have offices – the internet makes this a lot easier! As students, we want to be challenged and given a chance to showcase our skills.

Meeting Heather and Leeann was definitely an eye-opening experience. As a business student, I spend most of my time surrounded by people who’ve studied the same things, think similarly, and tend to have similar career paths, so I didn’t realize just how different seeking employment is for Arts students. I think employers who overlook Arts students are really limiting themselves because having a diverse workforce can help a company to grow. You wouldn’t want an entire company of business and engineering grads. Having students who’ve studied in different programs really adds a new dimension when it comes to problem solving and creating solutions.

You can find the videos here!


Thoughts from a co-op student at Nestlé

13 Feb

I’m spending this semester on a co-op term at Nestlé Canada working with their Customer Development team. It’s about a month into the term and I figured that I would share more experience so far as well as a few tips for fellow co-ops.

First impressions at Nestlé? I absolutely love it there! Yes, it’s only been a month, but I could really tell that Nestlé was a company that valued its employees and that they wanted to make sure that this was a valuable learning experience for me. It was the little things that stood out to me. Like random jokes at meetings to employees who would make sure to explain acronyms and terminology to me in meetings. Plus, people were so willing to grab lunch or go for coffee to share their career advice (If you have no idea what you want to do, take the time to learn about your co-workers’ career paths, it helps a lot to just listen to other people sometimes). Some of the people I’ve talked to have spent around thirty years with the company. There were also plenty of people just starting their careers at the company who liked it enough to stay. You can tell that Nestlé’s a company where people can have their fun but still work hard.

The learning curve? I’ll admit, it was kind of overwhelming to come into a team where there were so many acronyms and new tools. There were definitely times where I felt like I was asking a silly question. But, everyone assured me that there’s no such thing as a silly question and people were more than willing to take time out and explain things. I definitely got my money’s worth out of my notebook! (If you’re a co-op, get used to carrying a notebook and get comfortable taking notes while people are talking to you, it might feel strange at first, but it’s completely normal!). So, a month later, things are making a lot more sense. What I really appreciated was that people intentionally challenged me. I was literally given projects and told that I probably wouldn’t know exactly how to do it, but to take a stab at it and we’d discuss it after. It was a great way to learn because I was forced to think for myself. Normally, people teach you things step by step and you learn from there, but being left to figure things out once in a while was a valuable learning opportunity.

I also like the variety in the work I have. Some of it is pretty routine, but I also get lots of ad-hoc projects as well as a few larger, longer-term projects. It keeps me interested and challenged.

Favourite moments so far? During my third week at Nestlé, I attended a 3-day sales conference with my team (my very first work conference!!). It allowed me to get to know the team outside of work and sit in on meetings and workshops. While a lot of the material was like a foreign language to me, it was good to see some of the people that our team interacts with. Plus, I had the opportunity to hear the Nestlé Canada CEO, Tim Brown, give a closing keynote! Let’s just say that so far, Nestlé’s been much more than “just your average co-op term”!

Btw, the views expressed above do not represent the views in any way of Nestle Canada or its affiliates. They are simply my own individual thoughts.

If you’ve been on a co-op term or internship, let me know your experiences, tips, and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Maybe you should just take some responsibility

1 Dec

Recently, I participated in an external review of the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Management (B.B.A.) Program. In a nutshell, a bunch of students gave their feedback to three representatives from Harvard, Dalhousie, and Sauder. The whole point is to improve the status and quality of the Management Program. There was some great feedback about the program as well as some constructive criticism on how to improve it.

My issue was that some of the students at the review seemed to blame the university for their misfortunes or lack of effort. There were students complaining that the Management Program does not provide enough support for graduating students, yet, our campus has a Career Centre and online job postings available. Some students proposed that Management students should have a separate career centre to focus on business-related jobs. Seriously? That’s a lot of resources for a segment of our campus. Not really worth it’s weight in resources. My honest opinion is that the university actually does a great job of preparing graduating students. There’s seminars and workshops to prepare you as well as individual appointments with career counselors. While this information is usually not specific to management students, you can definitely take the overall content and use it in your applications. Plus, there are tons of professors at UTSC who would be more than willing to help you target your resume for a specific industry or provide advice.  I’ve met professors who would literally sit down and go through a 30+ page business plan for you if you asked! In life, no one is going to spoon feed you, university should be no different. It’s up to you to actually find the information that you need. Anyone can jump online and search “finance resumes” for tons of advice. Combine that with general advice, knowledge from industry professionals, and you’ve likely got a stellar job application.

Someone I worked with once told me not to take my lawn chair out just yet, to stay hungry.  Great advice. If you’re always looking for the next opportunity, you’re always learning and absorbing information. If you really want to break into a career in marketing/finance/accounting/etc., you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. That is taking responsibility for your own destiny.

Graduate School Options For Business Students

11 Nov

Published on TalentEgg on November 1, 2010

For most business graduates, the natural choice after graduation is working for a few years and then heading off to business school (B-school) to complete an MBA.

Recently, I was talking to a professor and she mentioned that a lot of the MBA curriculum is similar to material learned during my BBA, which is probably why most B-schools offer an accelerated MBA option for business undergraduates.

Typically, the full-length MBA programs are for businesspeople who don’t have an academic background in business and might not know, for example, introductory economics.

But, the fact that she mentioned this made me decide that choosing a graduate or professional program would need a lot more effort. Following the well-known route would be silly especially when many other options exist that could meet my needs.

Masters of Business Administration (MBA or accelerated MBA)

This is a degree that is standard among most managers in the business world. MBA programs are designed for people with no academic background in business, which is why most universities offer an Accelerated MBA option (usually one year long) for students who have studied business as an undergraduate. The Accelerated MBA is a good option to consider if you qualify because you get an MBA in less time.

Applying is pretty much the same as your standard grad school application. You’ll also need reference letters and in some cases, an interview, if you make it past the first round of screening.

Usually these programs require work experience at a managerial level. Research is key when selecting which programs to apply to because some programs consider co-op and internship experience, while others have a special admission process for students looking to enter straight out of their undergraduate degree.

Though, a word of caution, entering an MBA straight out of your undergrad might not be a good idea. I’ve heard stories of people who did this and struggled to find a job after their MBA because they were considered too inexperienced.

But that’s all hearsay. You should talk to your professors, career counsellors, or people who’ve actually done an MBA to find out what they have to say. Talk to lots of people because everyone has a different opinion.

Joint MBA (e.g., MBA and  JD)

For most joint programs, you will need to meet the requirements of both programs. The point of joint programs is to learn about two areas that are interrelated. For example, some areas of business require a knowledge of law and regulations, making a JD/MBA perfect.

Joint programs typically take longer than doing just one program.

MSc in Management

A Masters of Science in Management has been described to me as being the same as an MBA except that you do more research. Basically, these programs teach you about management while giving you the opportunity to complete a masters thesis.

There are MSc in Management programs offered around the world including in Canada and parts of Europe. In Canada, the MSc in Management programs tend to be smaller (and also more affordable) than the options in Europe.

Schools in Canada that offer MSc in Management programs include the University of Western Ontario, Concordia University, and the University of Ottawa. Many of these programs offer consulting opportunities, paid internships, as well as exchanges with other universities.

For example, at HEC Paris, you can complete a French certificate as well as a specialized certificate in energy and finance, real estate, social business, and luxury strategies. Queen’s University allows students to complete part of their degree at partner institutions located around the world.

Many universities also offer specialization in a specific stream (marketing, finance, accounting, economics, etc.) as a part of the MSc in Management. Other school offer MSc in Finance, MSc in Financial Economics, MSc in Sustainable Development, Masters in Management, or MSc in International Business to fit your needs and career goals. All of these variations give you business knowledge, research skills, as well as experience opportunities.

Bottom line?

There are many options available for business graduates interested completing a master’s degree. An MBA isn’t always the best option. Consider your academic and career goals and aim to find a program that will give you what you need.

Research is also super important when figuring out what school is best for you and what programs are out there.

Some tips before you start your search:

What do you think about these options?  Let me know in the comments section!