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Students at the Aboriginal Career Centre's career day chat with potential employers. Photo by Jamie Fischer.

Students at the Aboriginal Career Centre's career day chat with potential employers. Photo by Jamie Fischer.

by Jamie Fischer

 

The main floor of the University of Regina’s Research and Innovation Centre was transformed on Nov. 23 for the Aboriginal Career Centre’s career day. Displays were up, business cards were exchanged, and some students may have met their future employers.

 

“This creates exposure for our students,” said Darlene MacDonald, coordinator of the Aboriginal Career Centre.

 

This exposure is especially important for students who come from reserves across the province, she said. “Employers are doing a good job getting to high schools locally, but they’re not getting to the reserves,” MacDonald said.

 

According to MacDonald, students from reserves aren’t always aware of the opportunities available to them, and this event allows them to explore different options.

 

“It’s important for employers to see that our aboriginal students are an option,” MacDonald said.

 

“A lot of them are focusing on the future. Knowing that our aboriginal population is growing considerably in Saskatchewan, it’s crucial to look at the aboriginal student population for employment opportunities out there.”

 

The event isn’t only an opportunity for students to see what’s out there – it works for employers too.

 

Corey Terry, human resource supervisor for the Prairie Valley School Division, was at the fair to promote the diversity of jobs available at his school division.

“A lot of people, when they hear the term school division they think of teachers,” Terry said.

 

Of the 1,300 employees at Prairie Valley, only half are teachers. Nurses, day care workers, accountants, and admin assistants, to name a few, are also on the division’s to-employ list. Terry hopes that by having a presence at the U of R, he’ll be able to connect with new grads.

 

“In our division, we have a First Nations and Métis action plan which is part of our overall promotion of First Nations and Métis work force,” Terry said. “I think the more we have these types of opportunities in education, for schools it’s only going to help benefit us in the education process.”

 

Many students at the fair didn’t have a specific company in mind they wanted to talk to, but were glad they had the chance to meet different employers.

 

Roman Young, a second-year sociology student, was at the event to see what was available.

 

Young didn’t have a special interest in any of the companies present, but was looking to see what employment was available for aboriginal students for the upcoming summer.

 

“It gets you out there, right?” he said. “It’s more for marketing purposes and getting to know employers and stuff like that.”

 

The event has led to employment in the past. “I didn’t know how to talk to corporations, I didn’t even really know how to write a resume for a big corporation,” said Jesse Robson, a First Nations University of
Canada grad.

 

In 2010, Robson had his eye on Farm Credit Canada and made a point of talking to them at the career fair, but not before visiting the Aboriginal Career Centre for resume and interview tips.

 

“It wasn’t long after that career fair that I got a phone call from FCC for a job interview,” Robson said. He was hired as a summer student in their brand department, a division of FCC’s marketing branch.

 

Now a full-time employee in the same department, Robson credits his success to the support he received as a student. “Without the help of the Aboriginal Career Centre, I wouldn’t have known where to begin or where my skills could take me,” he said.