WP Staff


CAREERS: 3 tips for breaking into a new field

by Liesl Jurock

A young woman comes into my office and sits down with a sigh: “I think I want to do something completely different. My dream since I was a kid is to be an agent for someone famous, and I want to figure out how to get there.”

I hear the passion in her voice, and my first thought is, “I know nothing about the entertainment industry. How can I help her?” But then I realize that the rules are the same when you’re at the bottom of the barrel in any field.

Whether you’re planning a slight shift, say from sales to marketing in the same industry, or want to break into something new, like agency work, there are some key places to start.

1. Research, research, research!

Obviously, find out everything you can about the field. But go beyond Google and look for industry publications, professional associations, and even academic papers.

Some key questions to answer:
What are the jobs that interest you in the field?
Who are the successful people in these roles?
What skills, prior experience, and education do these positions require?
What is the future predicted for this field?
Who are the big organizations hiring in this field?

2. Find someone in the field to talk to

Some of your research questions can best be answered by people working in the field. Put the word out to everyone you know that you are looking to connect with someone in this industry. Go to events where you might run into these people. Or resort to the old favourite: Cold-calling. Politely request 15 minutes for an information interview. Most professionals are happy to help out people starting out. Take them for coffee and ask them a few prepared questions, including, most importantly, what their journey was to their current career. Try and get other contacts to talk to, and meet with as many people as you can. Not only will you get answers to your questions, but you’ll start building your network. Make sure to show your gratitude with a thank you e-mail or quick note.

3. Figure out the links

Once you’ve figured out the skills, experience, and education needed for the role you desire, figure out where you match and where your gaps are. For skills, take stock of the skills involved in your current job, as well as all the jobs and volunteering you’ve done before. For experience, see if you can volunteer or intern somewhere to gain some additional time. For education, research the options and costs, and do what you can within your budget.

The path to a new career may not be quick or simple, but in this day and age, it is certainly possible.



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Do you have any tips for breaking into a new field of work?

5 questions with Sarah Thomson on debate night

Full disclosure: Sarah Thomson is publisher of Women’s Post and also in the running to be the next mayor of Toronto. We had a chance to ask her a few questions about her platform as the other candidates debate tonight on CityTV.

What is the best solution to Toronto’s transit problems right now?

The best solution for Toronto’s transit is the Yonge Street Relief line. The Yonge line is the most important aspect of our system and until the overcapacity issue on that line is fixed people will continue to use their vehicles. We have to channel riders off the Yonge corridor and the Relief Line is key to doing that. Once building is in place we must look at other priorities – like the Scarborough extension.

Do you have a plan to pay for the relief subway line analysts say we need?

My plan is to put tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway for all non-residents commuting to Toronto. Non-residents don’t pay into our city for the water/road infrastructure they use and this places a toll on Toronto taxpayers. Tolling nonresidents is the right, responsible, and reasonable solution. Tolls will raise approximately $200 million that should be dedicated and go directly to building the Yonge Street Relief Line – immediately.

What can the city government do better to best protect residents living in poverty?

We must restructure Toronto Community Housing Corp (TCHC) and bring more charities and nonprofits in to help us solve the dilemma of TCHC. Portable rental subsidies can be used to move people out of the failing system and give them a choice in where they live. We have to break up the pockets of poverty created in the 1970s and push for 10% affordable housing in all new developments.

You gained a lot of traction the last time you ran for being the lone woman among the front runners, what sets you apart from the other candidates this time around?

I am the only candidate who has given my life for the past 4 years to pushing for dedicated transit funding and the Yonge Street Relief Line. I am the only candidate who has built a multimillion dollar company from the ground up And the only candidate who has changed the direction of an industry – the convenience stores in gas stations today are a result of work my company did 25 years ago. Toronto needs change at city hall we must create the drive to build our city. There is a cultural shift that needs to occur at there and we need a leader who knows how to bring this about. I have the experience. I have real idea, real solutions and will bring in real change.

You are against the Billy Bishop airport expansion on Toronto Island. With the issue moving onto a council debate next week what would you do to prevent the expansion if elected in October?

I believe all tax dollars should go to the Yonge Street Relief Line and don’t think people are aware that their tax dollars would go to fund this expansion so that a private company – Porter can benefit. I would do all I can to make sure that the expansion does not occur and that all tax dollars are put towards the Yonge Street Relief Line.


This video explains the uncomfortable topic of FGM using cupcakes

Many women in the western world may not be familiar with the horrors of female genital mutilation, often shortened as FGM and sometimes called female circumcision, but these two women made a video to explain the often dangerous procedure with the visual aide of cupcakes while still managing to convey the serious tone that this topic requires.

What do you think, did this video give you more insight into the issue of genital mutilation?

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Newsflash: March 24, 2014

Burning money, Quebec Liberals pull ahead, mayoral candidates talk jets, there’s a new Girl Scout cookies record, Wynne shuffles cabinet, how to shuffle on a dance floor, and don’t tweet at Reimer’s wife.

An Alberta radio station is coming under fire for burning $5,000 in cash after letting voters choose what happened in their “Bank It or Burn It” contest. The hosts on AMP radio in Calgary have received criticism across the board after charities came forward saying they could have used the money. I think we can all fairly say that the money could have found many better uses.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois might not be in charge much longer. A new poll with the largest sample yet in the Quebec provincial election puts the Liberals in majority government territory with voters turned off by issues of a separation referendum and the nomination of media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau.

The debate around jets raged on at City Hall today in a meeting on island airport expansion. WP Publisher and mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson was pushing against the airport expansion and one of the two of the top five candidates present at the meeting  — Rob Ford was present and wants a speedy approval. Council is divided on the issue but many councilors have been vocal in their opinions on the matter, although the hubub around the issue is louder than a jet right now.

A grade six girl in Oklahoma broke the record for the most boxes of Girl Scout cookies. The top notch Scout sold 18,107 boxes, breaking the record of about 18,000 in the mid 1980s. That sounds delicious.

Kathleen Wynne shuffled her cabinet today. In the wake of Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffreys departing to run in the Brampton mayoral race Wynne has replaced her with Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro along with some other small changes. With a budget and possible election looming NDP Leader Andrea Horwath likened the change to “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.” Jack and Rose would make welcome additions to Queen’s Park.

The Leafs’ James Reimer fired back today at those who sent nasty tweets to his wife saying if they have anything bad to say they can say it to his face, not to his wife online. Tyler Bozak came to April Reimer’s defense too. Word to the wise, don’t pick fights with the wives of guys who could beat you up with their hands tied behind their backs.

Scientists have determined which dance moves attract women to men as potential mates. The study concluded that “women rated dancers higher when they showed larger and more variable movements of the head, neck and torso. Speed of leg movements also mattered, particularly bending and twisting of the right knee.” Somewhere Dimitri the Lover just got a subscription to scientific journals.


Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

How to dress for the job you want

by Susan Hodkinson

Mark Twain famously said  “clothes make the man,” and for generations men in the business world have adhered to an easy-to-interpret dress code of suits and ties. When women entered management ranks, the feminized version of the traditional corporate uniform marched into boardrooms all over the world: a navy skirt, matching jacket, white shirt, pantyhose, and sensible pumps. Oh, and if it was 1985, probably a little silk scarf tied in a bow. Red or burgundy. I remember those days well.  Not fondly.

Fast forward to 2014, and we are now the establishment. We baby boomers, being single-mindedly focused on our goal of corporate acceptance, and the journey up the corporate ladder, didn’t question many of the traditional expectations of how we should dress for work. We rewrote some of the rules, and put our own stamps on them, but clothes still do “make the (wo)man”, a fact of which we are acutely aware.

So what about Generation Y, our children, who are making their way into the corporate world? According to the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, “compared to earlier generations, Generation Y consumers … [are] the most ethnically and socially diverse cohort, [and] loathe stereotyping and demand to be treated as individuals”. No navy suits and little silk ties for these girls.

Jill is my 20-year old daughter, a university student specializing in communications who has her sights focused on the corporate world. Jill considered my question concerning how she would amend her personal style when she enters the business world. “Well, obviously I have my own style, but I admire the women who have gone before me, and I do want to be like them. I want to fit in, and show that I am serious about my career,” said Jill.

Debra McLaughlin is an image and wardrobe consultant with Images That Suit, a consulting firm that has answered the question “What do I wear?” for businesswomen for over 20 years.  Her advice to her clients in their 20s and 30s mirrors Jill’s thought.

“I would advise a younger client to look to some of the better dressed senior executives, and while she does not want to dress exactly like them, she will see that they have their look ’packaged’ and pulled together. If she is smart, she will try to figure out how to work that for herself, for her own age group, and for her own personality,” she says.

“You are your own brand, so you should be investing everything you can in supporting that brand. Your wardrobe is an investment in yourself.”

What about some specifics?  A few pieces of sage advice from Debra, a professional in this area, with some editorial comments from the writer,  who is enjoying watching Gen Y women making their way in the world in both her personal and professional lives.

Don’t wear worn shoes.  (Fix those lifts!  The sound of nails on a bare office floor … not pleasant.)

If you are wearing light-coloured clothing, make sure your underwear is not showing through.  Don’t dress provocatively or too casually.  (I am aware that it’s now fashionable to treat your bra as an accessory rather than a foundation garment, but not in the office please.  Oh, I sound very old.)

Casual Fridays – a minefield.  At Images that Suit, they emphasize “the third piece” – a jacket or beautiful cardigan over a shirt and well tailored, dark denim jeans.  (If you would paint your house in it, sit on the dock in it at the cottage wearing it, or wear it to a club, don’t wear it to the office.)

My conversation with Jill about this topic was illuminating and helpful. It is clear to me that the generation of women following us into the business world is perceptive, optimistic, and eager to be successful while remaining true to its own values and style. I asked Jill how she would prepare for her first big corporate interview in terms of image. She considered my question carefully, smiled, and replied: “I would definitely replace my nose ring with a small stud.”

Generation Y women will make us proud.

Do you have enough antioxidants in your diet?

by Dr. Suzanne Bober

The term ‘antioxidant’ seems to be everywhere these days, from the front of juice cartons to make-up containers. What is it about antioxidants that everyone is so excited about?

Essentially, as our bodies carry about their daily functions they produce massive amounts of debris called ‘free radicals.’ This debris is in the form of unstable molecules that can cause damage to the body’s cells. These molecules are produced during the breakdown of food, for example, and also from environmental exposure to things like radiation and cigarette smoke.

Antioxidants act by protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage, or what is also known as oxidative stress. This is the primary cause of degenerative diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Because antioxidants work in every cell, in every part of the body, they respond to just about all health issues.

Antioxidants play an important role in boosting immunity, such as warding off the flu and common cold. They also aid in improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation.

Marketing of skin creams and make-up today centers around antioxidants and their anti-aging effects.  Indeed, they do promote younger looking skin and are responsible for the youthful glow that seems to be sought after all over the world. Other benefits to women include relief from menstrual cramps, improved sleep quality, as well as improved energy. They also help to increase concentration and improve memory.

So how do I get antioxidants to start working for me?

I incorporate vitamins C and E into my diet by eating loads of berries and nuts, as well as avocados. I drink green tea, as it contains flavinoids and eat baked fish at least twice per week, as it contains selenium, both of which are antioxidants. I also make sure to eat fresh tomato sauce with whole-wheat pasta as it increases my carotenoid intake, another powerful antioxidant.

If I find that my diet is lacking antioxidants at any point in time, I will add supplements to my diet to make up for the deficiency. Speak to your health care provider about supplementation if you are unsure whether or not you are receiving adequate antioxidants through diet alone and start feeling the benefits of antioxidants today.

Beware: Over-sharing on social media can bring trouble

by Heather Lochner

Raise your hand if you are on Facebook or Twitter. And raise your other hand, if you make somewhat regular status updates on either site. And what about 4square? Do you check-in there and have that posted to your social media accounts?

Sure, we all like to keep friends, family, and tweeps up-to-date on what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. We post pictures, share interesting links, and broadcast our opinions and thoughts.

But step back for a moment. If you are on Facebook, is your site locked down? In other words, is your security as tight as can be or can ‘non-friends’ read and see all about you?

All too often I stumble upon a Facebook page where I can gather a ton of information on the person – their birth date, their phone number, and even they city they live in.  So imagine, if your status says “Loving life on the beach” and attached is a photo of you on holiday. Or if you are on Twitter and you say, “Family is all at the airport – we are heading out for a weeklong vacation”.

Think for a second, what did I, a total stranger, just learn about you? You just told me you are away. And yes, I may be paranoid, but I never post on Facebook or Twitter that my house is empty. I share after the fact, when I am home.

That is just a small social media tip I tend to follow.

I do use the internet and blogs for travel research. I love visiting to read reviews on the city I want to explore or the resort I want to stay in. I know they are people’s opinions, but so far I have not been let down by reading the comments. I also buy travel apps for my phone – ones that give me information on the destination and what’s not to be missed. And I frequently visit the site, where fabulous tips are shared on travelling with kids.

I have also used both Facebook and Twitter to find out information about destinations. Just a few months back, I asked on Twitter, “Does anyone have a recommendation on where to stay in Cuba with kids?” You would never believe the response I got. People shared and shared their favourite and not-so-favourite hot spots. I also learned that Cuba has very limited internet access (kinda nice to go black from time-to-time and not be constantly plugged in).

So, just be careful how you use social media when headed away from home. Think before you post.

How to fit fitness into your schedule

by Deborah Lowther

At the top of almost every parents’ priority-list is making sure their kids eat well, stay healthy, and keep active. But what about mom? We may think we are doing enough by eating healthier foods and popping a daily vitamin, but exercising is really the key to better health. Unfortunately, it is typically the first item to be dropped from our long list of things to do.

The people who are successful at fitting in fitness every week have a secret. They know the trick to squeeze exercise time into their busy schedules at work and hectic days at home with kids.

They schedule it. It’s as simple as that. The only way exercise will become a part of my day is to schedule it and make it important. Those who say they don’t have time to exercise are really saying that it is not a priority.

I was raised in an active family and have always understood the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it has always been easy to fit in. As if work and kids are not enough, there are also the physical obstacles like a knee surgery and three pregnancies that can prevent staying active.  But you simply start again when you are able.

Once the kids were born, I became more determined to make exercise a priority in order to lose the baby weight. I decided to take up half marathons. I’d always been a casual runner, but this new goal gave me the push I needed.

My three proudest achievements are crossing the half-marathon finish line in three different cities with my husband and each of our daughters in a jogging stroller when they were just 8-months old.

I did whatever I had to in order to get in those runs. I started with a three km run/walk until I could run without stopping. I then added five minutes every weekend. Within a few months I was running for two hours and ready to try my first half marathon with our first child.

Twelve months later I had my second child and this time it was trickier to get out running as I am not a double stroller kind of gal. Determination paid off and eight months later my husband and I crossed the finish line at the Ottawa half-marathon with our second daughter.

When we had baby number three I wondered when I would ever run again. I got up early, I ran in the cold, I ran when I was tired, and I ran when I would have rather sat and had breakfast with my family. I ran to soccer games, hired babysitters, and took my babies to the local YMCA and put them in programs so I could run. Sure enough, eight months later we crossed the finish line in Quebec – with our best time yet!

Today, my daughters are five, seven, and nine and have already done their first triathlon and two family 5km runs – we are a truly an active family.

Choose something active that you enjoy and then make fitness an important item on your to do list, schedule time in your week, commit to it, do it with the family; make it your priority and it will happen!

How do you fit in exercise?