academiclife

Sustainable Business – Remarkable Rejects: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 30 panel 2 01 2 291x300 Sustainable Business   Remarkable Rejects: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Braeden Wolf, founder of Remarkable Rejects, is a recent business graduate from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, who is passionate about nutrition, natural movement, and cooking. This week’s episode is about socially conscious business. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are looking for meaningful employment and/or social change. In university, everything seems possible and many of us are inspired to create change in the world after graduation. However, after entering the workforce, we may start to feel discouraged and lose our spark. So, why not bypass the corporate world and its expectations and start something that you care about and that can create the change that you want to see in the world.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Business background and inspiration of Remarkable Rejects

How can students benefit from Remarkable Rejects

Tips to consider when developing a business

Challenges faced when starting a business

Advice for students who want to start a socially conscious business 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Advice for Incoming International Students: Interview with Joseph Wong

 

We interviewed Professor Joseph Wong about moving from one country to another to start school. Heading off to university is a significant milestone in one’s life, and even more so if it also means travelling abroad to a whole new country on your own. For international students who started university during COVID, the experience has been a little different, but as vaccines are doled out and the health situation looks a bit more hopeful this year’s international students may be considering a few different options as they return to their degree in the Fall. We thought we’d speak with someone who’s been an international student himself while a graduate student, and is also very familiar with the needs and situations of international students on a major university campus.

Joe Wong 2020 1 300x300 Advice for Incoming International Students: Interview with Joseph Wong

 

Professor Joseph Wong is Vice-President, International, University of Toronto, where he is also the Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Science. He held the Canada Research Chair in Health, Democracy, and Development for two terms from 2006 to 2016. He is the author of many academic articles and several books, including Healthy Democracies: Welfare Politics in Taiwan and South Korea and Betting on Biotech: Innovation and the Limits of Asia’s Developmental State. Inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals, in collaboration with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Professor Wong founded the Reach Alliance, a model for student-led, faculty-mentored, multi-disciplinary research dedicated to investigating the pathways to success for innovative programs that are reaching the world’s most marginalized populations. 

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Tell us a bit about your own experience as an international student studying in the US. How do you think studying abroad impacted your overall academic experience and development as a scholar?

 

My experience as an international student in the US was definitely formative. I was in my early 20s, doing my Ph.D. in a foreign country, and the work itself, obviously, was something that I was not at all accustomed to, and it was really 24/7. seven, I was really passionate about doing my Ph.D. and studying in the US was really an eye-opener for me, even though Canada and the US are by most measures really similar. There are some things that are just still very fundamentally different. And it’s not until you actually live in another place, and become friends who are American and engage in public discourse, that you get a sense of what’s important and what’s less important in American society and really discover some of the critical differences between where I grew up and where I was doing graduate school. For example, when people ask me what’s the biggest difference between the US and Canada, I would say a lot of the things that they’re debating in the US and they continue to debate are things like a woman’s right to choose, access to health care, gun control. these are issues that, as far as I’m concerned, dealt with long ago in Canada, and we’ve kind of moved on. And yet, here is this society that’s very similar to ours, in which these are the core issues that are dividing the body politic and society there. So, even in two countries, as similar as Canada and the US, once we actually had that experience, and you really engage while studying there, you really discover those sorts of interesting differences. I understand that for international students, studying abroad can bring a mixture of excitement, anxiety, anxiety, fear of the unknown, but the experience is definitely worth it. 

A lot has changed over the last year due to the pandemic, which impacted many international students. Could you talk about how has the university been dealing with that? What changes have you seen in how we think of education?

 

It is totally crazy. At that time, I was the vice provost for international. So our international learning outbound mobility, and things like learning abroad, were all part of my portfolio. I remember in mid-March last year, I was talking to a colleague of mine, who is one of the vice presidents. We were discussing how the borders might be closed soon. Four days later, the government made the official announcement and everything happened so fast. We had thousands of students all around the world, and we had to figure out how to get them back and how to proceed with online learning. For me, one of the real lasting lessons of the whole experience was to have a mindset of kindness. And I think one of the things that I really took from that experience was these thousands of students are, in the end, thousands of individuals who have individual needs, individual worries, individual circumstances, and so forth. And so our offices, and the staff, were just working around the clock because we wanted to accommodate and address very specific concerns. With these specific issues, you can be very bureaucratic about it and say: “Well, here’s the email, and here’s the FAQ page and just go to it,” or you can be kind about it. And I think that that was something we all took from this was just that we were really needing to be human at a time when being machine-like and bureaucratic are more convenient. Another thing that I’ve discovered is just the amazing adaptability of a large institution of over 90,000 students and staff and faculty. We were able to fully launch online learning within a very short period of time, and I think we manage everything pretty well so far.  

Ideally, students would like to be learning in person, and we want to have as many in-person opportunities as possible. However, we also learned that there are things that we can do, and ways that we can reach students using online platforms that we were completely unaware of before. And that can really dynamize a classroom. For example, one of the things that we’ve launched this year, are what we’re calling Global Classrooms. Basically, using this online learning technology, we connect our classes here at U of T with classes at institutions and other parts of the world.  I did one with an institution in Mexico because I have a friend there. Even though we are teaching separate courses, we were able to build a four-week module together on COVID and inequality. His students from Mexico and my students from U of T were able to collaborate and work together on projects of shared interest. These students had an opportunity to really learn about COVID, and its impact in Mexico, which of course, is a really interesting case. They had a chance to learn about indigenous issues and some of the challenges that the government is facing, and they got a chance to learn about inequality, and informality and so forth, by talking to their peers in Mexico. It is unbelievable and opportunities like this would have been impossible or very difficult before. We wouldn’t even have thought of that. To sum up, I think that there are lots of things we’ve learned, and there are lots of ways we can use platforms like this to do things that would have been completely inconceivable In the past,

What advice do you have for incoming and returning to international students in the Fall to make the most of this unusual time?

 I think one of the things is really embracing every opportunity you get, especially at a university like U of T. It is one of the most massive places, and its scale brings with it both advantages and disadvantages. One of the challenges anywhere, but especially at a large institution like U of T, is how do you find these opportunities? How do you develop co-curricular opportunities? How do you satisfy your academic and non-academic curiosities? There are just so many opportunities at a place like the University of Toronto or any post-secondary institution. You just have to find the answer. One thing that I always say to new students is that you can go through university and just be a number. You can be anywhere your number, or you could really actively seek out opportunities. Go talk to your professors, they don’t like sitting in their offices alone during office hours. You should go find about about research opportunities or any opportunity that interests you. They won’t fly to your lap themselves. I would say that that’s probably irrespective of whether we’re more online or less online, it’s just really about being kind of entrepreneurial when you’re out there. Here’s the other thing I would say, and this may sound a little counterintuitive, but have fun. Don’t go into this with a mindset that you shouldn’t have a good time. I would say to students, particularly students at university, and of course, here at U of T, that you’re obviously really bright and accomplished, otherwise, you wouldn’t have gotten into university. Sometimes you need to enjoy yourself, and this is the time to be curious, to take chances, and to take risks. I always tell my students I work with to choose the courses that interest them. Don’t choose a course only because you may get good grades. This may sound a little abstract, but through my own experience and conversation with hiring managers, no one really cares about your GPA after you graduate from university. If you got a degree from a good university in a hyper-competitive situation, and that’s good enough. Are you an interesting person? Do you have character? Are you authentic? Are you gonna contribute positively to the organizational culture? Do I want to work with you? These are the questions they would like to find out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still encouraging students to do well and to work hard and strive for excellence, but excellence can be measured in a bunch of different ways. And there’s just so much more to your university career than the curriculum. So I would suggest to students, not just international students, but all young people, to embrace these four years. You’re not going to be 18 or 22 forever. Discover your voice, passion, and authenticity, which are far more important to you as a person, and frankly, to your career in the long run.

 

Recommended Books and Resources

All books by Haruki Murakami

We the North: 25 Years of the Toronto Raptors by Doug Smith

Secret Path by Gord Downie

Research Alliance

Thank you, Professor Wong, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed Podcast? Watch Video Here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast, video, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Advice for Incoming International Students: Podcast Episode Live!
Studying 300x300 Advice for Incoming International Students: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview Joseph Wong, Vice-President, International, at the University of Toronto about moving from one country to another to start school. Heading off to university is a significant milestone in one’s life, and even more so if it also means travelling abroad to a whole new country on your own. For international students who started university during COVID, the experience has been a little different, but as vaccines are doled out and the health situation looks a bit more hopeful this year’s international students may be considering a few different options as they return to their degree in the Fall. We thought we’d speak with someone who’s been an international student himself while a graduate student, and is also very familiar with the needs and situations of international students on a major university campus.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Journey and experience of studying aboard

Measures taken by the university to support students

How have online learning and collaborations changed academic life

Advice for students going back to school this Fall

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

1st Year Law School Experience: Interview with Yiwei Jin

 

 

We interviewed Yiwei Jin, PFAU Academic writing and applications coach, Yiwei Jin, about his 1st-year law school experience. This week’s episode is meant to give undergraduate students interested in Law School some insights into what it is really like. The lawyers as seen on TV are not necessarily representative of the real experience of studying law or becoming a lawyer. Today, we hope to dispel some of those myths.

 

Yiwei 1 211x300 1st Year Law School Experience: Interview with Yiwei Jin

 

Yiwei has a Masters in Political Science and Asian Studies from the University of Toronto, and has recently finished his first year of Law at the UofT as well. Yiwei has also spent time working as a research fellow for the Asia-Pacific Institute in Vancouver, and is a talented writer, researcher, and academic.

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You have had experience as an undergrad, graduate student, and now a law student. What have you observed is different about these various degrees?

 

Yes, I studied political science in my undergrad and my graduate degree, and also just finished my first year of law school. In general, I would say that grad school is actually not that different from the upper years’ of an undergrad degree because we share a lot of similar courses in graduate school. The content is actually not that different, however, there is a lot more independent research going on in grad school. Undergrad is more about literature reviews. You are surveying the field, taking notes, and you are not really developing your original ideas in exams and essays, but rather summarizing what other scholars’ positions are. While in grad school, the focus is more on research methodology and exploring your own research interests and conducting your own research.

Law school, on the other hand, was quite different. Sometimes students like to say that law school is like high school, especially in the first year, just because everyone takes the same classes. In addition, the examination system, where you sit down for hours and write until it is finished, is very similar to undergrad exams or standardized exams in high school. The evaluation system is kind of similar to undergrad as well. However, once you get to year two or three, you start to have seminars, research courses, and experiential learning, which is similar to graduate school. 

What parts of the Law School application process do you think are relevant to your time in Law School?

 

If we think about the law school application process, there are two parts: LSAT and personal statement. Some people think a high LSAT score is demonstrative of one’s ability to succeed in law school. However, personally, I do not think that it is such an accurate assessment of whether you are fit for studying in law school or not. Maybe the reading comprehension section is similar to the extent that you also are required to read and analyze unfamiliar passages in law school. For example, if you read a business transaction case, you are not going to be knowledgeable of the specifics of the business case, but need to figure it out on your own. You are asked to do similar things for the reading comprehension section on LSAT, so I think there are some parallels there.

On the other hand, the personal statement is something that I think is more useful because it allows you to express your skills and knowledge to the admissions committee. Learning to sell yourself in a single statement is a useful skill for the job application process during and after law school. When you think about job applications after law school and during law school, being able to construct a personal narrative and write within the moments that you are given is a valuable skill set.

 

What would you recommend students who are thinking of Law School consider before applying?

 

There are two things to consider. The first thing is the cost of law school, both financial and personal, as well as the return. For example, UofT has one of the highest tuition fees, which is around 30,000/year. Other institutions might be slightly lower. The cost does not necessarily reflect the quality. I do think you can receive a quality degree in most universities. Keep in mind that law school is a professional degree. At the end of the day, most people go to law school to get a job, but the ability or possibility to get a job and the school’s quality of education are not necessarily correlated. Just because you got an amazing legal education doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be competitive in the job market. I think that’s something students should consider.

Another thing that I recommend before applying to law school is to talk to as many people as you can in the legal field. Like mentioned in the beginning, what people think of being a lawyer is very different from what being an actual lawyer entails. Talk to law students, recent law grads, and legal professional, and ask them about their experiences and whether going to law school is something that you want to do.

Recommended Books and Resources

The Law School Book: Succeeding at Law School by Allan C. Hutchinson

The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research, and Writing by Laurel Currie Oates, Anne Enquist, Jeremy Francis

 

Thank you, Yiwei, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed the podcast? Watch here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast, videos, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

1st Year Law School Experience: Podcast Episode Live!
Comic 22 edited 01 panel 2 300x294 1st Year Law School Experience: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Yiwei Jin, PFAU Academic writing and applications coach, Yiwei Jin, about his 1st-year law school experience. This week’s episode is meant to give undergraduate students interested in Law School and working on preparing their applications some insights into what it is really like. The lawyers as seen on TV are not necessarily representative of the real experience of studying law or becoming a lawyer. Today, we hope to dispel some of those myths.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Differences in experience between undergraduate, graduate and law school degrees

Law school applications

Top things to consider before applying to law school

How to prepare for law school

 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Finding Suitable Housing: Interview with Yinan Xia

 

 

We interviewed Yinan Xia about finding suitable housing for students living outside of the dormitory or their parents’ home for the first time. Where you live can have a huge impact on how you feel, and in turn, how you do in school. Factors such as location, quality of the building, price, and co-inhabitants can greatly affect the quality of life you have in your living space. So, it is important to know what to look for when looking for a place to live.

yinan xia 1 Finding Suitable Housing: Interview with Yinan Xia

 

This week’s guest is Yinan Xia, Real Estate Broker and Sr. Vice President at the Bay Street Group, as well as an adjunct lecturer teaching Real Estate Investment courses at Victoria International College of Business and Technology. He was ranked #1 out of 900 agents in Bay Street Group by gross revenue in both 2020 and 2019. He loves what he does and is passionate about finding his clients the best home for their needs.

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For a first-time renter, what would you say are the top three things they should consider before starting their search?

 

I think the number 1 thing students should think about is the location. That’s going to affect you on a daily basis wherever you are. You may feel that if you move further for another additional 10 or 15 minutes of commute time, you can save 100 bucks per month. However, you should take into consideration the opportunity cost from the extra commute time on a daily basis. Sometimes, there’s traffic and it may take even longer. You could have used the wasted time to do something more significant. The optimal commute time, I think, is less than 30 minutes. So, don’t just focus on finding the cheapest place, but rather finding the location that saves you time that you can use for better things. 

The other thing to consider when doing apartment hunting would be the noise level. You want to make sure that the place is quiet. When you are in there, try turning on the furnace, air condition, look outside the windows to see if it’s next to a train, highway, or any kind of machine, and talk to your neighbours if possible.  All of those will bring additional noise to your unit. People sometimes do not realize that until they move in. Noise can really affect your quality of rest, sleep, and study. As a result, pay close attention when viewing the apartment, because once you are stuck with a one-year lease, you can’t easily get out of it. 

This brings us to the last time to think about when searching for housing – the lease period. Landlords or building rental offices all want a one-year lease, but you should consider whether it fits with your personal schedule. Sometimes, signing up for a lease might not be in the best interest of you, especially for students who would like to go back home during the summer. In this case, an eight-month lease may be better. There are different options, if you look hard enough, then you may find a place you like that offers a shorter leasing period. 

 

How can a real estate agent help a new renter find a suitable property? What kind of person can benefit from the help of a real estate agent?

 

I would say that there are three main benefits of hiring an agent. One is that hiring an agent is time-saving. You may not have the time to coordinate with, for example, seven different lenders, in terms of timing for viewing, and making sure all those times work for all the people you are trying to book a visit. You may have to scatter the viewings across many days, but with a realtor, you can schedule one trip and see all those seven properties, and the agents can make that scheduling for you a lot less troublesome. They can handle all the communication, the negotiation, the leasing details, so you don’t have to spend a lot of energy and effort. 

And the second benefit is hiring an agent does not cost you anything.  I’m not sure if people realize this. It actually doesn’t cost you anything to use a realtor for rental and for purchase. They charge the landlord instead. So really, it’s a free service to you that they’re providing. And, they can help you with many steps in between to save you time and energy. 

The third benefit is that even though you can look up a lot of the rental rules yourself, an experienced realtor can help you to fill in those knowledge gaps that you may not be aware of, in certain areas, about rental laws and what the landlord can or cannot do, or what’s right or wrong in the contract. It will probably take you a lot longer to figure it out by yourself versus having an experienced realtor who has the answer right away.

 

Besides using a real estate agent, what are some resources that are worth consulting before embarking on a property search?

 

There’s a lot of resources in almost every school that can help you during the property search. You can see if the school offers all-student apartments around the campus. These apartments have around four bedrooms per unit, which are great for students who wish to live with their friends or make some new ones. It’s a great deal as well. There are often housing-related resources or experts in your school who can give some general advice. You can check out the local boards, and generally, every school has some kind of student forum, and there will be a lot of postings there. For example, there are Facebook groups where students post to find a roommate or have discussions on landlords and buildings so that you can see the feedback to get a sense of the place and landlord. To sum up, there are a lot of resources to help students to find housing.  Just do your research ahead of time and focus on those factors we mentioned before when you’re looking for housing, whether by yourself or through our realtor and try to make sure that you know you are not going to regret your decision. 

 

Recommended Books and Resources

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board

Yinan Xia

Thank you, Yinan, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Watch the Podcast video Here: Finding Student Housing

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Starting Your Own Creative Business: Interview with Mary and Penelope

 

 

We interviewed Penelope and Mary, two sisters on a mission to create empowering relatable designs that highlight social issues, about starting your own business without a business degree. The professional world isn’t exactly the same as generations before us. People change careers often, work multiple jobs or gigs, and often prefer to work for themselves than a large established corporation. Long gone is the dream (or reality) of working the same job until retirement. So, we thought it would be interesting for students and recent grads to learn about young adults who have started some creative and meaningful businesses.

%name Starting Your Own Creative Business: Interview with Mary and Penelope

 

Penelope and Mary showcase their meaningful designs on an array of clothing and accessories. They also try to do their part to give back to the community by donating a portion of their profits to non-profits that represent their personal and professional values. They are the epitome of a socially conscious business. Ultimately, Penelope and Mary’s goal is to make people feel good about themselves and brave enough to shed light on some really important issues.

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How do you think your creative educational backgrounds and your own kind of work experience have helped you as you ventured into the world of entrepreneurship?

 

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Penelope: I am a believer that all of our skills are transferable in many ways. For my undergrad degree, I majored in film studies, and then I did a diploma in social work. Two, what seems to be different avenues, really required a lot of the same type of skills such as: perception, communication, seeing things that are not necessarily right in your face. For example, when you are making or studying a film, you are analyzing it, breaking it down, looking at the story that is being told, learning about the characters… Films are such a beautiful medium for storytelling, and to also create social change. Learning how these types of mediums can tell stories that can change people’s lives and shed light on a lot of topics was the one thing I really took away from my Film degree. With my experience in social work, I learned all about looking at the world as a whole and lifting the veil to seeing it through a lens of understanding of issues like white privilege, and oppression. These experiences really opened my mind. Now, I am taking all of that and putting it into this business in terms of our concept and what we are trying to achieve with this business. We strive to become a socially responsible and conscious business.

Mary: It is a little more obvious how my background would help out this business. I have always loved to draw and it is something that I have been doing since I can remember. Naturally, I became an artist and decided to learn about graphic design. With graphic design, I had to come up with designs all the time. I had to always come up with different concepts and learning to design different things, such as posters, websites, and photographs. All these things that I learned in school, I have tied into this business. I have taken those creative and designing tools and applied them directly to our products. My educational background has been a huge impact on our business. 

 

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What would you tell your 25-year-old selves, who are thinking of starting a business in the next few years? What kind of warnings or tips would you give them?

Mary: I would tell my younger self to not be overly confident. Do not go into this thinking that things need to fall into place right away. Do not assume that things need to work out right away for things to be successful. Everything takes time. Even now we are still growing and learning and we are still not at the point where we want to be yet. When we first started this whole business, I was under the assumption that I am pretty good at designing, so we are gonna get sales, and everything is going to work out perfectly. However, that has not been the case. That has been a learning experience to be patient and just keep going. Sometimes, you have to let go of expectations. Do not give up and things will slowly get better. 

Penelope: Personally, I think one of the challenges of starting a business is not necessarily the process of starting it, but rather figuring out how it is going to evolve and your vision for the business. What direction do you want it to go? This question can be hard because you may have a really good idea, but not really know what the vision is like. Even if you have a vision, there is a lot of stuff you are not going to think about or know. You have to learn a lot of new things and skills and everything takes time. As Mary said, you cannot just go into it expecting to make money right away or get sales right away because it is not going to happen. You have to build up to that. 

Tell us a little bit about the values in your business. Where does the inspiration come from?

Penelope: Empowerment is like, a major one for us. We want our design to make people feel good about themselves. We want our designs to make people feel seen, Mary and I have often felt very misunderstood throughout our lives. Personally, I felt like a very misunderstood person most of my life. I felt like an outsider who did not always fit in. We just really want our designs to reach out to people that do not feel like they are important or special, or that they matter. For example, our AF collection, such as Queer AF, Sensitive AF was actually my idea. I have felt ashamed my whole life for how sensitive I am and I want to reach out to people who have felt ashamed for being who they truly are, and let them know that they should not feel that way. A lot of our values come from our hearts and personal experiences. We aim to create something that it speaks to people. It is always about love, acceptance, inclusivity, and empowerment.

 

Mary: My answer would be really similar to what Penelope said. Through our designs, we try to make people feel relatable. For example, I identify as pansexual, so that is why we have the queer design. I know how hard it is to come to terms with who you are and even now I am still discovering myself more and more as I get older. All of our designs are a piece of us. It all comes from personal stories, our personal journey or those close to us and their journey. We are always just trying to make everything really authentic. Thinking about the keywords about our values, another one would be kindness. Treating people with kindness is highly valued for us in a world where everyone is so competitive. For women, especially, sometimes we feel not enough: not pretty enough, not smart enough, or not doing enough. As a result, we want to speak on that issue through our designs and a big part of our focus is on female empowerment.

Book Recommendations

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown

She Comes Undone by Wally lamb

MOODish

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Thank you, Mary and Penelope, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Becoming a Priest : Interview with Emily Gordon

 

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.

We interviewed Reverend Emily Gordon, a minister of the United Church of Canada here in Toronto, about vocations. A vocation is defined as a strong feeling of suitability for a certain occupation. People who talk about being called to do something or that they couldn’t imagine doing anything else are likely pursuing a vocation. One profession that requires individuals to feel called to it before they can even get an entry level position is ministry. This is an area of work that is often not discussed by career counselors because of its status as a vocation, but for individuals who seek meaning, purpose, and a connection to something beyond themselves this may be the ideal path.

March 300x225 Becoming a Priest : Interview with Emily Gordon

 

Emily did not start out her education knowing that she would one day become a minister, but her education has helped her in ministry. Emily completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in English and Classics at Mount Allison University, followed by a Masters of English in Print Culture from Simon Fraser University. After a couple years of exploration and reflection, she felt the call to the Ministry and enrolled in a Masters of Divinity at Emmanuel College, becoming an ordained Minister in 2015. Her original love of reading and writing is now expressed in reflecting on Biblical and other spiritual texts and writing prayers and sermons for church services and materials. 

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Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey to realizing that you felt called to become a minister?

For me, vocation is a calling. It is a voice that’s calling you toward something – certain work or a certain purpose. In order to become a minister, part of the process that denomination asks you to take part in is being clear that this is a CALLING, rather than just an idea of something that you could do off a list of many things. It’s a fairly significant commitment that you make, and most ministers that you talk to will say that wasn’t an easy decision. You don’t just sort of fall into this.

So, originally I thought that I was going to be a professor and go into academia. I did an Honors degree and Master’s degree, and I was expecting to complete a PhD in English Literature. However, I began to realize that I was not feeling satisfied with the idea of the work that I’d be doing for the rest of my life. As much as I enjoyed reading and writing my whole life, it wasn’t the only thing that I wanted to do. I felt that I wanted something more meaningful. I wanted to find a way to make an impact on people’s lives.

Most people who go into ministry have a call story. My call story is fairly direct. When I realized that I wasn’t going to continue in academia, I spend a lot of time thinking about what can I do. And one day, when I was asking this question, I felt that I heard a voice, not an actual literal voice, but a fully formed sentence that rose up from within me. For me, I understood that as God speaking to me because it felt both like a completely new idea of going into ministry, but also something that felt deeply familiar and deeply right. I spent some time in very careful reflection to make sure this wasn’t just a passing idea, but something that I was called to do. I spent some time discerning and traveling and working in a church. Then, I began the discernment process in the United Church, which consists of going before a discernment committee to ask and answer a bunch of different questions. Then, I went to back to school to study theology, and eventually was ordained a minister in 2015.

Do you have any advice for students on how to plan for schoolwork at home during the pandemic?

Back when I was a student, I used a technique called Parking Lots. I first started using this technique when I was writing essays. The parking lot is the place where you put any ideas you have that are unsure where they fit into the essay yet. Or, if you wrote something and realized it did not belong where you put it, you could copy and paste that whole paragraph or set of sentences into the parking lot. Similar to the actual parking lots, it gives you a place to store things in case you need them again. If you figure out where it belongs eventually, the work is not lost, so you do not have to spend time worrying about it or thinking about it.

The parking lot approach can also be applied to the things going on in our lives too. On days when I am not working, one of the strategies I sometimes use depending on the workload I have, is starting a parking lot. This is usually just a page in my planner or just a scrap of paper, and then anything that pops up in my mind goes onto that. It can be, for instance, follow up with Lisa, or finish writing that prayer for Sunday. Once I’ve got those things written down, I know I will not forget them. This helps me to clear my mind and focus on the present, so that I can enjoy my days off fully. In addition, as soon as I am working again, I’ll be able to just look at that list and add it to the to-do list for the day.

For students who are religious, or perhaps spiritual, what would you say is something that would be beneficial to their daily spiritual practices?

I think often times we have a very narrow idea of what can be a spiritual practice. It might be meditation or prayer or reading scripture, but we sometimes miss all of the other things that can be spiritual practices. For instance, one of the things that is a good spiritual practice for me personally is going for a walk. The opportunity to move, be outside, see the world, not talk to anyone, and have space to reflect on what’s happening around or inside of me really helps me to stay grounded.

Intentional breathing is another option. Intentional breathing does not have to be as long as meditation. For people who may not find many meditations meaningful, they might appreciate doing a few minutes, or even seconds of intentional breathing. Intentional breathing can be something as simple as breathing in for five counts, then pause for three counts, and the breath out for seven counts. If you repeat that three or four times throughout the day or any other time when things happening just start to feel a bit too much, it can help you to recenter. What it does is it grounds you into where you are. It brings air, and oxygen into your body and nourishes you, so that you can better cope with the stresses around you.

Recommended Books and Resources

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith by Marcus J. Borg

Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power―And How They Can Be Restored by Marcus J. Borg

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

Thank you, Emily, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period. 

Janelle Lewis is a social worker in the Toronto area who has experience working with vulnerable populations. While jobs in the sciences are sometimes considered to be “practical” an arts degree provides skills and opportunities, which can be used for careers that make meaningful differences to the community.

LewisJanelle 1 1 768x1024 Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

Over the past two years, Janelle has worked as a Program Resource Worker within the Regent Park community, where she manages intensive cases in supportive housing and provides life skills training and interventions to those experiencing mental health struggles.

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What inspired you to get into social work?

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The first thing would be the area that I grew up in as a child and the second thing would be coming from a working-class family. So, to further elaborate, the area that I grew up in, it was predominantly an area that had a lot more crime than other parts of Toronto and it was home to a lot of working-class, immigrant families. And at the time when I was a child, there was a shortage of social services. So, that definitely made me think about how I could contribute to my community. Just seeing my parents struggle made me think about what I could do for people who are also living in poverty or living in low income, and just seeing how I can make a better impact on them.

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What has been the most meaningful part of your career so far?

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So, currently, where I work in Regent Park, I work with those who experience mental health issues. I would say just hearing a thank you and how I’ve helped them, is honestly the most meaningful part of my career. A lot of my residency experience anxiety and paranoia, and just seeing where they’ve come at the beginning of when we started working together until a few years later and how they’ve developed skills and coping strategies and they’re stabilized and much more independent. As an outreach worker, I work with a lot of people who experience poverty and homelessness. So, for them to share their story about how they got there and the struggles and the struggles that they’re experiencing. It definitely is so meaningful for them to find some sort of comfort or trust to share that story.

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What are some of the challenges of being a social worker?

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I mean, within the social work profession, it can be a very heavy and emotional job just because we’re experiencing a lot of stressful, traumatic situations. Number one would be taking my work home with me. I’ve gotten a lot better at this where I say okay if I end at five o’clock, that’s it. I’m going to be in the present moment, and I’m going to go home. But sometimes I do hear some very difficult stories. And I’m a very sensitive person. So, after hearing some difficult stuff, or just maybe seeing a crisis that I was assisting with, and going home with that I just sometimes need time to reflect on what happened. The second challenge that I would say is wanting to do more with me that people are experiencing homelessness. I want to do more. I wish I could provide housing, I wish I could spend a little extra more time with my residents who are experiencing isolation. But at the same time, I have to remind myself that sometimes you can only do so much.

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What is the process of becoming qualified as a social worker?

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There are so many different ways of becoming a registered social worker. I attended George Brown College for the Social Service Worker programme, which is a two-year programme. And the reason why I decided to go to George Brown College rather than University is that I wasn’t exactly sure whether social work was the career I wanted to go into. I felt that it was very daunting and scary committing for years and to a degree that I wasn’t exactly sure about and it made me feel better knowing George Brown College that they provide placement for both years. So, once I graduated from George Brown, I transferred to York, and I did a double major. So, I double majored in sociology and social work. If you have your bachelor’s in social work, you can stop there and you’re asked to sign up as a registered social worker, but then sometimes people want to continue their education. So, for me, I’m going back to school for my Master’s in social work.

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Thank you, Janelle, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about professional development and writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!
As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.
Housing 300x300 Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!

 

We interview Janelle Lewis, a Program Resources Worker in the Regent Park community of Toronto and volunteer with vulnerable populations. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Janelle’s reasons for pursuing social work

Challenges and rewards of being a social worker

The process of becoming a social worker

Attending grad school in the fall

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To get more help with professional development and writing, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.