Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

My Post-Graduate Job Hunt

Since graduating from the ISU, I have been home with family, in Toronto for the IAC, to St. Catharines to visit my sister and her friends, back home for Thanksgiving, back to Toronto for a few weeks to visit friends, and finally back home. It has been a busy time, and I have been working hard to make the most of it.

 I am very glad that I am adaptable, flexible, easy-going, and other synonyms for not minding change so much. With being all over the place, and especially changing places and occupations from "student in Europe" to "young graduate at home in rural Canada", an inflexible attitude would have made everything very difficult. However, I have smiled, rolled up my sleeves, and faced new challenges and tasks with enthusiasm.

So, what have I been up to? 

Anyone who follows this blog regularly will notice that I've been blogging a little more frequently, especially covering news of different space missions such as Rosetta, New Horizons, Northern Light, Orion, and recently discussed some opportunities for Canadian engineers. These are all side projects, hobbies really, ways to keep myself busy and turn my recreational time and activities into something productive and perhaps beneficial for my career. Detailing the missions will help make me more informed, and perhaps help lead me to new possibilities. The post about Canadian opportunities was something I have been planning for a long time; a way to give back to those following a similar path as mine and to help others have a far easier time finding information than I had. I will be following this post up with some letters addressed to people who may be able to spread the information more than I can myself.

I have also been job hunting. Despite a lack of documentation on this blog, the job hunt has been my chief concern and activity. My main concern right now is to suspend the student life and start gaining valuable experience (not to fail to mention an income) in this industry. I have been a student for a long time and it is extremely financially draining. While I have had many jobs, none of them have been exactly in my field and I'm ready to be paid for my work, my time, and my expertise.

Before obtaining my Masters, I could tell that I was not quite ready for the space engineering workforce. If I had found a job, I would have doubted myself the entire time. I did not have the perspective, on the industry or myself, to perform adequately. However, after this last year, after receiving my Masters of Sciences and working at an internship at NASA's Johnson Space Center, I feel much more confident about my place in this industry. Sure, I have a lot to learn, and I'm ready to get started!

So, I've been applying for jobs, every day, for a few months. I have heard some whispering among my extended family and friends, people wondering how things are going, if I've heard of anything, how good the prospects are, and for the people I haven't spoken to recently, I will elucidate. 

I am looking for work in Europe, in the space industry, and there are a lot of opportunities there. Many have asked why I have not considered Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency. There are several reasons including the fact that I have enjoyed Europe and not seen as much of it as I would like. There are more opportunities in Europe suited to the type of work and research I wish to pursue, and the European Space Agency and its partners are working on some exciting things right now and I would like to be a part of that. I am looking to work on projects related to spacecraft design, planetary rover/lander design, deep-space exploration, and the effects of the space environment. These niche fields are more likely to be tailored to by the variety of projects and companies in Europe.

Thankfully, due to its history of international cooperation, Canada is a cooperating member state of the European Space Agency (one of the few aspects of Canada's space industry which received an increase in funding according to the Canadian Space Agency's 2014-15 Estimates Report on Plans and Priorities), which means that Canadians can work for ESA. Last, but certainly not least, my girlfriend is in Europe, and while the relationship is young, it is full of promise and I wish to explore the possibilities further.

So, I have been looking for jobs with ESA, with Airbus Defense and Space, with DLR (Germany's space agency) and any other company I can find which is offering opportunities for a young graduate such as myself. The good news is that I'm finding a lot of jobs, as I've mentioned. Not just positions, but ones I feel qualified for, at which I would enjoy working, and positions I feel would provide useful experience for my future. However, I have not had any luck yet with getting interviews or progressing to the next step of the hiring process. Many of the jobs advertised by ESA have a 2 month extended closing date, and they only respond if you've moved to the next step. That means that jobs I applied for in October were still taking applications until recently so I know it will take time for them to process all of them. I believe many people I know have difficulty seeing this because they are used to an older-fashioned, more personal job hunt, where a résumé is handed to a hiring manager directly and an interview scheduled immediately. However, today in this industry, and with the fact that I'm looking for work on another continent, everything is done online. My cover letters and CV are sent off, applications filled out and submitted, and if I'm successful, I will receive an email or phone call. 

I have not been complacent in my search or application technique. I have been seeking out new sources of information on opportunities in this field and on the standards to which applicants are held. I have been trying to connect with people with experience, those currently working in the industry, trying to learn what I can do to increase my chances. I have been reading articles on LinkedIn and other sources on how to write better letters and form better CVs. I have improved, modified, and crafted each application to the job in question, but despite all of this, I have not moved forward in the process. Yet.

That last word is important. In my experience, if you're looking for anything more than "just a job" it takes time. When I was looking for work in western Canada, it took 3 months of searching. Then, suddenly, I had 3 job offers on the same day. The industry to which I'm applying may be completely different, but I believe the process may be similar. I know that it is a full-time job just to find a job and that this process takes time and effort.

I am a combination of realist and optimist, and with what I have seen, what I have learned, I feel confident that I will find something soon, something exciting and worthwhile, and when that happens, my career will flourish.

Until then, I am working very hard to stay informed of new opportunities. I am dedicating myself to improving and to gaining new knowledge and skills everyday. And, I am doing my best to enjoy life here at home, with family, because I am sure that very soon, I will be far away with a lot less free time.

Thanks for stopping by and for reading this post. I hope all is going well with you in your endeavours and just remember, as Chris Hadfield said, "Don't let life randomly kick you into the adult you don't want to become."


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