Here’s your degree, what next?

Shelly Moore-Frappier
Photos courtesy of Laurentian

Students Encouraged to Utilize Indigenous Resources Post-Graduation

As college students prepare for graduation, the future can often seem uncertain, if not ominous.

Colleges and universities across Canada are trying to subvert those fears by providing employment guidance and preparing them mentally for the transition from dorms to the eight hour workday.

Universities Canada reported in 2017 that within its 96 member schools, 86 per cent provided support systems specifically for Indigenous students. Those included peer mentorships and academic counselling.

Over one-third of the member schools had transition programs for their students.

Shelly Moore-Frappier is director of the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre at Laurentian University in Sudbury, which opened in 2017. She says around 1100 students identify as Indigenous at Laurentian, which houses one of the oldest Indigenous Studies programs in the country.

Moore-Frappier says it’s important for students to remember that as they prepare for graduation, the support systems don’t stop. They offer opportunities such as career fairs, resume writing, and one-on-one transition work.

It can be intimidating for students to enter into the workforce after college, and Moore-Frappier says Indigenous students especially have hurdles to overcome as they graduate.

Her advice? It comes down to relationships.

“I think that students who use our center have a strong relationship with many, or sometimes one or two people in the center, which can really help them in finding careers because number one, it’s networking,” she says. “Number two, it’s about that sense of support, that cheerleader on their side.”

Photos courtesy of Laurentian

Provincial and Federal Programs Reach Out To Youth

Indigenous Services Canada provides several programs for youth entering the workforce. They invested around $100 million over three years, starting in 2017, for their First Nations and Inuit Skills Link and Summer Work Experience programs.

The Skills Link Program is available to Indigenous youth, from 15 to 30 years old, enter the labour market, develop “employability skills” such as problem-solving and teamwork, as well as giving wage subsidies for work experience or mentorships.

Many provinces provide direct support for Indigenous peoples.

Manitoba developed employment “action plans” over the years, developed with Indigenous people and educational stakeholders. Their 2008-2011 action plan, titled Bridging Two Worlds, works to educate, train, and employ Indigenous peoples. Their goal was to provide “meaningful participation” in the labour market, increasing the province’s representation in the workforce, with a specific focus on youth employment.

Millennial Skills Put To Work

The computer skills that are inherent in college-aged youth can come in extremely handy.

Employers have recognized the growing demographic of Indigenous youth and create specific digital opportunities.

Job boards such as Aboriginal Job Board and Careers Indigenous Link showcase job opportunities across the country, searchable by trade and location.

Schools also encourage students to stay connected as alumni, even if they’ve found work after graduation. The University of British Columbia provides an entire alumni resource guide on their site, including a LinkedIn group, involvement opportunities, and alumni perks.

Moore-Frappier says her centre often posts to social media for job opportunities. She says it’s important that if students begin to doubt themselves and their abilities, places like Indigenous students centres can help them navigate that mental transition.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to your student centers, even if you don’t have a relationship with them,” she advises. “You can reach back and say, oh I need help finding a job, or they can tweak their interviewing skills, their resume. All those things we’re here to support and help them be successful.”