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My degree is getting me nowhere Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I graduated three years ago from York University with a degree in political science. I received good grades and aspired to work for either the federal or Ontario government. I wrote tests and applied for internships with both, but was not accepted.

It seems every opportunity eludes me. I have sent out over 1,500 résumés over the past couple of years and tried almost every avenue to obtain a professional position of any sort, but have received few responses.

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During university and since, I have worked at a part-time retail job which has become increasingly tiresome, but it has paid the bills. I cannot continue working in retail, as depression has firmly set in. My future weighs heavily on me; likely I will never be able to have a family or own a house let alone live comfortably. I rent a small apartment in Toronto with my girlfriend and, unlike many people my age, am unable to move home.

I have looked into further studies in an in-demand field, although I do not have the money or time for them. Meanwhile, I am very close to being unable to afford rent.

What do you suggest I do?

THE ANSWER

I understand that you are struggling. You are definitely not alone. Toronto’s youth unemployment rate is more than twice that for adults. Many recent university graduates are in a similar situation.

First, it is important to get help with your mental health. See your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis and referrals. Being as healthy as possible – mentally, physically and emotionally – will be important in looking for a new position. Prospective employers will want to make sure that you are up for the challenge of taking on a new position and helping them achieve their company goals.

Often, job seekers are not aware of all the government (and private sector) sponsored programs available to help them. There are a number of these at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Service Canada and Employment Ontario offer job listings, counselling support and training. At the municipal level in Toronto, programs such as Youth Employment Service, the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment, and the Youth Employment Partnership are available to you and other young job seekers.

Similarly, check to see if York University offers career services for its alumni.

As opposed to taking a shotgun approach to your job search, , you will want to be more focused. Take time to clarify your interests, strengths, gifts, aptitudes, and strengths. Then narrow down which companies or agencies may be looking for someone like you. Do your research on these companies, including key executives. Then set up information interviews. Indicate your interest in finding out more about the company as well as your interest in working with them on a consulting, part-time or full-time basis.

Visibility will be important in your job search. Find out where your prospective employers congregate and attend these gatherings. Find a mentor who can help introduce you to key officials. Attend job fairs.

On the social media side, post your résumé on job sites. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to post updates, information of interest to prospective employers, and requests for contacts and work.

Bruce Sandy is principal of www.brucesandy.com and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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