Navigating a career can be challenging. The UBC Career Centre, under the Office of the Vice-President, Students, works with undergraduate and graduate students to help them better understand and prepare for the complex and rapidly changing world of work, as outlined in the Student Strategic Plan.
This is done through advising, workshops, career fairs, partnerships with faculty and other departments, and more, to ensure that career preparation is an integral part of the UBC student experience.
Tony Botelho, a career development professional with over 30 years of experience working with post-secondary students, joined UBC as the new managing director for the Career Centre this summer.
In this Q&A, Botelho offers advice for students to help them prepare for their future careers.
What is your advice for students who might feel overwhelmed by their future career?
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed as there is a lot of uncertainty and change in the world of work. The good news is that you do not have to have it all figured out. For those struggling to determine what steps to take towards their future, I strongly encourage them to visit the UBC Career Centre. We will work with you to help you determine who you are and what’s important to you. We will also help you identify possibilities for your career and guide you in developing strategies to explore them. Our services are free and available to all undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates.
How can students make the most of their time at UBC to prepare for their careers?
Look for experiential opportunities around campus and find ways to connect with people. UBC has one of the largest co-operative education programs in the country and an excellent Work Learn program. There are many on-campus opportunities through student government, societies and clubs, and there are a number of volunteer opportunities off campus. Also, there are research and learning opportunities outside the classroom for students considering graduate school. Alumni UBC equally has opportunities to connect with alumni who might be in a field you are interested in. If you do not know where to begin, the UBC Career Centre is a great place to start. We’re here to help you get the most out of your time at UBC and to guide you in your career journey, wherever you are in your academics.
What advice would you give to a student who is unsure about visiting the Career Centre?
There are students who do not visit the Career Centre because they are not sure what to ask, or because they feel it’s only for students who have everything figured out. But these are exactly the students we want to see! Uncertainty or changing direction is normal, whether you are a new undergraduate student or a senior graduate student. The Career Centre staff can support you in navigating these changes and can help you develop strategies that make sense for you and your situation.
Also, students who need support the most are often the last ones to access them. The Career Centre is committed to working with academic and other partners on campus to make career development education a structurally unavoidable part of the UBC student experience, and to ensure that these supports are accessible to students of all backgrounds, abilities, and experiences.
What drove you to career development education and what is your vision for the Career Centre at UBC?
Growing up in a small northern B.C. community and being the first in my family to go to university, I struggled to find a job even with a degree and co-op experience behind me. I realized that there were gaps in how schools prepare students for life after graduating, and that there are many factors that influence the transition out of university, and this influenced my approach to this work. Career development within a university context is more than helping students find work. It involves helping students understand how the skills and knowledge they have acquired in the classroom and non-classroom activities can be applied to many different possibilities, and how they can arrive at what is best for them. It is critical that the Career Centre not only offers excellent services and programming, but that we support campus partners in integrating this work into the student experience.
Resources for students
- Speak to a career development professional through Drop-In Advising.
- Find paid or volunteer work and research opportunities through CareersOnline, Work Learn and other programs.
- Meet employers and alumni through our events and career fairs or connect with a mentor at the UBC Hub of Ten Thousand Coffees.
- Gain confidence in your career through workshops, LinkedIn Learning or Your Degree resource.