Career Planning

Career Planning

Career Exploration is a process that requires reflection, exploration, development, connection, and learning.

Match your interests with what’s out there

Career planning is a lifelong process because you interests, skills, and goals may change over time. In this section, you will find information to help you match your interests and abilities with the options available to you, along with on-campus resources.

When you are in a place to begin making decisions about your career or next steps, it’s important to set goals and create a plan of action. Do not hesitate to book a one-on-one appointment as you begin making those decisions because we’re here to help.

Unsure what your career focus is or what type of work you are after? It might be a good time to step back and check out the supports to help you  reflect, explore, and learn. The “backswing” is important to help you with a strong  “follow through” (2003, Amundson, Physics of Living).

Connect – How do I find a job?

Picture of two students speaking with a professional.

Job searching is not just a process; it is also an essential life skill. From crafting a well-written cover letter to practicing your elevator pitch and interview answers, job searching has many different parts that will challenge you and also help you develop skills you can bring with you to your next opportunity. Many people come out of a big job search with stronger communication, organizational, and time-management skills.

Knowing where to look is one way you can make your job search a little easier. That’s where our career experts offer invaluable insight and expertise. Our career experts can help you feel more in control of finding the right opportunities for your interests and goals.

Job Search Strategies

Having goals and a plan of action is one way you can feel more in control of your job search, and an important part of developing your job search strategy. If you have not done so already, polishing your “marketing materials” is a strong first step: update your resume and LinkedIn profile, write a cover letter that caters to your industry of-interest, and create a portfolio of work you can share. If you are active on social media, following organizations that you might want to work for can help you stay on top of their brand mission and ongoing opportunities.

Other things to consider as you build out your job search strategy include making a list of contacts and a list of networking events you are able to attend. Remember, asking for a job is not the most effective approach. Consider engaging with your contacts via informational interviews or coffee chats. Show your interest in the industry by asking questions and connect with your contacts to learn more about how you can locate opportunities to network and grow.

Above all, remember that job searching involves flexbility, persistence, risk-taking, curiosity, and optimism.

Job Search Skill Sessions

Develop those job search life skills through short Q & A style sessions on topics essential to your job search: resume and cover letter writing, networking, job search with social media, summer job search, decoding job postings, and interview tips. Longer sessions provide the opportunity to put your skills into practice include Mock Interview, Networking Practice and Career Fair Prep.

Download this handout for more information.

Dates and times can be found on the Student Success Centre events calendar in OSCARplus.

Tip Sheets

Our Tip Sheets are developed by our career professionals to provide you with the information you need to be a savvy job searcher! Keep building those life long job search skills.

Job Postings

Job postings are just one way to access opportunities – incorporate networking into your job search strategy to tap into the hidden job market!

  • OSCARplus: McMaster’s online career portal for summer, part-time, new grad recruitment, and full time positions.
  • Mosaic: Work Study and on-campus summer positions.
  • McMaster Hospitality Services: Part-time positions on-campus.
  • McMaster Athletics: Part-time, summer and full-time positions within Athletics and Recreation.
  • McMaster Students Union: Opportunities to work in student governance or in service areas operated by the MSU.
  • General job posting site. Try different key word searches to maximize options
  • – new-grad-jobs: Directory of companies that hire new graduates.
  • Job posting site for students and new graduates
  • Magnet. ca: A Canadian initiative helping students connect to employers through matching of skills and experiences.
  • Internship programs: A directory of national and international internship programs
  • International Experience Canada: A program to help you work and travel globally.
  • Federal Government internships: Lists youth jobs and internships programs
  • Company websites: Check career sections for postings.
  • Professional association or industry websites: Many will have postings for the field and are a great source for networking opportunities.

McMaster Library also has a selection of directories for company research to target your job search.

Be Your Own Boss

Interested in starting your own business or starting a side- gig? There are many opportunities for entrepreneurship. Here are some worth considering:

  • The Forge@Mac: Provides programming to encourage, develop, and support all McMaster entrepreneurs, including students at all levels of learning.
  • Summer Company: Financial and professional support to run your own business over the summer.
  • Hamilton Business Enterprise: Appointments with an Advisor available once a month  and workshops available each term – schedule through OSCARplus.

Individual Coaching

Individual supports through our career professionals include job search coaching, individualized employment action plans, feedback on tailoring your resume and cover letter, interview preparation practice, and how to build your brand on LinkedIn.

This workshop has benefitted me incredibly, especially all the info about LinkedIn.

McMaster University Student

Develop – How do I gain experiences and skills?

Photo of a student and employer shaking hands.

Gaining skills and experiences is an important part of your career development. Coming to University is one way in which you have already made the choice to invest in your skills and future. The skills and experiences you develop at McMaster, whether through course work, extra-curriculars, volunteer or summer jobs, can contribute greatly to your career path and future decisions.

Take advantage of all the opportunities that come with being part of our community and build your resume in a way that helps you explore interests, develop skills and make connections.

Work Opportunities

Finding a job while you are a student is one way you can develop your skills, not just within the role, but also outside of it. Having a job while you are a student can develop your time-management and organizational skills, as you have to learn to balance multiple commitments.

Here are some options to get you started:

  • Summer Jobs: Did you know some companies start posting summer job opportunities as early as December? Attend a summer job search workshop or come to a Career fair to learn more about the opportunities to gain experience, develop skills, and make connections. Visit OSCARplus to sign-up.
  • Work-Study Positions: These are on-campus work experiences available part-time through the academic school or full time over the summer. There is a wealth of opportunity in various departments throughout campus. Jobs are in August for p/t academic year positions and early March for summer opportunities on Mosaic.
  • On-Campus Work: In addition to work-study, there are also job opportunities available through the McMaster Student Union, McMaster Hospitality Services and Marauders – check out their website directly for postings throughout the year.


There are many great organizations out there that are looking for passionate, hard-working volunteers to make their goals a reality. Organizations that recruit volunteers often provide some kind of support to the community, which means, there is often an impact associated with the work they do.

Being able to take on experiences that have an impact can help bring meaning and purpose to your resume and job application(s). Your volunteer experiences often tell an employer more about your desired professional development and can provide employers with a glimpse of whether or not you are a good fit for their organization. Volunteer experiences are also a way of gaining work experience when you have no work experience.

Here are some options to get you started:

  • Volunteer Connections: Meet with a Student Success Leader to find the right volunteer opportunity. Appointments are available on OSCARplus.
  • Volunteer Hamilton: non-profit organizations in the Hamilton area share their volunteer postings. Visit the website to search the database for opportunities or review their directory to find the organization of interest for you.
  • Peer Language Facilitators: These on-campus volunteers provide English language support to an English-as-an-Additional-Language (EAL) student through friendship and a comfortable environment for learning. Visit the Speakeasy page for more information.
  • Community Engagement & Volunteer Fair: This is a yearly on-campus event that features organizations recruiting volunteers. Visit the event page for more information.

Practicums/Co-op/Field Placements/Externships

Securing a job directly related to your field of-interest is not always a realistic option if you have little to no experience, which is why it is important to pursue all available opportunities. Practicums, co-ops, field placements, and externships are short-term opportunities that can give you exposure to the career path of your choice while also allowing you to develop meaningful connections. The connections you build during these experiences can be integral in your future job search.

Here are some options to get started:

Extra-Curricular Activities

Did you know we have over 300 clubs on-campus? Check out the opportunities below:

Support – How can I get help?

We’ve got your back. Whether it’s individual support, group sessions, or career and education events, or a quick question – there are a variety of ways we strive to help you with your career and education journey.

  • Attend a career and employment session.
  • Book an appointment through OscarPlus – Appointments.
  • Attend drop-in clinics available Tuesday to Thursday from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Email us at with your questions.
  • Keep up-to-date with all the information, events and offerings with #MacTalksCareers
  • Join our LinkedIn Group to connect with peers, alumni, employers and career professionals.