The Engineering Career Centre is potentially planning to change their PEY services starting with the 2T4 class. The new PEY program starts from First Year which offers services for $600 per semester. There are multiple questions that these changes raise. Do we need training for PEY from First Year? Are these new services worth the money? How can students be sure if they want to do a PEY before third year?
Here’s a breakdown of the services, and their pros and cons.
1. The two main services for First Year’s which is currently being offered as part of their pilot program are a welcome information event and peer mentorship programs where students are paired with students who have already completed their PEY.
Pros: Students are well informed about what PEY is and what criteria they need to meet to qualify to do one. The mentorship program helps them get advice from students and professionals who have first-hand experiences and can teach them how to network and present themselves at career fairs.
Cons: First year is a tough year for most students. Many of them are not sure of the disciplines that they are currently enrolled in and some even switch out of it during or after the first year. PEY is not their priority at that point. They are usually more worried about passing their courses, dealing with low grades probably for the first time and deciding if they want to continue with their program. They will most likely be only interested in having a brief idea which they already get as PEY is highly advertised by the university on their websites and campus fairs for incoming students. They’re also informed about it during Frosh Week by upper-year students.
2. For planning out their career and professional development they have a PEY handbook with all dates, an online tool with assessments, and activities and a list for all opportunities across the faculty.
Pros: The handbook will help them in planning out the next two years. The online tool and the list of resources are tools to make a career action plan which would be beneficial for students who have figured out what their career goals are.
Cons: All the information about PEY is already present on the PEY website and the University also sends reminders at the start of the semester about all key dates. YNCN (You’re Next Career Network), a student organization, aids with professional development which students can avail for free anytime during their time at UofT.
3. To improve networking and interviewing skills they will be organizing industry engagement events and online mock interview tools.
Pros: This offers many opportunities to create connections and practice how to answer questions that would be useful while finding a PEY and even jobs in the future.
Cons: Such events are already organized by WISE and YNCN which is open to all students throughout the year.
4. Assistance with Resume and Cover Letters through webinars, guides and online feedback tools.
Pros: Students usually have never prepared either of these before and aren’t aware that you need to change it based on the type of job and whether it is part-time or full time. So, these services would be very useful in guiding them.
Cons: Resume building is already taught as part of APS100 and the University can make changes to the curriculum for this course to focus more on professional development. Additional help is also provided by professionals during specific resume and cover letter building events organized by WISE and YNCN.
After analyzing this breakdown, the charges for these services set by ECC are too high as students already have access to these services for free from other clubs at UofT. The ECC is providing many of these services as part of the current programs, for a maximum of $1100 for PEY and $400 for ESIP, only if you are able to secure a job through them. For students who find jobs through other websites and/or those who decide to drop out of the program in between the third year, it would not make sense to pay for all six semesters. More importantly, due to the expense associated with PEY, many students might even opt-out of it.
The ECC needs to re-evaluate its decision to go ahead with these changes. We as part of the engineering community need to speak up and suggest ways to improve the PEY program without making it expensive.