|Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health
|Food, Nutrition and Health
Upon transitioning from Science to LFS, Kathy embarked on a brand new journey. Throughout her LFS degree, she engaged in impactful Work Learn roles at the Center for Community Engaged Learning, LFS, and Enrolment Services. These experiences unveiled her passion for higher education and social justice. After graduation, Kathy worked at the UBC Arts Co-op Program for 4 years, progressing from a Program Assistant to an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Lead and Co-op Career Educator. More recently, she embraced a new chapter at the Vancouver Foundation, serving as a Manager of People, Learning, and Engagement, where she continues applying justice and decolonial frameworks in a new setting.
What did you think you would be when you were in 1st year?
Cancer Researcher (but then I found out I really disliked lab work!)
Why did you choose to study at LFS?
I spent half of my degree in Sciences before transferring to LFS which was a much better match. In high school, I was always attracted to ‘wicked problems’ – addressing tangible problems that impacted current and future generations. LFS helped me start on the journey to discovering my role where I can apply my skills towards alternative futures. I am privileged to be able to have a career that is fulfilling to me, filling my cup each day to try to create transformative change in collaboration with others.
How did your experiences in LFS shape your career?
Beyond the close-knit and friendly faculty experience, systems thinking and applying it to wicked problems impacted me significantly. It was the spark of establishing how I engage in and hold complexity for social justice issues today. I always tell others that LFS was like a “living lab” to view how systems of oppression manifested in the context of food, nutrition, and health issues.
What else has influenced your career journey?
My experiences in Work Learn opened me up to career paths I didn’t think of before, which was higher education. Experiential learning programs, like Work Learn, had such a significant impact that I wanted to continue in this area and spent a number of years in career education. When people ask about my career change from higher education to philanthropy/non-profit, I tell them that I didn’t have a ‘career change’ per se, but instead my career transformed and evolved. Self-reflection helped direct me to my next job and while the context changed, I still have roots to education and social justice.
Looking back on your career journey, is there anything you wish you knew as a student?
Not necessarily since I tried to keep an open mind, but I would say that sometimes you have doubts (imposter syndrome anyone?). Two worries I commonly had: I wondered whether I was boxing myself into a specific career from my Work Learn experience. However, I found that the act of narrowing down our possibilities is something we all do to ourselves. Even when we start by being open, it might feel important to make clear, specific decisions that close off new opportunities. When I was applying for jobs, I wondered, “Can I really do this?”. Especially the long job descriptions, I wasn’t sure I could do it all. However, I would just apply anyway to see what happened. It turns out I got those jobs and when I was doing the work, I could totally do it! I was just psyching myself out without giving myself a chance. What have you psyched yourself out of, and can you give yourself a chance to see what happens?
Employee recruitment is part of your work. What work search advice can you offer for students? How can they stand out to employers?
Your cover letter is a unique opportunity for you to discuss things you can’t in a resume, so:
- Personalize it (employers know when it’s a template)
- Use a friendly, professional tone (contractions can help)
- Discuss a specific example, rather than repeat what’s on your resume
- Display some of your personality
- Keep it brief - less than 400 words
Your cover letter should answer questions like:
- Why this company or industry?
- Why this job now? Maybe there's a specific example of work you did that gave you that lightbulb moment that told you, “I really want to do this more.”
- What would you bring to this role based on your experience? Discuss relevant example(s).
Most people don’t spend much time with their cover letters, and it makes sense because it’s hard to write, but it’s important to show the potential employer that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity.
What are your top tips for managing stress while looking for work and/or while navigating career decisions?
I think most stress from job searching and discovering your career comes from uncertainty. We usually try to figure out from our undergraduate studies what we will do for our whole lives, and that’s a lot! Although, uncertainty is scary, it also means you’re not stuck with your current ideas and beliefs about what you will do. It opens up the opportunity for you to explore new jobs that haven’t even been created yet, and isn’t that exciting?
My main advice is to break it down and focus on what’s next. Personally, if someone asks me what my career is or what my next job will be, I tell them “I don’t know, but it will probably relate to social justice.” I don’t want to write my entire career story without having lived it, and I’m not going to write an ending that hasn’t even happened yet.
Here are some more actionable tips to try:
- Create a way to track your job applications and stay organized.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Job searching takes work. Try to set reasonable expectations so that you don’t burn out.
- Use the resources available to you. Brush up on your resume, cover letter and interview skills, especially having mock interviews (it can feel weird doing them at first, but they’re really helpful)
- Reach out to your network. Talk to people and also let people know you’re searching, who knows how they may help.
- Keep in mind that your current job is a learning experience - you won’t be stuck in it forever and even if you learn what you dislike, that is equally important to learning what you like.
Sometimes students and early career professionals experience more rejection than they do success. It can make it hard to feel confident. Do you have any advice?
Rejection doesn’t mean you made a mistake or weren’t qualified. Let me explain with a story. For one of my jobs, I was not the first candidate. It was a job I really wanted and when I was rejected, I felt devastated but picked myself back up and kept going. After the weekend, I received an email asking me if I was still interested. It turned out the first candidate declined. The hiring manager told me that if they had two roles, they would’ve offered it to the both of us. Due to having one role, the difference was a candidate had more experience in X area than I did. This story shows that for many candidates who make it to the final round, you are all qualified for the job, and it is based off of what gaps may be in the organization that someone can fill.
What was your favorite place to eat at UBC?
If I had to name just one then definitely Agora Cafe, affordable eats around your peers. I liked the chickpea sandwich on focaccia bread (yum).