Day 25: What You Did Today

I didn’t get up to anything too exciting today, as it is a workday for me. But that’s what it’s like in the life of a research assistant.

I slept in a little this morning since I didn’t have any meetings, and then I ate breakfast and went through my emails and notifications. After that, I started to get some work done. I’m currently reading a book on Canadian fisheries policy and taking notes on certain things that are useful for the project I’m working on.

I worked most of the day, with a break for coffee and lunch of course. I decided to work on my blog later in the afternoon, mostly doing some editing and behind the scenes work. I also tend to write some 30 Day Challenge posts in advance, since I can’t always write a post the day it goes up. Luckily, I got to edit my blog in my reading nook, which is one of my favourite places to work.


Last but not least, I’m just about to cook dinner, which involves roasting a bunch of veggies and making some meatballs. After that, I plan to relax the rest of the night, which might mean reading a bit or putting on a movie.

What are some of the things you did today? Let me know in the comments!


Day 23-What Area of Life I’d Like To Improve

To be honest, I’d like to improve in all the areas of my life.

In relationships, I want to be a better friend, one who is more up to date and connected to them. I’m bad at messaging someone constantly for a while then not doing so again for months, so I’d definitely like to improve on that. Plus, if it gets me a date or something, bonus points!

In general, I’d like to become better at managing being an adult, from being able to manage my money better, to doing my taxes and stuff like that. Plus, I’m hoping the adulting skills I learn now will help me prepare for after graduating school. However, I know those will come in time, since I can’t learn everything adult at once.

At school, I’d like to keep getting good marks, and become more involved on campus next year with societies and clubs. I’m thinking as well that I’d like to go on exchange, which might require a bit of extra work and maybe getting a few scholarships.

What do you guys want to improve in your life? Tell me down below!


Day 19-How I’ve Changed In The Last 2 Years

Almost two years ago, I was writing my last diploma exams for high school, so I feel like it’s a good time to be writing this.

I don’t think I can say only part of me has changed, but me as a whole. If you had met the Melissa graduating high school, I think you wouldn’t recognize the woman I am today.

In terms of relationships, I was in a long-term relationship two years ago. Now, I’ve been single for almost a year, and I’ve honestly been loving it, especially the freedom to do whatever I want. I’ve learnt over the last two years that I need to rely on myself before anyone else, and that I am the source of my happiness, not the guy I date. In terms of both relationships, and in particular friendships, I’ve learnt more about what being a good friend means, and when I need to leave some friendships. My friends now are some of the best I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

In terms of work, in the last two years I’ve changed jobs once, and I decided to come back to a job I thought I would never have. When I moved out to Banff last year for my job, I took a huge leap of faith in my abilities and the job in general. I survived that summer, and this summer I’m working at the same place. It’s definitely a change from working in food service to sales, but I’ve become more outgoing because of it.

In terms of school, I’ve learned so much. I learnt how to study, how to write better, how to manage my time, etc. I loved my first year, and I can’t wait to get back to X, even if that means having to do midterms and exams again. However, two years ago I don’t think I would have decided moving to a small university across the country would be perfection, but it is now.

In terms of everything else, I think I’ve gained a lot of independence and have become a lot more of a responsible adult. After dealing with taxes, doctor’s appointments, and living on my own basically in Banff and Nova Scotia, I’ve learnt a lot of small life lessons. Whether it’s cooking a new meal or figuring out where to get a letter for a scholarship on campus, I’ve become better at managing my own things. I also appreciate my parents and all they do, because I struggle sometimes with getting everything done on time.

In any case, I’m thankful for the lessons life has taught me over the last two years, and I’m optimistic for the next few. Hopefully, I can read this post then and be proud of where I’ve gotten. Until then,  I’ll keep going in this journey called life.



Day 15-Your Favorite Memory

If you haven’t seen my post Bliss yet, that’s one of my recent favorite memories.

Otherwise, I have so many favorite memories that it’s hard to choose…so I chose a few categories!

My favorite childhood memories are my mom singing me to sleep and the petting zoo in Victoria, B.C. I also really cherish all the shenanigans that me, my sister, my best friend, and her stepsiblings got into when we were kids. We had some pretty cool top secret clubs and definitely abused our walkie talkies many a time on the playground…

My favorite school memories are mostly big events, like graduating and things like that. However, the friends I made and the memories I made with them are pretty awesome too. As well, my first year of university was one of the best years of my life so far. I love my Xaverian family already.

My favorite work memories mostly come from my current job. Even though it’s stressful with all the tourists sometimes, the people I work with and the fact I work on a mountain every day make it worth it.

Other than that, I cherish almost every moment in life that I spend with those I love or doing what I love. As well, every time I’ve traveled has always been a highlight in my life!

What are your favorite memories? Leave them down in the comments!


Day 14-Daily Routine

Well, since I’m working now my routine is a bit different!

Most of my day centers around when I’ll be working, because I either work morning or late shifts.

If I’m working a day shift, I’m usually up at work for 9am, and then leaving there at early evening. Sometimes on the way home I’ll stop downtown and get groceries or do a few errands, but usually, I head straight home to cook dinner. With early shifts, I might go and hang out with friends at staff accom later, or even head out to downtown Banff for a night of fun. It really depends on when I work the next day, and if I feel like looking pretty.

If I’m working a night shift, I work from 1pm until the last customers are gone, but I’ll usually be up at 9am. Somedays I’ll stop downtown and get food or do errands before work, since I’m usually too tired to do them after work. I do the same after work things as when I have early shifts, but usually just hanging out with people.

As for my weekends, those are the days to catch up on adult things like groceries, laundry, and so forth. I also usually have fun, and try and plan at least one adventure or hike. Some weekends I also head home to bug my family, because they’re only an hourish away by bus. In any case, my weekends are a time to relax and get away from *some* of the tourists.

What do you guys do every day? Leave it in the comments!


How To Survive A Gap Year: Finding A Job You Like Part 3

So you’ve done the interviews, and now you have a few job offers on the table. How do you decide which one to choose, and what do you do after you get the job?

How To Decide Which Job To Take

Consider the following:

  1. Salary and Benefits: What’s the wage? Is it competitive? Are there benefits?
  2. Commute or Moving: How far do you have to commute? Do you have to move? How far?
  3. The Company Itself: Do you like them? Are they trustworthy? How big is the company? Will they continue being successful?
  4. The specifics of the position: It is all you wanted? Is there something you don’t like or want to do?
  5. Start and end date: Are you going to be there a while? Can they accommodate your schedule? (important for students)
  6. Promotions: Is there a chance to move to a higher position? How long would it take?

I usually make a giant pros/cons list with all my offers in order to choose, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut too. Also, if it’s your dream job, go for it!

Accepting the Job, and the Aftermath

Some things you’ll probably have to do for the new job:

  1. Get a new uniform, whether provided or purchased my you.
  2. Fill out t4s in Canada and lots of paperwork including things like requiring identification, banking information, and your SIN number.
  3. Get some training done, and have your first day at work. Good luck!!

Remember to inform all the other companies that had given you offers that you’ve accepted another job just as a courtesy, so they’re not waiting for an answer from you. Plus, it’s very polite to do so after they’ve spent a lot of time on you.

Some things to consider after moving forward with your new job, maybe after a month and then three months:

  1. Check in and see if this is the job you want, and that you’re enjoying it.
  2. If it is, identify a goal you want to accomplish such as a promotion or more of a leadership role.
  3. If it’s not, or if you were let go, get ready to go through the process all over again. Make sure your resume is updated.
  4. Ask your manager or supervisor how you’re doing. Most companies will do an evaluation within the first 90 days, so chances are they’ll have feedback for you that can help you in considering sticking with the job.

That’s the end of the job section of How To Survive A Gap Year. Hope all of you enjoyed it, I really enjoyed writing it, and leave any suggestions for what you want to see next!

How To Survive A Gap Year: Finding A Job You Like Part 2

So now you’ve put out your resume, and you have a few interviews lined up, how are you supposed to deal with interviews? Keep reading, and you’ll do fine.

General Advice

  1. Dress the part for the job, what does the company expect? Appearances are key for a good first impression.
  2. Research! Have some prior knowledge about the company that you’re applying to and use it in the interview to your advantage.
  3. Practice answering common interview questions and scenarios. This will help you develop good answers and reduce your nerves going into the interview.
  4. Have questions, they go both ways in an interview. These can help you decide if you the job or not depending on the interviewer’s answers.
  5. Follow up afterwards with the person that interviewed you, ask for their contact information at the end of the interview.
  6. Arrive at least 10 minutes early, and please don’t be late at any cost.
  7. Bring a copy of everything you need: resume, cover letter, references, copy of identification if you get hired on the spot,
  8. Communicate clearly and use formal language.
  9. When in doubt, take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself.

The Phone Interview 

  1. Make sure they have the right contact information for you, and you’ll be nearby a phone with a signal when they call.
  2. Since the interviewer can’t see you, make sure your words and tone convey the message you want to get across.
  3. Make sure you’re somewhere quiet and avoid making excessive other noises (ex. shuffling papers, etc.) while on the phone.

Personally I find this one of the easiest types of interview because there’s a lot less pressure to make a good physical appearance impression. Instead, you can focus on what you want to say.

The Group Interview

  1. Make sure you interact in a friendly manner with everybody, including your competition. Practice good sportsmanship.
  2. Don’t take up all the talking space, but don’t avoid answering completely. Find the healthy middle.
  3. Try not to repeat the same thing as everybody else. Answering something different will help you stand out in the group setting.
  4. Take a moment alone with the interviewer alone at the end if you can to thank them for their time.

Group interviews are always stressful because of the factor of having not only the interviewer listen to your answers, but other people as well. Make sure to try to stand out in the group, so the interviewers remember you, but make sure it’s in a good way!

Solo Interview

In my opinion, this is the hardest interview to ace, because it’s all you with only an interviewer. But if you combine all the tips from the other categories and the general tips, you should be set for success!

How to Survive A Gap Year: Finding a Job You Like Part 1

So a big part of my gap year was finding jobs and working, so I figured I should have a guide on jobs. This is part one of three or four. Enjoy!

Your Resume and Cover Letter

These are the first things your future employer will see, so it’s important they look their best.

My tips for resumes and cover letters:

  1. Tailor each resume and cover letter to the position, but have a general copy you can give out to things like job fairs.
  2. Pick a design that reflects who you are but it still professional. Search Google Drive for some nice templates to use or to get inspiration from.
  3. Include everything, from awards, languages, computer skills, and volunteering experience. If you’ve done it, it counts.
  4. Have someone look over your resume and cover letter. A second person is always useful for criticism and to double check things like grammar and spelling.
  5.  Check you resume for keywords that match some of the ones in the description of the position you’re applying for, the more they match, the better. There are also websites out there that will do it for you like Jobscan.
  6. Pretend you’re selling yourself to your future employer, and highlight all your strengths!
  7. Remember to keep updating your resume, especially to check to see if anything needs to be added or is out of date.
  8. Look at other people’s or sample resumes for pointers on your own.
  9. Always have a copy or two of your resume on you while you’re job hunting to hand out to anybody that has a possible job for you!

Finding Employers and Job Opportunities

This is simply a list of potential places to look for a job, and to find a potential employer:

  1. Word of Mouth: ask your family or friends if they know of anyone or anywhere hiring.
  2. Websites of companies or malls, often they have a career section or job section.
  3. Websites like CalgaryJobShop, which have all the local job listings for an area.
  4. Government websites, provincial or federal.
  5. Go to job fairs, especially ones geared towards your field of interest or age group.
  6. Walk around a mall, or a place with lots of businesses and hand out your resumes!
  7. Kijiji or Craigslist, but be careful with these sites as there are a lot more questionable jobs on these sites.

In general, just put out the word that you’re looking for a job to as many places as possible, and usually you’ll have a few answers back! Personally, I always try to apply to two jobs a day while job hunting.