What College Grads Should Do to Get Ahead in the Job Market

As college graduates, when we finally start the job hunting process, we all have the same complaint: everyone wants candidates with way more experience than we have! Academic credentials are just not enough; not even first class honors guarantee a fair shot at your dream job.

So how do you land that dream job? — or at least one that will pay the bills, while you continue your hunt for something better? Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

Be Proactive

College students need to plan ahead to remedy that problem before it starts. One way is to start a business, or a freelance practice. I started my communications business at 16 years old in my first semester of college. So at just 28, I have the unusual perk of claiming more than a decade’s worth of experience in PR.

Another option is to start networking. Targets you should consider include your parents’ coworkers and boss, professors at school, fellow classmates, local business owners, and professionals you may come across during your studies. Not all of them will offer you a job, but they may know someone who can, or will provide you with a reference that makes all the difference.

Get Work Experience

College students should also work on landing internships. It’s best to target big companies in your field, but don’t overlook local businesses. While they may not look as flashy on your resume, you will have a much closer relationship with that boss, who may either offer you a job after graduation, or pass you on to someone who can.

Another way to gain work experience is to take on pro-bono work, to build your portfolio, if you work in a field that requires one. Industries that typically require a portfolio include architecture, photography, journalism, design, and PR.


Another great way to get ahead is to volunteer. By volunteering for causes and even at local businesses, you can secure work experience for your resume, along with great references. Your employer will love to learn that money isn’t the only thing that motivates you.

It’s a good idea to volunteer in areas that complement your degree. For instance, if you plan to work in medicine, volunteering at a local hospital or for a cause supporting cancer research, would be an excellent choice. Other popular choices for students in any field include working with disabled children, feeding the homeless, and animal welfare.

Are you ready to start your job hunt, but you’re not sure if your resume or cover letter showcases all you have to offer to a company? Pretty convinced you don’t have anything to offer anyway? Let us take a look. Contact us for a quote.

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About the Author

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mate and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

What is stress?


Stress is experienced almost everyday by everyone. People experience it in different ways and different strengths.

Stress is the situation or events that put pressure on us and our reaction to being placed under pressure.

But what has stress got to do with mental health?

Well there are 2 reasons. Stress can be caused by a mental health problem and vice versa, a mental health problem can be caused by stress.

For example, if you are constantly stressed at work because of the people around your or because of situations, you could experience anxiety or depression. On the flip side, if you suffer with anxiety, for example, you may struggle to do certain things which could begin to stress you out. Oh what a vicious cycle!

The physical side of stress

If you are stressed, you may not be able to sleep. It is so hard to sleep when you…

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10 Great First-Date Ideas

No matter how well you know them before things turn romantic, the first date is always the most nerve-racking. The first big question is whether to stick to the good ol’ dinner and a movie, or shake things up a bit. Should you ask your date what they want to do, or come up with something yourself?

There is no one answer to either of these questions; it all depends on your date, their interests, and their expectations. But if you’re looking to do more than dinner and a movie – and more than Netflix and Chill – then check out these 10 great first date ideas that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

1. Beach Day


If there’s a beach or lake nearby, then there’s plenty one can do for a date. Pack a picnic basket and relax on the sand, or take to the water. Whether your date likes to swim, people-watch, paddle board, kayak, take pictures, or play catch with the dog, the chances of boredom are slim. It’s also a great time to catch a peek at the bodies hidden beneath dresses and jeans.

2. Live Music


Music is a common factor friends and couples bond over in the beginning. If this is the case with you and your date, then consider seeing one of your mutual favourites live.

The spring and summer is a great time to attend music festivals, even if you don’t know the bands on stage. It’s also pretty easy to find bars that put on shows a few times each week.

3. Dog Park


If you’re both dog lovers, then taking Sparky and Fido on a play date can make for a great bonding experience. It affirms that you have something in common, and Fido is there to offer distraction when the conversation hits a slump. Pets can also tell you a lot about their owners, if you pay attention and know what to look for.

4. Hiking


Hiking offers way more than just the chance to walk aimlessly through the woods with your date. This is a great choice if your partner enjoys staying fit, exploring nature, or dabbles in photography.

Kick the romance up a notch by packing food, drinks, and a blanket. Be sure to check that the trail has open spaces for a picnic, as many are just narrow pathways carved through the woods.

5. Sweating at the Gym


If fitness and your gym routine is really important to you, then having a partner that can keep up, should be a priority. A date at the gym is a great way to test for this, and to work on your physical attractiveness together. It’s also an interesting icebreaker, as it goes beyond the superficial convenience of button-up shirts, gelled hair, concealer, and perfume.

6. Festivals


Art exhibits, renaissance fairs, charity events, ethnic celebrations, and food festivals often make their way through big cities and small towns from spring through summer and into the early autumn season.

You can enjoy great food, good beer, and the opportunity to see or try something new. For ladies with safety as a priority, this is about as safe as it gets: a daytime activity in a crowded, open, public area.

7. Low-Key Bars


In college, a married friend once advised, “Never meet a man in a bar.” Of course, one cannot help but meet people at bars, if you’re at one. When people occupy the same space, they’re bound to talk and share a few laughs or drinks. But her actual point was: don’t take him home.

Even so, if the night scene is more your thing, a low key bar can be a great way to spend time together. There’s a lot less pressure to be sexy, or go wild. The music is not as loud. The crowd is not as crazy. And themed bars usually have additional activities to keep you busy: like great food, arcade games, and pool tables.

8. Wine or Beer Tasting


To enjoy the alcohol but ditch the larger crowd, try wine or beer tasting. At the least, you’ll find out if your partner can handle their liquor, and what they’re likely to do, when drunk. If the tasting is at a vineyard or brewery, then you may even learn a bit of history along the way.

Remember to drink responsibly, especially if you plan to drive home afterwards. Alcohol is also sure to make you hungry after a few, so have a restaurant in mind to eat at later.

9. Game Arcade


If you’re a gamer hoping to find a partner who understands why playing Call of Duty until 4AM is important to you, a game arcade is your best bet. This is a great way to not only find out if they can tolerate your gaming habits, but if they might make great video game buddies.

In addition to this, a lot of video games at arcades are two-player, giving the perfect opportunity to start building those teamwork skills as a couple. And if the game asks for competition, then now you know if they’re a sore loser or not – if you win, anyway.

10. Giving Back

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There are a lot of selfless millennials out there trying to make a difference, one project at a time. And even when they’re not world class philanthropists, everyone has a cause or a group that’s dear to their heart.

Find out what that is for your partner, and find an organization that can help them make a difference; whether it’s teaching kids to play music, taking care of strays at a shelter, feeding the homeless, or participating in a 5K run to support breast cancer research.

Dating is not what it used to be, and in some ways, that’s a good thing. Because who wants dinner and a movie for the rest of their lives anyway..?

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About the Author


Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mate and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

5 Tips for Spring Breakers on a Shoe-String Budget

A spring break trip out of town is the ultimate getaway for most college students. Summer has its perks, as does Christmas vacation, but nothing screams fun like the madness that goes on on spring break. The beaches and clubs are packed and you can count on Saint Patty celebrations to boost spirits.

But when you’re tackling high college rent and tuition, taking a trip for spring break can seem too expensive. The cost of hotels is high enough already, and they double and triple around holiday seasons. Sometimes even food and admission costs to the best attractions go up around that time.

Before long, a spring break trip begins to look like an impossible expense. However, if you’re willing to give up a few luxuries temporarily, you could have the experience of a lifetime without breaking the bank.

Check out these five tips you can use to make the best of your spring break vacation on a shoe-string budget.

1. Drive There


Flying to your spring break location and then renting a car has its perks. It saves your personal vehicle from hundreds and maybe thousands of miles being added on, along with the wear and tear that comes from that. It also means getting to your new vacation spot much faster.

However, if driving is an option it’s one you should consider. Going by bus or car may take longer but it costs much less. Besides, why buy a car if you don’t plan to use it for it’s intended purpose?

Go ahead and tack on those miles. College is for exploring places and your machine on wheels should be the vehicle that takes you there – literally.

2. Go in Groups


Even if you have less friends than fingers on one hand, this is an easy way to lower the cost of the trip per person. By carpooling you can split the cost of gas and by sharing a suite or cabin you can split the cost of accommodations.

Keep in mind that this might mean crashing on the floor or couch a few times, but that’s fine. People don’t go on spring break to sleep but to be out and about having fun.

3. Use Your Gym Membership


Not just any gym membership, but the kind that gives you access to multiple locations. This equals access to a free shower at least once per day. And if like us, you have a membership with Planet Fitness or other larger franchises, it can also mean free massages and other spa like treatments to help you relax.

If you don’t mind sleeping in your car or pitching a tent, then having a gym membership can also spare you hundreds of dollars that would have otherwise gone to cover accommodations.

4. Ditch the Hotel


Sleeping in a car or tent isn’t ideal for everyone, but there are still ways to ditch the high cost of hotel rooms.

Some students take the option of couch surfing when they travel, which is a great way to bond with locals and really immerse yourself in the culture of wherever you’ve gone to. However, this can be dangerous, especially for females, so do your research before testing out this method.

For our trip, we booked a room in a house via Airbnb. It cost us a fraction of the cost of booking a hotel, allowed us to learn more about the area from a real local host, and gave us access to more home-like facilities that you wouldn’t have in a hotel room.

We had a whole yard, a large wrap-around porch on the second floor, canoes and kayaks, a fully equipped kitchen, and the peace and quiet of a nice upscale neighborhood. We were also a short walk away from a river and a hiking trail.

5. Eat Out Less


As most college students learn over time, eating out is far more expensive than eating in. Instead of blowing money on fast food and fine dining, consider using that money to buy groceries and whip up some home-cooked meals.

We spent a good deal of our trip hiking, sight-seeing and canoeing. To cut down on the cost of eating out, we made breakfast at home and packed fruits and snacks for our daily excursions. We still had the occasional meal out, but saved a lot from opting for fruits and home-cooked meals every chance we got.

Spring break is a great time to meet new people, see new places, and try things you’ve never done before. But if you’re not careful it can also be a really expensive trip. Try the tips we’ve mentioned to ensure you stay under budget and save a few pennies where you can. Even better, let us book your trip for you!

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About the Author

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mate and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

Journey to Belize: Tikal Part 1

The Jaguar

This post continues the retelling of my recent trip to Belize, participating in an archaeology field school and learning about jaguar conservation. More specifically, it details a brief side-trip to Guatemala. The rest of this series is located in the Travel category of this blog.

The North Acropolis at Tikal, viewed from on top of Temple II.

On the morning of June 16, 2017, I awoke in Flores with a start. My first night back in ‘civilization’ had not been restful, haunted by the knowledge that I must eventually return to Northern California. Fortunately, the day was about to improve dramatically. We were going to Tikal.

Tikal is one of the greatest archaeological sites in the Americas. Encompassing 57,600 hectares, Tikal is the largest excavated site in the New World (UNESCO, 2018; Ecotourism & Adventure Specialists, 2015). It was initially settled by the Maya in 800 or…

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The Number One Secret to High Intelligence, Limitless Creativity & Acing School (Backed by Science)

There are two facts that hold true in virtually every society where males and females have equal access to books and education.

  1. Females read more than males.
  2. Females do better in school than males.

While males tend to score better in math, there’s a tie for the sciences, and thereafter girls tend to be on the upward curve.

But why?

Is the fact that girls read more, the reason they tend to outperform boys? Or is it mere coincidence? And if boys pick up the slack with reading, will they finally catch up with their female counterparts?

How Reading Affects the Gender Gap in Education

According to the Economist, reading is the primary reason girls outperform boys in school. In an article entitled, Why girls do better at school than boys, they explain:

Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built. When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too. 

…Boys, it appears, spend more of their free time in the virtual world; they are 17% more likely to play collaborative online games than girls every day. They also use the internet more.

Of course, there are other factors that affect the gender inequalities in school performance, including juvenile macho behavior, resulting in a “too cool for school” mindset.

In light of these additional reasons for unequal performance, when gender is removed from the equation, does reading still hold a strong argument for excellent academic performance?

The Effect of Reading on Intelligence

While attending college in Jamaica, the common phrase, constantly reiterated by our teachers, is that we were expected to “read for our degrees.”

To ensure we followed through with this, we were bombarded with requirements to read entire textbooks for up to 6 courses in a semester. If that didn’t get the point across to us, then nothing else would.

But let’s be honest. What teachers believe and what actually happens doesn’t always correlate. Is this one of those instances? Do students really read for their educational qualifications? Or is this an over-exaggeration pushed by passionate professors?

According to scientists at Edinburgh and King’s College, the teachers were exactly right. After tracking 1,890 pairs of identical twins for a decade, with varying reading levels, the team found:

…those who are better at reading tend to be smarter later in their development. Even at the age of seven you can already see the effect.

It is perhaps not a shock to learn that better readers develop higher levels of verbal reasoning. 

But what is perhaps more surprising is that children who have a better ability to read do better in non-verbal tests.

The scientists also found that children with greater reading abilities tended to have a wider imagination, and were better at retaining specific facts. They believe this “helps them think abstractly and rationally in fields of mathematics, science, and logic.”

But What About Adulthood?

While these studies have great implications, assuming childhood literacy and intelligence assures college academic excellence can be a bit of a stretch. We all knew that student — or several — who did great in their earlier years, but then peaked early, and never seemed to progress much further in life.

Well, according to School Media Library Research, the benefits of reading hold right into adulthood, and yes, college life. In a published study discussing the effects of voluntary reading outside of school, the researchers mentioned that college students who fell behind in school, correlated with students who read less and less after middle school.

The study even went on to explain why techies were often much more well-read, and more intelligent, than their peers. The study states:

…young people’s use of computers shifts away from games and toward accessing information as they get older. Students who use computers watch TV less frequently than those who do not use computers. People in households with computers spend just as much money on reading material as those without computers.

What Does This Mean for You?

It turns out that our Jamaican lecturers were correct: it’s important to read for that degree, after all. And the more of it you do, the smarter you become, the better you are at reasoning and stretching your imagination, and the better you are at testing.

All of that translates into not just better academic grades, but better work performance later on. In short, it makes you a much better human being, even with school set aside.

As the School of Library Media Research shares, “the premise that literacy is associated with school achievement, participation in a democracy, and self-fulfillment is widely held.”

With so many great benefits, why wouldn’t you turn the TV off, power down the video games, silence the cellphone, and do some reading? You have so much to gain, and nothing to lose in the process!

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About the Author



Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mate and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.



noodles,shrimp,egg and greens

Japanese noodles, Chinese greens, green pepper, hard-boiled egg, and big yummy pieces of shrimp.  The shrimp I put in first, so that it would warm with the hot chicken soup base, and pork flavour seasoning.  While this sits soaking up all the flavours, I read my morning lesson,

PL Calendar #13  There will always be a Way     

“As long as you are serious, there is no reason for you to give up.  Move forward one step at a time and things will always turn out for the best”

What better way to start the day, nourishment for the “tummy” and wisdom for the “soul”    

If you haven’t already gotten your calendar, there are still some available at the church here in Ottawa,  or any  of the other churches nearer to you.  They are available in Japanese, English, Portuguese and Spanish.  


calendar 13

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10 Tips for Studying & Taking Notes from Textbooks

Studying is the main struggle of student life – or maybe it’s a close tie with budgeting. In any case, it’s definitely not easy, and becomes a whole lot harder when professors insist on making you study from the textbook. Sometimes, students also need to study and make notes from borrowed books, and must record key information before returning it.

Sounds easy enough, yet most of us don’t even know where to begin. Here are ten quick tips to help make the process that much easier.

1. Remove Distractions

Finding a great place to read with the least amount of distractions is the first step. This might mean the library, or a local park. For suggestions on the best places to get some work done, check out: 5 Best Places to Study.

Once you find a great spot, put the phone away and on silent – not vibrate or ring. Close Facebook and Instagram. Ignore any invitations from friends to go out. Focus.

2. Schedule Time

Schedule a particular time each day, or on specific days, to do some reading. And don’t just read aimlessly; set a goal. If you miss a day, make up for it another day. Do not skip over it.

For instance, you may choose to start reading at 8PM every night, with the aim to finish a chapter before bed. If you end up falling asleep halfway through, then tomorrow night, that’s a chapter and a half to complete.

Self-discipline is key to getting it over and done with as soon as possible. Turning the action into a routine makes self-discipline easier, as you program your mind to accept that at 8PM, it’s time to suck it up and read the bloody textbook.

3. Use Highlighters

Use highlighters or coloured pens and pencils to highlight important points, if you have permission to do so. If not, photocopy the pages you need so you can scribble all over them, freely.

The use of colour helps to keep things interesting, and reminds you what to look out for the next time you read the book.

4. Write Down Connections

Use a pencil (or pen, if you prefer) to write in the book – or on a notepad – as you go along. Make connections with things the lecturer said in class, or what you read in another chapter or another course.

Taking time to make these connections, and to write them down, gives you something to do besides endless reading. Those connections might also really impress your lecturer on a test.

5. Do the Activities

If questions or activities are in the book, try them. Again, this helps you to stay focused by giving you something to do besides just reading.

It also forces you to become more familiar with the textbook as you look for answers to the questions. And if nothing you read for the past hour sticks, this is where you’ll find out.

6. Read After Class

If possible, do your textbook reading after class. A lot of instructors prefer when students read before; and while it’s better to read before class, the textbook isn’t always the best option.

Textbooks are most boring when the information is unfamiliar. After class, all the mumbo-jumbo will actually start to make sense.

If reading the textbook beforehand is necessary for your classes, then ignore this recommendation.

7. Watch YouTube Videos

If you absolutely must read the textbook before class, then go to YouTube to see if you can find lectures or videos about the topic your textbook intends to cover, first. This helps to present the same information in a more palatable form, as lectures are supposed to do.

Getting an introduction in a more interesting way the first time around better prepares you for the reading ahead. You’ll feel smarter when you start reading and realise you already know some of the content.

8. Don’t Read in Bed

Do not read or study in your bed. Many people do this, and then grow tired or bored, and just fall asleep. When I was in college, I studied in a chair, or on the floor. You need to be comfortable enough to focus, but not so comfortable as to fall asleep.

My biology teacher taught me that the best way to fight sleep is to stand. I’m not sure if it works for everyone, but it definitely works for me. In any case, laying down is definitely not going to help anyone fight the deafening call of sleep.

9. Reward Yourself

Think of something you would rather do besides studying. Is it tweeting? Blogging? Video games? Use this as a reward in between every 5 to 10 pages, one chapter, or half an hour of reading.

It’s up to you to decide how long you can go on for. Your breaks should only be about a third of the study time. So half an hour of studying should mean ten minutes to do whatever you want. Set an alarm or timer and stick to it.

Do not reward yourself for more than the agreed time, or you probably won’t ever get back to that textbook. Again, self-discipline gets the work done faster.

10. Change your Major

If all else fails, consider switching your major to something you love. Sometimes studying becomes difficult no matter what you do, because you have no interest in what you’re studying at all.

Keep in mind that if you hate the courses, chances are you will hate the job twice as much. Find something you love and go from there.

Best of luck with your studies. If you have a topic you’d love to see us cover, shoot us an email. We usually respond in less than 72 hours.

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About the Author

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mage and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

Saying Goodbye to the Monthly College Mate Contest

At the start of 2017, we launched the Monthly College Mate Writing Contest. College dropouts, students, graduates, and members of staff, were encouraged to submit posts on all aspects of student and post-college life for a chance to win a small prize each month.

Our Most Popular Posts

Some of our most popular posts came from those contest submissions. In fact, the two most popular posts this year were submitted by Ta’lor as contest entries. She won both times with:

Great Connections + Goodbye

Without a doubt, the contest connected us with an amazing group of writers, and new readers. Still, even the best of things must come to an end, and for the Monthly College Mate Contest, this is it.

Thank You

We want to thank all the writers who participated this year, and the amazing posts they contributed to our writing fold. It was a pleasure working with you, and getting to know each and every one of you.

Guest Posts

If you planned on submitting to our blog, and you’re worried that this might mean the end of that opportunity, it’s not. We will continue to accept guest posts at College Mate. You can find the guidelines for regular submissions, here.

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