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Welcome to the OISE Alumni and Friends website

How to be career-ready after graduation

Alumni give practical career and interview tips plus some words of wisdom to OISE's graduating students

A hand holding up a note that reads Words of Wisdom: To the Class of 2019


As one of OISE's newest graduates, you are joining a community of more than 100,000 alumni living and working in diverse communities around the world. That means you have access to a huge network of professionals, leaders and educators at different stages in their careers in a variety roles. Life after graduation is their wheelhouse.

Click on the categories below for our alumni's top career and interview tips to help new grads like you excel after graduation.

Preparing for and nailing an interview

I find one of the most difficult parts of an interview is coming up with relevant examples to answer questions that start with "Tell me about a time when..."

To prepare for this, I keep a journal by my desk and note down any time I have success, go above and beyond, or have a learning moment (a.k.a. made a mistake but learned from it). I review this journal as interview prep which helps me recall relevant scenarios during the interview and speak to them in a meaningful way to support an interview answer.

Sara Ann Francis, MT
Assistant Administrator

Be yourself, while staying professional. Show that you are a human with experiences, thoughts and reflections. If inteviewers ask you to recount an experience that you've had, make sure it's one that you remember and can talk about freely. If you don't have one, be honest about it and talk about why.

Pauline Feng, BEd '17
Secondary Teacher, TDSB

In an interview panel, determine a process that all your answers will be structured around. For example, tell the interviewers what you plan to say; give clear, concrete examples that indicate you have been successful in the area being asked; and review for the committee what you said.

Chris Alexiou, BEd '78
Educator, Behaviour Consultant, Halton School Principal (Ret.)

I set up a binder with everything I would need to reference in the interview and confirmed in advance that I could use it. As part of my research process, I looked at my organization's websites to find out as much as I could on mission and values. I spoke with several people who were already working in the field.

Using the "STAR" format for anticipated interview questions, I came up with an example of when I had demonstrated my relevant skills describing:

  • S/T - situation or task
  • A - action I took
  • R - result I achieved

Then I rehearsed. All of my preparation paid off.

Terri Bicknell-Potts, MEd '97

Being honest with your interview answers is always a good start. Here's some tips to ensure you stay on the mark:

Give yourself time to think clearly and time to lay your answers effectively. If you don't know or don't understand the question, just say so. Ask for clarification or a chance to come back to the question at a later time in the interview.

Getting your dream job in education may take time, so be prepared to work in jobs where you can learn new skills and subject areas to add your resume. Just don't lose sight of your goals and the qualities that attracted you to education.

Jeremy Smith, FEUT '89
Occasional Teacher, YRDSB

Everything happens for a reason, you might not get that job you really wanted, but where one door closes, another opens. Don’t be discouraged.

Konrad Skorupa, MEd
Cultural Development Officer, City of Toronto



Strategies for career advancement

Prove yourself in time by consistently delivering what you are expected to in your role and especially, meet the goals you have promised to deliver to an organization.

Otino Corsano, BEd '98
Instructor, The York School and OCAD University

Professional development is important. Taking courses, attending conferences, participating in workshops or other like activities can be very useful in assisting you with taking initiative and refining your skills.

The key to gaining support is to demonstrate how professional development has enhanced your success in your role. Demonstrate how your new skills have influenced your work.

Lorretta Neebar, MEd
Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management, UTM

Make your career goals known from the time you start a role. Speak with your supervisors about helping you build the skills and knowledge you need through the work they assign you. Get them on your team for your career aspirations!

Danielle Miletin-Gill, MEd '06

Look for opportunities to join committees and volunteer to take leadership on projects.

Diana Sernick, BEd '73
Teacher (retired), Student Services (current), TDSB

In any organization, I understand that I’m part of a whole. I am able to gain support from my bosses because I know that the advancement of my career is linked to the advancement of the organization.

I mentor and collaborate with staff, students and community partners as much as possible. As a result, my input on organizational goals and initiatives is valuable because I am able to bring the voices of different stakeholders to the table. I understand that serving our community’s needs also serves my needs because we’re all connected.

Rania Mirza, BEd, MEd 
Literacy Lead Teacher and Teacher-Librarian, YRDSB

Rather than merely "following your dreams," develop and live by your core values and every action you initiate will be representative of those dreams.

Carol Nash 
PhD Scholar in Residence, Faculty of Medicine, U of T




How to make smooth workplace transitions

Don’t cut ties with your prior employer. The skills learned at my first university were reinforced while at OISE, be flexible in your options and approach to finding work.

Geoffrey Lee, BEd '06

I run a year-long mentoring program for new and emerging faculty and the main advice I have for the first year on the job is to:

Spend time observing, listening and learning about the culture and climate of your department. Decide who are the "door openers" and who are the "door closers." Align yourself with the door openers; those who want to support and help you grow and realize that your growth will benefit others.

Be cautious of the door closers who may be negative or may not have your best interests at heart.

Judith Ableser, PhD
Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Oakland University

Every single interaction that you have with staff or students matters. Be fully present. I took a pen and paper (or a phone) with me and would start in the parking lot, writing down any commitment I made to my students and colleagues that day.

Remember, this is how you immediately build trust with people who don't know you.

Bev Swerling, MEd
Guidance Counselor, Supply Teacher, TDSB

Learn how to negotiate prior to accepting a job offer. Go in strong with your request but be able to justify why. If you don't ask upfront, you may not get it down the road.

Also, keep in mind that you may need to be flexible and adaptable when ultimately working with others of varying skill levels in your new department or workplace.

Naomi Omar-Ali, MEd

Do not be critical in your first year at a new role. Instead, take notes and work through items until you gain a clearer understanding of the culture of a school or organization.

Otino Corsano, BEd '98
Instructor, The York School and OCAD University



How to keep learning and expanding skills while working

Subscribe to free online education journals and e-newsletter like I4PL; follow education gurus on Twitter; and commit to reading or being active in professional groups that inspire you.

Danielle Miletin-Gill, MEd '06

Now that I'm retired, my career has shifted to occasional teaching. When between jobs, I encourage all educators to stay informed by: Reading on a regular basis, practicing the fine art of face-to-face communication, and traveling when you can. 

Jeremy Smith, FEUT '89
Occasional Teacher, York Region District School Board

Success happens when preparation meets opportunity. Taking courses which interest you and going to conferences/workshops prepares you. Be proactive!

Robert Takeda, MEd

I teach adult learning and training classes in the evening to stay up to date in my area of expertise. I also freelance in the film and television industries which informs my teaching as I continue to gain pragmatic experience from these parallel creative activities. As well, I take advantage of all my employer's professional development opportunities.

Otino Corsano, BEd '98
Instructor, The York School and OCAD University

Have conversations with people. It is one of the easiest ways to keep learning and growing.

Steve De Quintal, Jackman ICS '98
Teacher, TCDSB




Words of wisdom to the Class of 2019

Geoffrey Lee, BEd '06

Never regret your decision to attend OISE. The faculty will always have your back and know your journey as they were once new graduates too. The colleagues and students you met in class are sources of information, the staff members are your cheering section so be respectful of them (don't be afraid to ask for support; always say thank you).

No matter where your qualifications take you, this is all part of your life experiences and you are better for having attended.


Pauline Feng, BEd '17
Secondary Teacher, TDSB

Be flexible and open to the idea of change. Society, technology and job markets are constantly changing, so if things don't turn out as you expected, it doesn't mean that it's not a good outcome.

Be strong enough to fight for what you want, and wise enough to embrace other possibilities.


Lorretta Neebar, MEd
Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management, UTM

Keep going. Job seeking can be difficult and frustrating. Contracts and precarious employment can feel risky and unsettling. Treat each opportunity as a chance to learn, develop and network. Conduct informational interviews and make connections in your chosen field. Just keep going.


Jeremy Smith, FEUT '89
Occasional Teacher, YRDSB

Find a purpose early in your career, and stay true to it. You may encounter speed bumps in your career, but a solid foundation will you keep on the path to success. 


Steve De Quintal, Jackman ICS '98
Teacher, TCDSB

Smile and enjoy the sunshine. As an educator of any kind, you are entering a wonderful career.

Want to connect with other alumni after graduation? Update your contact info online or call 416-978-2139 / toll free 1-800-463-6048.