As most TalentEgg-ers undoubtedly know, hatching your career takes more than sending out resumes.
Getting out there and networking with professionals and fellow students in your field not only gives you valuable insight into your industry of choice, but forms relationships that could lead you to your dream gig. Plus, free event hor’s d’oeuvres never hurt – hey, a student’s gotta eat!
Those involved in the You’re Next Career Network know the difference these connections can make for students and new grads entering the workforce. For the past three years, You’re Next has been running the largest University of Toronto engineering and IT undergraduate career fair to expose students to new opportunities.
This year they’ve taken it up a notch, expanding their mission to help U of T students realize their career potential by connecting them with industry professionals, faculty and alumni through year-long events and initiatives. One example is by launching the Startup Career Expo, to immerse students in the burgeoning tech scene.
We caught up with Yi-Wei Ang, Co-Founder and President of the You’re Next Career Network, and Anmol Kaur, Managing Director of the Startup Career Expo, about what they’ve learned along the way.
How did you get involved in this group?
Yi-Wei: I was selected by our Board of Advisors to kick-start this new initiative. Having been involved in student government, I understood the issues engineering students had when it came to job searching. I wanted to solve this problem.
Anmol: Yi-Wei approached me with the vision to expand the annual You’re Next career fair to include a more diverse range of companies and industries. One key area we felt that U of T students could benefit with more exposure to was the start-up industry. Given my interest in the start-up industry and my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, I was immediately on board with the idea. After much brainstorming, we decided the best way to introduce students to the industry would be through a career fair coupled with industry tech talks.
What valuable experience and skills have you gained?
Yi-Wei: Leadership. What it’s like leading a huge team of 27 and understanding how everyone has a different skill set to contribute.
Anmol: The most valuable thing I have learned is the importance of WIIFY (what’s in it for you) when making a pitch. After creating our hit list of companies, we struggled with getting our first few sales. We had good value proposition, but soon realized we weren’t framing it in the ‘WIIFY’ context. Once we realized this, we re-framed our pitches and [business development] strategies.
Why is it important for students to get involved in groups on campus?
Yi-Wei: Everyone needs to take some time to reflect on what they truly want to do in their careers. We provide students the opportunity to network and explore companies from various industries through our programs.
Anmol: It’s an opportunity for them to grow and learn soft skills that they would not otherwise learn in the classroom. Student groups also provide opportunities for students to expand their network and meet a range of new people from their school or the industry.
What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Yi-Wei: Find your passion and run with it. Don’t let the academics of school stop you from running with something you really care about.
Anmol: Pick one thing you’re interested in, and take it on as a challenge to become good at it. Most people usually look towards tangible things to perfect (instruments, sports, web development), but there are many non-tangible things you can choose to work on (your pitch, communication, leadership). Extra-curricular activities are a great way to tackle this.
If you could change one thing about the campus recruitment experience, what would it be and why? What would you say to employers?
Yi-Wei: Not enough face time. A lot of recruitment is done through an online submission, and not many students get the opportunity to showcase all of their skills to employers. I would encourage companies to take more creative approaches to recruiting – run competitions, simulations, and events to find your top talent!
Anmol: Employers should be looking at ways to create long term relationships with campuses. An employer visit or face time at campus should extend beyond one career fair or info session per year. Employers should look for ways to engage students year round, so that come recruitment season, students are proactively thinking about these companies they have been interacting with year round.
These motivated students have created a place for ambitious grads to connect with industry leaders and gain the mentorship, awareness and experience that will turn them into leaders themselves. And for that, we’re pleased to feature them as the Student Group of the Week!
Think your group should be the Student Group of the Week? Email Hayley at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit.