Most students have a general idea of the career they want but are a little fuzzy on the specifics.
There are so many different fields, streams, specializations and career paths within each discipline, it can be overwhelming trying to figure which one to choose. Luckily, there are organizations like this week’s Student Group Of The Week to help guide students toward their true calling.
The University of Toronto Mississauga’s Undergraduate Commerce Society is the school’s largest academic society, representing all commerce students on campus.
Dedicated to professionalism, integrity and excellence, they help students define their careers through mentorship programs, networking events, student competitions, and more. The resources provided by UTM UCS not only help students identify which career is best for them, but offer the experiences and professional development opportunities that will make them stronger candidates once they’re ready to go after it.
The group’s Professional Development Director and Director of Corporate Relations, Avalon D’Souza and Fatima Tariq, gave us the scoop on the group’s initiatives and why they’re proud to be a part of UTM UCS. They’re both specializing in accounting, with Avalon in his third year and Fatima in her fourth.
How did you get involved with UTM UCS?
Avalon: I’ve been part of UCS since my first year. During UCS’ annual BizFrosh event, I met tons of alumni and mentors who have helped me throughout my career. My role includes managing the FASTrack sessions (a series of five interactive workshops designed to assist students with their soft business skills such as networking, goal setting, etc.), the Business Banquet (a networking event where commerce and management students dine with industry representatives) and the Mentorship Program (offered to first and second years to assist them with their transition to university).
Fatima: I started attending UCS’ events in my first and second years, and by my third year I was heavily involved through volunteer work and promoting UCS events. By the end of my third year, I interviewed for the position of Director of Corporate Relations (DCR). I thankfully got the position due to my previous experiences with getting sponsors for my charitable organization – which is what the DCR role required.
What has been your most memorable experience with the group so far?
Avalon: As a member, my best experience has been being assigned a phenomenal mentor through the Mentorship Program. He taught me everything from academics to various soft skills and I couldn’t have reached this far in my career if it weren’t for him.
Fatima: Every year, once the new council members are selected in April, UCS executives go on a retreat. Before going on this year’s retreat, I knew some of the executives pretty well, but others not as much. After getting to know all of the executives, I had the best time ever. Surprisingly, most of my weekend was spent with the people who I had not known as well at the start of the retreat. I am looking forward to more good times with my team throughout the year!
What valuable experience and skills have you gained with UCS?
Avalon: Negotiation skills, through getting professional speakers for FASTrack and Business banquet at a cost that reflected our budget. Teamwork skills, as my role requires me to constantly communicate with another club that assist us with Business Banquet. And leadership skills, as I’ve had to persevere through stressful times in a calm and strategic manner.
Fatima: I acquired communications skills (both written and verbal) through contacting and maintaining relations with potential sponsors on a daily basis. My public speaking skills were sharpened due to constant class announcements and speeches. And my my time management skills were improved as I’ve had to maintain a full course load on top of effectively landing sponsors and attending UCS meetings and events.
Why is it important for students to get involved in groups like UCS?
Avalon: It is always important to be surrounded by students in your career field. It keeps you educated and focused on your goal. It shows on your resume that you are involved and leaves a good impression on recruiters. It also helps develop our skill sets.
Fatima: Getting involved in student groups is not only an added bonus to put on your resume, rather it is an excellent opportunity to network and get more involved with the professional world. Being involved in a student group is the best transition tool for a student between the academic and professional worlds. A group like UCS in particular is extremely beneficial, since it caters to transitioning students into the real world specifically.
What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Avalon: Be passionate about what you are doing and be goal oriented. Have a mentor who can speed up your career growth (even Mark Zuckerberg has a mentor). And come out to UCS events!
Fatima: My advice to my fellow students is simple: take your time to figure out what you want, and once you know, go for it with everything you got. Whether it is academics, volunteer work, or work experience, when someone does something with passion, it shows in the results. Having a positive attitude is another thing that I personally stress on very much. Even when something may not go the way you planned, it’s best to learn from the experience rather than sulk about it. Negative people are bad energy, and no one likes bad energy!
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