Creating Opportunities: What The Winners Of The CCCE TalentEgg Challenge Had To Say

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On April 13th, 2015, Canadian CEOs across Canada gathered in Ottawa to address a growing issue.

The conference, titled “Creating Opportunities: Jobs & Skills for the 21st Century,” was hosted by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) as an initiative to bring together employers, educators, and young individuals to stimulate conversation around the Canadian Job Market.

Among the attendees were the winners of the CCCE TalentEgg Challenge – young students and grads that voiced their opinions on the future of millennials in the workplace. These aspiring professionals were flown to Canada’s capital to mingle with some of the most influential individuals in the country. They shared their thoughts on this unique experience with us.

Dave D’Oyen

Dave D'Oyen
Dave D’Oyen
Industrial Relations
McGill University 2013

Why did the CCCE Challenge pique your interest?

Dave: It was an opportunity to broaden the conversation on youth employment. It was interesting to see that the issue of youth employment isn’t being left only to governments, but that the leaders in Corporate Canada are willing to have a discussion about this growing concern.

What about the conference were you looking forward to most?

Dave: I wanted to get a sense of how important youth employment is to organizations, and more so the leaders – the CEOs. I wanted to hear what programs these organizations were creating for recent graduates, and how they plan to tackle the issue.

Advice from Dave: “A friend and I have an acronym, ABN – always be networking. You never know what is going to be shared in a discussion and what opportunities may surface.”

Could you share your most memorable moment from the conference with us?

Dave: The most interesting part of that conference for me was a finding shared by Mona Mourshed of McKinsey & Company – it showed the significant disconnect in how young people, employers, and institutions of learning believe youth are prepared for the world of work. Schools were at 88%, employers at 44% and youth scored themselves at 34%. For me, that was alarming.

Kathleen O’Keefe

Kathleen O'Keefe Headshot
Kathleen O’Keefe
Human Resources Management
McMaster University 2014

Take us through your thought process for creating and submitting your entry.

Kathleen: I knew I needed to have a quality video that represented myself and the town I came from, so I enlisted the help of my younger brother Rory O’Keefe, who is about to graduate from Broadcast Television/Videography at Humber College. When it came time to complete the written submission, I tried to draw on my own experiences as a student on the hunt for relevant work experience and the frustrations I dealt with. I also tried to come up with some realistic ideas that can help solve the root of my frustrations, since there’s no point complaining without a few creative solutions of my own to put forward.

Tell us about your reaction when you were selected for the trip to Ottawa?

Kathleen: I checked my email during my morning break at work and I couldn’t believe it! I saw the subject line “Congratulations!” from TalentEgg, and all I could think was “wow, they really read my paper and thought I had something worth sharing to a room full of Canadian leaders and executives”.

What was the most important thing that you learned from this experience?

Kathleen: I learned a great deal about networking – I had been to several networking events before, but none of this caliber… and I was nervous. To other students and graduates, let me just tell you – act like you belong. Seriously, just throw your shoulders back and present yourself like the serious talent that you are. Nobody wants to talk to someone with rehearsed one-dimensional questions and answers; connect and converse like a person. Sometimes students can lose confidence because they’re focusing on their lack of experience and you know what? It’s fine, it’s just fine. Be confident because you have a fresh perspective to offer, and someone wants to hear it.

Kathleen’s takeaway: “If you are serious about building yourself in your industry, I recommend students and graduates take advantage of the opportunities TalentEgg Challenges offer…now I have had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with influential Canadian employers at such an early stage in my career.”

Dustin Jurkaulionis

dustinlinkedin
Dustin Jurkaulionis
Commerce, Honours
McMaster University 2014

Why was it important for you to have your voice heard by the CCCE?

Dustin: The CCCE Challenge represented an opportunity to let prominent business figures know that unemployment is a very real, ongoing issue… Having volunteered for over a year, I often wondered whether a career was possible. I wondered how people can afford their homes and cars as I walked the tree-lined neighbourhoods of my city. I wondered if I had chosen the wrong field. I wondered whether my worries were even valid, or if I’d be told that I am lazy for not having a job. So when the opportunity came up for me to express myself in a short video, I jumped on it.

Advice from Dustin: Videos are supremely fun, so I urge everyone to participate in a video contest, as it is great to boost videography and editing skills.

Describe what you did at the conference. Who did you hear speak? Who did you connect with?

Dustin: The conference was very intense. Having experienced intensive discussions from several panels, to informal networking sessions, one of my favorite snippets came from Kelsey Ramsden, Canadian entrepreneur, who claimed that employers should hire based on potential and not past performance. Another memorable moment came from Lauren Friese, founder of TalentEgg.ca, who made note that some professors wrongly believe they are preparing students for the workplace.

Has this experience shaped or reshaped the way you view the Canadian job market?

Dustin: A surprising statistic shared with the conference attendees was that Canadians overall have a positive outlook on the future. Whether true or not, hearing that some companies are willing to hire on potential and to give less experienced workers a chance was uplifting.

Kishawna Peck

Kishawna Peck 1
Kishawna Peck
Economics, BA
Glendon College, York University 2014

Take us through your thought process for creating and submitting your entry.

Kishawna: When crafting my question for the CCCE, I really wanted to ask something that I identify with. My biggest deterrent while job searching is the amount of experience required for entry level positions. I wanted to know how recent graduates are supposed to attain valuable work experience if a prerequisite for the majority of entry level positions are years of experience. I went through four drafts trying to make my thoughts clear, and make a compelling case for investment in training new graduates. I took several takes of my video submission. Trying to get all your thoughts in 30 seconds is harder than it seems!

Tell us about your reaction when you were selected for the trip to Ottawa?

Kishawna: I had put the date in my phone to remind me to check my email for feedback from the Challenge. It was one day before the day I would find out. I had already checked my email 3 times that day thinking who knows maybe they’ll reply early. I checked again after lunch, and voila, the email was there. I was shocked. I re-read the email several times. All I could think was wow, really, they chose me?! I’m glad I didn’t let the time run out on the Challenge page.

What was the most important thing that you learned from this experience?

Kishawna: The most important thing I learned from this experience was not to count myself out. The Challenge was simple. It was 500 words and a 30 second video. I could have easily let the time run out and not gotten the chance to have this experience. But I chose not to. You’ll never know until you try. So why not just try? You grow from every experience anyways be it a positive or negative outcome.

Kishawna’s surprise: I am not exactly the best at networking and had attempted to prepare an elevator speech, practice my smile, and all those other networking tips before going to the conference. During the conference, that all went out the window and I was able to have organic conversations with people I met. It was easier than I thought it would be.

Tom Haxell

Tom Haxell
Tom Haxell
Post Graduate Event Management
Humber College 2013

Why was it important for you to have your voice heard by the CCCE?

Tom: Our generation is facing incredible change. The problems we face are unique to this generation. Continued training and development will be ongoing throughout our careers. With CEOs looking to adapt to the influx of Generation Y and Millennials into the workplace it is crucial for our generation to have a say in the direction of employment training in the years to come.

What about the conference were you looking forward to most?

Tom: I was most looking forward to posing my question about internships to the panel Generation Squeezed? The outlook for young Canadians. During the panel, Trish Hennessy, Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, advocated for paid internships and for people to re-focus the current youth employment issues not as an “us versus them” problem, but rather, a problem that affects all of the workforce.

Advice from Tom: Get involved. Ask your question. You can create change.

Could you share your most memorable moment from the conference with us?

Tom: Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity, was invited to speak at the conference as the keynote speaker. Afterwards, a few of us went up to say a quick hello, the next thing I know, I’m discussing life goals and business concepts with the guy who worked on the programming behind Google’s driverless car. Mind-blowing.

Michelle Owusu

Michelle Owusu
Michelle Owusu
General Management, BBA
Mount Royal University 2016

Why was it important for you to have your voice heard by the CCCE?

Michelle: The Canadian Council is comprised of roughly 150 Canadian CEO’s of Canada. Together they employ more than 1.4 million Canadians. Attending the conference were educators, leaders and government officials. Together, they hold a large stake in the successes of youth today. The mission of a company starts with their CEO’s, and I felt that if anything that was going to happen, it would start with them.

Describe what you did at the conference. Who did you hear speak? Who did you connect with?

Michelle:At the conference, I spoke with the helpful staff of CCCE, as well as Dino Trevisani from IBM, who informed me of a new internship program that he just signed off with at IBM. I spoke with the CEO of Air Canada and McKinsey Canada. I spoke with Marc Parent who is CEO of CAE which is a very innovative company that provides informative simulations and modelling technologies across the globe. I also got to speak with Sebastian Thrun, known as the man who invented the driverless car. It was definitely one of those once in a lifetime events that I will never forget.

Has this experience shaped or reshaped the way you view the Canadian job market?

Michelle: I learned that the youth of Canada are doing a pretty good job at remaining relevant in the dynamic job market and some corporations are doing what they can to provide us students with a smooth transition from school to work by offering intensive on the job training programs. There is more work to be done, but not one entity can be held accountable. The job market is changing fast due to many different technological and other factors that are a little out of everyone’s control, but it’s an interesting and exciting task to solve. Everyone is going to need to be ahead of the times and as a country we are on the right path. There is a skills gap, but we are closing it by creating an educated workforce, whether we pursue post-secondary education, vocational colleges, online degrees, attend trade schools or other unconventional learning mediums. We are closing that gap together!

Michelle’s words of wisdom: Find a mentor in your field of choice as soon as you can, they can make your transition from school to the career of your dreams so much smoother.

Graham Caldwell

graham caldwell
Graham Caldwell
Communications and Theatre & Film, BBA
McMaster University 2014

Take us through your thought process for creating and submitting your entry

Graham: It was pretty fun. I tried to make my entry different by shooting the video like a commercial as opposed to directly answering the question. The question was originally posed as “Are you optimistic about the future of employment in Canada?”, so I made a response to that. I think most people still liked it though, when it played in the room the whole conference gave a bit of a chuckle.

Describe what you did at the conference. Who did you hear speak? Who did you connect with?

Graham: We heard a lot of different opinions from CEOS. One speaker I was able to connect with was Sebastian Thrun, who invented Google Glass and the self-driving car. He invited a couple of the TalentEgg winners to a have a drink with him, which was super cool. He was just a really nice and smart guy! I was also able to connect with the CCCE themselves, as well as Diane Obam Dallaire, who runs a really great company that builds partnerships with non-profits and private companies.

Graham’s takeaway: For opportunities like the TalentEgg Challenges, if you can do it, do it. It’s like a job interview that you need no experience and no resume for.

What was the most important thing that you learned from this experience?

Graham: Just put yourself out there and always have your business card ready!

Ready to take part in a TalentEgg Challenge? Check out our Challenge Page!

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