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#26: Robert Kania – Hire the top talent you already interact with on campus

“The companies that work in and around academic institutions should keep their eyes open for bright young talent that they can acquire upon the student’s graduation.”

Robert Kania, English, Queen’s University

It was March of 2005, and I was on the verge of finishing an undergraduate degree in English at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

I was also working full-time in a managerial capacity at a bar and nightclub on campus. I generally don’t take on a job or project unless I’m prepared to pour my heart and soul into it.

I was lucky to be aligned with others that operated the same way, in my role as Manager of Food Operations at the Queen’s Pub and Alfie’s Pub on campus. Our team was able to achieve exceptional results, and we ultimately went on to turn around two struggling campus operations.

One night in the Spring of 2005, after months of hard work, I received an unexpected voice mail message from the food service rep that I dealt with when ordering food and supplies for our campus bar operations. This individual worked for SYSCO Food Services and he mentioned that his company was interested in hiring a bright, ambitious grad.

If I was interested in working with their company upon graduation, I should apply, and he would provide me with a stellar reference.

That voice mail message ultimately led me to apply for a position in sales and marketing for SYSCO Food Services. I was accepted for the role and I moved from my hometown of Toronto to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, where I spent the next five years living, working, and enjoying all that the west coast of Canada has to offer.

If you’re a student, the bottom line is this: that summer job you have, or that part-time position your working in while you’re in school, can lead to much bigger and better things. If you do an excellent job with what you’ve got to work with, people will notice and job offers might just come your way out of the blue.

But the key is this: you need to do an outstanding job, even when you think no one is watching. It all starts with the right attitude, and you need to recognize opportunities when they come your way.

Where I am now

After working with SYSCO for two years on the west coast, I started my own venture distributing natural health products. In 2008, I decided to return to school for an MBA at the University of Victoria.

Upon completion of the MBA in 2010, I founded – the world’s leading food allergy review community. I am currently focused on building into a thriving online community of individuals affected by food allergies.

My recommendation for employers

Employers that are affiliated with colleges or universities need to realize that they are potentially sitting on a gold mine of talent. The companies that work in and around academic institutions should keep their eyes open for bright young talent that they can acquire upon the student’s graduation.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a campus food service company, beverage provider or utility maintenance company. All organizations need excellent people and a school campus provides the perfect pool of talent.

This #StudentVoice belongs to:

Robert Kania
Bachelor of Arts, English
Queen’s University

Masters of Business Administration
University of Victoria

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