Make the connections you need to start your career with Coffee and Company
While it’s an institution for education, Centennial College prides itself on helping its students get the kind of education that leaves them employed. At the college, we do this by putting students in front of the experts in their field, be it in a classroom or at special events. There’s more to getting a job than just acquiring skills, namely networking with these professionals.
The college’s Career Services department helps students make these connections with regular events like Coffee and Company. An annual event organized by Alice Hsiung and Career Services, this year’s edition was held last week at Progress, Morningside and Ashtonbee Campuses. Throughout the week, these sessions were themed after specific career fields. For example, Tuesday had a Business-oriented session in the morning.
Regardless of the career field, each session was the same: A group of business professionals, some of whom were Centennial alumni, would each introduce themselves, explain how they went from school into the career field of their choice, and then spread around the room to answer questions and network with students. Tuesday morning’s Business session at the Progress Campus Fireside Gallery, for example, featured the following professionals among the guests, who offered stories and advice to students:
Rod Anton, from Edward Jones Investments: “I’ve been a financial advisor with Edward Jones for about four years. I went through the graduate program, I was the first one in it, I pioneered it. I did do the accounting path for a bit, but it wasn’t really for me. The reason why I chose this profession was because I wanted direct control over my own business and schedule as well. The harder you work, the more you can make.”
Michelle Hannikainen, a recruiter from Robert Half financial services: “One of the reasons I moved out of the financial services world and into recruitment is I did not like math and I loved people. So this is a good opportunity to work with people and help them get jobs, especially graduates.”
France Ho, another recruiter from Robert Half: “I interviewed at banks 15 times, said this isn’t for me each time, then went into recruiting. So, nothing is planned, most of you will probably not be in the same field.”
Iqbal Hussain, Consultant in PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Practice: “I am a newcomer in Canada, I came here one year and five months ago, so I’ve gone through the same journey as many of you sitting here.”
Kamini Sahadeo, Toronto Financial Services Alliance: “You and I have a lot in common. I came to this country twenty-something years ago, just after graduating. The more I do this, the more I realize that we may not always follow a very linear career path to what our credentials lead to.”
“Toronto is the headquarters of a number of major financial institutions. The main thing is to try and get your foot in the door, and network internally, start to prove yourself. Just being here shows that you’re very proactive and outgoing, so leverage that, use that. Showcase what you have, get in there, show it, and your career will start to progress. It may not be linear, but it will be rewarding.”
After saying their pieces, the guests took their places around the room to answer questions and network with students, something that they all agreed was the best way to find a job. This was just one of the many sessions held that week. Later that afternoon students of Hospitality, then Information and Communication Engineering Technology had their own sessions.
There will be further networking opportunities like this at Centennial, including a Career Week in February, and next year’s edition of Coffee and Company. You can register for these events through HireCentennial, which also lists job postings, and connects you to advisors that can help you with cover letters and resumes.
By Anthony Geremia