Providing a direct link to the workforce

Networking Day provides hundreds with crucial advice and contacts

Learning everything from how to succeed in international business to steps for developing a personal brand, nearly 600 students spent Jan. 30 gathering tips for entering the workforce full time. The fifth-annual Faculty of Business and Communications Studies’ Networking Day conference and career fair offered workshops and breakout sessions so that students could meet and talk with prospective employers and alumni, learn about industry trends and pick up some new skills.

The day began with a breakfast focused on the supply chain management industry for students and alumni with a separate session on the future of marketing. That was followed by workshops and sessions aimed at helping students make professional connections.

“What we did this year that we’re really excited about is teaching the students how to network,” says conference organizing committee member Shelley Rathie, a faculty member in human resources. “The first workshop of the day was with an external expert to not just talk at them but to get them to practise and to experience how you actually network.”

Building relationships face to face

Marvin David, a third-year business student majoring in human resources, says the workshop taught him to look at networking a little differently. “Networking is not just about trying to get something out of other people. It’s also building your own relationships with other people and making conversation.”

Paige Cloutier, a human resources major with a minor in supply chain management, also found the workshop helpful for practising interpersonal communication.

“As a business student, it’s so important to get an internship. It’s crucial to getting a job after you graduate. This event is so important, just to get out there and get comfortable talking to people because Calgary is so dependent on networking.”

Photo of Third-year business students Paige Cloutier and Deianeira Champion.

Third-year business students Paige Cloutier, left, and Deianeira Champion.

By meeting with working professionals, student Deianeira Champion feels she’s gained an advantage that will help her as she applies for a co-op term that begins in May. Champion is majoring in finance with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship. This was her third Networking Day.

“For a lot of the job postings, the companies actually come here and it’s nice to be able to talk to them face to face. You get that human interaction, which is what I think we’re lacking.

“Now you apply online, a lot of interviews are online, so it’s nice to be able to have that human connection here,” Champion says.

Real-time career opportunities

In addition to the conference events, Career Services hosted a Career Expo ― a tradeshow-type event giving students the chance to connect with employers who are actively hiring. A capacity 15 different employers were chosen to expose students to companies offering employment opportunities in the fields of business and communication studies. Mount Royal’s Career Services department, plus Chartered Professional Accountants Alberta and Supply Chain Canada, were also key contributors to the Career Expo.

Students got to interact with “very senior individuals from organizations that you wouldn’t even get time with otherwise,” explains Associate Dean, Academic, Jim Silovs of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, who was the event committee chair. “It’s really a great opportunity for them.”

Photo of student submitting a resume at the career fair.

The Career Fair organized by Career Services featured 15 hiring employers.

Every program from both schools ― communication studies and business ― contributed to the conference, recruiting speakers and designing a program that is timely and relevant, Rathie says. All of the speakers were experienced professionals, with some being alumni.

“The international business program brought in guests to talk about networking internationally and finance brought in experts to talk about the changes in the global economy,” Rathie mentioned as examples.

Concurrent breakout sessions covered such topics as building professional networks ― in different disciplines within the field of communications and in business as whole ― finance in a diverse society, and social innovation focused on human-centred design and changemaking.

Photo of students to practising networking skills.

Networking Day included many opportunities for students to practise networking skills.

The close-out workshop at the end of the day featured alumna Aislinn Grant, owner of Grant Design, who helped students develop a personal brand. “I learned that personal branding is connected to what you value,” David says. “That’s how people are going to see you and connect with you.”

Rathie and Silovs say every year they take feedback from attendees and start thinking about the next year’s event to make sure they’re always meeting students and employer needs. One of the key changes to the event this year was to broaden the scope of conference contributors to include the School of Communication Studies. Communications practitioners from a number of disciplines ― information design, journalism, public relations and broadcast media studies ― were added to the event to expand the conference’s range for students and to profile programming offered within the faculty.

Champion says attending Networking Day multiple times has boosted her confidence in job interviews and her willingness to approach prospective employers. David says he saw signs of people’s confidence growing, too, by picking up tips they can apply immediately to how they interact with other people.

“It’s so important to come to these,” Cloutier adds. “It is very competitive out there. I was talking to a recruiter and she said she has thousands of applications come in and half of them are screened out by automated processes. To know someone in that industry is just so important to actually landing a job.”

What Mount Royal offers its students is special, according to David. “(MRU provides) a lot of opportunities for students, and they want to make sure that students are actually prepared after they graduate and help students to grow not just in their careers but also in their personal development.”

Explore different programs in the Bissett School of Business and the School of Communication Studies in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, and see the many ways Career Services helps students. Meet Aislinn Grant and read about other MRU alum.

Feb. 2, 2020 ― Melissa Rolfe

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