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ConNext kicks off Emerge events with ‘speed networking’

According to Statistics Canada, despite an increase in youth employment, Canada’s unemployment rate increased by 0.2 per cent in January to 5.8 per cent. This makes finding a job still as challenging as ever. The Emerge run event ConNext looked to help students cope with that challenge.

An NPR report found that over 70 per cent of jobs are never advertised, rather, they are found through networking. For this reason, Julia Filice, a media studies student at the University of Guelph-Humber decided to arrange ConNext, a speed networking event for students to connect with professionals outside of their social circles.

Photo Credit: Jenny Quintero

“Especially from a student’s perspective, networking can be intimidating, it’s awkward. You want to talk to people who have all this experience but you don’t know how to, or exactly what to say,” said Filice.

ConNext was held on March 14 at Humber College North Campus with over 40 participants. The event involved professionals seated at tables with groups of about six students rotating around the room in seven-minute intervals. During this time, guests gave advice, shared life experiences and discussed potential job opportunities. The event concluded with a mix and mingle session for students and professionals to reconnect.

Kathy Ullyott, the media studies program head, expressed her appreciation towards the team’s accomplishments. “I think it’s great that so many professionals and so many alumni came out to support this event,” she said .

She stressed the importance of networking for students as the gateway to getting a job. “It’s how you get your foot in the door. Anybody who’s graduating knows that they can send out a million resumes and not get a nibble, but it’s about who you know,” said Ullyott.

Photo Credit: Anton De Leon

Metrolinx Chief Communications Officer Luiza Sadowski was among the professionals who attended ConNext. As someone who went to school for television broadcasting and now works in the public sector, Sadowski said she enjoys coming to such events to give back and inform students about what opportunities are available to them. “A career is not just a linear path where you go to school for something and that’s where you end up working…I want students to know that life and different experiences might actually exceed expectations like it did for me.”

But, for young professionals, networking events raise a good question: how can you set yourself apart to land that job? “Someone might have the same skill set as you, but a lot of it is about your personality and how you match well with the team,” said Nicole Delorme, marketing sales manager of Tigris Events. “How you speak, how you come across, shining that personality.”

Photo Credit: Jenny Quintero

Business students Lauren Colautti and Anna Nowakowski said they came to ConNext to meet with different companies and to facilitate relationships.

Colautti said networking is necessary because “you need to make connections in the business world…to find a job, it’s always easier to know someone and to have that connection with somebody else.”

Nowakowski agreed. “It’s not about a resume anymore. I know for me, I’ve applied to a lot of places online and very few have gotten back to me to even let me know that I wasn’t accepted. Hopefully having connections will make it easier.”  

Filice hopes attendees will “have an open mind and not just focus on getting a job while networking…have fun with it. You just never know what can come of making a connection especially when you’re in school or when you’re early on in your career.”

ConNext was the first event of Emerge 2019. For list of upcoming events, visit emergeevents.ca.

is the managing editor of the EMERGE print magazine and a former intern at CBC News Network. She has seen more of Canada than the average Canadian and has also ventured south of the border by-road to over 30 states. Follow her on Twitter @tehminasmirza.

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