Connections 2020 proves to be inspiring for both students and alumni

For students in York University’s School of Administrative Studies, March 5 was a night of inspiration and career growth thanks to the alumni from their program. For the second consecutive year, the Connections speed mentoring and networking event was hosted by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Development Team, bringing alumni and students together for career conversations.

More than 100 undergraduate students from the Commerce and Disaster and Emergency Management programs had the opportunity to be mentored by alumni in their desired field of work.

Third-year finance student Nancy Dam called the event inspiring. “The fact that the rounds were designed in such a way that I actually met alumni from my program in finance was amazing,” said Dam. “Each mentor I met had a very different career path after graduation, and I was so inspired by their stories and how they built their careers up.”

Students and alumni mentors gather for the mentoring session

Before the networking rounds, students received on-site coaching on networking etiquette from Sean Mullin, a post-secondary recruiter with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. It gave them the opportunity to reflect on the purpose of networking and how to make the best use of their time.

More than 30 guest alumni mentors were in attendance, including presidents, CEOs, directors and entrepreneurs. Each brought a breadth of experience and knowledge from areas including accounting, disaster and emergency management, finance, marketing, human resources, management and others. While the mentors were truly the stars, LA&PS Dean J.J. McMurtry made sure to remind alumni of the potential in the room.

“I encourage you to take stock of the young professionals in front of you, said McMurtry. “Perhaps you are meeting some future employees tonight.”

Mentor Melanie Boska with event volunteers Dina Saleh and Angela Thapar
Mentor Melanie Boska with event volunteers Dina Saleh and Angela Thapar

The alumni voiced praise for the event as well. Jay Fischbach, chief operating officer at the Exchange Bank of Canada, believes he owed it to the University and to the students to give back. “I didn’t have this opportunity when I was an undergrad here, and if the students want to hear from me, I’m happy to be here,” said Fischbach.

John Riches, superintendent of professional standards at the Region of Durham Paramedic Services, said, “I was blessed to have mentors in my formative years and when I thanked them, they said ‘pay it forward.’ So, this is my turn to do the same, and I hope in 20 years these students will be here mentoring the next generation of talent.”

The event was made possible due to the efforts by lead sponsor the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, patron sponsor the CFA Society Toronto, volunteers and LA&PS.