By Elaine Smith
First-year student Anthony Loschiavo has turned the resume guidance he received at his York University Faculty’s Lunch n’ Learn program into a summer position with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
“I attended a session about resumes and cover letters and created a resume with help from Aren Sammy, our Faculty’s experiential education (EE) coordinator,” said Loschiavo, who is in the sustainable energy management program at the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC). “I took my resume to a career fair in January and talked to the people at the TRCA booth. I discovered they had field assistant positions available each summer. I applied for a number of them, had interviews in February and will begin working for TRCA’s Erosion Hazard Management Division in April.
“The Lunch n’ Learn I attended was the seed for all of this. I’m glad the Faculty offers this kind of assistance.”
Sammy and her fellow EE coordinator Rosanna Chowdhury are delighted by Loschiavo’s success and hope other EUC students will find the sessions equally helpful.
“We knew that Career Education & Development offered workshops, but green careers are so specialized that we decided to tailor a professional/skills development series to our EUC students’ needs,” Sammy said. “These sessions provide our students with the opportunity to receive coaching and development from York staff, alumni and industry partners.”
The Lunch n’ Learn sessions take place during the lunch hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall and winter terms. Students can attend in person or virtually, although the organizers see additional benefit to the in-person option.
“The sessions were always held on the same days and time, so we fostered a community each semester,” Sammy said. “Everyone was growing with each other. They could collaborate, compare and communicate about the plans they were putting into action, and it was heartwarming to see the students wanting to help each other.”
Sammy and Chowdhury promoted the sessions on social media channels and through internal communications networks. They drew undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, to the sessions. The topics addressed the basics of professional development, such as resume writing and interview preparation. Other topics included career well-being and optimizing a LinkedIn profile. People in the field also share their experiences.
“We scheduled the first month of the programming and used the feedback from participants to develop the programs for the next month,” Sammy said.
They drew on faculty and staff experts to lead the sessions and also reached out to external partners such as the City of Toronto. Staff from the Prince’s Trust Canada, a not-for-profit organization inspired by King Charles III, delivered a series of four workshops focused on Green Career Excellence.
“The concept of sustainability and partnership has always resonated with me,” said George Amoh, program manager with Prince’s Trust Canada. “Through these workshops, I am able to combine my passions more interactively and inclusively … It will be great to host more workshops and inspire people to pursue and obtain green jobs authentically.”
The organizers are pleased by the success of the program and plan to continue beyond the pilot to the 2023-24 academic year.
“We want to make this a recurring annual item,” Chowdhury said. “We want our students to learn about career paths and benchmarks that indicate where they should be in their career planning so that they aren’t panicking when they reach their final semester before graduation.”
As climate change becomes increasingly apparent, “every organization is looking for sustainability personnel,” Sammy noted. “The opportunities are vast but specific, so a specialized program is key to our students’ success.”