The Career Centre at UTM, along with the Language Studies Academic Society, Historical Studies Society, and the UTM Anthropology Society, hosted a networking night for students interested in pursuing careers in the humanities and social sciences, last Thursday evening.
The event began with 14 speakers giving a brief introduction about themselves. Each of them then joined a table of students for 15 minutes, after which the speaker moved onto the next table. The circuit was repeated four times, being followed by half-an-hour of unstructured networking. The Medium spoke with many panelists throughout the evening.
Conversations ranged from lessons from a lawyer, a tour guide, an environmentalist to those from a health and safety coordinator, and an arts and culture supervisor for the City of Mississauga. This career networking night was, as the Career Learning Network’s website states, an opportunity for students to see how their studies could be applied outside the box. Other speakers included, but weren’t limited to, a program manager at WE, a journalist, a school principal, a firefighter, consultants, and a business data analyst.
Aakanksha John, a U of T alumna who did her undergraduate degree in equity studies and diaspora and transnational Studies, said she started off doing tour guiding as a “side hustle.” A newcomer to Canada she was recruited by Brightspark after her first year—the company that she still works with—during a job fair at U of T. While transitioning and settling in Toronto, becoming a tour guide was one of her ways of “building a relationship with Canada and to understand the way its people saw it.” She wanted to change the way people thought about exploring a city and enjoyed mentoring youth. John grew up outside Canada and wanted to apply her learning of alternative narratives of history to being a tour guide. Being a firm believer in “making education work for you,” John took a gap year. Although she did apply to a master’s degree in social work, she wanted to continue with tour-guiding because she thought it was a perfect gap year opportunity. She ended up taking it on full-time to explore new locations, as well as growing as a traveler and becoming a more “holistic” person. She wanted to “better understand how people and their societies and their cultures work in different places when they interact with [her] and other people” and looked at it as a “pseudo experiential research site.” She is a staunch believer in not doing anything she’s not passionate about and shared that she had just been to three cities in the last couple of days.
Abee Sivakumaran, another U of T alumna, did her undergraduate studies in equity studies and women and gender studies.
She did her postgraduate degree in human resources. Initially, she wanted to become a counsellor but didn’t want to do a master’s degree and Ph.D. So, she was lead to human resources through advice from an academic counsellor. While doing her postgraduate, she did an internship with Metro, that had a health and safety position open within human resources, which she decided to go for because, as she said, “Why not?” She is currently an environment, health, and safety coordinator at Acklands-Grainger. When asked if she sees herself continuing in this field, she said she’s only been in the field for three years and doesn’t know what the future has in hold for her even five years from now. While it may be hard to see what your degree may bring for you in life, Sivakurman says, “Most of the skills you learn at school, such as time management and a good work ethic, are always transferable to your work place.” She preferred doing a master’s degree in HR rather than doing health and safety because it allowed her to dabble in other areas and specializations of HR. Karen Kwan Anderson is a citizenship and immigration lawyer and a sole proprietor at Mississauga Law Chambers. The first question a student asked her is what drove her to specialize in immigration law, and her response was simply that because she’s an immigrant herself and has seen the work her parents had to do to keep her and her siblings “alive, fed and ready for school—it’s basically gone full circle.” Anderson now helps newcomers “settle in Canada and helps families stay together.”
She is a strong proponent of opening Canadian borders instead of trying to close them and appreciating talents and abilities from diverse walks of life. She also stated that immigration law is a “people type of law,” which is why she does it. She loves “learning her client’s stories, getting out there, and standing before a judge pleading my client’s case.” She is a UTM alumna and studied sociology, industrial relations, and professional writing and communications. She worked three years as a personal injury lawyer and then moved into immigration law at the same company for another 12 years, before leaving to open her own firm.
Mayank Sharma, UTM alumnus from the DEM program and marketing coordinator at Rabba Fine Foods, encourages students to take initiative and network during their time at school. Also serving as the Advertisement Manager at The Medium, Sharma says, “I’m lucky because [Rabba] is actually a great place to work, the management is very supportive of young individuals and students.”
Stephanie Myhal, an arts and culture supervisor at the City of Mississauga, specialized in arts at U of T and her goal was to become an art teacher. When she graduated, however, there were no jobs. Because she had an English minor, she was asked to teach ESL. “Then, the job at the city opened to hire art teachers [as a recruiter], so I couldn’t teach art but I could hire teachers to teach art, which was still a dream come true for me and worked out really well,” she said. Myhal is now working on special projects for the city. One of her main projects is Doors Open for Mississauga. She added that it is essential to keep the youth involved and engaged if we want to continuously grow.”