Last Thursday evening, UTM’s Career Centre, hosted a networking night for students interested in pursuing careers in humanities and social sciences.

The event featured eight speakers, who kicked off the conversations by introducing themselves to the attendees. Each of the speakers was assigned to a table of students for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, the speaker was instructed to move onto the following table. This circuit repeated four times and was followed by an open-networking session. These networking speed-runs allowed for quick and meaningful discussions pertaining to career building, job-searching, and skill developing tips.

Being a UTM alumnus from the DEM program and currently the shopper marketing coordinator at Metro Inc., this event seemed like the perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, pass on advice to current students, and be involved with the university.

During the event, I had the pleasure of speaking to several students pursuing their undergraduate degrees in fields such as professional writing, communications, psychology, art history, and sociology. While most of the students were excited to graduate and get a jump start in the “real world,” they were extremely keen on learning about the soft skills, qualifications, and educational requirements needed to succeed in their respective career choices.

With over two years of full-time work experience and having gone through my fair share of interviews (and rejections), I couldn’t help but empathize with the students. It is no secret that fresh graduates struggle to find their footing in the professional world and the competitive job market doesn’t help ease that transition process. This compelled me to talk about my experiences more openly than I normally would. My main advice was that meaningful relationships and jobs take time to find and solidify. I urged the attendees to find individuals working in their desired field of profession and mirror their skill-set and certifications.

Although, I focus primarily on marketing, many of my skills can be transferable across various fields. Employers appreciate workers who focus on time management, organization, and attention-to-detail. In addition, familiarizing yourself with business software (such as SAP), Microsoft Office, and enhancing your knowledge on tools specific to your field of study are always a great to have on your resume.

Fortunately, many organizations (such as Metro Inc.) offer training sessions to keep you ahead of the curve and allow you to excel in the professional world. Despite this, it always helps to have prior knowledge before you enter the workforce. Most of the students I interacted with were in their 3rd and 4th year, which is the ideal time for most undergraduates to start thinking about their future. Most of them hinted on the internal struggle of either pursuing a job that pays well or going after your passion, and to that I would have to say, why not both?

To most fresh graduates, this might seem extremely difficult, and I am not going to lie, it can get exhausting. However, putting time and effort in what you enjoy, will eventually pay off. I didn’t enter my program knowing that I wanted to go into marketing, I was once confused and lost like most of the students I spoke to during the event. I did (and still do) enjoy watching movies and decided to convert that hobby to a skill and started to write movie reviews for The Medium. My frequent contributions earned me the position of a staff writer, which eventually paved the path for marketing and communications. Now, my current job allows me to be creative, oversee projects, work with like-minded individuals and continuously improve. The management at Metro Inc. is extremely supportive and dedicated to seeing young professionals succeed.

The event ended with me providing more details on Metro Inc.’s upcoming internship opportunities and connecting with several alumni. I spoke with alumni from different backgrounds which gave me a new perspective on how they ended up in their respective professions and I will keep their experiences in mind as I continue to build my career.

No matter whether you are going to graduate in a few months or you are just in your first year, give it time, work on your strengths, and follow something you enjoy doing, and you’ll find your ideal career. It is never too late to start improving your professional and technical abilities. Events by the Career Centre (and the associated resources) are always something you can rely on as current students and fresh graduates.