UTMSU hosts first in-person event after receiving the 2024 Pillar Sponsorship for its Black Career Pathways project
UTM’s student union has received C$5,000 in funding to better support and equip Black students with the required resources to advance their careers.

The University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union (UTMSU) is the first student-led organization at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) to receiving funding from the 2024 Pillar Sponsorship. The funding will support the UTMSU’s Black Career Pathways project, which seeks to provide career mentorship and development services to Black students with the help of Black University of Toronto (U of T) Alumni.

The Black Career Pathways project applied for the sponsorship in October 2023. It officially launched in November 2023 and intends to run until November 2024. 

The Pillar Sponsorship runs annually and is offered by U of T with the support of the university’s affinity partners, Manulife and TD Insurance. The grant is open to U of T alumni, students, and staff who, according to their website, “develop projects, events or initiatives which add value to alumni and students in the University community and embody the sponsor values laid out by [the university’s] affinity partners.”

Aside from providing up to C$10,000 in funding, the Pillar Sponsorship offers ongoing support from alumni relations, exposure opportunities across the U of T community, sponsor-branded swag, and support with branding and social media practices. The UTMSU received C$5,000 for The Black Career Pathways project.

The Black Career Pathways project is run by a multidisciplinary team spanning three university departments and five student groups. The students and staff on the team are led by the UTMSU and committed to addressing and meeting the needs of Black students.

The Medium spoke with Vice President of Equity Ruth Alemayehu to gain first-hand insight into what the project entails and its upcoming plans. 

“This project is unique as we spoke directly with Black students regarding their needs for career mentorship,” stated Alemayehu. Following these conversations, UTMSU noted three main needs beginning with navigating law schools and careers in law, navigating careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and building professional development for students. “Black students can expect events that are tailored to their career needs while building their network with Black alumni who can guide them in their future endeavours,” Alemayehu concluded.

The Black Career Pathways project held its first in-person event, sponsored by Pillar, on January 23 at the UTM Student Centre. The event hosted two moderated panels, one consisting of five Black law students and the other consisting of five Black lawyers. The panellists shared their first-hand experiences in the law field to more than 80 participants. 

Students could ask their questions before the event, which were then answered throughout the event. According to Alemayehu, “Many questions had an intersectional lens, including questions regarding financial burdens and passion for law as a member [of] the Black community.”

Students also had time to ask questions during the event and network with the panellists. After the event, the panellists’ LinkedIn profiles were emailed to students so that they could connect for future career mentorship opportunities.

Looking forward, the project plans to host two more Pillar-sponsored events. The first is scheduled for June 1, during U of T’s annual Alumni Reunion, in collaboration with UTM’s first Black Alumni Reunion. The event will be open to all Black students and alumni among U of T’s three campuses. “It will be a broad networking event and an opportunity to identify Black alumni who want to continue to engage with Black students through mentorship programs, panel discussions and other networking events,” mentioned Alemayehu. 

Another event in November will focus on Black students’ needs in STEM.

Organizers of the Black Career Pathways project encourage students to contact Alemayehu at UTMSU at vpequity@utmsu.ca should they have any inquiries, input for future events, or questions. 

Associate News Editor (Volume 50) — Samuel is a first-year student at UTM working towards an Economics degree. He previously worked with the Federation of Canadian Secondary Students as a writer in the Demystify Tribune and will be continuing his exploration into writing and journalism as an Associate Editor with The Medium. When he's not drawing graphs or outlining essays, Samuel can be found playing the piano and drums, working out, or critiquing film.



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