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How Schools and Employers Can Help Support Students

McMaster University is one of the top post-secondary schools in the country. We had a chance to speak with Tanya Kett, M.Ed., CDP, CPC, a career counsellor at the university. Tanya supports undergraduate students from all Faculties and levels. Part of this support includes addressing students’ concerns, helping them explore their options, discussing their career goals and developing personalized career and further education plans. Her primary focus is equity-deserving students who experience barriers to their career development. Tanya engages students in a collaborative process to navigate their career journey and works with colleagues to develop new programs and services. The department offers individual appointments, drop-ins and group webinars/workshops, both hybrid and in-person. Here at TalentEgg, we wanted to know more about her 19 years in career development and her advice to schools and employers to help students flourish.

Why Career Education/Coaching?

My high school guidance counsellor encouraged me to work as my co-op in our school’s career centre. I learned about all the resources and assessments we had and eventually had class visits from my peers. At that time, I wanted my career to involve helping people navigate their career and education options — but I had no idea what job that was. It wasn’t one of those job titles we know about (i.e., teacher, social worker, lawyer). Years later, during university at McMaster, I discovered the career centre (where I now work!), got involved as a peer mentor and learned about the different roles, such as counsellor, advisor, coach and practitioner. There were so many options! Building connections from that experience and a few other vital contacts along the way were pivotal to my career.

Rewarding Achievements

My achievements are connected to my students and colleagues. When the students I have the privilege of supporting succeed, that is my most outstanding achievement. When they let me know they landed a job, got accepted to their program or had an “aha moment” about their career path, it lets me know I’ve made a positive impact. It reminds me how valuable our work in the career field is for students. Colleagues who support one another and share expertise and resources contribute to students’ success. 

If I had to pick my most outstanding achievement, it would be that I found a career that I love and am passionate about.

Future Goals

I want to carve out more time for professional development. I always have a long list of ideas, such as courses, certificates and conferences to attend, but I tend to focus more on students during the academic year. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for PD. I feel like there is so much to learn about changes in technology and how we deliver service, theoretical approaches to consider, and so many resources to explore.

Commitment to DEI

My commitment is to support students who identify with equity-deserving and diverse groups who may experience barriers to career development. I collaborate with them to identify actionable items, strategize, gather resources and develop a plan to instill a sense of hope, confidence, optimism and self-efficacy so they can realize their career potential. My focus throughout my master’s degree was exploring diverse career development (disability, Indigenous, first-generation and international students) through the lens of student affairs.

Supportive and inclusive employers have the opportunity to create positive and meaningful experiences for students who may need someone to take a chance on them. It is a chance to diversify their team; we all know that diversity adds value.

Pain Points & the Effects of the Pandemic on Students

Students are generally overwhelmed with school and keeping up with other priorities like working, volunteering and extra-curricular opportunities. They often wonder how to be competitive for programs/jobs when they feel they are behind their peers in terms of experiences. The pandemic made it challenging to engage in networking opportunities, such as connecting with professors and employers to foster meaningful conversations. It also took time to adjust to the reliance on technology for academic and work tasks traditionally done in person. Now, everyone is adapting yet again to in-person learning and work environments. They may need to consider more travel time to various in-person appointments and engagements, which didn’t happen as much in the last couple of years.

Transitioning from School-to-Work

In the last two years, our team researched, developed and launched resources to guide students in the transition to work. We now have website content, a downloadable tip sheet, a customizable workshop, and one-on-one support to help students with this transition. During the pandemic, we offered captioned and recorded versions of our live webinars on topics such as virtual interviews, networking and career fairs to equip students with tools to navigate virtual recruitment practices. 

Acknowledging, validating and normalizing student concerns is often a starting point for many conversations about transitioning to work. Several students identify with “imposter syndrome,” where they may not feel capable or confident in the role they landed, creating dissonance between their perceived potential and their actual potential. This can happen for various reasons, including diversity identification; therefore, it is valuable for employers to have inclusive training plans, mentoring (matched to employee) and opportunities to check in throughout the first few weeks to foster belonging in the workplace.

How Employers Can Help Support Students

Students with the opportunity to have a mentor at work often tell me how valuable it is to know they have a point person for questions as they transition to their roles. Transitioning from school to work is a great life experience — be kind, be patient and offer support so that students don’t feel like they always have to ask (sometimes they don’t know it’s okay to ask!). For example, ask every employee during the onboarding process if they have accommodation requests; that way, those with accommodation needs will feel included and supported in the hiring process. It will go a long way in building morale and confidence for new employees, which in turn produces a positive company culture. Leverage the digital expertise of Gen Z as our virtual/hybrid work environments evolve.

Connecting With Top Student Talent

The best way is to diversify what employers may consider a “top” student. It’s not always academic achievements or workplace achievements that make a student a great addition; life experiences also count. Consider the students’ potential — maybe they haven’t had the same opportunities as others yet. 

Take a holistic approach to the application process and ensure it is inclusive and accessible. Some students may be in a program different from their career interests but engaging in self-learning opportunities because they’ve found what they are passionate about well into their undergrad. This demonstrates a commitment to finishing what they started and the initiative to find other learning or experiential opportunities, skills and qualities relevant in the workplace. 

Invest time to train, mentor and foster a culture of inclusion in the workplace not only to attract but also to retain students who may end up as top employees. Some wonderful colleagues across our campus can work with employers to set up company recruitment events, information sessions, coffee chats, etc., and participate in career fairs to get to know our students beyond their application.

Advice For Peer Career Educators

One of my mentors told me many years ago that “career counsellors never stop their career development.” I’ve found that to be true, and it’s advice I pass on to others. New trends, technology and approaches continually shape how we work with our clients. Carve out time for your professional development; watch webinars, read articles, attend conferences, take a course, join professional networks, find a mentor — whatever you find helpful for your practice. Build your network to include a diverse range of contacts.

Final Thoughts

Careers are a journey; they take time to build, grow and develop. It’s essential to choose a direction, not a destination — this leaves more options open for you and optimizes your chances for success. It takes patience, persistence and perseverance. Set goals, build your network and have a parallel plan. These things are all part of building your career resilience. 

You are not alone; You will get there.

CPA Ontario’s Success with Campus and Student Engagement

The team at CPA Ontario are made up of the brightest educators, thought leaders, regulators, advocates and providers. They go the extra mile and often take measures to protect the public interest by ensuring their CPA members meet the highest standards of integrity and expertise. Additionally, CPA Ontario provides pathways to the profession for aspiring accountants from around the world, and engage in their community as responsible corporate citizens.

However, when it comes to the accounting profession and specifically the CPA designation with regards to the kinds of careers it can lead to, there are still many misconceptions regarding the industry. CPA Ontario has many resources that dispel these myths about CPAs working with excel all day or being stuck in a cubicle, and host their biweekly information sessions where students can learn more about how the CPA can lead to a successful career in business.

Anyone can register here: https://www.cpaontario.ca/become-a-cpa/post-secondary-student/events to attend an information session and learn more about the future of accounting, finance, general business, and how the CPA can help anyone reach for their dreams.

Keep reading to learn more about how CPA Ontario solidifies their initiatives in campus engagement, diversity, equity and inclusivity, and how they successfully navigate connecting with students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPA Ontario’s Support for Student Community Engagement

At CPA Ontario, they hold a lot of pride in their Post-Secondary Ambassador Program (PSAP) and Board of Ambassadors Program, especially regarding the strong community of students they have fostered. The CPA Ontario community has explored careers in business, built relevant skills that employers are looking for in successful candidates, and have connected with key employer stakeholders.

Their Post-Secondary Ambassador Program and Board of Ambassador Program have been successful ways for us to engage student voices in their space. Additionally, their Board of Ambassador representatives act as an advocacy and advisory group for their recruitment team, which ensures they keep their pulse on student needs. In terms of creative ways to get CPA Ontario’s message out, they try to meet students where they are at; whether it’s through a new series of Instagram lives and takeovers, or by hosting their Live @ the Drive-In movie night (with lots of popcorn of course). As CPA Ontario moves towards a hybrid of in-person and virtual, some of these tactics may change, and so now CPA Ontario is asking themselves new sets of questions on how to continue to support student career paths.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in the Accounting Industry

At any organization, DEI and related initiatives should mean that all people should have a seat at a table, and that their voices are heard. It was important to the CPA Ontario team last year that their online programming continued to drive inclusivity, making their events accessible to wider audiences geographically and representationally.

At CPA Ontario, events are frequently hosted throughout the year. To name a few initiatives, they partner with agencies to reach new audiences, hold events specific to niche groups, and ensure all their participants are made aware that accommodations will be supported.

3 Key Insights Into Campus Recruitment and Student Engagement with CPA Ontario

Trend 1: Students have no shortage of aspiration, for themselves or for the world. Yet, they are easily discouraged by the realities and threats of post-academic life.

So, they ensure that they don’t ever shy away from the tough conversations whether it be in a recruiter’s presentation or panel discussion with CPAs. The CPA Ontario team addresses the fears students’ have about the future of AI, work-life balance, and others in open discussions, so students feel equipped when they begin their careers.

Trend 2: The next generation of students will be going to be looking for more flexibility and the ability to have influence/make an impact in their future careers.

So, they highlight the many diverse career paths that their current CPAs are in so students can envision themselves in similar paths. Through their programming, they also share how CPAs reimagined their careers to create their own unique paths, to inspire students who aspire to do the same. They also provide forums of discussions and facilitate opportunities for students to connect with these professionals to form their own relationships.

Trend 3: Employers are finding there are human skills gaps when hiring new grads.

So, they provide training in important human skills like leadership, responsibility, personal management, and emotional intelligence to name a few. As CPA Ontario is also a regulator, it is important to the recruitment team that they are equipping future CPAs to be valuable leaders, employees, and entrepreneurs.

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effect on Campus Engagement

The pandemic resulted in the CPA Ontario team doing things differently. They had to reimagine their offerings to provide enhanced online experiences. For example, their Employment Connections Career Fair which was once limited because it was held in Toronto and in-person, can now have any number of students across Ontario attend.

The most rewarding aspect has been the feedback from their post-secondary students who have thanked us for the online community of students they built, during a time that many of them felt very isolated at home. The CPA Ontario team gave students a space to connect with each other, gain new skills, and meet CPAs, all while having fun!

The most challenging aspect was probably at the beginning of the pandemic when the team would ask each other how they would do all that:

  • What platforms would they use?
  • What would the tone and cadence of their virtual spaces look like?

They had a lot more questions than they did answers, but they were quick to not get stuck in their questions and begin making moves. It was trial by fire, but the CPA Ontario team strongly believes they have come out victorious on the other side!

CIBC’s Strategies to Create Inclusive Career Paths

Having received diversity and inclusion awards for over a decade, CIBC is internationally recognized as a global leader for its initiatives. To get an understanding of how CIBC’s strategies create meaningful and inclusive career paths for students and new grads we spoke with Shalise Goffe, a Senior Manager of Campus Strategy and Recruitment at CIBC. 

Shalise Goffe Headshot

Shalise joined CIBC because of the great things she heard about the culture and people. After seven months with CIBC, she can say that it is all true! 

“The people are open, inviting and supportive. The culture is one of transparency, empowerment, and growth and it really does feel like a family because everyone wants to see you win!”

Student and New Graduate Initiatives

As one of Canada’s largest banks, CIBC knows the importance of bridging the gap between post-secondary education and the workforce. That is why they have set up dedicated initiatives for students and new grads to successfully hatch their careers

We asked Shalise how CIBC’s Student Leadership Academy (SLA) enables students to succeed in the workplace. “It allows students the chance to grow both professionally and personally by pursuing their interests and passions in addition to their work term. Our students have access to workshops that help them gain new skills or simply refine their existing set. Through our workshops, leadership connections, and other SLA activities our students get to explore life at CIBC and their future careers. Providing them with a supportive environment, learning opportunities and the ability to showcase their leadership skills enable them to succeed in the workplace.”

CIBC also runs a co-op program for students and new grads. This program “encourages our co-op students to bring new, creative, and innovative ideas to CIBC. Selected summer students are challenged to work on a real CIBC business problem in a team with other students, along with the support of an Executive Sponsor and Project Lead. It’s an opportunity for them to push themselves by thinking outside the box and collaborating with others to come up with solutions.”

“It’s important to be a student of life and that means the learning doesn’t stop once you’ve left school.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategies at CIBC

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have come to the forefront of recruitment and internal dialogue over the last few years as their necessity has risen to attention. With 10 groups throughout CIBC focussing on like-minded individuals coming together with shared interests or backgrounds, there is a place for everyone at CIBC.

We wanted to dive deeper into CIBC’s initiatives, so we asked Shalise to describe why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important at CIBC. “At CIBC we want you to feel a sense of belonging. We want you to come into work each and every day truly believing that you can be your authentic self without hiding or covering who you truly are and that you will be accepted for it. Only then will you feel like it’s a safe space that’s open for you to bring your whole self to work.”

When it comes to the CIBC’s internal strategies and the future of recruitment, Shalise had this to say: “Candidates are interested in a company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and how they fit into it. Going back to the belonging piece, people want to join a company that they feel safe in, that they feel cares about them and that are making commitments to be inclusive and equitable. It’s important that we are hiring diverse candidates so we can be reflective of the communities we serve.

Final Thoughts

CIBC has built an array of initiatives to foster an inclusive and diverse workplace for students, new grads, and experienced professionals alike. It is a workplace where everyone is welcome and CIBC is constantly evolving to stay at the forefront of critical initiatives. 

“We want you to grow both personally and professionally and there are a number of ways to do that at CIBC.”

To learn more about CIBC’s student and new graduate programs check out their employer profile on TalentEgg!

The 5 Types Of Highly Desirable Passive Student And New Grad Candidates & How To Reach Them

Sometimes the best candidates aren’t the ones looking for a job.

There are many students and new grads out there that might not be actively seeking employment at that moment, but if the right position came along, they would definitely be interested and very qualified.

Maybe they’re continuing their education, or taking some time off to travel – whatever the case may be, these types of passive student and new grad candidates are a highly underrated group worth a second look by employers. For example pursuing a postgraduate degree or certificate shows a high level of dedication that many employers look for in new hires. An added bonus? Since they’re not on the job hunt, these individuals are not likely to be interviewing with other companies.

To help you attract this hidden talent pool, we’ve examined five types of highly desirable passive candidates and the required steps to reach them.

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