By Selena Kim
We have all heard about the importance of networking. And we are always told to try to meet people outside of our fields. As an intellectual property lawyer at a downtown firm, I have found that it is a surprisingly small world in terms of the people that I run into in my day-to-day life. With that in mind, I decided to attend a Women of Influence course which seemed like a great opportunity to branch out and expand my networking circle.
In the Spring of last year, Women of Influence offered a networking course for senior women professionals from a multitude of fields—law, banking, retail, and technology. It was at this course that I made a valuable connection with Barbara Pepin, Director of Supply Chains at Indigo. In our follow-up conversations after the course, Barbara expressed her interest in helping high school girls learn about non-traditional careers for women, and I was happy to help. I reached out to two female engineers at Celestica, Ana Perez, Global Sales Director, Renewable Energy and co-chair of the Women’s Collaboration Forum at Celestica, and Anandhi Narayanan, Senior Manager and founder of ZeroToStartup. They were thrilled to participate. The first non-traditional career day for Toronto area high school girls was officially conceived.
As a group, we met periodically for over a year to discuss what would be some of the most useful careers to expose the girls to. We decided to focus on technology and entrepreneurship-related careers, as these are the areas which seem to be growing the fastest in terms of future prospects. We also decided to have this event as interactive as possible as we thought girls would respond better to learning by doing, rather than being lectured to.
On April 24, 2016, our event was held at Celestica’s headquarters in Toronto, with the help of many Celestica volunteers. Dozens of high school girls came to the event. Over the course of a dynamic and engaging afternoon, they went through five stations: supply chain, technology law, sales, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing. Among other things, the girls had the chance to wear traditional legal robes and present arguments at a mock trial, tour a solar panel manufacturing line and participate in problem solving for a real life supply chain situation.
The attendees were very appreciative to learn about careers that they had no idea existed before the event. The entrepreneurship station was particularly illuminating for the girls, who learned that jobs that were once considered “safe” are disappearing or are being reimagined. This was particularly helpful to those who were considering higher education as they could take these learnings into account in considering their next steps.
Given the positive feedback and enthusiasm from the participants, we hope to make this an annual event. We would like to try to reach a larger number of girls for our next event and have received requests to include careers on branding and marketing. We look forward to the next event and appreciate the connections made through Women of Influence which sparked this project and helped to provide guidance to our future career women.
Have you made a connection through Women of Influence? Do you have an inspiring story to share? Email us at [email protected]!