Sunday, March 7, 2010

How the WISE Steps to Success event came to be

The WISE Steps to Success Professional Development event occurred on March 2, 2010 at Carleton University. The goal of this event was to show students how important it is to gain skills outside the classroom in order to be successful in their career. The event was elegant, had great food, great company and great speakers. There was a lot to learn, many opportunities to mingle and lots of contagious energy to catch. But I will let someone else write to you about the speakers and the atmosphere. I am here to talk about how this event came to be and why we hope it will become an annual event.

I took some time to search through my WISE e-mails until I finally found what I was looking for. On March 10, 2009, some of the CU-WISE officers were writing blogs about recent events we held. One of the officers was unsure of herself and sent the executives her draft for feedback. Her post was great and she was very excited to hear that we liked it. Her appreciation for our compliments got me thinking and I immediately wrote back talking about how CU-WISE should encourage students to gain more experience in using non-technical skills like writing, public speaking and networking. Rosalyn then wrote back suggesting that we organize an event for these skills. Soon after that, Rosalyn and I met with Carleton Career Services to discuss ideas, collaborations and funding. The planning was not easy, and furthermore, Rosalyn and I graduated soon afterward. Thankfully, the External Affairs Executive, Shafagh, and the Outreach Executive, Heba, were happy to take over. They were the principle planners from then on and I would like to again thank them for making this happen.

So that's the story, but let me leave you with some advice to help you gain those soft skills and stand out when you graduate:

Get involved in your community and volunteer in something you enjoy well before you start looking for work.

Focus especially on venturing out of your comfort zone and working on your weaknesses. Mine were public speaking, networking and writing... so I became the External Affairs Executive.

Ask for feedback, that way you will improve faster.

Don't make excuses that you are too busy. We are all busy. If you want to develop these skills, you must take as many opportunities as you can to practice them.

If anyone has any advice of their own or stories to share please don't hesitate to comment on this post! I would love to hear from you!