The knowledge and experiences alumni can impart on current students is really quite valuable, after all, they’ve been in their shoes and can help identify the journey they have in front of them.
With this in mind, the third-year Business Marketing students at College of the North Atlantic’s Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s developed a pilot project called Connect
that allows CNA alumni to network with students, providing guidance and support through group discussions.
event was held Wednesday, Nov. 30. This informal, mixer-style event allowed students to mingle with five alumni and hear about their experiences after graduating from CNA.
Third-year Business Marketing student Lesley Rogers of St. John’s says the objective of the event was two-fold.
“We had five speakers and they each had 15 minutes to speak. They told us their stories from school and on to where they are now. Afterwards everyone mingled and networked. We had coffee, tea and a bite to eat, and that’s when people went up to whichever speaker they wanted to ask additional questions to,” Rogers said.
“We think it went great. As soon as it ended everyone was all smiles and we thought it was something we could possibly do again. The alumni that spoke got back to us so quickly. They all were game for it and wanted to do it, so it was pretty easy to organize.”
The Business Marketing students will evaluate the pilot event and look at next steps, giving thought to what adjustments they might make for future events. Rogers says they eventually would like see Connect
events replicated at other campuses throughout the province.
“We will analyze the event and see what could have been done differently and what could have been changed to make it better, but it went amazing for the first one,” she said. “With this being your first event, of course you’re a little nervous, but as soon as it was over everyone was all smiles and super happy about it. It went perfect and that probably had a lot to do with the speakers who had such great stories to share. Everyone was captivated.”
Don-E Coady was one of the five alumni chosen to share his story. He is a graduate of the college’s Graphic Design program and is the creative director of DC Design House, an award-winning advertising and design company in St. John’s. He said there was a high energy, attentive audience in attendance for the event.
“I thought it was very well run. It was a focused audience of students who are ambitious enough to care about what former grads like myself had to say about what led them into the working world once they finished doing their programs at the college,” Coady said.
“I speak all the time to different groups, old and young, memberships, not-for-profit, education, so I’m all over being a part of (this event). In fact, I’ve been trying to find a way to be more vocal on behalf of and for the college, either to the students or to the community because I’m such a huge supporter and proponent of the college and I try to try to hire people from the college whenever I can. Three students emailed me already since asking if we can sit down and talk more, which to me is pure proof that what we did had impact and will be of benefit to the students who did attend.”
Anna Peddle, CNA’s Manager of Alumni and Advancement, says she hopes these types of events will help students to make connections which will help them as they venture out into the workforce.
“Connecting with alumni provides a meaningful experience for current students who are looking to follow in alumni’s shoes towards a successful career path,” said Peddle. “CNA’s Alumni and Advancement office is pleased to support the current business students as they take on this initiative to build a rapport with alumni in the community and make connections that can last a lifetime.”
Peddle says they encourage all campuses and disciplines to get involved with mentoring and networking opportunities.
“We believe all schools at CNA can take advantage of such initiatives and make it worthwhile for their upcoming graduates. The mentoring, networking and connections made at these types of events are invaluable and simply having a contact in the field can provide significant support once a student finishes school,” Peddle said.
“Wednesday’s event focused on networking, to share work experiences on site at Prince Philip Drive, which makes it very accessible for students who want to learn more about their own opportunities once they graduate from CNA. The alumni also gain access to some up and coming potential new hires. It is definitely a win-win and anyone interested can contact the alumni office for more information and support.”
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic