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Virtual corporate tours boost optimism and energize students’ job search

Date Published: June 26, 2020


Two recent virtual corporate tours are helping Sobey graduate students regain their optimism and connect with career opportunities.

On June 17th and June 24th, Sobey School’s Graduate Career Services (GCS) team organized two corporate tours via the Zoom platform to connect Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Finance and Master of Applied Economics students with local employers and sector experts in financial services and economics.

Student comments collected via a feedback form demonstrate the value of the tours:

  • “I gained quite a bit of knowledge to what opportunities are available.”
  • “Future-oriented optimistic networking will land job opportunities in the future.”
  • “Hard skills can be learned and developed so an individual will benefit from having great soft skills.”
  • “I was able to ask valuable questions while interacting with directors.
  • “I learned to be more optimistic about the future.”
  • “What is expected of me as an economist in the labour market. That is a light at the end of the tunnel irrespective of our bleak the current situation might be.”


NS Securities Commission talk with Finance students on Zoom

Graduate Career Services Manager Karn Nichols says, in general, corporate tours “create the conditions for ‘just in time learning’. The students are highly motivated to update their resumes, LinkedIn and elevator pitches so that they are ready to meet employers well prepared and confident.”  

 “These corporate tours are about connection – building connections between our professional community and our students,” adds Justin Kawaja, Work Integrated Learning Coordinator. “It’s a chance for our students learn about what opportunity can look like not just after graduation, but what opportunity can look like in Nova Scotia.”

“It also shows students what the varying workplace cultures can look like and gives them insight into how to interact professionally within an organization,” says Tim Damon, Administrator, “while reminding them that at the end of the day, employers are people just like them.”


Second page of Zoom meeting featuring Finance speakers talking to students.

Employers who presented at the Finance tour were the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, RBC and TD. For the Economics tour, employers were Halifax Partnership, Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education and Nova Scotia Immigration.

The employers also appreciated the experience: “I think - especially given the COVID circumstances - that the online format of the tour worked exceedingly well. It was still personable, it kept things organized, and it was easy to communicate,” reported one on a feedback form.

 

Date

Event

Organization

People

Wednesday, June 17th

Financial Services Tour

NS Securities Commission

Brian Murphy, Peter Lamey, David Harrison and Lianne Bradshaw

TD Bank

Ali Massoudi, Jennifer Auld, and Paul Way

RBC

Krista Martin & Stewart Robinson

Wednesday, June 24th

Economics
Tour

Department of Labour & Advanced Education

Kimberley Buckle, Holly Chisholm, Chenlu Shao, and Mike Milloy

Halifax Partnership

Ian Munro, Paul Jacob, and Chadwick Meyers

Office of Immigration

Kathleen DeCoste, Louise VanWart, Leanne Bartlett, and *Thomas Storring (*Director, Economics & Statistics at NS Dept of Finance)

Graduate Career Services introduced Corporate Tours to the Sobey School 4 years ago. Karn notes, “Since that time we have learned that the experience is one of the richest experiential platforms to prepare students for job search and the workforce. The experience never disappoints. We often see students grow in confidence right before our eyes as they lean into their fear of public speaking. “

Corporate tours follow a preparation process the students undertake that include one on one meetings, LinkedIn and resume check ups a full day Boot Camp and an Orientation in advance of the tour.


Economics students join a zoom call for a virtual networking session with employers.

When asked what surprised them about the Virtual experience, the GCS team shared these thoughts:

Karn: “Totally thrilled as to how we were able to preserve the spirit of the original experience as well as the intent of the event. Employers seem pleased at the quality of the engagement and we enjoy using the breakout rooms to capture reflections of the students in ‘real time’ in between employer visits.”

Tim: “How seamless the actual tours were in terms of transitioning from one employer to the next. I think I was still in the mindset of how tours were done in the past – when you remove the logistics and bring the whole experience to each person in the comfort of whatever space they are working from, it makes things so much easier. “

Justin: “I think what surprised me the most was the energy that existed still came across despite this being a virtual experience. People were still as personal as they were in person. They were open, honest, and leaned into this new way of doing our tours and embraced it.”

Once the world resumes normal operations, the team still envisions a role for virtual tours.

“Overall, the virtual events give us much more flexibility allowing us to connect with employers around the province and across the country,” says Karn.

Adds Justin, “It opens up a whole new set of possibilities – especially around engaging with a wider variety of employers, and various people from different levels.”

“Plus, it gives our students the opportunity to practice their video networking/interview skills, as it’s becoming a bigger asset when entering the job market."


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