Did you know that York alumni are waiting to take you out for lunch?
Since 2009, the TASTE (Take a Student to Eat) program, a partnership between York’s Career Centre and York Community and Alumni Relations, has offered students a “bite-sized” mentoring opportunity with York alumni.
So what does this look like? Students looking for a taste of what it’s like to work in their chosen field are paired with a York grad and meet over an informal lunch during which the students are offered valuable inside information and career advice. Alumni typically share insights about their job, industry, organization and the path they followed after graduation. Some alumni even offer an office tour. Before their lunch, students will also attend a professional etiquette workshop to ensure they are prepared and to increase their confidence in networking situations.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, more than 160 York students participated in TASTE.
I spoke to Peace Omozusi, a third-year Criminology student who recently participated in a TASTE lunch. She wanted to learn more about a career in corporate law from a practicing lawyer, found out about TASTE on the Career Centre website and went for lunch with Randy Williamson, a partner at Aird & Berlis LLP. The two discussed career advice, volunteer experiences, preparing for law school, goal-setting and even hobbies. “Most importantly,” said Peace, “you get to make connections and learn from the experience of another individual. Learning is essential, and the TASTE program is a form of learning outside the classroom. What is better than learning while eating?”
TASTE isn’t just for current students, though. If you’ve graduated in the past two years, you’re eligible to participate in the program.
Chino Arellano, a recent Psychology grad, for example, wanted to learn more about the education field. He registered for lunch with Jeremy Cox, a Membership Assistance Officer at the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board. At a cozy Italian restaurant, the two discussed getting into the field, demand in the industry, skills and strategies for success. “I vividly remember this advice from him”, said Chino: “Make sure you are friends with the school custodian. If one of your students throws up, and you are not friends with the custodian, then it’s going to be one big problem.”
Chino describes the TASTE program as “an opportunity to LAUGH — Learn, Ask questions, Understand the industry, Get your foot in the door, and Have an amazing meal. [The Career Centre] invites quality participants — professionals who are established in their industries, and who are willing to share.”
Sold? York alumna Nancy Simpatico, an HR Advisor with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, will be having lunch with a couple of York students (possibly you?) in March. Other alumni available for TASTE lunches include Parwez Nejatie (BSc ’98), a Team Lead at Alfasciences, Jonathan Abrams (BES `99), a Manager at BFI Canada, and Sarah Asgari (BA ’06), a Manager at TVO.