The First Master Class: Connecting Student Engagement, Storytelling, & Career Development in a Meaningful Way
On a normal day working as a Digital Marketing Specialist for the Student Affairs Creative Unit, I could have my hand in multiple campaigns showcasing numerous initiatives from various departments, including our own. In Creative, a unit that services many departments and all students, I sometimes feel like an omniscient character who observes what everyone is talking about at any given time and caters to it all. I love it. (To find out more about myself and role, check out my staff spotlight here.)
For the last 3 months, however, I have been on a secondment to the Ryerson Career Centre to help improve student engagement, storytelling, marketing, and personal branding. At the beginning, I was excited to be able to focus my expertise and efforts on one subject matter area—something I’m not used to. I was also enthused by the idea that I’d be working with the Career Centre specifically. Beyond Creative, the Career Centre has a mission and offering that personally resonates with me greatly, both now and as a student: To empower all Ryerson students to maximize their potential as skilled professionals, ready to develop meaningful careers. How lucky for me—I got to combine my passion for storytelling, my talent for marketing and communications, and my interest in career development. I was off to the races…
The Master Class Series
In my time at the Career Centre, there has been one project in particular I’ve fallen in love with and the case study I wanted to share here: the Master Class Series—another perfect example of a successful collaboration between Creative and the Career Centre.
Overview & Background
The Master Class Series was something I pitched to the Career Centre as a way to promote their Career Compass Career & Job Search Guide before I started my secondment. I didn’t know I’d get to be part of the execution, but I’m so glad I was. This is exactly the type of program I would have loved as a student at Ryerson and one current students helped inform (I do most of my brainstorming with students).
Master Class would be a series of intimate lunch and learns for a select group of students and an industry leader at the leader’s place of work. Rather than bring the employers and professionals to campus, we would bring our students to the company and have them get a real feel for the organization, while gaining invaluable knowledge from an experienced professional. Students would have to apply to be a part of it so that we could ensure: attendance, desire, intimacy, and diversity of faculty, program, year, and experience. Jason, Francine and Caroline were on board and we moved to execution!
- To promote and get students using Career Compass
- To create a high-impact, experiential career development learning opportunity for students
- To connect students from all faculties to employers and professionals
For the 2 weeks leading up to March 25th, we released and promoted a blog about the contest through RU Student Life that asked students to tell us in 100 words or less what topic from Career Compass they would ask Peter Gima about if they got the chance. We wanted to see how the students communicated themselves, but also wanted to ensure they had to use Career Compass to qualify. With a modest goal of 30 applications, we were pleased to receive over 50 from students in all years, all faculties, numerous programs, and with various topics for Peter. Through deliberation by myself and other Career Centre staff, we selected a diverse group of winners to bring to LinkedIn.
On April 5th, we met our 8 students at the Career Centre and made our way over to Blaze Pizza where each student picked up their pre-ordered personalized pizza. We walked over to meet Peter where we had our intimate lunch and learn in a LinkedIn board room. Peter was a wonderful host. Jason and I prepared a deck ahead of time that had all of the students’ questions on it, but Peter went above and beyond to pre-search each student’s LinkedIn. He came prepared with individualized notes for each of their profiles. The students (and admittedly us staff) all left with practical knowledge about how to improve our LinkedIn profiles as well as advice from a professional like Peter Gima who has been involved in the hiring process for dozens of people.
I captured the whole experience using RU Student Life’s Snapchat. Each piece of our story had over 300 views, which made me pretty happy. I saved that story and have included it below. In the story, you’ll get to meet our students, see some tips from Peter, go on a small tour of the LinkedIn offices and hear what students learned.
The Master Class Series is exactly the kind of programming we’re known for in #RyersonSA: it’s good, it’s different and it’s impactful. It’s informed by students and just as importantly, by our values. I learned early on in my time here that the Career Centre has a defined set of values they work by. It was important these were infused into this program.
|Continuous Improvement & Innovation|
Anticipating changing market and student needs, we continuously evolve, regularly assess, and rigorously evaluate all that we do.
|Brands outside Ryerson are creating these holistic experiences for consumers all the time. Through the Master Class Series, we are ensuring we’re standing right there with those brands meeting the expectations of our millennial students.|
We actively seek to expand and strengthen external connections to create greater opportunities for students and professionals to meet and collaborate.
|Through this series, we are engaging with companies and employers, and creating meaningful ways for Ryerson students to be seen and connect with them.|
|Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion|
Diversity enriches society and we strive to build programs that increase accessibility, build distinct partnerships and provide expertise for equity-seeking groups.
|In choosing the students and expert hosts, or “professors” as Francine likes to call them, we are intentional about looking for diversity of background and experience.|
|High Impact Experiences|
We purposefully engage with students to create transformational, high-impact experiences that connect their curricular and co-curricular learning.
|Through small class sizes and 1-to-1 interactions in the company’s space, we are creating a high-impact experiences for the students involved.|
We are committed to implementing agile and fiscally responsible processes to effectively support our students and partners.
|I have documented all tasks, processes, and templates I used for the Master Class so that the program may continue on seamlessly without me. The cost for running this program is time and the price of lunch.|
I’m happy to say the first ever Master Class was a success and the program will be continuing on under the leadership of Jason John and Francine Belnavis. After the success of our first one, CIBC and Facebook have already signed on to be the second and third hosts and we’ve received notes of praise from colleagues across the country. As I end my secondment and head back to Creative, I’m excited to see where the Master Class Series goes. I’m so happy I was able to be part of laying the groundwork for what I think will be an amazing program, keeping RyersonSA and our Career Centre at the forefront of modern Career Development in Canada.