Staff Spotlight: Jean-Pierre Fernandes
Welcome to Staff Spotlight, where we give the members of #RyersonSA the opportunity to discuss everything from their own approach to the industry to their favourite literature. Swing by to get to know your colleagues a little bit better.
Position: Campus Engagement Consultant
Department: Career Centre
What’s the first thing you do when you come into the office?
The first thing I do is turn on my computer, check my email and my calendar and then make a cup of tea…because no morning begins without a tea!
In your view what makes Ryerson unique?
For me, Ryerson’s diversity, both in student population as well as faculty and staff is what is most unique, as well as its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). I think what is happening here around EDI is unmatched and it is so exciting to be a part of that.
What is something that you wish more people knew about about your position?
Perhaps the perceptions are that Campus Engagement Consultants only plan job fairs and information sessions. The Career Centre is doing so much more. We have lots of great programming coming up and we are looking to be as innovative and engaging as possible. I am looking forward to reinventing the wheel!
What made you to decide to work in Student Affairs? If you hadn’t chosen SA, what would you be doing right now?
Working in Student Affairs seemed like a natural progression for me. I had been working in not-for-profit employment and so Student Affairs seemed like a great next step. Within this role I am able to merge my background in social work, human resources, and human rights to bring a unique perspective/approach to career services and when looking to serve our student population through programming.
If I hadn’t chosen to be in Student Affairs I would have stayed in the not-for-profit sector. I was working very closely with community groups and could see the impact of my work on different priority groups. Some of my favourite work was with the LGBT community. We did a lot of outreach through community partners and helped create programing that made it safe for the marginalized members of this community to seek support. It was very rewarding.
Where is your favourite place to be outside of work?
I’m not sure there is one specific place, I suppose it varies by mood or season. But lately it has been the Island, a day at the beach is a wonderful escape from the city.
What’s your favourite book?
I really love Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Mr. Frankl survived the Holocaust and this book recalls his experiences but more than that, his lessons about life, humanity, and the resilience of the human spirit. I find it so inspiring.
What’s your top App?
I am an Instagramer. I love following fashion blogs and just posting a picture with as many hashtags as I can come up with. It’s become a bit of a game to me.
Name the individual(s) who have made the greatest impact in your career?
The first person who comes to mind is my grade 11 English teacher, Ms. Zimmer. We had to write essays and she failed the whole class because they were so terrible. She then sat down with each of us and showed us what we did wrong and how we could improve. It was the first time I learned that you could be good at something even it did not come to me naturally. I think I’ve carried that learning throughout my career.
What’s something about you that people are always surprised to learn?
People are always surprised to learn that I worked on a cruise ship in Europe as Jewelry Specialist for almost two years. I was itching to travel and try something new so I packed up and ended up having some incredible experiences.
What’s your favourite spot on campus?
I would have to say that I don’t yet have one. I am still discovering the campus. Perhaps ask me a few more months in.
In what ways have you found Student Affairs to differ from your previous work experiences?
It’s interesting because I think Student Affairs is both similar and different. Similar because we work with students from various priority groups and the needs and challenges are quite similar. Challenges such as feeling safe, included, or confident enough to ask for help and make full use of all the services available to you. There was a real sense of fulfillment in watching an individual find employment and stand up on their feet again.
On the flip side, many of the clients I worked with previously were on the verge of losing their homes or did not have enough money to pay bills, buy food or basic clothing. The challenges and needs felt much more urgent and immediate as a whole. I’m sure we may encounter this here but perhaps not in the same volume. The exciting part here is watching a student identify career goals and make positive choices for their future. There is so much potential as they go through university, it’s exciting to be a part their personal and professional development.
What is something you are doing to increase the impact of Student Affairs at Ryerson?
Something I feel I bring to this role is a passion for diversity and inclusion. I have partnered with diversity committees at a variety of organizations to create training programs, job fairs, and information sessions that target specific groups; more specifically LGBT, women, and newcomers. I look forward to supporting the creation of more inclusive spaces for a diverse student population.
When I started working in Student Affairs I wish I had known:
I wish I knew everything! Perhaps a glossary of all the acronyms would have been great! I’m still not sure I have them all down!