Emerging Professionals Find Career and Networking Help at Inaugural Summit
For university students like Evangeline Saclamacis, COVID-19 has been massively disruptive, pushing classes online and causing work-experience opportunities to be cancelled or postponed.
Perhaps now more than ever, students—and professionals early in their engineering and geoscience careers—need support navigating life after graduation. “We’re taught all of the hard skills, but the soft skills aren’t really mentioned in the classroom,” says Saclamacis, who is in her final year of a mechanical engineering undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia.
To help the next generation of professional engineers and geoscientists find their way, APEGA hosted the inaugural Emerging Professionals Summit earlier this fall. The annual event, which was held online on September 26, offered interactive learning on topics like workplace communication, résumé writing, interviewing, networking, and getting an APEGA licence— all via a customized online platform.
The event seemed an ideal way for Saclamacis to continue her self-learning and self-growth in advance of starting her career as a professional engineer. From her home in Calgary, she logged on the morning of the event and was surprised by how engaging the sessions were—not only because of the content, but the platform itself.
“There was a gamification option,” she says. “Essentially, because it was a new platform, they wanted folks to explore it, so we got points for things like exploring and posting on it.” At the end of the day, the top 10 individuals with the most points earned a prize.“It was a great way to make sure people were interacting and posting...and basically, exploring the app to make sure they didn’t miss out on any opportunities.”
Saclamacis says the session Ignite on LinkedIn: Building a Powerful Personal Brand, led by Belinda Aramide, was her favourite. “For LinkedIn, it’s really knowing that’s a powerful tool that’s used in hiring and screening individuals, whether you’re in a job, in a new job, or using it to stay current,” she says. In the session, she learned strategies for writing an effective profile and for interacting with others on the app. Even before the session was over, she was receiving LinkedIn requests from other participants—and sending her own.
In fact, networking was a strong component of the summit, she says. The app itself was designed to encourage participants to communicate with one another during the event and afterwards. The summit also concluded with a virtual networking event that included students like herself, early career professionals, and a handful of folks who were already established in their careers. “I met so many cool people,” she says.
Saclamacis says she and many of the attendees she met have already been making plans to meet at next year’s summit, which will hopefully be in person.
“I thought it was so amazing and was surprised it was the inaugural session,” she says. “They pulled it off without a hitch, from what I could see.”
Until then, Saclamacis will finish her education and begin a job with the renewable energy firm she interned with over the summer (after her first position fell through due to COVID-19). And she intends to become registered as a professional engineer in British Columbia and Alberta.
It’s a promising start for the ambitious student, who has had her eye on engineering since she was 10 years old and first discovered the role of the profession in shaping society: “I want to be involved in positive change in my community.”
Featured in this article
Student, University of British Columbia