It’s called Backpack to Briefcase. The idea is that students will benefit from early experience with the professional world, such as listening to industry lectures, attending faculty events, and meeting U of T alumni. This year B2B is offering program specific breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for students and Alumni to meet in a comfortable, laid-back environment where they can chat and learn a thing or two.
A week ago, I was invited to one of these dinners. My first reaction was:
I just imagined a terribly forced, awkward party—lots of silent eating noises, uncomfortable small talk, stiff jokes, phoney laughter, bizarre ‘Faculty Club’ dinner etiquette—the kind of situation that made my wannabe Danny Zuko run for the hills!
So, of course, I went. I’ve learned the value of attending unexpected events. If anything, it would give me a story to write.
But it turned out all right. It was good. It was interesting. Much different and better than I had feared. And best of all, I learned stuff. Stuff is my favourite thing to learn.
I thought I would share a thing or two. Here are 5 good ones, I think.
1. It’s okay.
Yes. It is. That mid-term you failed, it’s okay. That club you didn’t join, it’s okay. That interesting-looking someone you lacked the nerve to approach, it’s okay. Everything you think you missed or messed up, it’s really, really okay. There’s always next time.
2. Undergrad is the opening of a door.
It’s a struggle. We have to muster all our strength to push it open, but once we do that door is propped. Nothing can close it. It remains as a base where we can stand and look out. It remains as a reminder of our hard work. It remains as an excellent first step.
3. Entropy is confusing.
Luckily, life after graduation is not a closed system. In fact, there so many options that at least one of them is bound to come together into some form of order. Of all the Alumni I met during dinner, only one had found that “dream-job” of her undergrad, and it was blind luck. But then again, it proves it can happen.
4. Success takes time.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen overnight. Even if it feels like our true calling, we have to wait, and try, and try again. We have to keep our eyes open. Success comes in many different shapes and forms and sizes. We have to engage each opportunity with the same positivity, interest, and fulfilment as though it were success itself. Success is in every day, if we can find it and make it real.
5. People are people.
They like dancing. Or they don’t. They like talking. Or they don’t. They like ice-cream desserts, or hockey, or they don’t. I’ve heard that getting a career comes down to the people you know—your contacts. But I wasn’t listening before. Getting a career comes down to YOU. Networking is good and useful, but it’s not important. People are important. The woman with whom you have a conversation about Italy is important. The fact that she doesn’t want butter on her bread is important. Meeting people and actually getting to know them is important. (If you look away from dancing Abed, he seems to move faster!)
In addition to the B2B program, there is also a club called Dinner with 12 Strangers that encourages student, faculty, and alumni engagement. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. If I get a chance, I’ll try it. I never know, I might learn stuff.
‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond.
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