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Our student association organized a night for students to talk with industry experts earlier this week.  Many pearls of wisdom were offered.  Some of them are worth passing on.

Murray Sneddon of MarshallZehr noted that they do not dress like bankers because “we dress to show that we are not bankers”.  His colleague Rishan Sathasivam emphasized that you could work with all of the other people on Bay Street and you could dress like them but appearances can be deceiving.  If you can do the same work (or better) without wearing the office uniform and if you can enjoy more of your life by not commuting two or three hours per day then you win.

Representatives from Cushman and Wakefield offered an uncommon bit of advice concerning job interviews.  Most people with little job experience act as if the best strategy is to talk about their skills and accomplishments as much as possible.  Based on their experience as brokers, they advised the opposite: be an active listener.  Success in a modern sales-oriented job is rarely based on high-pressure, hard-sales techniques.  Long term success depends on satisfying the client’s needs which starts by figuring out what those needs are.

I had a long chat with Rishan about corporate culture and attitude since the people from Guelph that he has hired have, in his opinion, rare skills plus a mature attitude.  Either one is not enough.  And it is not about how a millennial should fit into an office culture designed by baby boomers.  Our students are told to consider the corporate culture when selecting their first full-time job: is the fit good for you to develop your career and to wake up each morning excited about going to work?  The answer makes a big difference to a career.

High school students should also consider “atmosphere” or “culture”, when selecting a university.  As a Faculty Advisor, I hope each new student recognizes that they can achieve more than they imagine.  Creating an atmosphere where individuals take risks with the help of new friends is hard-to-impossible, especially when the group of students changes every year.  The leadership of the student association helps.  It is also true that a good atmosphere is the result of a self-reinforcing process, when trust is reciprocated.  I am pleased when I hear a student (who transfers to the University of Guelph because they are unhappy with the atmosphere at another university) say how quickly they notice the difference.