Barry Doucette remembers sitting in his room, playing his guitar, when he received a call and was offered his “first real” world job.
The owner of the successful tech firm Orangutech dropped out of university at 19 and went back when he was 22. Today, he can relate to students who were going to school for a second time.
Doucette was one of the many speakers at an event attended by 20 people at the AC Hub on March 2. The event provided insight to help students prepare for work after college. It also encouraged companies to promote themselves, offer students jobs and share their experiences as to how they got to where they are now.
Doucette encouraged everyone in the room to emulate someone. He said that when he used to do manual labour he remembered seeing businessmen passing from above trenches that he dug, and aspired to be in their shoes. One day he told himself, “That is how I want to look.” He said that just by telling that to yourself, you are setting goals, and already on your way to becoming who you want to be.
Right now, Doucette is emulating businessmen who have made their businesses Canada-wide, which is the next step he wants for his company and for himself.
Business excellence was a continuing theme of the event. “The college is always changing, offering cutting edge techniques for students,” said Matt Wheatley. He was the MC of the event and a co-operative consultant at the college. He said that Algonquin is not a quiet player in the community.
Co-operative placements and college in general are great opportunities to make mistakes. Applied learning encourages failure so that those mistakes don’t have to be made on the job, he said.
Students will learn things that they may not learn inside the classroom, such as interpersonal skills, Wheatley said, and that universities are trying to now copy the applied principles that colleges have been doing all along.
People that have good communication skills are often the ones who get hired from the companies at their placements, he said.
“Forget about what your grades are,” Glenn Macdonald said, who is another co-operative counsellor who spoke at the event.
The elevator speech, he said, is a technique used at the beginning of conversation to get across who you are and what you do in a confident way. The reason it is called that is because the time it takes to ride the elevator from the first floor to the last floor is all the time you should use when you go for your first interview.
Reciting and memorizing the speech, Macdonald said, will help you come off more confident, impress your employer with how well you can communicate, and put you at the top of the job candidate list.
He said that body language and knowing what tone to speak in in certain situations also helps your image, employability and the way people perceive you.
But before people even look at your presentation, they already have their opinion of you, said Alyssa Beltempo, who is a fashion stylist that works for the clothing chain EXPRESS.
She said that it only takes seven seconds for someone to have a first impression of you based on how you look.
Beltempo suggests focusing on the neutral colours first, like greys, blacks, navys, and whites. She said that all of those colours work for every month of the year. What is most important though, she said, is to feel good with what you wear.
Wheatley’s hope is that students will take the information from the event with them for the rest of their life.
Jazlyn Dunham, a student in the public relations program, enjoyed the event and said that it helped remind her of the importance of a good first impression, dressing well and setting goals for herself.