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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud


U of T Next Steps Conference

In advance of June convocation ceremonies, more than 4000 Arts & Science students are preparing to conclude their current studies at the University of Toronto. These students will join a globally connected, incredibly diverse and wonderfully accomplished community of more than 500 000 U of T alumni. To support this transition and enhance the experience for graduating students and recent graduates, the Faculty of Arts & Science, the U of T Career Centre and the Alumni Relations office partnered to coordinate the third annual U of T Next Steps Conference on May 1-2.

Over 430 student delegates and recent graduates attended this two-day event. The conference was designed for individuals within a few years of their transition from studies at the University of Toronto, both those looking ahead to their convocation ceremony and those looking back. “We felt it was important to incorporate both current students and recent graduates” says Clare Gilderdale, one of the conference coordinators. “These individuals face many of the same questions and challenges and there is great value in bringing them together to learn from speakers and panelists who are more established in their respective careers, as well as from each other.”

Shawn Tian, incoming president of the Arts & Science Student Union and conference delegate, pointed out that, “The hardest decisions we have to make are the ones that can’t be made by anyone else, and I’m glad the University offers the means for us to make an informed decision.”  The conference focused on providing students with encouragement and advice related to their next steps and opened with a keynote address by Anil Verma, a professor with the Rotman School of Management and Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations & Human Resources. Professor Verma provided delegates with a framework for career success, discussing strategies for succeeding in what he refers to as ‘the new work’.  The closing keynote address was given by UTAA board member Luke Pollard, Country Lead for MasterCard Advisory Services, who spoke passionately about the intrinsic value of an Arts & Science degree and the integral role his studies in History and Political Science have played in enhancing his career.

The conference offered delegates the chance to attend industry panel discussions featuring U of T alumni and friends speaking about how they got started and working in their chosen fields.  In addition to the industry panels, practical workshops offered insights and advice on a variety of relevant topics including: surviving the first 60 days on the job, taking advantage of life as a U of T alumnus, and realistic expectations of the job market. Of the 49 individuals who volunteered their time to support the conference as panelists and speakers, more than 40 were graduates of the Faculty of Arts & Science.

One notable highlight of the conference was the Alumni and Student Networking Reception. The reception,  held on the evening of May 1, in the Career Centre, connected conference delegates with many of the Arts & Science alumni who had participated in industry panel discussions earlier in the day. In addition to conference panelists more than 50 alumni guests attended the event.

Discussing the impact of the conference, Heather Kelly, Director of the Career Centre, said, “The Next Steps Conference was a great opportunity for transitioning students and recent graduates not only to learn about labour market trends from industry panelists but to understand what transferrable skills they’ve acquired through their studies which will inform their future career choices. The connections students made with our alumni provided them with advice, networking and hopefully some inspiration too!”

The U of T Next Steps Conference is an annual event designed to offer Arts & Science students practical advice as they graduate into the next phase of their lives. This event is run in partnership with the Faculty of Arts & Science, the Career Centre and Alumni Relations. For additional information, or to participate in this type of programming, feel free to contact