The Burnaby Board of Trade has launched a new program to introduce students to people in their potential field.
The career development program, Access, has three components; one that works by connecting final year post-secondary students with someone in their field for a one-on-one meeting. That person will then connect them with two other professionals, who will connect them with two more each.
The goal is to help students build a professional network before leaving school.
Meike Krug, a senior instructional designer with FortisBC, works with the company's employment development team to develop learning and training strategies for staff.
She is signed on to be a connector through the program.
She was a mentor for the company's manager in training program, and is currently involved in the leadership development program, she said.
"I'm in the circle, I guess, of people who might be interested in something like this," Krug said.
She has also been mentored and coached by others throughout her career, she said.
"I think that at the end of the day I'm looking for an opportunity to pay that forward," Krug added.
But she will likely get as much as she gives through the program, she said.
"Folks at this stage of their careers have so much energy and enthusiasm that it's really quite contagious, so I'm looking forward to it."
It also helps the company connect with individuals in the communities where they have operations, she added.
Informational interviews, such as those through the program, can help students explore the options in their field, Krug said.
"Until we have an opportunity to do that, we aren't really sure what certain career paths look like," she explained.
She recommends that students entering the workforce find a career that allows them to do what they love.
"We work for many days in our life and the days go much quicker when we have an interest and a passion around what we do," she said, adding, "and never say no to an opportunity that comes our way."
Paul Holden, president of the Burnaby Board of Trade, said the program was developed in conjunction with Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
The board was aware that students were having a hard time finding that first job, or getting their feet in the door, he said.
"We felt we had a role to play in helping their students be as successful as possible once they graduated," Holden added.
The connector portion of the program allows students to meet with multiple people in their future field, he said.
"We hope the student will come away with several meaningful connections," he added.
The board has received a lot of response from the business community in Burnaby, with many people at senior levels in their companies interested in being connector, he said.
The board will be starting the student engagement process at the end of May, once exams are over, he added.
The other two components of the program are the seminars and workshops offered by local consultants, and creating networking opportunities at student and board of trade events.
For more information, go to: www.bbot.ca/content/providing-access-students.