Whether you are just starting out with university, or preparing to graduate, it’s always important to start career planning early.

This was advice given by Bernard Gauthier, CEO of Delta Media, Inc. and others who graced the ASFA Career Panel, on Tuesday, 15th of January at Concordia University.

Let me first use this platform to thank everyone who attended: the panelists, the moderators, the ASFA hosts, and most importantly, the students.

I want to bring to you my understanding of the important insights as were shared by Mr. Gauthier, an approachable, engaging thought leader.

Do What You Want to Do, Now

This is perhaps the most important advice, and these sentiments were shared unanimously by the panel. If you want to be in public relations, volunteer and get out there to build your portfolio, so that when you graduate, you have something that makes you stand out amongst the sea of candidates who have eerily similar profiles.

Be Optimistic

Mr. Gauthier evoked the age-old adage, “misery enjoys company,” and it has never been so fitting: you will meet people who aren’t doing very well and will try to drag you down to their level of martyrdom. Move on and meet those who are optimistic. A little optimism goes a long way: think of it as synergy.

Career Planning – An Assignment

Think of career planning as an assignment, Mr. Gauthier recommends. It isn’t easy, and it certainly deserves a whole lot more attention than we initially think. We spend weeks, even months preparing to hand in a final assignment. Your career deserves at least that much.

The University Experience

It is in itself, invaluable. I want to stress this point further: university is where we will meet people we will work with, or for in the future. Learn to identify the thought leaders and experiment with different activities and opportunities that are made available to us. There’s plenty of room to do this.

Other Indispensable Lessons

The rest of the panel were equally accomplished with great, great insights for students and professionals alike. All of them shared the same values and sentiments, things that are cornerstones of becoming a great leader.

Mindy Paskell-Mede – Lawyer: We are wordsmiths (a term I love to use, but sparingly). Some people won’t even turn on their spell check. Do it. If your cover letter has spelling and grammatical errors, your application stops there.

James Roach -Corporate Communications Specialist: You’ve got to look the part, speak the part. You have to brand yourself the way you want to be perceived.

Anna Barrafato – Career Counselor: Planning your career is about thinking ahead. Not enough people come early enough to career counseling and placement services. If you don’t know what you want to do, companies can’t hire you.

Antonella Nizzola – Career Advisor: Volunteering helps you gauge your interests, develop skills. Be proactive and develop connections. Join professional associations (many of which offer mentoring programs).

Marvin Coleby – CSU Senator: “We hold in the palm of our hand, the ability to help people.”

Food for thought: Volunteer, and start early. Use career placement services as soon as you get into university, and don’t wait until the last semester to figure out what you want. Some people are in the career placement offices six months after they have graduated. Don’t waste this valuable time.

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