Career Week at Huron: Unlocking Limitless Potential
London, ON - There was a fury of excitement and building of connections at Huron University last week. For students, it was clear the possibilities were endless.
It was Huron’s Career Week.
Driven by Huron’s Career Development Office, students had an opportunity to interact with leaders from many industries -- from entrepreneurship and tech to law and consulting. “Career Week is designed to inspire, energize and connect,” says Megan Dykstra Associate Director, Career Development. “Ultimately, we want to help unlock the potential we see in our students every day.”
A highlight of the week was the Social Innovation Summit, planned in partnership with Impakt, a firm that advises corporations on how they can have a more positive social impact and contribute to solving social problems. Founded in 2001, Impakt is led by Paul Klein, a global authority on the social purpose of business. Impakt has partnered with Huron for several years, ever since Klein met Huron President Dr. Barry Craig. They compared notes and realized that Huron’s mission to nurture ‘Leaders with Heart’ aligned with Impakt’s ‘Social Change Leadership values.’ Says Klein, “We were speaking the same language, so it made sense to work together.”
The first Social Innovation Summit was held in fall 2022. The second Summit, this past week, included a panel discussion with four leaders working in the social innovation space, a luncheon, and a presentation by Impakt. Presenting with Klein were two Huron students who interned at Impakt: Nick Davis, Manager of Social Innovation, and Lily Faragher, Social Impact Advisor. Both were initially attracted to Huron by the focus on leadership and social change. They were excited to share their experiences with fellow students this week. “People come up to me all the time asking what I do and how they can get involved,” says Davis. “I wanted to open some doors for them.”
Davis and Faragher worked on a major project with Cadillac-Fairview, a large Canadian commercial real estate firm. They were part of an Impakt team tasked with developing a “purpose narrative” -- a document designed to bring the company’s purpose statement to life. For Davis, “There is an increasing desire, from consumers, employees, companies and organizations, to take a more holistic approach to how business is done and to drive social change.”
Over a six-month period, team members spoke to employees at every level of the company, as well as community organizations and other external stakeholders. The final narrative, drafted by Davis, was well received by the company. “Cadillac Fairview was trying to figure out how to reconnect with its employees and engage with the community,” says Faragher. “Through our interviews, we were able to find that spark of joy -- the real reason why people enjoy working for the company.”
Klein says the students, despite their youth, earned the respect of the people they met at Cadillac Fairview. “Some people might have been a little hesitant at first but not for long: it was clear very quickly they had so much to offer.” For their part, Davis and Faragher say the project was a rich learning experience.
Not every Huron student will have the opportunity to work on a project like Cadillac Fairview, but there are plenty of internship, volunteer, mentorship, and other special career opportunities available through Huron’s Career Development Office. As an employer, Klein has been impressed by the support he receives from the Career Development team. “They’re a pleasure to work with,” he says “And their understanding of aligning a student’s values or interests with the business priorities of a prospect employer have proved to be incredibly helpful.”
What advice do Faragher and Davis have for their fellow Huron students? “We are in a season of learning, not a season of earning,” says Davis. “Look for opportunities that teach you the skills you want, regardless of what they pay.”
Faragher adds, “It’s a cliché, but just be yourself. Explore your passions. Don’t believe you’re ever too young or unqualified to do something. Be confident and be ready to listen.”
For more information on Huron’s Career Development Office and to discover more student impact stories visit https://huronatwestern.ca/career-development/.