In an overwhelming year, marked by racialized violence and the Coronavirus pandemic, CACEE organizers, sponsors and presenters created an exceptional Virtual National Conference to challenge, mobilize and inspire every participant. Each day was organized around a central theme and provided a multi-dimensioned exploration of key factors shaping today's career space; thoughtfully assembled, the conference program would build one day to the next, and every one of the sessions was relevant.
Light offerings included networking events like Enterprise Holdings sponsored scavenger hunt, and the “Hollywood North” efforts of the BCIT Career Services team. Practical models to prepare our students for their career, including a focus on EL catalogues and inventories, and experiential learning tools of Riipen, Prepr and the EL Tool Kit. Substantial calls to action to address black and indigenous racial inequality and gender inclusion highlighted trust-building and the power of relationships. We have been empowered to build resilience as employers, students and career services professionals.
Campus Engagement kicked off our week of themes and we were instantly spellbound by Olympian Sarah Wells' message of resilience and overcoming obstacles, challenging us all to 'Believe'. Practical approaches and best practices in producing virtual events were shared by a phenomenal panel of industry experts. Next, Lily and Tony reminded us that this is not the first time university career centres have had to do a 'great pivot' to provide greater support to students in times of change. We can change our narrative to help students better cope with uncertainty- and hone a new skill set that includes acceptance, adaptability, resilience and perseverance. Mary Barroll of Talent Egg topped off the day by moderating a fantastic student panel who shared their insights for how to attract the best talent in the digital world.
Day 2 focused on our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work and was fueled by the impactful statistics presented by Dave D'Oyen. Solutions like Ryerson’s Career Builder Mentorship program, University of Toronto’s Trans and Non-Binary Career Guide and TRU’s Indigenized Career Services reminded us of the importance of community trust-building practices and initiatives. “Nothing about us, without us” echoed strongly in my head.
Day 3 shed light on best practices, career service models from coast to coast, and tools to help students to reflect, leading to confidence and the development of their career stories. The energizing “30 Ideas in 30 minutes” encouraged the CACEE community of practice to share program successes. Experiential learning models were discussed and the potential of tools like Riipen, and Prepr were highlighted. The Wilfred Laurier phrase “flexsecurity” and “Hubspot” have now become part of my professional lexicon.
Day 4 highlighted some upsides and downsides as employers, students, and post-secondary career services adapt to a Co-Vid era. We were reminded to be wary of risks, like job scammers, and provided with empowering tools. While some industries have adapted seamlessly to a digital world, ie. Communitech’s Digital Mainstreet Ontario three-pronged partnership, others have been challenged with the temporary loss of a face to face recruiting model like rental car giant, Enterprise Holdings.
Day 5 focussed on wellness and “business as usual”. BCIT’s Hollywood North team brought their funny memories of responding with college closure with practical career coaching videos. Life coach, Kevin Rempel, shared an emotional rollercoaster of a life altering injury and the two way spiral to despair and resilience, and this advice: Realize you need help, ask for it, and accept it.
2020 will soon be behind us, and, we will continue to learn and grow within the CACEE community of practice. With new career delivery and recruitment models and tools to investigate, colleagues to follow up with, perspectives to understand, and data to analyze, I look forward to 2021. The virtual platform? Well, it still allowed for the best of CACEE: the friendly competition, engaging information transfer, respectful dialogue and strong collegiality. I am full of gratitude to the organizers, sponsors and especially, the presenters, for these gifts.