January 21, 2020

By TORIE ROTH

Do you have a special time within your program to network? The business programs do.

“Networking is one of the most important skills that people can have today in any career, but particularly in the business arena, it is important for people to know how to effectively communicate,” said Barbara Fennessy, chair, School of Business and Hospitality.

On Nov. 29, the Experience Entrepreneurship program hosted an event called Let’s Get Networking in the Sanctuary at Conestoga College. It is the third of six events.

Experience Entrepreneurship is a new, free co-curricular program that is designed to enable students from across all disciplines to develop entrepreneurial characteristics and skills and to learn about processes involved in starting a small business.

“People from the community who believe in young people and their potential to join businesses, now have the opportunity to meet with them,” said Carly O’Brien, principal and lead achievement advocate at The Achievement Centre. “The key for meeting people in business is making yourself to be memorable in a positive way.”

Seventy students are participating in the program and so far there are 58 mentors registered. The program is still looking for about five more mentors.

Some mentors agreed to be matched up with more than one student.

“The students choose what type of business they are interested in and are then matched up with a mentor that is in that area of business,” said Michelle Clarke, a second-year general business student.
If the mentor the student is matched with could not make it to the event, they still get to meet them at another time.

“We ask that mentors spend a minimum of 10 hours with their mentees over the next three months,” said Fennessy “This can range from coffee meetings to tours of their business.”
Students who don’t know what they want to do in the business world still came to the event.

“I’m interested in meeting people,” said Marcey Moore, a second-year general business student. “I’m not exactly sure what I want to do, but I think if I meet people, I will get some ideas.”
Students such as Moore say they would like to be matched up with anyone in any business.

“Mentors take an evening out of their personal lives and they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t feel strongly about it,” said Julie Gibson, academic administration, School of Business and Hospitality. “We’ve worked on co-ordinating this program of events since September.”

The final event, which takes place at the very end of the year, is called Let’s Venture, which is a pitch competition that will involve prizes, including a hot air balloon ride with an entrepreneur. The theme for this program is Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude.

“We wanted something colourful that represents that reach for the sky theme,” said Fennessy. “The hot air balloon is an extreme activity that students would like and a neat way to promote entrepreneurship because it’s exciting, just like those kinds of activities are.”

Conestoga Students Inc. contributed $5,000 toward the program. A few of the other contributors are: the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, the Alumni Association of Conestoga and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.