OWIT-Toronto participated in an innovative one-day ‘Professional Membership Showcase’ event hosted by the University of Guelph Humber offering students access to networking and professional development opportunities through joining an association. The career building and placement services workshop held in November offered information and guidance to students on career plans and professional goals from over 10 specialized associations, including OWIT-Toronto alongside others like the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and Canadian Society of Association Executives.
During the interactions with the students, OWIT-Toronto members highlighted the Organization’s global brand recognition and mission to advance women in international trade and its membership benefits including education and training, business development, networking and mentorship. The students were also invited to take advantage of OWIT-Toronto’s free online resources on business planning, evaluation, managing risks, brand management and protection from fraud, all available on OWIT-Toronto’s website.
Students in the business and media fields were particularly encouraged to apply for volunteer opportunities to build experience and learn from entrepreneurial experts through available networking opportunities, on-the-job skills and mentorship. Student membership fees are offered at an annual discounted rate of $50 to support the next generation of young female entrepreneurs.
Melissa Patrizi, Career Services Coordinator, Business and Media Studies at the University of Guelph Humber, highlighted her plans to make the professional membership showcase an annual event to encourage and motivate students to aim higher for a variety of options in their career path. She noted, “Professional Development is an ongoing investment in yourself. Our hope for this event is to showcase to students that networking and learning can and should happen outside of the classroom. Professional Associations provide the resources for connecting to other like-minded individuals and industry professionals, and we hope students will see professional membership as a viable opportunity to learn more about their chosen field and advance their career prospects through networking”.
Further highlighting the role of memberships in professional associations, and in particular OWIT, Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto, compared the experience with passing on the baton, as student memberships in associations like OWIT-Toronto could bring on rewarding career opportunities. She noted: "A global association, OWIT’s mission is to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business. We have a supportive community network of women entrepreneurs, women leaders and service providers who are equipped and happy to mentor and guide female students along their professional and entrepreneurial path, and we offer them lifelong learning lessons through networking and experience sharing."
Taking these discussions to the next level and further motivating future female entrepreneurs, the University of Guelph Humber and OWIT-Toronto have plans to collaborate further on upcoming key occasions like the 2020 International Women’s Day. This collaboration serves to ensure that there is a wider reach for female students to be engaged in entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities. The proposed outreach plans will be accompanied by a trade show exhibiting professional female associations and women-led enterprises.
With an ever-increasing population of students who will require the necessary skillset and opportunities needed to reach their potential, OWIT-Toronto remains empowered to help female students through networking, professional development, training and mentorship in order to become the next entrepreneurial drivers supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.