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Next Steps conference helps students prepare for life after graduation

Two-day event runs April 28-29 at Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre

What’s next?

If you’re a graduating student in the Faculty of Arts & Science, it’s a question you’re probably asking yourself a lot these days.

Fortunately, the Next Steps conference can help you find the answers, advice and inspiration you need to take that, well, next step.  You might even get to meet people who are already working in a job you’re interested in.

The Next Steps conference is part career exploration and part preparation for other aspects of life after graduation, such as developing financial strategies. It’s an opportunity for students and young alumni to build and expand professional networks. And it’s open to all graduating Arts & Science students as well as recent U of T graduates who register to attend.

“It’s natural for students to feel anxiety at this stage of their lives. We know that they’re ready for life after university, and we want to help them feel that confidence too,” said Suzanne Stevenson, vice-dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Arts & Science, which has presented Next Steps for the past eight years. “In many ways this conference helps students see the range of the opportunities that will be available to them after they complete their degree. It’s a cornerstone of our STEP Forward program, which enables our students to succeed in their undergraduate studies and feel well-prepared for anything that comes next.”

Previous Next Steps attendees have found the insights from professionals in various fields to be one of the most valuable parts of the day. Aman Makroo attended the conference in 2016 and appreciated getting the inside scoop on career options during panel discussions, as well as the networking opportunities. “It was encouraging and motivating,” he said.

Students attending this year’s conference, which is presented in partnership with the Faculty of Arts & Science, Alumni Relations and the Career Centre, will hear from U of T alumni with a broad range of career and life paths including Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Board at RBC and former president and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, and entrepreneurial brothers Morgan and Jackson Wyatt – creators of Greenlid, the world’s first compostable bin for food waste, as well as eco-friendly mosquito catching Biotraps.

Panel discussions and workshops  will explore topics such as internships, graduate school, thinking like an entrepreneur, improving interviewing skills, and the perks of being a U of T alumnus. Students will also have a chance to to hear from and speak with alumni working in a number of sectors, from healthcare, finance and advertising, to research, education and social services.

Many of the alumni participants are motivated by a desire to give back and encourage students. Rani Pooran, senior advisor on diversity and inclusion at BMO Financial Group, graduated in 2001 with studies in political science, history and Spanish. She’ll speak at a panel session on working internationally, sharing insights gained through a series of positions with Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Canada and abroad.

“I hope students come away with an appreciation of the role international work experience can play in developing and accelerating one’s career,” said Pooran, “as well as some tools to assess their current skills and strengths so they can find a suitable role for themselves, and a feeling of hope and excitement about potential careers for arts graduates in the private sector – particularly financial and professional services.”

Read about alumni participating in the the Next Steps Conference: