Benefits of Job Shadowing & Why You Should Try It

What is job shadowing? Why is it important?

By Sheik Abid Rahman and Samantha Cesario

Job shadowing is an activity where a student or job seeker follows and observes a professional expert as they work for anywhere between a few hours to several weeks (Tallo, 2020). It is done to get a better understanding of what a professional of a particular career does at work on a daily basis. Through job shadowing, one can learn about a company’s culture, the typical day to day tasks and priorities, core skill sets required to excel in a given position, and ask questions about a professional’s first-hand experiences. It is a helpful way to learn more about the job you are interested in pursuing. Job shadowing may be planned informally or as part of a formal program organized by a university. 

We spoke to Ashton Jila, Partnership Specialist for the Co-operative Internship Program at FEAS, to get his input on job shadowing.

  1. Why should students consider job shadowing?

Ashton mentioned that job shadowing allows a student to get first hand information on the industry insights, the details of the specific role they are shadowing including day to day experience, technical and soft skills required for the job as well as any other relevant skills the student would need to work in that field. He mentioned that you would also be able to make a professional network connection which is crucial to advancing your career.

  1. How can a student engage in a job shadow? 

According to Ashton it all starts with identifying a host employer. A host employer is someone who is willing to put the time and effort into going over the details of the role you are shadowing. Moreover, they should be willing to share more about the company culture as well. However, Ashton mentioned that you must ensure that the host employer has been notified of your expectations and be able to communicate that effectively with them.

  1. During their job shadowing experience, how can a student identify core components of a job they are shadowing, including skills required, day to day functions, long-term and short-term outcomes, and success metrics?

Ashton suggests that you should do the research on the company and the job descriptions available. You should go over all the core competencies needed for the role and ask about how one can be successful in that role. This will show the employer that you are proactive and interested in learning more about their industry.

What steps can you take?

By Julian Faita

As someone with no job shadowing experience, I tried to dive into the topic further to see if it might be useful in helping out with my future career. Through my research, these are the steps that I found to complete when looking for a job shadowing opportunity:

  1. First and foremost, find someone to interview! Ryerson offers great career resources and reaching out to someone from the career centre might help point you in the right direction. 
  2. Once you have decided on someone to shadow, don’t hesitate to reach out to them! Introduce yourself and make sure to clarify that you are NOT looking for a job, that you just wish to explore your career opportunities, and want to learn more about what they do by tagging along with them for the day. If they agree, make sure to lock in on a time and place to meet for the day! 
  3. Don’t forget to create a list of questions to ask and practice asking them beforehand. 
  4. Dress professionally and arrive early as well. When you’re there try your best to get a sense of the work environment: if the environment is fast-paced, relaxed, based on individual work, or based on teamwork. 
  5. After the day is complete, make sure to thank the individual that you were shadowing and take some time to reflect on your experience. Ask yourself some questions: Did you feel comfortable in that work environment? How could you be successful in that career? Are you interested in this line of work? 
  6. Once you have done this, be sure to contact the individual that you shadowed, outlining your experience and potentially asking for a referral to a job that you could see yourself in. 

All-in-all, doing this multiple times will help you build your professional network and your knowledge of the workforce in your industry. This will help determine if you want to stick to your career path or if maybe it’s not quite for you which is okay too! 

Concluding thoughts

By Iyvan Chandran

Job shadowing is recommended to all students as it allows you to align your industry focus. You will not only be able to narrow down your desired field of work, but also the technical and soft skills needed. Job shadowing also gives you the opportunity to show your skills and network to a potential employer and get your foot in the door as a new graduate placement opportunity. You will be able to get firsthand experience, tips and growth hacks from your mentor, leading to a refined version of yourself.

If you are interested in learning more about what it’s like to work in different professions, then make sure to connect with the staff at the Ryerson Career & Co-op Centre for advice and guidance. 

Public Speaking Tips & Tricks!

Hey everyone! My name is Samantha Cesario and I am a Peer Connector for the Peer Network Program (PNP). I am also a third-year civil engineering student. The PNP team and I would like to share our first vlog with you! We wanted to share our thoughts on the importance of public speaking and five tips to help you master the ability to capture your audience. I would like to thank both Leah Roth and Sadberk Agma for partaking in this initiative and showing us how they prepare themselves for public speaking. Also, I would like to thank Ely J R Torrenueva for the amazing video editing! I hope you learn something from this video and that it encourages you to take on the task of public speaking. Make sure to attend our Masterclass on Public Speaking & Presentation Skills on Thursday, March 25 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to learn more tips and tricks!

Acknowledging Anti-Black Racism in Engineering and Architecture

By Sheikh Abid Rahman

Learning How to be an Ally

My name is Sheikh Abid Rahman, and I am currently in my second year of Aerospace Engineering. I identify as male of South-Asian descent, and I consider myself a beginner in terms of learning about Anti-Black racism. I did not learn about Anti-Black racism throughout my schooling (k-12), and it isn’t something I am exposed to in my undergraduate program. For the most part, I have learned about Anti-Black racism through documentaries, articles on Google, podcasts, and social media.

What is Anti-Black Racism?

Anti-Black Racism is characterized as policies and practices that represent and perpetuate values, beliefs, behaviours, bigotry, stereotyping and/or discrimination that are aimed towards people of African descent and that are embedded in their unique experience and history of slavery and colonialism in Canada (Ryerson University, Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report, 2020). 

How does Anti-Black Racism show up on our campus?

On university campuses, like in wider society, Anti-Black racism materializes as systemic forms of exclusion. Ryerson is no exception, as revealed by the “Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report” (July 2020) released by the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion. The report outlines the barriers Black students, staff, and faculty face due to systemic Anti-Black Racism at Ryerson and provides recommendations on how to dismantle them. The entire Ryerson community is called upon to take action and genuinely establish diversity and inclusion as fundamental principles across the university. Ultimately, the report shows that more work needs to be done at Ryerson so that Black students, faculty, and staff feel equal, secure, and welcome on campus. 

All Ryerson community members can start by reading the “Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report” towards making change. But, don’t stop there.

Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Engineering and Architecture

In addition to the report, it’s also important to understand the ways Anti-Black Racism shows up in our own disciplines. Focusing on architecture and engineering, I asked Black-identified individuals and non-Black allies to share their perspectives on how Anti-Black Racism impacts learning and practice. 

Student Perspective: Wintta Ghebreiyesus, PhD Candidate, Aerospace Engineering.

Wintta, who is a proud member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Ryerson Chapter, expressed that one of the most prominent consequences of Anti-Black Racism in our faculty is the lack of representation of Black staff and faculty across all programs in engineering and architecture. She also points out that this scarcity of resources and representation becomes an enormous barrier for Black students and places them at a major disadvantage in the institution. 

Faculty Perspective: Dr. Russell Richman, Associate Professor, Graduate Studies

From Dr. Russell’s perspective, Anti-Black Racism materializes in the form of a lack of Black professors in the engineering and architecture schools. He further states, “We have to do better at making engineering and architecture a realistic career when Black children are early in their education journeys.”

Staff Perspective: Lynsey Kissane, Executive Director, Strategy and Communication, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science

“As a white female identified employee of Ryerson since 2012, who has benefited personally and professionally from multiple promotions and the influence afforded to me through my position, I am complicit in Ryerson’s actions and in-actions on Anti-Black Racism. Having worked in white dominated non-profits, an engineering consulting firm and higher education institutions throughout my career, I have worked to fight various forms of racism and know first hand that institutional change and culture change is challenging and slow. Too slow! So slow that the systemic nature of racism within institutions is incredibly clear to me. The unwillingness of predominantly white and university educated leaders (and donors) to:

  • admit past wrongdoing or in-action
  • be culpable for the systemic nature of racism within their institutions, and 
  • share power in order to create a more equitable and inclusive reality, is very clear to me. The James Baldwin quote “how much time do you want for your progress” often comes to mind. It infuriates me when organizations fail to demonstrate the urgency espoused in press releases and published reports.

So, how to dismantle racism in architecture and engineering education and practice? To answer this, I’d like to share this article and interview with you. It was written by Neil Price, who I view as a leading authority on the future of education. I’ve learned so much from him. He has shared some ideas of where we might start to dismantle anti-black racism in higher education, specifically within the current pandemic context we’re all living in. I agree with his proposal to:

  • Prioritize Black care: Everyone in the Ryerson community should be mindful to check in with our fellow Black students, staff and faculty to ensure their well-being is of primary importance. Resources to support mental health for Black community members is essential. More to the point we “might imagine ways of embedding a similar ethics of care in all that we do. We might consider and examine how our everyday work of teaching and learning may be complicated by such a commitment.”
  • The necessity of protest: In small and large ways, whether calling out microaggressions or refusing to be part of inequitable institutional decisions or processes is essential.
  • Black solidarity: Ensuring that Black students, staff and faculty are supported to come together and build community, to organize and to access and marshall the resources identified by them as necessary so that they may flourish as individuals and as a community.” – Lynsey Kissane

Industry perspective (Engineering): Lola Idowu, Industrial Engineering ‘18, Senior Business Analyst, Scotiabank

Lola Idowu mentioned that Anti-Black Racism is present in our hallways and boardrooms because selective groups of people were allowed such education and positions when the establishments first started with little or no Black representation. According to Lola, the process of resolving Anti-Black racism starts with understanding and tackling the unconscious bias that lives in the heart of the corporate world and the education system. Furthermore, Lola noted that once these biases are eradicated, we will be able to strive towards a better future in our work against Anti-Black Racism. 

How to be an Ally

Individuals and communities of privilege have the responsibility to fight against and abolish Anti-Black Racism, discrimination, and injustice. The Ryerson community must take action, including all of the recommendations stated in the report, across all disciplines, departments, and programs. The report is just a start and we have a long way to go in order to ensure Black students, staff, and faculty have a full sense of belonging at Ryerson. 

Here is a list of what you can do:

  1. Listen to Black Communities
  • Attend events/programs related to racial issues
  • Engage in conversations
  • Pay attention to the trauma that the Black communities have been through and are going through.
  • Ask yourself how you are contributing to or challenging Anti-Black Racism
  1. Educate yourself
  • Acknowledge Anti-Black Racism
  • Learn more about racism through books, articles, podcasts, documentaries, etc.
  • Learn about Black Canadian history
  • Talk about race with your friends and family
  • Gain understanding of concepts such as cultural appropriation
  • Inculcate the idea that it is not just a word. Comprehend the history of the word along with the trauma and violence it holds.
  1. Speak out against racism
  • If you see something, say something
  • Hold your peers, colleagues, superiors accountable
  • Look out for microaggression from others and even yourself 

Conclusion

In conclusion, just like with any other problem, we first have to acknowledge Anti-Black Racism exists, identify our own complicity in it, and understand its consequences. Rather than not talking about it because it’s uncomfortable, we must address and talk about Anti-Black Racism, raise awareness, and take action.

To learn more about Anti-Black Racism, you can attend the upcoming panel discussion the Peer Network Program is hosting:

Panel – Anti Black Racism in Engineering and Architecture

Thursday, March 11 from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Facilitators: Nika Momeni, Wahab Ata and Wintta Ghebreiyesus

Panelists: 

  • Abrham Bisrat, Industrial Engineering. Abrham is the President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Ryerson University Chapter.
  • Annabella Mike-Ebeye, Electrical Engineering ‘18 is a Systems Integrator with IKOS Consulting and is currently working with Alstom/Bombardier.
  • Lola Idowu, Industrial Engineering ‘18 is a Senior Business Analyst at Scotiabank.
  • Dr. Russell Richman, Associate Professor, Graduate Studies will be providing his perspective as an ally. 

Want to be an effective project manager? (7 min read)

By Julian Faita

What is a project manager?

A project manager is responsible for the procurement, planning, and execution of a project that has a defined scope, start date, and finish date. Generally, any problems that arise during the completion of the project are brought to the project manager before being escalated to a senior-level peer or professional. Here are some tips and tricks from experienced individuals on how to be an effective project manager.

What makes an effective project manager?

An effective project manager has exceptional skills in collaboration, verbal communication, written communication, and problem solving. Working with people, as well as having the technical knowledge for the project that you’re working on, makes a truly effective project manager. Managing people can be as complicated as the project itself. Being a savvy people person, possessing emotional intelligence, being able to hold people accountable, and working effectively with multidisciplinary stakeholders are all traits that make a strong project manager.

Interview with Jeffrey Lee, CAPM

Jeffrey Lee, CAPM

1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Jeffrey Lee. I am a 5th-year Aerospace Engineering student, an avid student leader, and have been involved with several Ryerson student groups and external organizations. I am also a Peer Facilitator with the Peer Network Program (PNP) and a volunteer with the Project Management Institute of Toronto. Prior to the pandemic, I also enjoyed hanging out with my friends on campus, playing intramurals with my volleyball team, and skating at Lake Devo (if you haven’t, you should really try it!)

2. Explain your project management experience.

My Project Management experience stems from my student leadership involvement and my co-op experience. Beginning in first-year, I participated in multiple student groups and positions, including Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS), First Year Engineering Office (FYEO), and Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario (ESSCO). All of these roles required a large amount of project management in various different forms. As a result of my experiences, I learned the importance of focusing on the vision and goals of a project in order to create a dedicated team and a meaningful solution.

During my time as President of ESSCO, we had an ambitious project to create a strategic plan for the next 3 years. I led my team through a process of brainstorming and idea generation, gathering feedback from all members equally, and analyzing discussions among member schools with contrasting opinions and diverse backgrounds. Having everyone contribute throughout the process led to a dedicated team with a shared sense of ownership to the goal. It also led to the development of a better strategic plan. Since we collectively developed our vision and goals, the team was fully aligned with each other. Not only did I learn a lot from my experience with ESSCO and my other extra-curriculars, but the project management skills I gained helped me achieve my goal of landing a co-op with Novocol.

Not surprisingly, my experience in the industry was more complex than my student leadership experience. As a Project Manager Engineer for Novocol Pharmaceuticals Canada, I led projects for clients and turned their ideas into market-ready pharmaceutical products. I dealt with projects ranging from 50 thousand to 3.5 million dollars, and led cross functional teams of 10 – 20 members. The projects I led at Novocol had strict timelines, complex and challenging technical problems, and a more diverse (multidisciplinary) team. It was quite challenging for me at the beginning and I made many mistakes at the onset of my term. However, I made sure to learn from each of my mistakes, and by the end of term I completed two projects from beginning to end for my client.

3. What makes you a good project manager?

Empathy

I put this first for a reason. I think it is the most important takeaway for any developing project manager. Leading with empathy improves team dynamics and idea generation, and leads to fewer mistakes in execution. This means creating a space for team members to understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and barriers. Building empathy into the team allows your team members to bond better and creates a more inclusive work environment where everyone is comfortable sharing their true opinions. This is essential for idea generation because everyone on your team brings a unique perspective to the project. This also leads to fewer mistakes during the execution of your project because team members are quicker to inform you of issues or concerns.

Communication skills

Over 90% of your role will require communication across many forms, such as written communication (emails, texts, posts), verbal communication (phone calls, meetings, etc), facilitation, and feedback, etc.. It is important to master this skill to achieve success as a project manager. 

Conflict management and humility

As high-stakes projects get tougher, pressure increases for the team and the project manager. As such, conflicts can arise that you as the leader of the team will have to resolve. It is important to know the best way to approach, manage, and negotiate conflict. It is also important to understand that we are all human and will make many mistakes. You will also make mistakes as a Project Manager. It is crucial to have the humility to admit when you are wrong. This will allow for an early intervention of an issue where people senior to you or other team members can help fix the mistake before it becomes too severe. In addition, telling your team you made a mistake and taking ownership of your action actually improves your trust with the team and overall honesty among team members.

4. What are your tips for becoming a better project manager?

To become a better Project Manager reflect on the recommendations I have made and identify what skills you can advance in yourself. If you decide that project management is the route you want to take in your career or you are simply interested in this skill set, I would recommend getting hands-on experience. There is no better place to do this than in post-secondary where it is much more acceptable to make mistakes. I would recommend trying to employ some project management practices in student groups, lab groups, design teams, job placements, and even personal projects. The more practice you put into it the more you are going to get out of it!

I would also attend the Masterclass series on Project Management  hosted by the Peer Network Program (PNP). I will be facilitating both sessions and demonstrate Project Management methods for both a extra-curricular setting and also what I learned to be effective in my coop.

5. How does one go about getting their PM certification and what are the benefits?

There are several different ways to learn methods of project management such as learning Scrum or gaining you official Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. It is important to understand the best one for you by doing your research about all the different certifications and the job prospects of each one. In terms of my experience, I decided to get my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) with the Project Management Institute. To achieve this certification I had to complete 23 hours of class (which I completed through a course on Udemy), study for my test (which took about 1 month), and complete a 3 hour 150 question virtually proctored exam. This certification lasts 3 years with an option to renew if you complete additional professional development classes. The benefit of acquiring a certification includes gaining skills that are transferable to diverse roles in industry, as well as opening doors to opportunities that specifically require the credentials. 

Getting your project management certification

Getting your project management certification can be an important way to becoming an effective project manager. To find out more, follow this link here to the Project Management Institute and review the benefits and what it takes to be an effective project manager mentioned above!

Project Management Masterclass Series

Join the Peer Network Program (PNP) for a two part workshop on all things Project Management.

Part 1

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Time: 5 p.m.- 6 p.m.

Experts and Facilitators: Jamal El Ali, Lecturer at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education and our Peer Facilitators Jay and Jeffrey.

Part 2

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Time: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Experts and Facilitators: Peer Facilitators Jeffrey and Nika. Jeffrey will be sharing his experience as a Project Manager Engineer for Novocol Pharmaceuticals in Canada.

Investing 101 (5 minute read)

By Iyvan Chandran

What is Financial Literacy?

Possessing competence in financial literacy generally means understanding and being able to apply saving, budgeting, and investing strategies. It also includes understanding the importance of saving and planning for your retirement and having a general understanding of taxes.

Keep in mind that being in good financial health does not necessarily mean being rich.

Building Healthy Financial Habits

The basics of good financial health can stem from:

  1. Not living beyond your means. Make a budget and stick to it! Your budget should account for your expenses (e.g. rent, student debt, food, etc.) and saving for your short and long-term goals. People often live above their means because they haven’t calculated the amount of money they need in the future to reach their goals. 
  2. Create an emergency fund. Part of building healthy financial habits is to have a cushion for the unexpected. This means building enough savings to get you through 3 – 6 months worth of expenses in the case of an emergency. Do you have 3 to 6 months worth of rent and food expenses set aside in case you lose your primary source of income? If not, then now is a great time to start thinking about this.
  3. Save 10%-15% from each paycheque. This is the minimum amount I recommend to save from each pay cheque to be used towards future goals such as buying a house, or for a dream vacation. This may not be possible in all circumstances, but ideally this is the range you are looking to set aside. 

Investing Basics

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to interview Michelle Hung who is an author, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), entrepreneur and former investment banker. She gave us a few tips on how to kickstart your investment journey. Michelle will be conducting a masterclass to explore these topics in more depth. Details can be found at the bottom of this post.

What should students know about investing?

Educate yourself when it comes to investing. Education builds confidence. Following trends and news online can be reckless and dangerous at times. The news can create a FOMO (fear of missing out) effect which can cause stress and can lead to gambling. The more educated you are the more confident you will feel in your decisions to take calculated risks. 

How can someone educate themselves?

Be careful who you get your financial information from. Some great ways to start learning include robo advisors (digital platforms that provide automated financial services using algorithms), following certified influencers, or reading books. You can also attend classes for personal finance from experts or schedule a fee only appointment with financial planners. 

A list of books that are great to start with are:

  • “The Sassy Investor” by Michelle Hung J
  • “Beat the Bank” by Larry Bates (Canadian author)
  • “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” by Ramit Sethi
  • “The Automatic Millionaire,” by David Bach
  • “Retire Before Mom and Dad,” by Rob Berger
  • “When She Makes More,” by Farnoosh Torabi
  • “You Are a Badass at Making Money,” by Jen Sincero
  • “Spend Well, Live Rich,” by Michelle Singletary
  • “Your Money or Your Life,” by Vicki Robin
  • “Get a Financial Life,” by Beth Kobliner
  • “The Financial Diet,” by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
  • “Clever Girl Finance” by Bola Sokunbi
  • “How I Invest My Money” by Joshua Brown and Brian Portnoy

How much money do you need to start investing?

You do not need to have a huge sum to invest. Even $20 is enough to get your feet wet and get started. Take that first plunge. 

What will be covered in the Masterclass? 

There are many different options available today. It all depends on the amount of risk you are willing to take and also the amount you are investing. During the Masterclass I will cover the topics below:

  • Basics of investing
  • The best strategy to invest and how to start
  • The purpose of investing and aligning to one’s own values and goals
  • Ethical implications of investing

My Own Journey Through Financial Literacy

As for my own journey through financial literacy, I was always interested in trading in stocks due to various success stories, but never knew how to get started. When I told my parents I was interested in hopes of receiving some advice and resources, I was shot down because they believed it was gambling. Unfortunately this was due to a lack of financial education which translates to anxiety and fear. According to GlobalNewsWire 85% of respondents in a study wish they personally had the opportunity to learn more about finance and the economy while in school (Joyce, 2018). I took initiative to educate myself and my parents about stock trading which gave me their blessing to trade. 

Initially I started using WealthSimple Trade, but I switched to Questrade as it provides more trading options. A few weeks after getting started, I bumped into an old friend who founded a start-up to address gaps in financial literacy by gamifying financial education and making investing a social experience. I was instantly moved and told him about the struggles my parents had with financial literacy. After evaluating my technical skill set I was recruited to become the CTO and Director of DaisyLABS and am currently preparing the launch of our mobile application and pre-seed raise for Spring 2021. Feel free to check out my start-up Alpha Libertee and follow us on instagram @alphalibertee.

For more information with specific examples on how to get started on your investment journey check out our masterclass below:

Is Wealth Really Simple? (Financial Planning: Investing) 

Date: Wednesday February 17th, 2021

Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

SME: Michelle Hung (Author, CFA, Entrepreneur and Former Investment Banker)

Instagram:@thesassyinvestor