By Jason Curran
Ryerson’s business students got a taste of the real world last Wednesday as members of today’s business elite addressed them at the 15th annual Ryerson Business Forum.
The forum attracted more than 250 business students and faculty for an afternoon of speeches and schmoozing at the Westin Harbour Castle.
“The forum gives them something they can’t get in school,” said Michael Lee, forum co-chair and a second-year Information Technology Management student.
Lectures aside, the forum gave students an opportunity to practice their networking skills. Josh Grant, a fourth-year accounting student and the forum’s other co-chair, said there are some students who simply don’t see the value of networking.
“Students should be asking our corporate guests for job opportunities,” said Grant, who took advantage of the chance at last year’s forum to line up a job. The forum was on a Thursday last year. By the following Tuesday, Grant was sitting the office of KPMG, one of the world’s largest corporate consulting firms and a forum sponsor — for an interview. The interview led to a summer internship and a full-time job starting the September after he graduated.
Forum faculty advisor Terry Sulymko says the forum offers students a foot in the corporate door.
“The forum has a life of its own. Each of our guests brings their team with them,” Sulymko said.
First-year business management students Michael Crowley and Steve Konvalinka discussed the benefits of the forum during a coffee break. “You learn a lot more about communicating with others,” Crowley said.
Konvalinka agreed, and said he found the speakers’ messages empowering. “I think of myself in years to come, breaking free of limitations,” he said.
Doug Walker, president of Wavefront and a Ryerson business graduate, works with General Motors and The Walt Disney Company to Nike and Boeing. He teasingly told students that life after Ryerson will be better because they’ll have money.
“You’ll be a lot handsomer with money,” Walker joked.
Walker said he was impressed with the forum’s organization and with student interest. “The students are motivated and interested to become more successful. These are the same kind of people that drive change inside of your business,” he said.