Photo: Samantha Moya

Are commuters missing out on networking opportunities?

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By Laura Dalton

Attendance is key for networking events, but student commuters are losing out on these opportunities due to the pressure of lengthy commutes.

Melissa Bennardo, a fourth-year journalism student and former VP Events for the Journalism Course Union (JCU), said in an email that the reason networking is so important that it allows students to make connections in their field and learn more about the industry.

“For me personally, talking to various industry professionals about why they chose their specific career path helped me realize what I want to do when I graduate,” Bennardo said.

As a follow-up to the annual JCU networking night, Pub Talks, Bennardo wanted to plan a similar event that allows students to network with journalists in a professional news environment and practice interview skills in a mock situation.

The event was dubbed Connect and was held at the CP24 headquarters on Queen and John streets. It gave students a realistic experience in a news environment.

However, issues arose when less than the expected number of students showed up for the event. Bennardo said that as a commuter herself, it is often difficult to attend all events, and said that it may have been a factor of the unexpectedly low attendance.

Connor Garel, a fourth-year journalism student at Ryerson who commutes from Ajax, said living outside of the city presents itself as a problem when it comes to trying to create meaningful relationships with industry professionals.

Garel said that he has turned primarily to Twitter as a networking tool to advance relationships. He also said it is highly stressful juggling school assignments, commuting and holding a job. He said he does not feel he has the same opportunities for success as those who have the funds to live downtown.

Kwaku Agyemang, a third-year media production student who commutes from North Etobicoke, explained how he’s become so accustomed to commuting that he’s “numb to it. It’s like clockwork to me.”

Agyemang explained how many people want to work downtown, especially those that are industry and media focused, adding the importance of being downtown to network and build relationships.

Ian Ingles, the operations manager for the Ryerson Career and Co-op Centre, takes part in organizing networking events for students.

In an email, Ingles stated that in the four career fairs held in the 2017-18 year, there was a total of 4,085 students in attendance.

With roughly a thousand students at each fair, this creates an attractive environment for employers to send representatives.  

“[Attendance] would arguably be the number one priority for an employer deciding whether or not to attend,” Ingles said.

When asked about what consideration is made for long-distance commuters, Ingles said events are typically planned for the evening, so as not to interfere with class schedules, adding that it is nearly impossible to satisfy everyone.

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