Students, faculty hope new Magnet advisory board will lead to greater opportunities

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By Julia Tramontin

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and job hunting site Magnet have created an advisory board to further the platform’s growth.

The advisory board “brings outstanding leaders together from across Canada, representing a cross-section of organizations and interests, skills and expertise,” according to an announcement posted to TorontoMet Today.

Self-proclaimed as “Canada’s opportunity platform,” Magnet was first launched in 2014 and has over 170,000 job hunters, 34,000 employers and 110 post-secondary schools using its site, according to the university.

It is a non-profit career development site serving both job-seekers and employers.

The board will consist of 15 members “each an expert in their field and dedicated to driving innovation and systems-level change” in the Canadian job market, the announcement read. This includes some TMU faculty, such as Anna Triandafyllidou, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration and Frederic Dimanche, director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, who is currently on sabbatical.

“Our board members are passionate advisors, leveraging their expertise and commitment to ensure Canada’s future prosperity in a volunteer capacity for a set term”

The board will also be chaired by former finance minister Bill Morneau. Back in 2020, Morneau resigned from his roles as minister and member of Parliament following controversy over awarding a $45.53 million contract from the federal government for the administration of a student grant program, despite his close ties with the charity. Morneau has maintained that he never wanted to serve more than two terms in office.

“We are excited to have Mr. Morneau as the chair of our advisory board. Mr. Morneau has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable to our board,” the university said in an email to The Eyeopener.

“Our board members are passionate advisors, leveraging their expertise and commitment to ensure Canada’s future prosperity in a volunteer capacity for a set term.”

“We hope that the new advisory board will help Magnet gain new labour market insights, specifically in the area of the future of work, which could in turn help generate more opportunities in an everchanging labour market for students and recent graduates,” wrote Wincy Li in an email to The Eye.

Li is the associate director of career education at the Career, Coop and Student Success Centre at TMU. The centre is responsible for offering career development resources to students and alumni.

“I’m not familiar with many of the people who are on the advisory [board] but I think it does give potential for new changes and new perspectives”

To use Magnet, job seekers can sign up with their email to create a free account and then fill out a profile to get matched with employment opportunities. Magnet also offers guided job searches, employer invites tailored to the user’s skills and jobhunting resources.

Ramish Syed, a first-year graduate student studying mechanical engineering at TMU, used Magnet to apply to internships and jobs after finishing his undergraduate degree.

“There was a decent amount of opportunities available for my program and it’s easy to apply through the website. The smaller user base also made it easier for me to get interviews,” Syed said.

While job sites like LinkedIn are often the first choice for professional development, some students who have chosen to use Magnet report not having a good experience with the site.

“I’ve used it a few times, but I find the search function to be pretty confusing,” said Kirsten Huber, a fifth-year biology student at TMU. Huber said they only found jobs through the TMU online co-op portal, but are open to trying Magnet again under the new advisory board. “I’m not familiar with many of the people who are on the advisory [board] but I think it does give potential for new changes and new perspectives. I will be watching Magnet and seeing what the board does.”

With finding employment often being a stressful and difficult experience, students are hoping the advisory board could potentially ease that burden for those using Magnet.

Syed said he’s seen some fellow students struggle to find internships and co-ops.

“Hopefully this could open up more opportunities for TMU students and possibly facilitate more internship opportunities as I’ve seen some fellow students struggle to find internships and co-ops,” said Syed.

TMU professors are also hoping the advisory board expands opportunities for students. This is especially welcome in the hospitality and tourism industry, which Wayne Smith, interim director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said is facing issues with employment and understaffing.

“It sounds like [the board] are looking for ways to increase the number of opportunities, increase utilization of other tools and really try to give students one more place they can go to and one more place that they could possibly link to,” Smith said. “It sounds like [the board] are looking for ways to increase the number of opportunities.”

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