An extensive diversity of professions and portfolios highlighted this year’s presentation of Grade 11 Career Day at St. Michael's College School (SMCS) --- the first of its kind held virtually.
One keynote and eight other speakers --- all but one of whom were first-time participants --- shared their academic journeys and career trajectories with more than 200 Grade 11 students via Zoom this week.
The roster of presenters included professionals from industries including: business, biopharmaceuticals, computer engineering, media, retail, performing arts, and athletics, among others.
Here's what participants said about the event:
What struck you most about your participation in Career Day 2021 at SMCS?
"Being provided the opportunity to spend time to share experiences and hopefully inspire the great young minds of SMCS who will become our great next leaders of tomorrow.”
Mary Dalimonte (Retail)
"What struck me was the event in its entirety. I experienced these in university, but not in high school. Having the knowledge/advice of speakers right in time to help them make a decision about their undergrad/post-secondary path is something I wish all students could experience."
Frank Colella (Business)
"I really appreciated the importance of the inclusion of female panelists. It is often difficult, after spending five years in my case, and six years currently studying in a male-only environment. The more you can expose the kids to the talents of these excellent female examples the better, in my opinion.
Thanks for this opportunity as I feel like I gained as much, if not more insight than the kids themselves! Overall this felt like an excellent initiative and huge congratulations to those involved!"
Stewart Campbell '93 (Business)
"I took part in Career Day 2006 as a student and left with an appreciation for the experts who offered their time to join us that day. Having now been on the other side of things by taking part in Career Day 2021, I was struck by the amount of support offered to the student body at St. Michael's.
Creating and executing a day like this isn't possible without a substantial amount of work and time from the staff and alumni who have collaborated to bring in these speakers to address the group.
The experience as a whole affirmed my belief that the St. Michael's community and student experience is truly special. These young men are being offered incredible opportunities to hear stories and lessons from people who have walked the path before them. These opportunities can only be made possible by so many people within the St. Michael’s community going above and beyond in creating the chance for these young men to hear from such unique voices."
Christopher Lund '07 (Professional Sports, Media)
What do you hope attendees leave with?
"I hope that the students leave with a heightened ‘can do attitude' fueled by all the great presenters’ stories and experiences shared today."
"The idea that there are an infinite number of paths one can take; that they don’t have to make a decision between competing interests as there are ways to pursue many in parallel; to continue speaking with folks with first-hand experience so as to inform themselves of their options."
"How eager the students were to learn more about careers and how engaged they were! It was nice to see a group of young boys so well-behaved and willing to learn."
Stefanie Furgiuele (Entrepreneur)
"I really hope the boys leave with a bit of confidence in not knowing what they want to do. This is a strange statement as I reflect on myself being in Grade 11 and surrounded by an impressive cohort of classmates who all seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do. It's okay for them to not know today and I hope that we can empower them to be curious and explore a breadth of interests.
The second. I really hope that those who do choose to explore a bit more, understand that the pursuit of success as a destination will always be futile. Rather, I hope they understand (or at least start to think about) education as a holistic approach beyond just the grades on a report card. Explore their curiosities beyond the local world they live in every day and dare to dream. Toronto is an amazing city but they do not need to limit their potential to just those options within the GTA whether that be academically or professionally."
"My hope is that the students left the day with a belief that pursuing a field that ignites their curiosity is extremely attainable. I can recall my time coming through St. Michael's and moving on to post-secondary where I'd see things that interested me and thought, 'Yeah, but what are the chances of that working out,' despite having an abundance of support from my family, friends, and educators.
With the right mindset and initiative, any of these students can succeed on the path they want. If they left the day with some fresh ideas that energize them or career ideas that spark their interest, that's a tremendous success. At such a young age there's plenty of room for those ideas to change multiple times as they evolve as men, but when they find a track that captivates them, it becomes a matter of making sure their actions match their ambitions, and I hope what we had to share drove that home."
"I hope that the students leave with the message that very few people know exactly what they want to be. So, make a list of a bunch of things, do not allow failure to discourage you. Be curious and explore so that in the end you have lived a rich, full life. If you are one of the lucky ones and you happen to find success at first, it may not last. Just look at the number of young celebrities and athletes. The journey is the reward so keep learning and finding value in the exploration.
And when it comes to failures and hardships: Bad things happen - you can either allow them to define you, strengthen you, or destroy you… but you have that choice. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever could. So, make that list and run them down… don’t wait to make that bucket list."
Fernando Chien '93 (Actor)
"This day reinforces the message that resiliency and perseverance are keys to success. The speakers expressed that they arrived at their destinations in mostly unconventional ways... some have yet to arrive!"
Enzo Carcasole (Moderator, SMCS Guidance Counsellor)
What would you tell your Grade 11 self about career or academic future-planning?
"I would tell myself to enjoy the high school experience more. Not apply so much pressure on trying to figure out what I wanted to do in the future, however, divert the career planning energy into driving the best results achievable in performance and academics."
"To stop forcing myself to ‘make a decision’ about my path; cast a wide net; explore all of your interests. Finally, relax — you won’t have all the answers about where you want to be, and that’s likely the case for most people."
"I would tell my Grade 11 self that you absolutely can make a career out of art and to stop being so hard on yourself. Also, don’t compare yourselves to your peers and what their future plans are."
"I would really focus on using things like scholarships associated with extra-curricular (hockey in my case) as a vehicle to experience schools and travel to places that I would never have the opportunity to see rather than as the path to the NHL. This would be supported by the realization of my previous reflection in that education is balanced between formal academics and experiences."
"If I could sit down with my Grade 11 self, I'd tell him to not be afraid of friction or failure, but rather welcome it as an opportunity to grow. It's easier said than done, but thinking back to when I was at that age I'd get very frustrated with myself when things didn't come easily or go the way I want. For better or worse, I was — and still am — a perfectionist.
With some more experience under my belt and the opportunity to reflect, I've realized that my most important lessons learned and biggest growth has come from times when I was pushed to my limit — physically or intellectually — or failed to accomplish what I wanted off the hop. I can point to mistakes I've made professionally or personally that brought about new perspectives and approaches to ensure that I avoid them in the future and continue to grow.
If I take a step back, I know if I had encountered friends in similar positions to where I struggled, I'd have offered them empathy and encouragement to keep pushing and stay on the path. It's important to offer that same empathy and positivity to yourself for long-term growth and success."
"Find value in what you do every day and not in the approval of others. At the end of the day if you can look yourself in the face and say, ‘I have done everything I could today to move the needle forward on those things I am interested in,’ then you’ve done your job and look towards tomorrow. The 'compound effect' is to look for improvement every day regardless of how big or small. In every field I have encountered this is a resonating theme, that is doing a little bit every day is better than doing a lot once in a blue moon. This applies to learning, reading, relationships, any skill, investing, and finance etc.
‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit’ - Will Durant.
Any dream is possible if you are willing to work for it. God has given you everything you need. You are enough."