Amid a global pandemic — and a paused sports industry — Katie, a Recreation and Sport Business student, used networking skills to land a unique work-integrated learning experience.
Katie landed both her recent work terms using her outstanding networking skills. She worked as a business analyst for Scotiabank and as a fan experience intern with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
COVID-19 presents challenges in terms of securing work terms, so Katie knew she had to be proactive.
Co-op work search
“The co-op hunt was very difficult, and I don’t say that lightly,” she says. “The sports industry was concaving, and I realized that.”
In searching for the perfect work term, Katie sent out several requests for networking chats, including one with a Scotiabank recruiter she met through an opportunity organized by the University of Waterloo.
“Personal networking is really important,” she says. “I’ve always found that reaching out to people on LinkedIn, doing those coffee chats, is honestly the reason I am where I am today. It is because of who I have met along the way by putting myself out there to go to networking events that are offered. I think it is important students take advantage of that, even in times like now. Reach out to people on LinkedIn. There are people hiring, but you’re going to have to dig in and search for it. Get people to know you and put your name in the interview process.”
Katie gained valuable professional experience working in the automotive finance branch at Scotiabank. The organization has multiple partnerships with automobile dealers, and she was involved with the loan and leasing process of cars.
Katie also co-chaired Scotiabank’s social committee, which entailed organizing virtual events for her team.
Because of the positive impression that she left at Scotiabank, she recently decided to return for her future work terms as a campus recruiter, after which she will return to school to finish out her final academic terms.
As part of her new role, Katie is going to handle the portfolio of jobs for the strategic functions and technology business within Scotiabank. She is going to connect with students and help them find their perfect fit in the organization.
“Having the chance to explore so many different avenues within Scotiabank and speak to numerous people has opened my eyes to the possibility of working within the partnership side of sports within the bank one day,” Katie says.
The best piece of advice I have for other students when it comes to accepting an offer is not to be picky about the industry you’re working in, instead focus on the skills you would like to learn and take away after your contract ends.
Work term with Toronto Maple Leafs
Despite the sports world essentially pausing in March 2020, Katie completed her first co-op term with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a role she landed through her ability to network and build professional relationships.
Katie had an opportunity to meet executives of the Leafs ownership group, Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment (MLSE), at a networking event and Toronto Marlies game. The opportunity was set up by a Recreation and Sport Business professor at Waterloo.
When Katie was looking for her first work term placement, she reached out to people she met during the event, which led to her landing the role.
The opportunity was amazing, and I credit networking for why I got my job, she adds.
Transition to working remotely
Katie worked as a member of the ticketing membership and sales team while helping with the Leafs’ Memorable Moments Program. She acted as the first line of defense for MLSE communications, which receives about 400 emails and 75 calls each day.
Katie feels fortunate that her role smoothly transitioned to remote work when COVID-19 hit.
Following the transition to remote work, her supervisor conducted weekly check-ins and Katie continued to track and send daily reports of incoming calls, emails and messages they received from their social media accounts.
Connect with your mentor or supervisor frequently, if not every day, she advises to students working remotely.
You do not have to have a meeting set aside. Even sending them an email update or a Teams message about a project you're working on, or progress updates on your daily statistics, shows them that you're working hard, and they'll appreciate it.