Every Monday, we hand control of the @uwaterlooalumni Instragram account to an alumnus. From Youtubers to entrepreneurs, they’ve offered an inside look at their typical work days and some great memories of Waterloo. But our favourite part of these takeovers is the unique career advice they share. Here are some of our favourites.

Turning obstacles into opportunities

Sefunmi OsinaikeSefunmi Osinaike (BASc ’17) is very accomplished in his field. He spent co-op terms at Microsoft and Apple, worked for a popular Toronto startup, and now he’s the co-founder of Co.Lab. Founded with fellow alumnus Helen Huang (BSc ’17), Co.Lab prepares non-traditional techies for success in the industry with practical courses in Product Management, Design and Software Development.

But all of this success came after Sefunmi’s first start-up failed to takeoff. To him, this was another learning opportunity: “I chose the path to help me learn the most, and at that time it was working on my own startup, Pave. And while that didn’t’ work out, I leveraged that experience in interviews to impress hiring managers.”

Jumpstart your career with volunteering

Melanie OsmondMelanie Osmond (BKI ’16) shows us the interdisciplinary beauty of Knowledge Integration. Her repertoire includes organizing conferences for the music industry and hospital fundraising. Surprisingly, she secured these jobs through volunteer roles.

“By volunteering in the industry you’re interested in, you’re more likely to meet people who have hiring capacity. You also build trust quickly – because they’ve already seen you at work.”

Today, Melanie volunteers with the Shoot, Canada’s largest artist competition, and Girl Scouts Canada (her favourite cookie is vanilla).

How to stay motivated while juggling multiple roles

Vy LeeVy Le (BMath ’11) juggles her YouTube channel with a full-time job and running a small photography business. Her YouTube videos cover a wide variety of topics: productivity tips, how to find a job during the pandemic, and career advice for actuaries. These videos were largely based on her experience as a qualified actuary (FCIA, FSA, and CERA) and CFA charter holder. Today, she works in enterprise risk management by day, while balancing a wedding photography business with her husband and working toward her masters in computer and information technology.

When asked about tips for motivation, she shares the importance of a growth mindset: “the belief that your talents can be developed.” She also encouraged alumni to start taking actions like “setting goals and building a good system.” 

The Bumps of Choosing the Easy Road

Farhan ThawarFarhan Thawar (BMath '98) is the vice-president, engineering at Shopify. In his free time, he invests and advises to startups in Toronto and San Francisco which includes being a mentor at Y Combinator and First Round Capital.  When asked for career advice, he shared “Whenever I chose the easy path, I regretted it. And when I chose the hard path, I didn't regret it because I learn more and I worked with smart folks.”