Sheridan’s Lou Schizas says success starts well before graduation

Sheridan College students may be stressed about finals right now, but Lou Schizas said few are making the most out of their time in school and they shouldn’t expect companies to provide the skills training crucial to getting a job.

“We run a $250 million dollar success factory that’s here to help you and not enough of you are taking advantage of everything it has to offer,” the Sheridan finance and economics professor told students at an event at the Hazel McCallion Campus in Mississauga on Tuesday, referencing the college’s annual budget.

The school, which boasts 17,000 students on its three campuses in Oakville, Brampton and Mississauga, is a commuter school primarily attended by local residents with minimal school involvement.

The first-year instructor, public speaker and equities analyst said school politics and events like the President’s Challenge, an annual event which solicits solutions for the aging population of Canada, are huge missed opportunities for job-relevant experience, according to Silas. The Challenge, he said, only received 65 entrants. And only 10 per cent of students are estimated to cast their vote for their school’s council.

“You need to learn how to manage people,” he said, citing the student union’s 200 staff and the life-long skills former students learned as a result of managing all of them. “Everything in life is a political game and you need to know to play it.”

Schizas also noted the high visibility of both activities, including time with Sheridan’s President Jeff Zabudsky. “How many other people can say they have the [college] president as a contact?”

Here are some of Schiza’s other top career tips for students, recent graduates and other job seekers:

Figure out where the industry lives

Go to industry trade shows, conferences and symposiums. Schizas said for students who can’t afford unpaid internships, volunteering for industry associations and events can still help bring them into contact with all the right people. “They can be a mentor, they can get you a part-time job, and you can learn as much as you need to learn,” he said.

Find a mentor

Schizas said it’s important to find someone in the business you want to be in, who can look at you and say, ‘You remind me of me when I was your age and I want to help you.’ “People in business are always looking for young, vital, vigourous people to jump into our business,” he said. “If you show up with the right attitude, anything is possible.” 

It’s not hard to make more time available

For those struggling with time management, Shizas suggested waking up an hour earlier, being more organized or reducing your time commuting, to work on anything from golf skills, contact management or making more money. “If you can steal an hour everyday from your dizzy self, that’s another six weeks of time,” he said. 

Learn how to listen

Shizas said most people have an incredible need to talk, which you can use to your advantage. “If you can listen aggressively, they will tell you everything you need to know,” he said, citing the concept of everyone being connected by ‘six degrees of separation’. “If you learn how to ask questions they’ll tell you even more. We work through people.”

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