Summer may be a slow time for many local businesses, but at the University of Toronto Mississauga Career Centre, staff are reaching out to nearby companies more than ever.
“I don’t think that even I realized how many organizations we have within a stone’s throw of the campus until we started looking into this,” Claire Westgate, manager of partner relations for experiential opportunities at UTM told YourMississaugaBiz.com.
This year Westgate and her colleague Michelle Atkinson have chosen to focus on local companies and do more strategic outreach.
“One of the things we know about our students on our campus is they want to stay local,” Westgate said, noting UTM’s high population of commuter students. “It does need to be local for them; they don’t all drive.”
To encourage the connection between UTM and the local community, Westgate estimates she sent out 98 per cent of the invitations to the Get Experienced job and internship fair in the fall to organizations within a 20-minute driving radius.
Westgate and Atkinson are trying to have a mix of small, medium and large companies involved and engaged with her events and experiential opportunity planning work.
Atkinson recently visited Target Canada’s Mississauga head office. “You know, just starting to have a dialog with how they can connect to the campus,” Westgate said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities there and that’s something brand new for us.”
Similarly, Loblaw’s corporate offices in Brampton recently held an open house for students and staff. “We know they’ve hired alumni in the past, they’re close by and students love that kind of opportunity,” Westgate said.
It’s all part of the packed summer workload in Westgate’s office. “This is when we do all our planning for the coming year,” she said. “The logistics, the booking, and ahead of that we have planning days where we outline all the things we think we’re going to be doing in the year.”
This is also the period when Westgate’s office fields a lot of requests from some of its company partners. “A lot of the bigger companies also do their recruitment planning in the summer months as well,” she said. “They’re setting up their schedules for where all the [new hires] are going to in the fall and what they’re going to be doing.”
Westgate said in addition to on-campus recruitment, local businesses can also get involved and interact with UTM students through internships, volunteer positions, company tours, speed-networking events and participating in talks.