The UVic Social Sciences Café helped me to gain knowledge about different career paths
When graduating, did you find it easy to find career advice you could trust?
When I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2018, I knew I wanted a career as an analyst in financial services - specifically financial planning. Most of my friends and family worked outside of that sector, so I didn’t have many people to turn to, to ask for advice in the industry. No one I knew was working in finance, so I felt very lost and confused. Ten Thousand Coffees helped to connect me to working professionals who could answer my questions and give me guidance and advice - I’ve been on four coffee chats with Ten Thousand Coffees. From those introductions, I was able to talk to people who have actual experience in the industry that I wanted to move into, and I gained insight and understanding which has helped me transition from university into the working world.
What did you learn from going on coffee chats?
One coffee chat I went on was with someone who works for the government. He opened my eyes to the possibility of a career in the public sector. Before that point, I had thought that public sector work would be mostly administrative, so I hadn’t considered that as a viable career option. I certainly never considered that as a career path for a financial planning analyst role. After that connection, I discovered that there are tons of analyst jobs in the public sector. I’ve kept in touch with that connection, and he connected me to someone else who is now helping me with a long-term career plan in the public sector. Gaining that connection helped me to expand my knowledge and learn more about what a career path in the public sector might entail.
Is there anything that you learned about a job role that you wouldn’t have known to research online?
In addition to learning about the public sector as a whole, I learned about the specific recruitment process in the public sector. Especially for the CV and screening process - I had no idea that their hiring process is so unique. I learned that the public sector assesses people through a particular screening process. That was intriguing and I feel that I am much more prepared for applying for a role in the public sector as a result of my coffee chat connection. My connection also helped me to prepare my CV and offered to help me again in the future if I ever need it - Google won’t do that!
Do you feel that these coffee chats have helped you to develop your soft skills?
I have developed skills in speaking to people from various industries, roles, and seniority. I’ve also expanded my knowledge of the working world and what that looks like from numerous perspectives.
How have these coffee chats built your knowledge of business dynamics?
These coffee chats have helped me to better understand business dynamics and how different departments interconnect at various institutions. These key learnings will help me greatly in my future career, as economics is often about analyzing and exploring how other people think. Meeting with these people helped me talk to people and practice economics learning in real life. In my workplace, not everyone necessarily has the time to talk in detail about the role and responsibilities. Even while working closely with someone on a project, one may never get the opportunity to find out what they really think or their rationale behind their decision making. So chatting with folks about their work and career path has been a great experience!
Do you have more experience in communicating with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives?
Over the course of the four different coffee chats, I started to understand that everyone has unique advice because of their diverse backgrounds and experiences. I began to realize that everyone has a different perspective on how to get a job and get into the industry. For example, a lot of investment banks do a lot of recruitment at specific schools - so, graduating from those specific schools could automatically give you a head start compared to graduates from another institution. As a result, people’s advice is different based on their experiences. Some might suggest to try and get into those schools; others will suggest obtaining additional certificates or diplomas.
As a result, I have definitely developed my skills in evaluating other people’s advice and perspectives. As a result of reaching out and speaking to new people through Ten Thousand Coffees, my confidence has grown a lot over time, and it has given me a lot of experience and knowledge in talking to people from diverse backgrounds. No matter what industry you work in, interpersonal skills are necessary at work.
After joining Ten Thousand Coffees, Mengzhe:
✓ Feels better prepared to navigate the working world
✓ Added connections to his network who he can reach out to
✓ Learned about a new job or career
✓ Learned about a new industry
✓ Gained valuable advice
Mengzhe Deng, 24, Graduated from University of Victoria in Economics, Finance option in 2018. He joined Ten Thousand Coffees’ Social Sciences Café in August 2018 and has been on four coffee chats (one online and three in-person). Mengzhe works at CIBC as a financial service representative helping clients to figure their investment needs and objectives by analyzing their financial needs and cash flow. He is passionate about talking to others and learning from others to develop his business knowledge and skills. Mengzhe currently lives in Victoria, BC.