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What I Learned By Going On Coffee Chats: The Student Perspective

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Michelle Fong
Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
January 23, 2020

Ten Thousand Coffees, in partnership with RBC is working with over 60 post-secondary schools across Canada to provide our world class networking software to connect youth and alumni to facilitate career-changing conversations. Our goal is to enable every student and alumni to grow their network, navigate their career, and prepare for the future of work.

Why networking?

When you have a diverse network, it allows you to tap into other professionals’ smart thinking, accelerates your career, and helps answer important questions as you navigate current and future opportunities.

Student Insight

Michelle Fong, 22, joined the UWaterloo Arts Café in Fall 2019. She has been on three coffee chats since joining Ten Thousand Coffees. She is studying Arts and Business (BA) at the University of Waterloo. Here’s what Michelle shared about what she gained since joining UWaterloo Arts Café.

What I learned by going on Coffee Chats

By Michelle Fong

After learning about Ten Thousand Coffees through the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts, I was excited about the opportunity to meet people and build my professional network. Since joining the program and having coffee chats with my monthly introductions, I have made meaningful connections with different individuals and have received a wealth of shared experiences and lessons. Specifically, I have gained insights into a variety of career pathways and developed my ability to network.


First, I gained a better understanding of different career prospects by having meaningful conversations with individuals who have experiences in the career path that I am interested in. One of my introductions explained how I could directly use my unique degree in English and Business to pursue diverse fields of work in marketing and promotions, or teaching abroad. This gave me more confidence in applying my field of studies to a field of work. 


Coffee chats have also given me a better understanding of how to make connections in a professional capacity. When I joined UWaterloo Arts Café, I didn’t know how to initiate conversations and felt unprepared to network with other people I had never met before. However, the Ten Thousand Coffees platform helped me start conversations with the intent of having coffee chats. After having my first meeting, I realized that people are very willing to share their experiences and insights—you just have to take the first step and ask. During the conversation, I also shared my personal experiences of applying transferrable skills in both school and workplace settings, which was well-received by my introduction. This showed me that I also have valuable knowledge and bring a lot to the table in these coffee chats, which motivated me to continue making connections.  

Through coffee chats, I have come to understand the art of networking. To my surprise, coffee chats don’t always involve coffee or even face-to-face meetings. For example, one of my partners was living in another country, so we could only connect via online platforms. This experience showed me that networking is not limited to the space where you meet people. Whether you are in a coffee shop or on a video call, networking is about the connection you make with another person. It’s all about sharing different passions and interests so you can get to know the other person. This will allow you to make a more personal connection with them, which, I have learned, is the core of networking. Thanks to having coffee chats, I have developed these important skills and can continue to make meaningful connections in the future. 


After going on three coffee chats, Michelle:

✓ Feels better prepared to navigate the working world, 

✓ Feels more confident with networking, 

✓ Learned about a new job or career, 

✓ Met new professionals, 

✓ Gained valuable advice, 

✓ Learned a new perspective, 

✓ Practiced active listening, 

✓ Improved interpersonal skills


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