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Not everyone has a Joan: Why we are democratizing networking

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Erynn Mayes
Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
December 16, 2019

85% of jobs are filled via networking. We've all read about this trend in respected publications like Forbes and Business Insider. We've heard stories about it anecdotally and even experienced it ourselves - when Bob's friend's nephew gets hired for that summer internship. What's troubling is that students do not have equal access to networks.

I recently attended the Future Workforce Conference by BrainStorm Inc.in Toronto. It centred around preparing youth for the Future of Work, which is what I focus on every day at Ten Thousand Coffees as the Academic Manager of Strategy & Operations.

One particularly eye-opening discussion was about positioning young women for the future of work. The panel kicked off talking about the gender pay gap, sexism, and discrimination in hiring and promotion, and the resulting disadvantage for organizations and women. We heard about how these issues are even more prominent and problematic for women who are visible minorities. The discussion then took a step back and turned from how we can support women in the workforce, to how we can support them in choosing a career.

One woman, I'll call her Joan, proudly stood up at that moment in time and shared that her daughter, as a new grad, had been having a hard time figuring out what industry or job was right for her. “My daughter didn't know what she wanted to do, but I introduced her to a few people in industries she was interested in for coffee chats to help her figure that out. She landed a job with one of those contacts and is enjoying the role.”

The facilitator almost swept that comment under the rug to move on to the next question, when panellist Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi abruptly stopped her and said, “I'm sorry. We have to stop here. What about the young girls and international students that don’t have a Joan?

We often are unable to see our privilege and bias as we go about our day to day living. 50% of students list "planning for a career after graduation" as one of their top 3 sources of stress and many of those students do not have an advocate like Joan. We, at Ten Thousand Coffees, are democratizing networking and providing equal access to today’s youth so that everyone has a Joan.

Center Image: Sadaf Virji (left) and Erynn Mayes (author), Academic Team at Ten Thousand Coffees

It was refreshing and validating to hear a lot of what I tell post-secondary partners every day, come back to me at the Future Workforce Conference. I also had my eyes opened to the changing workforce as well. For example, while we all agree that jobs of tomorrow will not mirror the jobs of today, individually, we don’t think that our own job will be disrupted. Guilty.

We covered a breadth of topics, like what Gen Z cares about at work (work-life balance), and why Universities have fallen behind (industry is changing more quickly than Universities can), and how to make work meaningful for today’s students (bridge the gap between what youth wants, vs what corps think they want).

Is there an exceptional conference that you're attending in 2020? Tell me about it, by reaching out to me at erynn@tenthousandcoffees.com

Couldn't attend the Future Workforce conference? Here's what you need to know.

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