Working with secondary students as they gain insight into their futures is always a highlight for the Saskatoon Industry Education Council (SIEC) team. As a bridge between Saskatchewan’s career opportunities and Saskatoon area youth, the SIEC hosted ten Spotlight on Careers events, twelve Skills Boot Camps, and multiple specialized programs during the 2022 – 2023 school year to help prepare students for future jobs and gain valuable training before entering the workforce. Participants in Spotlight on Careers events are exposed to post-secondary opportunities, hands-on experiences, and mentorship from professionals in a specific industry.
We want to take this opportunity to thank RBC Future Launch for their sponsorship of our Spotlight on Careers events. We can provide experiential learning for secondary students because of partners like RBC and over 185 industry and post-secondary partners. The ten Spotlight events we hosted provided invaluable experience for over 1,000 students as they explored potential pathways and focused on careers in the following sectors: Healthcare, Manufacturing and Mining, Tech, Business and Finance, Public Services, Skilled Trades, and agriculture.
This year, Ana, a proud Metis and Anishinaabe student from Tommy Douglas Collegiate, took advantage of various SIEC programs as she began to think about life after high school. She attended two Spotlight on Careers events to explore the pathways she was considering after high school. At the Spotlight on Business and Finance, Ana heard about the Edwards School of Business, participated in student-led activities, and heard from a panel of industry experts at Nutrien. She found this event to be pivotal in her career exploration journey as she learned that even though she loves math, she now knows she does not want a career as a stockbroker. The event helped her realize that she wants a career where she gets to work collaboratively with people and get to know their stories and that there are many opportunities to work for people-centred companies in the business world. She also learned about entrepreneurship and what goes into owning your own business and feels that is an aspiration of hers moving forward.
Ana also attended the Spotlight on Tourism & Hospitality, where the students heard from the Saskatchewanderer, toured Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Wanuskewin Heritage Park and connected with industry professionals about their diverse career journeys. She valued the opportunity to speak one-on-one with industry professionals and ask questions to help her as she embarks on her own career journey. The highlight of this event for Ana was hearing Jim Bence, the President and CEO of Hospitality Saskatchewan, tell his story of how he started his career as a pool boy at a hotel and has had the pleasure of working in the industry for the past forty years in many different roles. She also enjoyed learning about careers she never knew about before, such as sustainable tourism tour guide, and seeing how the sharing of Indigenous history and knowledge is related to the tourism industry.
Ana’s participation in the Spotlight on Careers events led her to apply for the Culinary Boot Camp. She has always loved cooking but wanted the opportunity to gain more confidence in preparing quality food. Through the ten-week camp, she realized that cooking could be more than a passion and that it is a possible career path. It also opened her eyes to other possible careers in the Tourism and Hospitality industry through the real-life experience of working in a professional kitchen. Learning from and working alongside the professional chefs was reassuring and provided her with a deeper understanding of the use of ingredients and skills needed to produce high-quality food while working under pressure.
To conclude the camp, the students prepared a four-course meal for over 125 attendees at the SIEC Celebration Gala. This real-life experience was an excellent opportunity for the students to test their skills and work as a team. Ana said the most rewarding part was hearing the positive feedback from the guests. Ana has taken the skills she learned at the camp and applied them at home to cook for her family. She is now more willing to try new things in the kitchen and prefers to cook for herself instead of buying premade food or eating out, and she even bought a second-hand pasta maker to make her own pasta at home.
Ana truly appreciated the opportunity to be part of SIEC programming, and the fact that the events were all free of charge made it easier to get involved. One of the most important things she took away from the events is that university is not her only post-secondary option and that there are other pathways and post-secondary institutions where you can gain valuable training. She also enjoyed building connections with chefs, industry professionals, and the SIEC staff. She said maybe the SIEC would be a cool place to work one day to help people realize all the possibilities available after high school. Next year Ana has decided to take a gap year but wants to pursue work in the tourism and hospitality industry to learn more about the sector and gain valuable skills she can apply to her future career. She has dreams of one day opening a Bed and Breakfast in northern Manitoba where she could work with her family to share the beautiful landscape and her family culture. We cannot wait to see what the future has in store for Ana and all the students we have the pleasure of working with.