By RCI Ontario Chapter President Jennifer Hogan, RRO, CET, LEED AP
The second I saw the posting looking for people to mentor university and college students at the 2017 RCI International Convention and Trade Show, I was in. If you had asked me then why I was keen to participate, I probably would have talked about my passion for building sciences and my zeal for sharing it with students. After all, without the zeal of others before me, I likely never would have heard about a field like building sciences, which is not as mainstream as its siblings, architecture and engineering. What I wouldn’t have known then was that I would take as much from this experience as I was giving.
But let’s go back a little bit. Before heading to convention, I was given my mentoring assignment – three young men from Mohawk College, which is right in my hometown. Jonathan, Jeffrey, and Anthony impressed me right away. As soon as they received my contact information, they reached out to suggest meeting up for lunch before attending convention. I thought this was a fantastic idea; if nothing else, it would avoid that awkward moment of looking for someone you have never met before in a crowd. The three of us hit it off well and conversation was easy as we enjoyed a nice meal and learned a little bit about each other.
A few weeks later, I was headed to Anaheim and was excited to take in all the convention had to offer. As planned, it was easy to spot Jonathan, Jeffrey, and Anthony (who would later become known as “the boys” by myself and all the other folks from Ontario) at the opening reception. It was a great way to kick things off and an excellent opportunity to start making some introductions. I made it my mission at the first couple of events to introduce the boys to as many of the RCI Ontario members, the RCI international leaders, and any other people that I knew. And while this was fantastic for the boys, it also served me well. What a great ice breaker to have in your back pocket, particularly if networking isn’t one of your strong suits. It is so easy and natural to approach people and say, “Hello, have you had a chance to meet the students from Ontario who received scholarships to attend this year?” Some great conversations always follow, including the odd tidbit of professional advice. And I must say, as an emerging professional myself, listening to some of the advice given was just as valuable for me!
Over the course of the convention, we continued to hang out at many of the planned events, seminars, and even after the day was done, like enjoying a drink and some room service pizza and quesadillas on the patio with some of the other attendees. Some great technical conversations took place over that pizza, and I think by the end of the conference, the boys had a standing job offer from at least a half dozen people.
To say this experience felt like a success would be an understatement. I have been lucky enough to be able to keep in touch with the boys since being back, whether at birthday parties, RCI Ontario Chapter events, and even through this series of articles. If any of them happen to be reading this now – the job offer still stands!
If you would like the opportunity to share knowledge, networking, and fun with a student(s) at the 2018 convention in Houston, Texas, be sure to keep your eyes out for the call for volunteers and the final article in this series, which will provide a “top ten” list of tips and tricks for how to make the most of being a mentor/mentee.
Stories like these aren’t possible without the help and support of RCI members like you. Contributions can be made to the RCI Foundations’ “RCI Convention Student Participation Fund,” which enables college and university students to attend the RCI Convention and Trade Show. To donate, please visit the link below. http://www.rcifoundation.org/donate.aspx