IRHR Students Forge New Connections at the IRHRSA Networking Night

April 1, 2024 by Andy Vatiliotou

CIRHR Students, Staff and Faculty at the IRHRSA's Networking Night

IRHR students at the IRHRSA's networking night

When 4th year IRHR student, Jasmin Akbari, became the 2023-24 president of the IRHR Student Association, she had two goals: to continue the work of her predecessors by creating events that strengthen our community, and to identify new ways to “bring students closer to, and into collaboration with, the executive team.”

On March 22nd, the IRHRSA held a Networking Night where our undergraduate students had an opportunity to connect with one another, meet alumni/IRHR professionals of various professional backgrounds and experiences, and glean helpful insights into their potential career pathways and the world of work today.

“The executive team wanted students to learn about different opportunities available to them. So much of my own experience as a student has been shaped by people who were once students themselves,” says Akbari. “Networking nights allow us to not only meet new people, but help students weigh potential academic or professional opportunities available to them in their field, in an environment that’s welcoming and comfortable.”

With over 50 attendees, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, the evening turned out to be an illuminating exercise in networking for students like Bernice Ann Bedia, a third year IRHR student.

“Networking events help students challenge their comfort zones,” says Bedia. “It is an opportunity for students to engage with working professionals, to ask questions, and to get advice on navigating the early stages of their careers… I especially want to thank Annie, Katherine, Erik and Dylan for showcasing their enthusiasm and perseverance in their respective fields. Their words of wisdom have inspired me to think about my next steps, potentially in Human Resources, as I approach my fourth year at U of T.”

IRHR StudentsThe Networking Night also drew on the wealth of talent from the CIRHR’s pool of alumni who have maintained a meaningful connection with the Centre.

“The CIRHR is a special place full of brights minds and connections,” says IRHR alumnus and former IRHRSA executive, Meghan Scott. “I completed my IRHR undergraduate degree at the Centre and had such an exceptional experience while taking interdisciplinary courses, meeting lifelong friends, and learning from fantastic professors. As an alumnus, it is so important to continue fostering these meaningful connections and finding opportunities to bring us all together. We all have a passion for people-related issues, making work and organizations better, and transforming HR.” 

Scott also speaks of the importance of continuing to create opportunities for dialogue which simultaneously benefit students and alumni: 

“It’s amazing to have a niche community of exceptional students with such passion, ambition, and creativity for the world of work, and it is so important to continue holding these events in the future as it provides opportunities for conversations beyond the classroom. We all have something to learn from each other, and I am always amazed at the intriguing questions and curiosity of students - they really challenge me to think.”

Looking back on a successful evening, the image that stays in Jasmin Akbari’s mind is a room full of energetic students engaging in meaningful conversations with guests, IRHRSA executives, and one another:

“The room was electric, and being able to hold an event like this at the Centre made for a safe and inviting setting where students could focus on learning and building community. We can only hope this event will become a tradition for our association.”

An event such as this naturally takes a community to coordinate and execute, with our IRHRSA executive team assembling a networking committee comprised of students from all years of undergraduate study to assist in its delivery – a symbiotic way for students to actively participate in their own learning/programming, and to engage directly with the IRHRSA executives who support them. 

“The evening was a collaborative project between the executive team and students in our committee,” says Akbari. “I’m grateful to them, and on  behalf of the IRHRSA executive team, I would also love to express a special thank you to the Centre, Professor Rafael Gomez, Professor Alicia Eads, Manda Vrkljan (Librarian) and the CIRHR Library team, Kathleen Leon (Career Development Officer), our Director of Events, Menglin (Mango) Guo, who acted as the team lead, and all of the alumni in attendance who helped make the evening a success.”

Attendees socializing at the IRHRSA's networking night