Careers

5 Lessons That Guided My Career Development

A black and white image of Ali giving a presentation

Ryerson’s New Grad Career Fair is from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on February 7, 2018 at 89 Chestnut Street (Chestnut Residence & Conference Centre). The journey to meaningful employment is a chapter in every student’s #RoadFromRyerson story. Over the next month, we’ve invited graduating Ryerson students to share their professional development stories via the Path to Career blog series. For more information on the Career Centre, its events, and how you can make an appointment at the Career Centre with your Career Education Specialist, check out ryerson.ca/career.

by Ali Rawji, Business Technology Management 

I spent my first semester of university navigating our campus. Forget career aspirations, how do I use the PATH? Wait, we have classes in a movie theatre?

After finally getting a grip of the university lifestyle, I realized that my 5-Year, $40,000+ investment was focused on one goal: to kickstart my career by landing a job that I am passionate about.

Reflecting on my last 4.5 years, there are five lessons that have guided my career and professional development.

No one can tell you what career you should or should not pursue – only you can determine that.

As I spoke with senior students about career options in my first year, I was overwhelmed by the passion everyone had for their field. Empowered by this excitement, I recognized that I had to find a career based on my interests, not on the interest of others.

My interests gravitated towards three fields:

  • Information Technology, since I was studying BTM
  • Consulting, due to the opportunity to explore different industries
  • Marketing, for its creativity and outside-the-box thinking

Your career and professional development opportunities are not limited to Ryerson.

I leveraged resources inside and outside of Ryerson to explore my career options.

Within Ryerson, I competed in the Junior IT Case Competition, joined Ryerson Consulting Group and attended the Ryerson Marketing Conference. Browsing through social media and my personal network, I saw multiple opportunities for professional development outside of Ryerson. I attended multiple digital marketing workshops around the GTA, and was fortunate enough to be mentored by a Strategy Consultant. These diverse experiences allowed me to obtain a holistic view of my career options.

I determined that consulting was the career I wanted to pursue. My team and I from Ryerson Consulting Group shared similar ambitions and interests, which allowed us to foster a natural friendship. I was also intrigued by the continuous learning opportunities available through consulting.

Your knowledge base and skillset cannot be developed overnight. They require hard work, persistence and practice. Ask yourself, “What have I done today to further my career?”

I realized that my experiences needed to reflect four skills crucial to be a successful consultant: communication, problem-solving, teamwork and time management. It wasn’t enough to spend one week preparing for interviews, I needed to build a strong portfolio of experiences that showcased my abilities.

I did this in three ways:

Case Competitions: Case Competitions allowed me to showcase my communication and problem-solving skills by solving business problems in 12-24 hours. My practice and hard-work paid off, as I placed 1st in multiple competitions: Battle of BTM Schools, National Business Technology Competition, and National Strategy & Consulting Competition.

Ali is presented with a large cheque for winning the competition.
Caption: 1st Place – National Strategy & Consulting Competition (2017)

Ryerson Consulting Group: As opposed to solving a business problem in 24 hours, I conducted paid consulting work for small businesses at Ryerson Consulting Group over 2-3 month periods. Leading a group of 10+ students for the past two years allowed me to develop my teamwork, time and client management skills.

Co-op: Completing co-op terms at CIBC, CGI and RBC allowed me to learn from experienced professionals. It provided insight into the different jobs I could perform after graduation, and provided a constant loop of feedback to always improve my work.

 

You are competing for jobs against students across Canada, not only from Ryerson. It’s not enough to be at the top of your class, you must be among the top students in the Canada.

 

My experiences through case competitions and co-op opened my eyes to the competitive job market. I was not only competing against Ryerson students, but against students from across the country. By participating and displaying the tangible results I achieved through case-competitions, Ryerson Consulting Group and co-op, I was able to differentiate myself from other applicants.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

By far, the best decision I made in university was my choice of friends.

My friends motivated me to work harder when I wanted to quit, pushed me to excellence when I settled for mediocrity, and gave me confidence in the face of rejection. In completing presentations and projects, I would often spend more time with friends than with family.

Career and professional development cannot be taught in a classroom; it is acquired through a willingness to learn, explore opportunities inside and outside of school, and hard work that starts early on in your undergraduate career.

Ask yourself: what are three things I can do right now to take control of my career?

Ali is a fifth year Business Technology Management co-op student. He currently leads Ryerson Consulting Group, a for-profit undergraduate consulting firm, as Managing Partner. Ali has represented Ryerson University & TRSM at numerous international/national competitions. Upon graduation, he will be joining Accenture as a Management Consulting Analyst.

 

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