“It's one of the coolest things the U of L has given me. Without a doubt, I'll hold onto that the rest of my life,” says fourth-year management student Jessica Bermel about meeting Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Arlene Dickenson.
Bermel has taken full advantage of the Faculty of Management’s Student Professional Development Program (PDP), registering in case competitions, emotional intelligence workshops, attending industry networking and speaker events.
The PDP was launched three years ago to provide students with opportunities that would give them insight, knowledge and experience to assist with their academic career and beyond.
Initially, the program started with only a few offerings but quickly gained in popularity and momentum, growing to include everything from interactive workshops and industry evenings, to conferences and speaker events, reaching 1,000 students annually on the Lethbridge and Calgary campuses.
The successful professionals the Professional Development Program has brought to campus include Anil Pereira (Silicon Valley Executive and Entrepreneur), Brett Wilson (Entrepreneur / Dragon’s Den), Doug Lipp (Former Vice President, Disney), Catherine Murray (BNN Personality), Michael “Pinball” Clemons (Vice Chairman, Toronto Argonauts), Zahra El-Harazi (Entrepreneur / Social Activist), Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey (Founders, Barefoot Wines), Nancy Southern (CEO & President, Atco) and Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Kreek.
“I’ve grown and gained an introspection that other students may not have when they graduate because they haven’t been involved,” says Bermel. “PDP has changed my way of thinking. I’ve learned things and been exposed to concepts I otherwise wouldn’t have. You have your textbooks, classes and professors, but with PDP you just build that competitive edge.”
Bermel’s encounter with Arlene Dickinson was exceptional.
“After her presentation, I was able to speak with her and tell her what a role model she has been to me. She told me, just because you're a woman in business, don't let that hold you back. Even though it was only a two-minute window, it was beyond incredible."
Keshah Austin, another management student, has also been involved with various PDP experiences, including an annual two-day conference that brings in industry professionals and keynote speakers. She echoes Bermel’s feelings.
“PDP gives students an opportunity to get a professional connection, to allow us to apply what we learned and how it can be used in our future. The people I've met are unforgettable,” says Austin.
Heather Harty, coordinator for the program, says community functions outside of the university often include registration fees.
“Without PDP, quality opportunities for professional development would be beyond the reach of most students. Attending workshops and conferences can be very expensive and students do not necessarily have the funds to go. PDP events are scheduled at times that are convenient for students and are free of charge thanks to external sponsorship,” explains Harty.
“The program’s success is largely thanks to the support provided through these sponsorships, as well as donations from alumni and others. Without this support, these opportunities that are key to the development of our future leaders, may not be available.”
To find out more about how you can be involved in supporting the Student Professional Development Program financially or otherwise, contact Steve Craig (Director, Student Professional Development – U of L Faculty of Management) at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the program, visit: http://www.uleth.ca/management/studentPD.