As I walked from HUB mall into the University LRT Station, it looked like I had gone back to Asia! Never before, had I seen so many people packed on the LRT platform. I overheard that some trains were down. I wouldn’t blame the city, Edmonton had so much snowfall today – it was -24C with the wind chill!
Nevertheless, packed onto the train, I was lucky to get a seat! Across from me, sat a middle-aged woman, possibly in her 50s. Well dressed and with a lovely smile! I made a witty comment about the trains being packed and said something about how the two Chinese girls (who quickly got up after they just sat down) had realized they were on the wrong train – haha!
I said something about being a student and she commented about how she was retired and her days of being a student were long gone. She was an interesting character to chat with. Within 6 minutes, I pretty much got to hear her life story! Here’s a little summary of our chat:
She was in university 30 years ago and graduated from the UofA from the Faculty of Education. (By the way, her name is Donna.) She took some other courses too, but I forget which ones. She was also on the Senate for the University for many years and traveled around quite a bit, looking at the various co-operative education programs. (She overheard me talking to a friend of mine about my Marketing paper and asked if I was in the School of Business Co-op program.) We discussed UWaterloo’s program and how she actually went there to talk to the Dean at the time. They have a whole building just for the Co-op Program. That’s pretty neat! Apparently, UofA’s Engineering and Business co-op program is ranked well….I did not know that…maybe that was years ago? No idea… I just keep hearing about the phenomenal internships people from UW go on! Then and again, they are all in Engineering…
Donna also visited Calgary a bit and told me about her encounters with students and their views on the importance of networking while on co-op. “Many of the students told me they received job offers afterwards…” I told her about my Co-op in Waterloo and we had a chat about Marketing. I talked about how broad the field is and how co-op is so important, especially for a marketing student to find their niche – not only for the type of position, but the industry. She asked which industry I was interested in and I said, “definitely technology!” Then threw in my excitement for RIM. I mentioned TED talks to her as well and told her about TEDx conferences and some of the different ones I had gone to. Since she was in education and such an “advocate for learning” (as she said), I told her to go online to check them out!
Aside from all this education-related chatter, we talked about family too. She has 3 children – all graduated from the UofA, with degrees in Science, Chemistry, and Education. HAHA! (You’re probably thinking…this girl is weird…) Anyways, she got off at Churchill Station. Apparently there is some dinner at the Westin this evening. Her husband was commuting from the hospital and she was going via the LRT.
So what’s the lesson?
1) Networking isn’t really as intimidating as it sounds. I think business schools play it up to be such a big deal that, often, people think they are all out to get something out of it. My Business Communications prof and I have similar views on “Networking.” You shouldn’t really go with the purpose in mind of gaining something. Just be yourself and heck, maybe you have something to offer them.
2) There’s a lot you can learn in 6 minutes. Personally, I believe every person has an interesting story to share. Be open and be an active listener – it’s more fun that way and you meet awesome people! Listening to other’s life stories can be quite enriching sometimes. Add in your own opinions and you can have some amazing discussions. There’s so much to learn and so many people in this world!
3) People on trains are fun to talk to! Note of caution – do not talk to everyone!
4) Go out and create your own stories! Trust me, you’ll bask in your new found knowledge and database of stories!!
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