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Coffee Chat & Mentoring with Sian ☕️

With my mentoring coffee chat session with Sian, I was able to learn how to navigate my future career path, learn tips when working with different people, especially in groups, and how to present myself during networking events.

We first discussed her career path 👩‍💻 and how I might want to navigate my career path. She was a CPA who pursued a path of an engineer. I gained advice on how I might want to plan out my years after graduation and talk to many working professionals to hear about real-life experiences of their work and their paths to gaining their CPA designation.

This naturally brought us to the topic of networking and presenting oneself at these events. Due to online school for the first and second year of university, I had not attended too many in-person networking events leading me to wonder how I can prepare myself when participating in in-person events. Sian gave me 4 tips which I think could be useful for everyone.

  1. Go into an event with a quantifiable goal. For example, set a goal of many people you want to contact for follow-up discussions or coffee chats, or how many business cards you want to get. ✅

  2. Look for ways to help others. Ask people questions like, “What keeps you up at night?", “What's the biggest project you've got going on right now?" This helps to get the conversation flowing and often, being able to help other people, such as connecting two of your contacts, is the best way to network. ✅

  3. Work the room from the outside in. Think of the room as a spiral; start from the outside and work yourself to the center of the room. If you've been talking to one person too long, say something like, "It's been great talking to you, we should connect after" and then move on. ✅

  4. Prepare an elevator pitch about yourself in five to ten words. It's useful to have thought this through beforehand, so if there is an opening to give an 'elevator pitch' you'll be able to smoothly transition it into the conversation. ✅

Finally, we talked about working with different kinds of people whether as clients, teams, partners, and more. I was curious about the effective method to take when approaching group projects and teamwork. She mentioned that there will be many different kinds of people you will encounter in your career and while most will be pleasant, there will be some that may not be. In a team, it is important to determine what role you have in that team and the tasks you are assigned. When working with people, the most important factor is communication. You should make sure that everyone is on the same level of information by asking questions, sending messages, and clarifying whenever needed.

Overall, I learned a lot from the mentoring from Sian as a professional and as someone who's had a lot more life experiences. I hope everything I learned can help someone as well and also learned that coffee chats and asking for advice from a professional is not as hard as I thought it to be and that everyone is willing to help! 🤗

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