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Empowering Youth & Illuminate x North York Conference

Hello everyone! My name is Meghan and I am a Grade 11 student attending the Visual Arts Mackenzie program at Alexander Mackenzie High School. Yesterday, I participated in the Illuminate x North York conference, and I hope to share with you some insightful takeaways on encouraging lifelong learning and leadership in youth.


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. ~Dr. Seuss

The first keynote speaker was Dan Kiernan, a career coach at Oxford Saïd Business School who works with young professionals to develop and progress in their career path. He began by sharing some interesting statistics, saying studies show that young people are projected to work for twenty organizations and three career changes. He then imparted upon us a 3-step framework that will guide us in developing a career of our choice.


The first part of the framework is to reflect on who you are as a person and where you want to take your career. This means determining your passions and interests and gathering evidence to reflect upon. Dan also implores us to ask people who know us well to tell us about our strengths and weaknesses.


The next part of the framework is to explore the industry and career you are passionate about. Dan suggests speaking to and forming relationships with professionals working in the career paths or industries you are interested in. Dan emphasizes the importance of not making assumptions about the career, and making sure to understand all of the aspects of the career.


The last part of the frame work is to activate the career of your choice. Dan proposes using evidence gathered from the previous parts of the framework to make yourself a desired candidate for your career choice.


The second keynote speaker at the Illuminate conference was Swish Goswami. He is the CEO of Trufan, a data mining software which helps deduce marketing decisions for businesses. Swish also spoke to us about his path and what distinguished him from the crowd. Swish also highlighted the importance of networking and having determination for the path you want to take.


Both Swish and Dan reminded us to be able to spot and make opportunities for oneself, and to take responsibility for your path. Though this is something I am progressing towards, Dan's intuitive framework and Swish's powerful message have given me further guidance in how to pursue my goals.