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My experience at Illuminate x Markham

Hi everyone! My name is Iris and I am a Grade 11 student at White Oaks Secondary. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Markham’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about social entrepreneurship during the workshops.


I was inspired by Christal Wang's journey from studying the classics in university to creating her own business, Shimmer. It once again reminded me that a career is made of the sum of its parts and one's experiences along the way, not closing your eyes and running towards an end goal of landing a hypothetical dream job. Being an indecisive worrier, it spoke to me personally that trying drastically different jobs actually helped Chris in finding a passion project to call her own. (BTW, her slides were very aesthetic.)

I thought this slide was an especially eye-opening visual.

Chris introduced the idea of the Theory of Change and talked about looking at problem in the world and working backwards to see what you can do at your own scale to make an impact. It specifically highlighted the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals. In addition to bringing awareness to these issues in the business world, I think this can apply to any project or conflict that doesn't have a clear solution.


From Mash Chowdhury's talk I learned that obtaining a certain degree or level of education is a tool to help your career, but the most useful knowledge can be the industry experience obtained on the job: that's lifelong learning at it's finest.

He also brought up a topic I've been putting in the back burner for a while in favor of pursuing more academic achievements, and that is having strong people skills. It's important to know how to communicate, especially since many jobs require a lot of teamwork to carry out a successful project. I'm also considering a career in consulting, among other pathways, and as Mash explains it, it really boils down to how well one is able to understand another's needs.

He pointed out that thinking in the long term leads to getting ahead of the competition. It means researching, networking, looking for what a client/company needs, and sticking with other people who are looking ahead. It also means not letting opportunities slide pass you because it seems too complex. Like how cybersecurity can be loaded with jargon, but is really just protecting computers from "bad guys".


I had so much fun preparing for our second case of the conference: what a time crunch! Admittedly it was our team's first time creating an innovative corporate venture, business pitch, and slideshow within an hour so we went slightly overtime. Nevertheless, it was an exhilarating and fulfilling day.

Illuminate was unlike any other business conference I've been to and I'm excited to join again next year!


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