On the evening of January 23rd 2014, the ACSioN Network in collaboration with partners CEDEC and BCRC hosted "Get Connected! Creating African-Canadian Career Excellence," at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business (JMSB). This groundbreaking event aimed to highlight the importance of a diversified workforce to Montreal's economy, and unveil the ACCE committee's recent report about the career aspirations of Montreal’s Black university students. In addition, a new survey was launched focusing on current students of African descent in Montreal.
An integral part of the "Get Connected!" event was the networking sessions, which connected students, young Black professionals, diversity experts, and prospective employers. Over 40 people were in attendance, one of whom was Steve Harvey, Dean of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.
The success of this year’s event was made possible though the help of several volunteers, all students from Concordia University, McGill University, and UQAM. The volunteers were generous enough to give their feedback. Although each offered a unique perspective, everyone agreed that "Get Connected!" was an extremely eye-opening event.
What brought Josiane Yimbou (UQAM), Vanessa Bruce (Concordia), Ken Nsiempba (McGill) and Gisela Amadu (Concordia) together was the shared desire to get involved in their community and to take advantage of a unique opportunity to learn from some of Montreal’s working professionals.
Two guest speakers - Karen Diaz of CKG Training & Consulting, and Sean Seales of Othello Wealth Partners – helped frame the discussions. Karen Diaz's "Diversity in the Workplace" presentation was a particularly noteworthy part of the event for many volunteers; it resonated deeply with them as she spoke of many of the struggles that immigrants and minorities face in the workplace.
All of the volunteers intend to continue their affiliation with ACSioN. Vanessa Bruce (Concordia) said that she would recommend ACSioN because of "the fabulous team members, the chance to acquire new knowledge and the chance to meet with other young people who are studying but are also active in the workplace".
Moving forward, the volunteers made several suggestions for improving ACSioN in the upcoming years. Ken Nsiempba (McGill) suggests that ACSioN should collaborate more with other associations. Vanessa Bruce suggested that ACSioN should be more active during Black History Month (African Heritage Month). Some of the volunteers noticed that ACSioN has a low visibility among students this year. They believe that a lot more could be done to promote ACSioN both within Concordia University and beyond. To do so, Josiane Yimbou (UQAM) suggests that more people should be invited to events such as “Get Connected!”, and that flyers should be posted throughout all Montreal universities so that more people can become aware of ACSioN and its values. In addition, Yimbou suggested increasing the number of networking and information sessions held throughout the year.
The ACSioN Network seeks to link together post-secondary students and professionals of African descent with their communities for mutual betterment; events like "Get Connected!" attest to this commitment. As this academic year draws to a close, members are already looking forward to an even more successful 2014-2015 school year!