The early-winter chill slowly melted away as I stepped into the intimate atmosphere of Ceili’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Vancouver: a perfect backdrop for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) event “Starting a Career in Communications”. The evening featured a panel of four communication professionals who shared their personal journeys toward a career in communications. The panel included: Keiko Cooper, Corporate Affairs Specialist for Labatt Breweries of Canada; Karin Basaraba, Communications Specialist with Community Living British Columbia; Niela Melanio, Corporate Communications Assistant, BCAA; and Alex Vondette, Account Manager atHoggan.
Ceili’s second-floor was already bustling with activity as I registered and fastened the nametag proudly displaying my student status. At the first IABC social event I attended, I was taken aback at how welcoming and inclusive everyone was - this time was no different. The 50 guests in attendance perfectly exemplified the warmth and casual diversity that is IABC, including a mix of students, new grads, seasoned communicators and those currently seeking new opportunities.
As a student member nearing graduation, I was reassured to learn that there isn’t a set path in defining one’s particular field of interest within communications. Keiko Cooper emphasized how her experiences throughSFU’s Communication Co-op program allowed her to gain the relevant skills and contacts essential to starting her career. On the flip side, Karin Basaraba described how several years working on a cruise ship was a key turning point in realizing her interest in the field of communications.
Key advice offered by the panellists included:
Seek volunteer or internship opportunities as a way to develop communications skills and experience.
Arrange informational interviews with seasoned communications professionals to learn more about the industry and to build your network.
Make your own business cards, even if you are still a student, so that you can share your contact information with potential job leads.
Overcome networking jitters by asking a lot of questions.
I left the evening’s event inspired and I’m eager to apply all that I have learned from the speakers. More importantly, I was relieved knowing that I have the support of IABC to help me as I continue my own journey toward a career in communications.