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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.

Beyond the Blog

  • To learn more about IABC and upcoming events, or to become a member, visit the BC Chapter website: www.iabc.bc.ca.

  • Make an appointment with your program advisor to find out which professional association best suits your career goals.

OLC Writer

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