Our time at BCIT can be stressful, filled with busy schedules and constant deadlines that can often make us feel disconnected from the community. Because BCIT offers many opportunities that allow us to network, learn, and grow professionally, it’s also what makes these years so special.
Young Women in Business (YWiB) at BCIT is a club that’s dedicated to doing just that: connecting ambitious students and providing valuable opportunities that will help them succeed in their future careers. At its core, YWiB’s focus is to create an empowering space for female leaders, but it’s a community that welcomes all young professionals. I spoke with YWiB President Chandni Sharma, Vice President Annika Foo, and VP of Marketing Solongo Orkhon, who shared their motivations, experiences, and the rewarding opportunities YWiB offers.
Annika, who’s been in YWiB for three years now, joined in her first year during Clubs Day when she met the previous president and vice president. She recalls how shy and quiet she used to be, but now she finds herself in the VP role taking on responsibilities that continually build on her confidence and her leadership skills. “It’s a really big thing. I think you become a lot more familiar with what you’re doing, and then you’re able to reach out to more people… Without YWiB, I don’t think I would’ve been as confident as I am now.”
For Solongo, she joined YWiB due to her passion for women empowerment, and because it’s a community that allows her to make ideas happen. As one of the VPs of Marketing, she creates content and helps manage all of YWiB’s social media pages, a role she finds rewarding. “I love being a part of something big and impactful for the world… It’s an opportunity to be creative as much as you want because there’s no right or wrong, [and] there’s no one telling us you can’t do this or that.”
Inspiration can also spark from anywhere. For Chandni, who transferred from SFU to BCIT, that inspiration came when she attended a YWiB event a friend invited her to. There, she met former YWiB member and BCIT graduate, Katie Klumper. From then, Chandni knew she needed to make the switch. “[Katie] talked about BCIT and Young Women in Business and how good it was for her. I heard her speak and I was like, ‘this is the place I want to be.'”
Every year, YWiB plans out which events they think will be the most helpful for their members. One thing they keep in mind is variety: “We try to get speakers and events that will best suit everybody’s needs,” Chandni says. “Because at the end of the day, it’s that connection that you have when you’re going into that field.”
Some recent companies that YWiB has hosted include Hootsuite, Brunette the Label, Milk Makeup, DECIEM (The Ordinary), SAP, Hill + Knowlton (H&K) Strategies, Lululemon, Artizia, Talk Shop Media… the list goes on. These speakers may do an industry tour or an interactive workshop, followed by Q&A sessions, all of which help YWiB members gain better insight into those companies and their respective fields.
Chandni and Annika also mention the importance of having frequent general meetings, where all the members come together. These meetings help keep the club interactive and encourage involvement from everyone. Guest speakers are invited from time to time to come in and talk as well, with some of the most recent ones being Lululemon and Aritzia.
“We really want to make [our general meetings] interactive and make it interesting for other people,” Annika says. “We don’t want it to just be an information session for the club… But more so what we want to do is… how can we provide value to our general members. It’s also about what you get out of it.”
Solongo mentions that all members can request speak-ers from certain companies that they’re interested in to come in, and the events team will then try to arrange an event. “I would be able to say, ‘I’m interested in this company, would you guys be able to arrange this event for me?’ And they’ll work on it.”
Chandni and Annika stress that while they hold executive titles, YWiB is about what every member has to say. They try to focus on the club as a whole and make sure that it’s heading in the right direction, but they see their roles more as a way to guide and to be there as a “support team” than anything.
“The good thing about being in a club is… if you want to do something, you can make it happen,” Chandni says. “That goes for everybody in the club.”
With every event, YWiB members continually build skills and industry knowledge that they’ll need post-graduation. What makes these events so helpful isn’t just the information members get out of it, but also the personal connections they get to make with the industry professionals that come in to speak.
Chandni gives an example of H&K coming in to speak in October, who had an internship position open at the time. The speakers, Director Alex Mitchell and Senior Consultant Mellisa Morphy had offered their personal email addresses and encouraged the YWiB members to apply directly through them, rather than going through a generic job application. “It gives you a personal connection into whatever company you want to chat with or network with.”
Annika and Solongo also touch on former YWiB President Johanna Kuffner and Vice President Aubrey Bramwell, who are both now working for companies they previously connected with at YWiB events. Johanna is now working at Roots + Ardor, a Digital Media Marketing Agency, while Aubrey is working at Endūr Apparel, a company that specializes in designing performance socks.
Annika also has a personal story: “We had Andrea Ton [come in]. She used to work at SAP in marketing, and she’s also an influencer. She came to one of our general meetings and… I connected with her, and she was helping me figure out what I wanted to do. I was specifically interested in SAP, and I ended up applying, and I got offered a position at SAP for marketing.”
For Solongo, one of her goals coming into YWiB was to network as much as possible. Although shifting online has been a difficult transition for many, Solongo says YWiB has made it much easier for her to connect with others, especially during COVID, when it’s been harder to reach out and make personal connections without face-to-face interactions.
Aside from making professional connections, Chandni and Annika note how rewarding it’s been just making valuable friendships and connections within the club. It has helped to make YWiB feel more than just a club, but instead as a supportive, empowering community. A family.
In Chandni’s own words, the most rewarding experience for her being in YWiB has been “meeting a group of like-minded individuals who have similar career aspects, or just a similar mindset as you, but also challenge you to do better. We all have our personal life and our professional life, but with YWiB, I think it moulds into one.”
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
YWiB’s core mission may be to empower women in the business field, but at the end of the day, Chandni and Annika stress that it’s a community designed for everyone. YWiB strives to connect all ambitious young professionals and to provide them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they’ll need for their future careers.
“[YWiB is] for everyone,” Annika says. “We want to help out everyone as best as we can.”
BCIT has many opportunities for students, from clubs to internships, networking opportunities, career workshops, and more. The important thing is to take advantage of your time here and all these opportunities that lie in your reach.
“What you put into BCIT is what you get out of it,” Chandni says. “So, join a club. One thing [Annika and I] find ourselves saying is find the right fit for you. Get involved somehow, and when you find your people, everything flows, and it’s a nice support system to have outside of the classroom.”
How to Get Involved: To get involved with YWiB, reach out to them through their social media pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, at @ywibbcit. You can also reach out to the VP of Membership and Club Development, Madison Low, at firstname.lastname@example.org.