Culinary Dreams Do Come True: Chef Ami DiPasquale’s Story!

Being a woman in the culinary industry is rough. I wanted to follow in my grandmothers’ footsteps and learn how to cook. So, in 2009, I enrolled in the Culinary Skills / Chef Training program George Brown College. My class had 20 people in it, and I was 1 of 4 women. I was 20, and didn't know how to hold my knife unlike the others who came to school to refine their skills. I had a slow start.  People told me to give it up and go towards a different career, but I didn't listen.  I dealt with down talk, sexual power tripping, sexism, inappropriate behaviour, and disbelief in my skill…but my love for sharing my heart through cooking kept me going.

My first job at Origin Restaurant in Toronto refined my skills and cooking technique. I came to the job as an apprentice without knowing how to work basic equipment and without ever having worked a dinner service, but the chefs were patient with me. I went from being a oyster scrubber to first cook in my 2 years of employment at Origin. I learned discipline and I learned how to be strong and hardworking…skills that would get me noticed in the future.

I knew after I left that it was my sole goal -- and reason for going through everything I had -- to open a restaurant and own my business.  Be my own boss.  After leaving Origin, I worked as a sous chef at Blue Goose Pure Foods / Common Food in the summer container market at Harbourfront Centre. For the first time, I ran a staff of 12 and created my own menu.  I witnessed people eating my food and appreciating my vision.  I loved it!

To save money, I worked full time, 6-7 days a week and 12-hour shifts, as a junior sous chef at a large catering company. If only the people who told me to quit could see me now!   I headed weddings for 200 people with teams of ten under me. I catered private sit-down dinners for 6. Clients requested my services. The urge to open my own restaurant was becoming more and more pressing.  It would be a tapas restaurant named Ragazza with a Italian Fusion menu.  All homemade with love with a fine dining twist…

However, I wanted a business partner, and that's when -- out of nowhere -- I met Steffen Marin, the chef/owner of Heirloom Food Truck

At that point, I had spent two years in an elite position at the Food Dudes and was making good money.  After meeting Steffen, I quit my job and dropped it all to join him in his vision of promoting local and artisanal cuisine from his food truck.  Steffen’s vision soon became my own vision. We worked together to revamp his menu and make a name for the food truck. Together, we were getting attention with our food, and our love and passion for feeding our customers.

In June 2016, my dream finally became a reality.  I became co-owner of Heirloom.  After 6 years of cooking under other chefs, I finally had a chance to show people what I could do!  We've done catering, private events around the city, and we have worked the summer and winter markets. In 2017, we plan to open our first restaurant together, called Heirloom 2.0, promoting our local and sustainable cuisine, an extension of the food truck.  And I know that my dream tapas restaurant has a place in our future.   

Pretty good for a girl who was told she would never make it in this industry! 

Broadcasting All-Star Lands Sports Fan’s Dream Job

By Kyle Rooks

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

In 2012, Caroline Cameron graduated from Fanshawe’s Broadcast Journalism program on a Friday and started her career at Sportsnet in Toronto the following Monday. It was the start of a meteoric rise that saw her spend two years in Vancouver hosting Sportsnet’s national morning
show and, in 2014, be recognized with a Fanshawe Distinguished Alumni Award. In April 2016, she returned to her hometown (Toronto) to co-anchor the late night/early morning version of Sportsnet Central.

What does your job entail?

On a typical day, I arrive for work at 8:30 p.m., check in with my producer and discuss the show’s rundown alongside my co-anchor. I write my scripts, keep my eye on as many games as possible, spend some time in makeup and wardrobe and prepare to go live at 1 a.m. On a busy night, we do a post-game show out of a live event which is always fun! It keeps me on my toes! I do all my prep at home during the day. That consists of watching TV (tough life, I know), and doing a lot of reading.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is I get to sit and watch sports for a living! It’s really fun working with other sports fans. We watch the games justike one would at home, or out with friends. We cheer, debate and laugh along the way. The only difference is we’re doing it for work. It’s pretty cool!

 Is it safe to say this is your dream job?

 Absolutely! If you had told 13-year-old me, that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have believed you. I first set my sights on being a sports broadcaster early in high school. I loved playing and watching all kinds of sports, but I also grew up in a family that consumed news; putting the two together seemed like the perfect match. Now that I’ve gotten to where I am, I can’t help but think: what’s next? But your guess is as good as mine. We don’t know what TV will look like in 5 – 10 years, just like we didn’t know what it would look like 5 – 10 years ago. I’m just along for the ride!

What's your favourite sport?

Despite having two older brothers, I was the jock of the family growing up. As the little sister, I was always trying to catch up with them – whether it was playing catch in the backyard, kicking a ball around, or shooting hoops on the driveway. I played basketball and softball in high school, but, the sport I gravitated to the most was tennis. From a young age I played with my Dad. At 15, I volunteered to be a ball kid during the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Being on the court with some of the greatest players in the world grew my love of the game even more. I’ve met some of my best friends through the sport and still play a couple times a week.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Tough to say. I consider a highlight to be any moment I catch myself thinking “the little kid in me would be freaking out if she knew what’s happening right now!” I remember the first time I was in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre - that was pretty surreal. Most recently, covering Milos Raonic’s run to the finals of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, was a huge honour. As a fan of the sport, it was incredible to see him beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals. It was a great feeling to know that I was covering an important moment in Canadian sports history. Iwanted to do the story justice.

How did Fanshawe prepare you for your career?

 By the time I graduated, I already had the structure and skills to move forward. I knew how to speak to people, conduct interviews and craft a story. When I arrived for my first day at Sportsnet, as a deer caught in headlights – I quickly settled down because the surroundings and what was expected of me didn’t seem foreign. To this day, when I write scripts for the show, I still think back to the writing rules and lessons I learned from Jim Van Horne and other faculty at Fanshawe.

Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved. 

Painting the Town Red: Carly’s Work Story

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

We last saw Carly Silberstein in her first WorkStory back in 2012, when the Western University grad was working as a corporate event coordinator at KCI Management. Now, Carly comes back to share her journey on becoming a successful entrepreneur. She is the CEO and cofounder of a startup company, based in Toronto, called Redstone Agency . Being active members of industry associations, Carly and her business partner noticed that there was a gap in the market – younger generations were just not being represented or engaged by these types of organizations.

Redstone–  the youngest-run association management company in Canada– was created to fill this void.  

The agency provides its clientele with a well-rounded assortment of services that include event and association management, digital and technology solutions, and consultations. The business works with organizations such as TalentEgg, the Women’s Business Network, Women in Nuclear Canada and the Planning Standards Board to name a few.

Carly is truly passionate about her career and company! She especially loves the team that she works with and interacting with clients. Since Redstone represents a wide array of companies in different fields, Carly has the opportunity to wear many different hats and is required to perform a wide variety of tasks. She enjoys that every day is new and exciting.

The team at Redstone is constantly hard at work. Some days, they work on client events while other days are spent in the office, brainstorming and strategizing. Being a startup company, the Redstone team works vigorously to increase professional development and acquiring networking opportunities. The priority, however, is always to serve the client.

The success of Carly’s business is dependent not only on the hard work the team does, but also their ability to build and foster relationships. They always make a conscious effort to stay up-to-date on the constant pulse of the trade. The team also contributes to the field by volunteering, writing in industry publications, and participating in industry and non-industry events.

For aspiring event planners and entrepreneurs, Carly strongly recommends joining professional associations to create professional ties. She also stresses the importance of volunteering and internships/co-op, which she says are crucial because the experience gained is invaluable. Volunteering one’s time is a great opportunity to learn from others in the business. Carly’s closing remark was to always say “yes”…you won’t know what you’re going to love until you try it!

Life as a Corporate Recruiter: Q & A with Robert Pitman

Robert Pitman is a Corporate Recruiter at Robarts Clinical Trials in London, Canada and is responsible for overseeing all recruitment activities for the London, San Diego, and Amsterdam offices.  Below he shares info about what he does, what he loves about it, and the path he took to get there…and some pro tips!

What’s great about my work?  Being a Recruiter allows me to have conversations with new people every day. From every interview or pre-screen I learn something about other jobs, companies, and so on. Also, being a Recruiter allows me to use my observational and active listening skills to make an assessment of whether an individual will be a good fit for the job and the organization. I feel very lucky to be in a position to help people realize their potential.

A typical day?  Lots happens!  Gathering and sharing information, screening applications received over the last 24 hours.  For the long-listed candidates, pre-screen phone interviews are scheduled.  Usually, I conduct 1-3 interviews a day either in person or via Skype.  I send pre-screen interview notes to hiring managers for review, book corresponding future interviews, share job postings on LinkedIn, conduct headhunting activities using LinkedIn and over the phone.  I check industry news sites for any happenings in the world of CROs (Contract Research Organizations). I update recruitment metrics, review the status of current initiatives and perform “after care” – checking in on new employees that recently started in their positions.  And I create a plan for the next day…

An unusual day?   Unusual days might involve one (or several!) of the following:  brainstorming new recruitment initiatives, scouting pipeline candidates for future opportunities, conducting benchmarking or searching for information about competitors, attending a networking event, reviewing employee selection interventions, researching new talent acquisition tactics….there is always something new to learn!

Coolest thing about my job?  Currently, I am responsible for all of our vacancies which span Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. Having global responsibility is quite exciting as it has added a new layer of complexity to the recruitment process. There are nuances to each market and candidates often have different experiences and values. Another great aspect of my role is that I get the opportunities to hear other peoples’ “work stories”!

How did I get here?  During my first year at Western University, I applied for a summer job through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEPRP).  I was lucky enough to be selected for a position with Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and I held this position for 3 years, including during the school year. I had various mandates but the general mission involved helping youth (age 15-30) to find employment.  I really enjoyed this and ended up taking a number of classes related to Industrial/ Organizational Psychology at Western. I found Dr. Allen’s class one of the most interesting and practical in my time at Western.

One of the employees I managed while at HRSDC turned out to be a networking guru. We kept in touch over the years and he introduced me to the internal recruiter at Hays Specialist Recruitment in Toronto. I went through a number of interviews- including an Assessment Centre -  and was selected to become an agency Recruitment Consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. Agency recruitment definitely had its challenges, but I managed to build a solid base of clients and worked for three years with Hays, placing over 40 candidates and billing over $650,000.  Contingency recruitment – as this is called – can be very unpredictable.  In addition, as a consultant you can feel like the work is quite transactional.   

So, after three years, I decided to return to school to complete my Human Resources (HR) Certificate in pursuit of the Canadian Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.  After that decision, it made sense to look for opportunities on the corporate side. I am originally from Windsor and have family in London, so when the position with Robarts presented itself, I jumped on it right away. It was definitely the right decision.  I could not be happier!

Some info & advice   Becoming a recruiter typically requires a college or university degree and coursework specialization in HR is helpful.  Increasingly, the CHRP designation is expected and the Certified Recruiter designation is also recognized.  To become a Corporate Recruiter it helps to have prior agency recruitment experience.    

Recruitment isn’t for everyone. Its most challenging aspects involve time management and communication. You deal with a huge number of stakeholders and candidates and it can be difficult to communicate effectively with everyone and on a timely basis.  However, if you are a social individual who enjoys building relationships, applying your observational skills, and you take an interest in I/O psychology, a career in recruitment could be a great fit!

Alumna Bringing Realism Back To The Art World

By Heather Hughes

Emily Copeland knows your eye better than you do.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

Copeland, BFA’15, is perfecting the art of realism drawing. Only one year after graduation, the young artist is managed by Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York, which focuses on contemporary realist art. Currently, her work is part of the First Look exhibition at the gallery; she is working on completing a 12-piece exhibit for spring 2017.

“I’m now the youngest person in the gallery,” she said with a smile.

While many artists struggle for a few years (typically age 30 is the sweet spot where artists tend to gain notoriety, she said), Copeland was determined to do things differently and create her own opportunities.

She started to “creep” art dealers and galleries on their social media accounts, particularly on Instagram, and through following popular accounts, regular commenting and posting images of her work and process pictures she was able to make some meaningful connections. These efforts proved fruitful, as it connected her to Bernarducci Meisel Gallery and the alumna’s art now garners a price tag of about $10,000 ($7,000-$8,000 U.S.). She recently sold a piece to a collector in Australia.

“You reach more people on Instagram,” she said. “It’s a very modern way of doing things, but it’s the whole reason I have a career right now. I’m proud I’ve done it on my own. You don’t have to follow the typical route. You have to find ways to beat the system.”

 In 2014-15, she worked with piles – or stacks – of poker chips, books, wood, clothing and teacups. These elements were blown up much larger than life size to give it a surreal effect. According to her, this method gives the audience a unique viewpoint that exposes detail they wouldn’t normally see. Each stack was comprised of something different – different materials, textures and colours – causing a variety of different shades and tones. Even though these objects were completely random, she attempted to create a pattern of shapes that change from circular, to rectangular, to triangular, then back to rectangles and circles.

As a result of those efforts, that collection of her thesis work, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.

“I’d never thought I’d have a show here – let alone a solo show,” she said.

The London, Ont.-based artist dedicates about 10 hours a day on her craft. Her technique? She photographs vintage subjects, such as a worn leather baseball glove, a glittery disco ball or a burlap-wrapped spoon and fork. Using Photoshop, she magnifies sections of the image and recreates it in charcoal on Stonehenge paper, working from the top left corner and moving section-by-section. Some of the images can take upwards of 300 hours to complete.

She draws inspiration from Baroque era artists – Caravaggio, La Tour and Velazque – and their focus on mimesis (replicating what they see) and their contrasts with lighting. Her current influences are Jonathan Delafield Cook, C.J. Hendry and DiegoKoi, primarily because they work from photographs to create hyper-realistic works.

“Realism – people don’t do it anymore. They don’t really teach it anymore,” she explained, noting she doesn’t look for deep, contemplative meaning behind her works, instead she likes “creating things that are nice to look at. If I see an object, I think, that would look good in black and white in space. I don’t have a lot of meaning behind my drawings. With realism, I’m focused on the technique.”

Even though she has spent her whole life in art school in some form, Copeland didn’t always see herself becoming a professional artist.

She attended H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, which has a strong emphasis on the arts. At the time, however, she thought art would always be a hobby. She was pre-accepted into the Ivey Business School, but in second year switched to Visual Arts. Even afterward, she wasn’t committed to art as a career. However, in fourth year, everything changed – she fell back in love with drawing.

“I said, ‘Nope, I’m being an artist.’ Obviously I’m meant to do this. If I have to draw every day of my life, it’s not work,” said Copeland, whose work was recognized through the Undergraduate Awards program.

Her intricate drawings capture the texture and light reflections of an object in an almost photo-realist way. She is particularly attracted to drawing items that aren’t flat and have dimension to them. Currently, she is working on a large-scale vintage bicycle with a flower basket on the front.

She has created a few sport-related images, however she does not want to be pigeonholed into one subject matter. “I have my audience in mind at all times. I like to please different audiences.”

With such early success in her art career, Copeland continues to refine her talents and is always looking for new ways to connect with her audience.

“I’m very proud of myself. I work really hard. I’m very stubborn and when I’m not drawing, I’m researching. I want to prove (the critics) wrong,” she said.

Learn more about Emily Copeland and her work at http://www.emilycopelandartistry.com/ Follow her onInstagram e.copeland

 

 Posted with permission, Western News

 

 

 

Natalie Pecile…Making the world a better place

By Danila Di Croce

Photo by Giulio Muratori

Photo by Giulio Muratori

When Natalie Pecile decided to study science throughout high school, she was planning to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an engineer. However, that all changed when she realized that her extroverted personality was far better suited for the business world. 

Her decision was definitely the right one as this recent alumnus of York University’s Schulich School of Business has flourished with the opportunities her program provided her. At 21, this native of Toronto has already garnered a pretty impressive résumé. She spent a semester abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, developed a literacy program at her old elementary school, competed in Dubai for the Hult Prize, held the title of VP of Operations of Schulich’s Undergraduate Business Society, and she was just recently hired for a full-time position with the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program. “I’ve always been interested in how to apply myself to benefit society,” she says. “Originally, I specialized in accounting and the non-profit business sector; however, I then switched to focus on marketing and entrepreneurship.”

That switch is what led her to Dubai. In her fourth year at Schulich, Pecile directed her focus on social entrepreneurship and social business. This resulted in her, along with three of her classmates, entering a local competition organized by the Hult Prize Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. The competition invites students to develop new ideas for sustainable start-up enterprises that will help to solve the planet’s biggest challenges. Although Pecile and her team did not win, she points out that the experience was definitely worthwhile. “It was very empowering; it allowed me to use everything I had learned at school up until that point and apply it to a global challenge that I am really passionate about. It helped me to look at our issues with new perspectives and taught me to be more flexible and open to change, which I think will be very helpful moving forward.”

Pecile’s experience in Bangkok, Thailand, also left her with a positive impression. “Meeting people, discussing career options with them, and observing individuals who were pursing entrepreneurship was a great career influence.”

 Nowadays, Pecile is focusing on her new position at the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program, which allows individuals to train in different areas of the business before deciding on which sector to commit to. “I am excited about the program as it gives me the opportunity to try out new things; most especially to experience marketing in ‘the real world,’ outside of school.”

When she isn’t busy trying out new ventures in the business world, Pecile occupies her time with organizing and overseeing events at York University. She also devotes time to the arts. As a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Pecile enjoys playing the piano. When asked how she balances it all, Pecile credits her family for their support. “My parents have always let me make my decisions freely. They have always been supportive and helpful with their advice.”

She also credits her strong family ties for helping shape the person she has become. “We are close; for each special occasion we all gather at my grandparents’ house, and I really appreciate that because I know that not everyone has that.” She acknowledges both sets of grandparents, who hail from the Friuli and Lazio regions of Italy, for helping keep her connected to her Italian roots. “A lot of my Italian influence comes from food and speaking the language. Initially I learned Italian was I was little, and then I switched to English. My grandparents have always shown us traditions such as making sausages, wine and pasta sauce.”

In regards to continuing traditions, Pecile explains, “I definitely want to put more time into the Italian culture and concentrate on it more. I would love to improve in my speaking and continue the language with future generations of my family.”

When asked where she sees herself in the near future, Pecile says, “I want to learn everything about the business and hopefully one day become a successful entrepreneur. Having all parts of your life balanced and working hard at something, while improving the lives of others – that would be ideal.”

Reprinted with permission from Panoram Italia    

 

Unlocking the appeal of the escape room

By Tracy Robinson

Shawn Nagy, BA’14 (Psychology, Western University), and Emily Lyons, owners of Escape Canada on York Street, are working with Ivey Business School professor Ann Frost to use the facility for executive team building.

Adela Talbot, Western News

Adela Talbot, Western News

The teamwork required to work yourself through an ‘escape room’ is providing an alumnus with a growing business opportunity and a professor with a powerful training tool.

“Most people just want to come and have fun and they are buzzing when they leave,” said Shawn Nagy, BA’14 (Psychology), who along with Emily Lyons own Escape Canada on York Street. “But when I talk to teams about how they solved problems, it always comes down to someone on the team having a skill that others didn’t.”

Escape rooms are a physical adventure game where players are ‘locked’ in a room and must use elements in the room to solve a series of puzzles and ‘escape’ within a set time. For more than a decade, escape rooms have grown in popularity with players.

Nagy called escape rooms “a sensory experience of a perceived crisis” best solved with the combined skills of the people who are with you. Every escape room tells a story, an important part of the progress through the room and the enjoyment of solving puzzles.

Teamwork is essential, he stressed.

At Escape Canada, participants are given one hour to get through the storyline. There are generally 10-12 puzzles in a room and two-to-four steps in each puzzle. Solving puzzles can unlock doors, give you new puzzles and sometimes trigger surprise plot twists. Progress is monitored by game marshals via closed-circuit television and you are allowed to ask clues when you are stuck. Asking for clues may get you through the puzzle quicker, but the satisfaction of solving the puzzles usually means that you limit the number of clues that you request.

For inspiration, there is a leader board with time records for each room in the Escape Canada lobby.

“In an age where so much of our entertainment is experienced with our eyes only via screens, the appeal of an escape room comes from the immersive experience,” said Keegan Guidolin, a third-year Medical student, who along with his team holds time records at several escape rooms in London and Toronto.

“Not only are you completely surrounded by the puzzle (a part of the puzzle itself), you have to physically interact with the puzzle. You have to touch it, crawl through it, inspect it, listen to it and in at least one case, taste it. Escape rooms engage all of our senses and couple an immersive experience with challenging puzzles, teamwork and a sense of urgency to give you the rush of adrenaline only experienced with time running out.”

Keegan said teamwork is essential and that high-performance teams have members with diverse skill sets. “These teams understand the importance of humility and that there’s no shame in asking for help from a teammate,” he continued. “Good teams also have good communication and are able to understand the problem facing them and what solution they’re looking for.”

How teams solve problems is also an interest of Ivey Business School professor Ann Frost. She is currently using Escape Canada for executive team building.

“What seems to help are those people who are willing to verbalize. That sounds weird, but if people just start a running commentary on what they are observing they do better,” she explained. “They aren’t necessarily solving a problem, but if members of the team are verbal, it may be at exactly the moment someone with another problem needs what they have.”

Nagy is pleased to be a part of the collaboration with Ivey and believes teams can learn a lot about themselves from the rooms.

This maximizing of skills within a team is what makes escape rooms such good team-building experiences. Facilitated de-briefing is available for corporate groups to translate the escape room back to the work environment.

“In executive teams, they make connections to other people they didn’t have before and maybe they look at problems in more novel ways and not just from one perspective,” Frost said.

Nagy creates all the puzzles with help from Lyons and then constructs the rooms. To stay a step ahead of the gamers, a new room is installed about every six months. “Crafting the puzzles is my favourite part – but it’s not easy. Construction phases are intense. Sometimes, I will be standing in the shower and suddenly I’m calling to Emily to get me a pen because an idea just came to me.”

The London natives first got the idea for the escape room after visiting a room when they were travelling in Budapest. Building on their success in London, the pair will open another Escape Canada in Hamilton, in the coming months.

Reprinted with permission from Western News.

Sabrina Lemky: A Self-Made Soaper

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Sabrina Lemky is a soap-maker (soaper) extraordinaire and owner of Sab’s Soaps, located inside the Covent Garden Market in London, ON. Lemky says that she loves “everything about making soap and bath products”. Making soap involves shopping for new scents, formulating new soaps, communicating with customers, and more!

Sabrina Lemky Soap1.jpeg

Sabrina described her daily routine as follows: “A typical day [includes]: getting up early, checking emails, printing labels and gathering the products that are going to the shop that day. I open the store and spend the early part of the morning labeling and playing with my displays. Being in Covent Garden Market brings people from everywhere and from all walks of life and I get to meet and talk to lots of them. My husband takes over in the early afternoon so I can get to my soap lab and make a few batches. I am usually still working late into the evening. As we take care of every aspect of our business-- from the ordering, to the sales, to the books-- there is always something that needs doing. ”

Soap-making is a very hands-on process. However, Sabrina began her journey as a soaper in a more digital realm: “I watched hours of videos of other soapers on YouTube. Soon, I felt confident enough to try it myself. I gathered all the tools, the oils and scents, and plunged in. I was immediately hooked!” In addition to YouTube, Sabrina read everything she could get her hands on to learn more about the soap-making process and technique.

As a self-learner, Sabrina did not take any formal classes, but this has not hindered her success. “I keep up with demand by keeping lots and lots of lists! I also have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets.” By keeping current information at her fingertips, Sabrina can determine which supplies are necessary 4-6 weeks in advance. “Mind you, I cannot foresee chance, like if a customer comes in, loves a scent and cleans me out-- but I do my best,” she added.

“I think most people are surprised about the amount of time it takes to cure a batch.  It usually takes 4-6 weeks to cure…. I use a water discount these days, which means I use less water in the soap to start with” she continued. With less water, the evaporation process is quicker and so the soaps are usually ready after about four weeks.

As for her favourite soap, Sabrina Lemky says that they are all her favourite! “You may laugh, but it’s true. I love each and every scent I carry, or I wouldn’t carry it. I understand that some people don't like some scents and love others, but my nose has not let me down yet. ”

“My advice for anyone who wants to start a soap business is this: Take baby steps, start small. Order small amounts of ingredients and grow as your demand grows. This way you can keep more of your cash in your pocket vs. having a load of supplies that you hope to someday be able to justify with sales. Avoid loans if you can. Money woes can bog down a new business fast. When you start small, you keep folding your sales back into more supplies. When you own your business lock, stock and barrel every day is a joy. Because if it is all for you-- all yours-- the sky is the limit! This is a field where you will not see profits for quite a while, so be prepared to keep your day job.”

You can visit Sab’s Soaps at The Covent Garden Market Monday-Saturday 9-6, Friday 9-7:30 and Sunday 11-4 and also online at www.sabssoaps.ca

Canadian Cool: Illbury and Goose putting the hip back in the Great White North

by Jason Winders

Everybody has that story – that time at a cottage, that time at the beach, that time where waves lapped at your toes while a bonfire warmed your back. Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips want you to remember those times every time you think of their brand.

 “We want to be a Canadian heritage brand, a lifestyle brand meant for every Canadian,” Kraft said. “People want to be proud to be Canadian, but they don’t want a tacky T-shirt to do it in. We have given them that opportunity to be cool and hip and trendy and socially responsible – all things Canadians are.”

Kraft, BSc’14 (Animal Behaviour), along with Phillips, a Fanshawe College graphic design graduate, are the creators of Illbury and Goose, a Canadian clothing and lifestyle company.

Today, the company is gaining attention not only for its style, but for its commitment to produce clothing, accessories and apothecary items for Canadian in Canada, all toward a mission of taking the definition of Canadian beyond “campfires and dogsleds.”

And it all started a handful of years ago with a couple of T-shirts.

In 2012, a gap in the “cool, unique products for guys” space led Phillips to design their first handful of shirts – one design showing a skull among geometric shapes, another bombers dropping wasps from their bays. They were cool, but perhaps not as deep as some thought.

“People thought we were sending this huge, huge political message,” Phillips laughed. “Honestly, we just thought they looked cool. I really just wanted a shirt with a skeleton on it.”

And so did a lot of other people.

The company – then known as dpms (Dan Phillips Media Studio) – was a face-to-face business from the start. It grew thanks to hustle and chutzpa.

Customers connected with them over a rented table at the Western Fair Farmers and Crafts Market or countless summer festivals across the region. Strangers came by the pair’s apartment to pick up orders. They sold beaded bracelets straight off their wrists in bars around town.

“We pretty much traveled anywhere where we could influence people in short time spurts. It was such a cool thing. We got to test market our product in this really organic way,” Kraft said. “We never forced it; there was no plan. We did something, people liked it and we decided to keep doing that.”

As the company grew in popularity, so did the product line – hats, leather goods, even personal care and apothecary items.

The breakthrough came when they were recruited into Biz Inc. (now Propel), Western’s business accelerator, and opened a popup store in the basement of the University Community Centre in November 2012. “That was the most inspirational, most important thing that ever happened to me at Western,” Kraft said.

The following academic year, she deepened her connection to Biz Inc. She lived there in many ways, using the space to study and work on the business. Today, Kraft credits John Pollock, former Director of Biz Inc., for the company’s biggest push.

“Our business would not be the same without him. He really started pushing us to figure out who we were, what we wanted to do,” she said of the man she still calls “one of my greatest mentors.” “We were forced to write our business plan, create some goals and really figure out our company’s values. We didn’t know any of that going in because it was an experiment until then.

“All of the pieces started connecting together at that point.”

In 2014, Kraft and Phillips won the Seed Your Startup competition and used the prize money to incorporate the business. With incorporation came a name change as the dpms name was shared with an American gun manufacturer.

Enter Illbury and Goose, a name honouring businesses run by their grandparents, Illbury Furs in Woodstock, Ont., and The Country Goose in Strathroy, Ont.

“We feel it is a really, strong Canadian heritage name. I feel like it could be comparable to Abercrombie and Fitch. It sounds so Canadian; the history behind the brand is unbelievable. That has led us to what Illbury and Goose is,” Kraft said.

Today, the company continues to sell via its website, illburyandgoose.com, and now boasts two physical locations, one opened at 884 Dundas Street in London in August 2015, a second on Queen Street West in Toronto in August 2016.

The signature product is its logo, a maple leaf fused to the top of an anchor. Not only is it the top-selling item, but it ‘anchors’ the company’s brand story better than any other single item.

“We get to hear these amazing stories from our customers wearing the brand around the world,” Kraft said. “It is absolutely crazy. We were selling T-shirts in a park and from our house, and four years later, we have all this.”

This article appeared in the Fall2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission.

An Inside Look at Tara Oram Interiors

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Not so long ago, Tara Oram’s career consisted of “50 percent music and 50 percent television”. After her run on Canadian Idol in 2007, Oram had her own reality show, The Tara Diaries which chronicled her journey as a country singer/songwriter. She also went on to be a judge for other singing competitions and has released two albums, Chasing the Sun and Revival.

However, Tara said that she can now be found, “coming up with design concepts, colour schemes, shopping for furniture pieces/accessories and finding inspiration…” during a typical day in her new career as an Interior Designer. While still pursuing her education, she is also the proud owner of Tara Oram Interiors, located in Gander, Newfoundland.

“Music will always be my happy place, as it is for so many, but, at the moment, I'm solely focused on my new business. It's all a part of the creative process and I'm always listening to music while I'm working…. I left the music industry three years ago, and just this past year, I went back to school for another passion of mine, which is Interior Design” Tara explained.

“The only real transition from music to interior design was when I actually started my design business. That's when it became real for me…. I had always decorated for family and friends, but never took it seriously. My family always told me that I had an eye for it, so one day, I took it to the next level -- I went back to school and started my business.” Tara mentioned that much of her childhood was spent watching Martha Stewart on television, which is where she got her inspiration “for all things regarding the home”.

As she got older, Tara also became fascinated with the designs of people like Debbie Travis, Candace Olsen, Sarah Richardson and the late Chris Hyndman. “[They] were designers that I had always watched on TV…. Sarah Richardson's concepts are perfection. She always has a beautiful balance of traditional, contemporary and cozy with her work.” Tara’s own style may have been influenced the most by Richardson, however she credits all of these professionals with “training” her eye for design. By following in their footsteps, Tara has felt very fulfilled with this career:

“What I love about my job as an Interior Designer, is that I get to make people's every day environments not only beautiful, but functional and organized.” Tara enjoys doing things by hand, which includes creating floral arrangements and accessories. “I strive to make a client's design budget go as far as I can, with creating things myself and creating a space that is to unique to them, while putting my personal touch on the space” she continued.

 “My most rewarding experience so far, has been going into clients’ homes and them saying to me, ‘I just don't think there's anything that can be done and I don't enjoy my home anymore’. Once I'm finished, the look on their faces is worth every hard-working minute spent. There's no greater satisfaction than to have someone enjoy their home. My business motto is ‘Making your house feel like a home’ and I've always believed that a person’s living environment is a reflection on all other aspects of their lives. I believe that an unorganized home is an unorganized mind. Your home should be your escape from the everyday world-- a place that you can unwind and feel at peace.”

Throughout her life, Tara has lived in Newfoundland and Ontario and has incorporated the unique qualities of each province into her work: “I was born in Newfoundland, but raised over half of my life in Ontario. I grew up in Brampton, just outside of Toronto, but fell in love with local agricultural land. My favourite pastime was to get in my car, drive and find small towns and visit their antique/country shops. This gave me my love of country living and decor. I love eclectic design and rustic pieces, and especially refinishing antique pieces.”

When I moved back to Newfoundland, I fell in love with how organic my surroundings were. Old untouched boat sheds, churches and Salt Box houses became my new favourite things to photograph (I also love photography and it is another one of my pastimes) and [they] also gave me new design inspiration.

According to Tara, choosing between her passions is the struggle of her life! “My friends and family call me the ‘Jill of all trades’, and sometimes it's hard to choose one passion and stick with it. I've always liked to dip my fingers in different things, but you have to go with what you're good at. Sometimes, it chooses you! (Even if it's more than one thing!)” Interior Design has chosen Tara Oram and she has many long term goals and dream projects that will take several years to complete:

“Oh! I have so many ideas, that some nights, I can't shut my brain off! One is to open my own little country store. I have the concept and name, but I need to figure out where I'm going to live for at least 10 years, to open it! Another idea I have, is to open a small, 5-10 cabin oceanfront resort in my beautiful, native Newfoundland. It would be important for me to design the resort with local inspiration and tradition, in my own unique concept.”

To see how these and many other ideas will unfold, please visit Tara Oram Interiors on Facebook. You can also connect with Tara here and on Twitter

Introducing Shawn Meehan of “Me and Mae”

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

For Shawn Meehan, music is “not really a job but a way of life”. Shawn is a member of the British Columbia-based country band known as “Me and Mae”. (The name of the band is a play on words with Shawn’s last name as well as the name of a former band member.) Collectively, the band now has six members. Over the last few months, however, Meehan and his band-mate, Colette Trudeau have traveled as a duo promoting their latest single, “Feel Good Feelin’ ” while visiting radio stations across Canada. As seen in the photograph, Colette and Shawn included London, Ontario as one of their tour stops. They did a performance and an interview with Gary Taylor at BX93’s “Green Room” located inside the Covent Garden Market. (Country artists perform at the market almost every Thursday afternoon!)

During the promotional tour, Shawn says that he learned the importance of “getting out there” and connecting with those in the radio industry across the country, which he thoroughly enjoyed. As he put it, I love performing …. I love traveling and meeting new people and living in hotel rooms!”

Shawn is no stranger to life on the road. Having moved around Canada as a kid, he said that it was these types of experiences that helped him prepare for touring today. A few years ago, Shawn moved from Quebec to Toronto to attend Humber College’s music program: “I [was] playing gigs since I was 13 years old. I rarely ever said no to any opportunity. Humber College was tough to get in. They accepted 25 guitar players a year and 500 auditioned.” Shawn also noted that the journey to becoming a pro recording artist is not for faint of heart.

In addition to making connections with fans and radio personnel in a live setting, Me and Mae also has a strong social media presence. On Thursdays, the band will post event updates via their Facebook and Twitter pages. Each week they also present “Me and Mae Mondays”. Every Monday, a different member will get to do a “virtual show and tell” so that everyone can get to know them better through their photographs and stories.

Meehan credits The Eagles as a “huge influence” on his career: “I grew up listening to rock and country rock. I didn't see my Dad often growing up, but when I did he always had the Eagles playing in his car. So the Eagles are very dear to me…. I'm a huge fan! They hold the bar for me. We strive to be that great! I did play in rock bands for years but came back to country about five years ago when I started Me and Mae.”

In the early days of Me and Mae, Shawn was also a guitar teacher. He literally had a star pupil, Carly Rae Jepsen. According to Shawn, “she was a great student and very nice person. She actually co-wrote the first Me and Mae single called ‘Love Me, Leave Me Lonely’”. For Shawn Meehan, it has been very rewarding to see Jepsen’s career take off and he is sure to see much more success of his own with Me and Mae. For more information, please visit www.meandmae.com

Freelance Writer and Journalist: Michael-Oliver’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Michael-Oliver Harding is a freelance journalist who writes for both print and online culture magazines and newspapers. His client roster includes publications such as the Montreal Metro, Exclaim, Elle Canada, Noisy, and Nylon Magazine to name a few. Michael writes about culture and the arts. He is most interested in “the intersection between culture and politics”. Working mostly from home, Michael says that there is a lot of freedom and flexibility in his schedule, which helps stimulate his creativity. Even though he is passionate about writing, he especially enjoys interacting with the people he interviews at events, via Skype, or on the phone.

As a freelance writer, it is necessary to be on one’s toes to initiate leads and to find one’s next employer. Michael says that his ambition and constant reading help him be a successful freelance journalist. Usually, Michael does cold pitches to the magazines that he avidly reads. He explained that cold pitches are when he reaches out to the editor of a magazine, without any connections or ties, with an idea for an article that he believes is going to be tailor-made for the publication. He not only sells his idea, but he sells himself as the best person to write this story. He emphasized that these ideas have to be timely and relevant to the readership of the publication.

While completing a BA specialization in Communication Studies, with a Minor in Spanish at Concordia University, Michael was focused on documentary production and producing short films. Even though he had always been passionate about culture and the media, he had never seen himself as having a career in Journalism. However, in his fourth year of his studies, he decided to write film reviews for one of the school newspapers. He found himself particularly enjoying interviewing filmmakers and musicians. To his surprise, he loved the writing component of this position. Unlike essays --  reviewed by person for a grade -- the articles Michael wrote allowed him to freely express himself. For the first time, his writing had a readership!  He soon became the editor of the school paper, and from there he started to pitch ideas to other publications.

After years of success in the journalism field, Michael is now pursuing an MA in Visual and Media Anthropology – in Germany! This program, he said, will bring him back to his original passion of documentary production. After years of writing about film, Michael says that he now wants to understand the interworking of the medium in a more in-depth way.

Michael’s closing words of wisdom for those heading into the world of journalism?

Write about what matters to you and take your cues from those who inspire you.

It’s good to write about everything, but it’s better to write about a few topics that you’re passionate about and that you know extremely well.

Read a lot. Stay updated in what’s going on in the field of journalism.

Follow the writers and journalists who inspire you. Stay up to date with what they write.

Getting a degree in Journalism is not mandatory! It is helpful to have a well rounded education in other disciplines.

Birth of (tuba) cool

In the waning hours of Tuesday, December 1, Jarrett McCourt sent out a Tweet that, perhaps, no Canadian tubist has ever written:

When you play a world premiere for a party of VIPs including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ... #miamibeachparties.

But don’t let the guy playing for VIPs downplay his own ‘very important’ status among up-and-coming tuba players.

Currently, McCourt, BMus’13, is a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Fla. He is the first Canadian tuba player to earn a seat with the group and the only tubist on the current roster.

Earlier in the year, McCourt also became the first tuba player to win the Montreal Symphony’s Standard Life Competition, Brass Category, in the 75-year history of the program.

A lesser publication might say those are accomplishments to ‘blow your horn’ about – but not us.

We’ll just say that McCourt is racking up the accomplishments - quickly.

Over his young career, he has performed with several ensembles, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Flint Symphony Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Motor City Brass Quintet and University of Michigan Symphony Band.

McCourt has either won or advanced at eight competitions in the past three years, including the Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Competition and concerto competitions in Ontario, Quebec and Michigan. If McCourt keeps up at this pace, one day, we suspect, Brangelina will be tweeting about being at a party of VIPS, including Jarrett McCourt. #tubalife.

This article appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission

Digital Marketing at Ellipsis Digital: Rachel’s Multi-Faceted Story

By Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Besides being a tri-athlete, a yogi, a traveler, a writer, and a gamer, Rachel Berdan is also the Chief Marketing Officer of rTraction Canada, Inc.  Rachel got into sales and marketing relatively slowly and somewhat by accident and today she is also  VP of Sales for Ellipsis Digital, a division of rTraction Canada, Inc. located in London, Ontario. She loves working within an organization that encourages creativity, openness, entrepreneurial thinking, and attracts people who value those things. “I have fun, I am challenged, and I get to bring new ideas to life pretty regularly.”

Rachel attended the University of Toronto, where she earned her Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Semiotics & Communication Theory and Equity Studies in 2005.

Working at Ellipsis Digital inspires Rachel every day. “As a bonus, we were just certified as a B Corp, which was an initiative that I led within the organization and was happy to see finally reach a happy conclusion. It’s a big commitment on the part of our company to look out for the needs of our employees, our clients, our community, and the environment. It’s an initiative and a movement that I’m very proud to be part of.”

Rachel definitely did not always know this was what she wanted to do. Sort of.  She always wanted to be a writer. “I also wanted to be a lawyer and a psychologist and a forensic accountant, but writing was always in the back of my mind. I don’t write novels and poetry for a living, but every part of my job revolves around communication in one way or another, so in a way…I suppose I did end up where I always wanted to.”

The long-term goal for Ellipsis Digital is to be the agency that the arts and culture world looks to when they need help telling their stories. “That goes for our other two verticals, as well: mental health and community engagers (creative cities, specific community engagement initiatives, etc.)”

When asked if she had any volunteer experiences that helped her become successful, Rachel answered “Probably. If you pay attention as you go, you can always look for ways that your experiences connect and create a richer story of your value.”

“When I was in university, I interned at CHUM television (Bravo!, Space: The Imagination Station, and Drive-In Classics). I also worked part-time with a woman who ran her own business, and my job was basically to keep the business running while she travelled and did her thing. I learned all of the moving parts that a business owner has to consider, which set me up for success in the business world.”

A common day at Ellipsis Digital is rare. “I wear quite a few hats, so I don’t know that there’s such a thing as a common day. Some days are heavier in sales, some are more about creating our marketing messaging or sorting out our tactics, some are more about creating good process and improving client engagement. Every day begins with a 10-minute standing meeting with our whole team to hear what everyone’s working on and adapt priorities if needed.”

To be successful in the field, Rachel says empathy is an important quality. “The ability to understand where people are coming from is critical in any communications role, but also in any environment where you have to work with other humans (i.e., all of them). Empathy helps me understand what our clients need. It also helps me understand what my team needs to know to serve those clients. It helps me to understand what the people who reports to me need in order to do their best work and grow to their full potential.

Curiosity and an open mind are also valued. “I do not know everything and never will. Asking questions even when I think I know the answer opens me up to new ideas, and those new ideas create new connections that help me do my best work.”

Last but not least, dedication. “I have a lot of flexibility in my work. People listen to me. I can work in a way that works for me. All of those things are great, but they’ve been earned, because I also demonstrate that when things get tough, I get into the weeds and do what’s needed to make things better. I do it because I care about the people I work with and I care about the collective success of our business, but there are perks.”

When asked what she loves about her work... “I love that I get my brain working every day. I love that I get to try new things. I love that I work with incredible people who care about making a positive difference in the world. I love that I actually feel like I’m part of something bigger than me. I was inspired by the people I get to work with and the culture we have. I wanted to be a part of the group, and didn’t really care what I did (within reason). I ended up landing in work that suits my strengths, and I love being a part of building our messaging and connecting with people who can be a part of our community (as clients, employees, partners, etc.). I cannot imagine doing what I do anywhere else. I do love coaching people to find their best selves, so if I were ever do anything different, it would be along those lines.”

Outside of work?  “I adore my family, so time with them (my husband, our son, and our extended family) is my favourite extracurricular.”

For those about to enter the workforce, Rachel shares some valuable insights….

 “Knowing what you want is great, but even greater is paying attention to what you enjoy. I have met many people who felt they knew what they wanted and were shaken when they started doing it and didn’t feel like it was working. I know many people (myself included) who didn’t know for sure, but instead started building experiences that felt good and found a way to pull the pieces together into a vision. In either case, paying attention to what was working and what wasn’t made a huge difference in building a career.  Start with what feels good (whether that’s job security, good pay, the mail room at your dream company, or a service job that lets you create what you want) and pay attention to whether it actually feels good while you’re there, what doesn’t feel good, and what’s missing. Keep filling in what’s missing, and letting go of what’s not working. Trust that the puzzle comes together.”

Meet Misha and Dave: From Forest and Field

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

“From Forest and Field” (FFAF) is described by one of its co-founders, Misha Radojkovic as “a very long term musical collaboration between Dave Beverly-Foster and I”. Performing together since they were teenagers, From Forest and Field is the culmination of several years of practice, performances and friendship between Misha and Dave. As Misha explained it, “We're both music writers, and over the years [we] seem to have developed a method of mixing and sharing our music…. It's very easy to get together to make or discuss music. Back in high school, it was common to randomly break into percussive jams and I don't think that's changed much”.

More recently, Misha and Dave began to branch out from the comfort zone of their regular jam sessions and are now playing in public with more frequency. Currently they are looking forward to their Earth Day performance-- April 22, 2016 --  at The Garafraxa Café in Durham, ON which will celebrate the café’s one year anniversary.

In addition to performing, both musicians are also very passionate about the environment. While attending the University of Waterloo for Environmental Studies in April 2014, Dave embarked on a 12-day journey home near Chesley, ON. Usually this trip would take a few hours by car, but Dave camped and walked the entire way by himself! “I left on a Monday morning and I arrived the Friday after the next.  In those twelve days I traversed 200km.  It was quite a journey. Sleeping in whatever forest cover I could find (usually cedar swamp), I lived through every element that Southern Ontario could cook up: floods, rains, snows, winds, extreme heat, and bugs. I walked over rail, trail, and hard road.  Through forest, field and town, I got to know the land and the people like never before.” Dave has written a travelogue of his adventures which is currently being edited. The hope is that one day it will be a book!

Misha has been working away at seasonal jobs repairing barns in the warmer months and repairing instruments in the winter. He picked up this skill in Tugaske, Saskatchewan where he took “a course on constructing flat top guitars”.

Whether they are performing together or with others, Dave and Misha are always musically tied together. “We have a weekly jam with about ten neighbours, and the music we play there is very fun and interesting” Dave explained.  “There tend to be more traditional songs there, and the older average age of the group definitely reflects in the repertoire.  FFAF is different in that we've played different music in different groups, but the two of us have been the one constant that entire time, for about a decade now. Our musical styles have grown in complement to one another.”

“FFAF has always been my focus” Misha added. “I spent the last few winters out in BC and found some folks to jam with and performed the odd show, but that time was also used to write songs I intended to record with Dave.”

“Personally, I have never quite taken the plunge of using music as my single method of making money, but what is amazing about getting paid for music is that we would be making music either way” Misha continued. “…. Fair wages for musicians are very important. Some people have the idea that musicians should volunteer and getting paid is a bonus, but that's just not fair.” 

In addition to unfair wages, other challenges can sometimes include a lack of inspiration and a lack of listeners. “Sometimes the music isn't just meant to be. In some situations, people will try to force it to happen and it just doesn't come out good.  There's been a fair number of occasions where [we] have met up to jam but … we just end up shooting the breeze, and it's okay!” said Dave. In the times where spectators seem to be disengaged, Dave takes the opportunity to talk to the audience as well. “It seems to have become my role to do some loud fast-talking to help the audience hear the more important details, like where they can buy our album.” (You can do so by contacting them on Facebook.)

When asked for advice, Misha noted that making music with others is the most important while Dave actually recommended for others to not follow in his footsteps. Then he added, “But if I can't convince you otherwise, busking is key.  It helps you develop the careless abandon required to make yourself publicly vulnerable, and it gives you long stretches of practice to improve your musical stamina.  And, to emphasize what Misha said, play with others.  There's a certain type of rhythmic synergy you can only develop by playing with others, and learning to hear others is essential to becoming a better musician.”

If you can, please support these local musicians by attending their Earth Day show in Durham or at a future event near you!

Media Maven, Aicha Cisse

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

alicha.jpg

Aicha Cisse is the Web Editor of MSN Canada, in charge of the Entertainment and Sports pages. Aicha is also responsible for the marketing of the Microsoft online store on MSN. She decides which Microsoft electronics or merchandise the site will promote and how it will be promoted. She likens her job to that of an Editor of an online magazine.

On a regular day, Aicha prioritizes any advertising campaigns that are running on the site. She works directly with advertisers on campaigns in order to generate a certain amount of clicks. If a campaign isn’t running, she focusses on keeping the site up to date with content, especially for the Entertainment and Sports pages. She sorts through the latest news stories from content providers like TMZ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue feeds and decides which source and content to feature on the site.

At Concordia University, Aicha originally majored in Biology. She soon discovered that the sciences were not the best fit for her; so she decided to seek assistance from her university’s career centre. The councillor gave Aicha a personality test, which revealed that she was well-suited to a career in Communications.  With this information in hand, Aicha transferred into the Communications program at Concordia University. After her program change, she found her passion for media and journalism. Beginning to work in newsrooms, Aicha learned that her niches were magazines and television.

Aicha started out as a writer for a start-up magazine, in the entertainment and lifestyle section. There she was able to build her portfolio and gain experience in the field. Due to the harsh competitive market, the magazine folded after the publication’s first issue. Being the go-getter that she is, Aicha pushed forward and found an internship at the CTV as a reporter for E-talk. Since this internship was unpaid, she searched online for work and stumbled across a positing for a Community Manager at Yahoo Canada.  Her responsibilities for this job were to moderate, screen spam comments, and to report abusive language that she found on the Yahoo Answer website. She developed an interest in further responsibilities whilst she was learning from her senior management team at Yahoo.  As people eventually left the company, Aicha was able to apply for an opening as a News Editor. From here, she gained a deeper interest in online news, social media, and  new technology.  She eventually got laid off from Yahoo, but through her strong networking abilities and experience in the flied, Aicha was soon hired at her position at Microsoft.

Aicha stresses that the industry she is in is extremely competitive. Her advice?  Work hard and hustle.  Be persistent. Develop impeccable writing and communication skills.  And above all else, know how to sell yourself!