Written by Lauren Hamilton
Edited by Sandy Nadugala, Sonia Vinogradova and Wiam Ben Karroum
2020 was a whirlwind for everyone across the globe. With lockdowns in Canada beginning in March, the whole world stayed home and went virtual. What we thought would be a year full of Career networking events around Ottawa, Skill workshops at DMS, and fun Community team socials quickly turned into something we could have never predicted. Despite it all, 2020 turned out to be a pretty amazing year for WMN; we started out with a new team, launched our first podcast, and held virtual events for students at uOttawa. Let’s take a look at all the opportunities this unpredictable year has brought us:
2020 started off like any other year for WMN. As soon as the winter break was over, we were back to planning and promoting our events. On January 15th, we held the most attended in-person event of 2020: Optimizing your Interview with Business Chemistry (Deloitte x WMN). This workshop brought in five Deloitte professionals and around 30 student attendees. The workshop allowed the students to network with the Deloitte professionals and learn how to leverage Business Chemistry in interviews. The interactive session included rotational stations and opportunities to improve interview practices.
The Skill Team also hosted a Teamwork Clinic with Leadership Coach, Anne Choquette. 15 students gathered at CRX to learn what it means to be an excellent teammate and leader.
In February, WMN planned to host the #RealTalks Accounting event with speakers Professor Leigh Ellen Walsh and Celine Daoud, former VP Career of WMN. However, it had to be postponed due to a massive blizzard hitting Ottawa. Little did we know that this would only be the first of many cancelled and postponed events.
March was filled with a lot of unexpected “lasts” for many people. It was in March that WMN hosted what turned out to be the last in-person event of 2020. The rescheduled #RealTalks Accounting (March 12th) event welcomed 15 students, plus our two speakers, at CRX to network with each other and learn about the world of accounting!
Our next event, a Microsoft BI Power Workshop held in collaboration with MISA, was only four days after #RealTalks Accounting. This was the first event that had to be cancelled because of Covid. At this point, all anyone knew was that school was no longer in person, we’d be working from home for a couple of weeks (or so we thought), and most of Ontario would be shutting down. As students rushed home for the shutdown, WMN had to redesign student resources, reconsider our direction, and adjust operations for the rest of the school year.
At this point, the reality of what 2020 had in store was starting to set in. Accordingly, WMN began its first ever virtual hiring process. With over 50 applications for director and VP positions, discussions and interviews were all done over Zoom.
By April, the 2020/2021 team had been selected and individual teams began meeting to plan the future of WMN!
May was filled with firsts for WMN. We had our first virtual monthly meeting with the new WMN team. It felt weird to not meet our new teammates in person, but we tried to keep things fun with social games like 2 Truths and a Lie and prepared welcome packages for our new hires to welcome them into the WMN team.
In May we also collaborated with @frontlinefirst to promote and drive donations to their student-led initiative that works to ensure Ottawa is well prepared to combat the virus.
Another first for WMN this month was the launch of our very own website (telfer-wmn.com) and our first blog post by our founder, Polly Leung. Our 2019/2020 VP Brand, Fiona Doomasia, had been working long and hard on this project, so it was extremely exciting to see it come to life!
As a fun, new way to introduce our team to the Ottawa community, the WMN team decided to introduce themselves using Tik Toks. From Kardashian voiceovers to the Pass The Brush challenge, our teams flooded Instagram with creative ways of presenting their names and personalities!
The Black Lives Matter movement also gained momentum in June.The death of George Floyd sparked a worldwide reckoning for racial injustice, leading to difficult conversations and protests filling the streets. To show our support, WMN welcomed five guests to share their insights and thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement in the forms of poetry, videos and blogs. Although the campaign lasted one week, we hope the conversations and awareness continue on.
After many months of planning and creating, on July 28th we posted the trailer to our new podcast: Words with WMN. Words with WMN was designed to show the truth and journeys of professionals we look up to while providing our audience with something uplifting, inspiring and educational every second Tuesday morning!
Following our trailer, we had our first guest on our first episode of Words with WMN! On the first episode, our host, Co-Lead Wiam Ben Karroum, welcomed Shannon Kot from Deloitte. This episode followed Shannon’s career journey and dove into the topic of mentorship and how it can drive your career. Putting up our first episode was so exciting as we had worked so hard to plan, record and post this episode!
In August we also had our first ever virtual team social. Socializing and developing deep connections when everyone is all over the province (and some in different provinces or countries) is extremely difficult, but our Community team pulled through. This month we played a fun interactive game of 2 Truths and a Lie and Kahoot to bond with our new team!
As school got back in swing, so did WMN! WMN held our first virtual event on September 26th: Making Your Resume and Online Interview Stand Out (WMN x RBC). Students joined us on Zoom to learn about how to develop their virtual interview skills and have their resume and LinkedIn grab the attention of their dream employers! Although this was our first virtual event, all went smoothly and it ended up being one of our most attended events in 2020.
Although restrictions were loosening in Ottawa, the WMN team still wanted to keep things safe.Our VPs had their first “socially distanced” social of 2020 in September. Meeting in a park near uOttawa and enjoying socially distanced snacks and chats, the VPs got to meet face-to-face for the first time!
This month also brought on another virtual hiring season for WMN, but this time for our First Year Representatives! Almost 20 First Years applied to be a part of WMN and many made it to the virtual interview process.
Something new also started in September for WMN: the WMN Develop Program. The Administration team and previous Co-Lead Nourhan Mohamed worked together to create a program to connect WMN alumni, with experience in the post-grad world, to current WMN executives. This program allowed for our current and past executives to grow and learn new things from each other.
The first full week of October was Mental Illness Awareness Week. In order to spread awareness, the WMN Brand team shared a new mental health resource for those at uOttawa daily, and ended the week with a mental health video created by our Content Manager, Sonia Vinogradova.
Another campaign took place in October for Women’s History Month. The Brand Team welcomed guests to take over our social media accounts to celebrate the struggles women have overcome and continue to fight. On Day of the Girl, Sam O’Grady, Fundraising Executive from Empow(her), recognized the challenges girls still face today through telling her story on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. On Person’s Day, JD Candidate Lyann Ordenes took to our Instagram stories to share her knowledge on the history of Person’s Day in Canada, and how it was different for Indigeneous women.
On October 19th, the Career team had their first virtual event: #RealTalks Entrepreneurship. Our guest speaker, Alexandra Gendron from Student Works, shared her advice to the student attendees interested in starting their own businesses and how her business survived COVID-19.
To end off the busy month, the Community team held a Halloween social where we voted on our favourite costumes from past Halloweens (since Halloween wasn’t really a thing this year) and watched a throwback Halloween movie!
November was a successful month for WMN as we hosted our two top attended events of 2020. The first one was a Negotiation 101 session with Fotini Iconomopoulos, a Negotiation Keynote Speaker and MBA Instructor. This event brought over 40 students together on Zoom to learn about asking for raises and knowing your worth.
Our last event of the year, #RealTalks Digital Marketing (WMN x RBC), brought together speakers Erika Campbell from RBC and Fiona Doomasia, a Telfer Marketing student, to answer questions and talk about the world of digital marketing to our 30 attendees. The event was full of inspiring and helpful career tips!
On November 21st we hosted our first Wellness Day for our executives. The day began with a yoga session with newly certified Yoga Instructor, Sarah! We then continued the rejuvenating day with a Lunch & Learn, a series we are planning on continuing in 2021. The goal of this series is to learn “real life” skills, in this case: nutrition! Lucia Weiler RD had a discussion with our team about the benefits of healthy diet and how the best diet might actually be none at all.
To celebrate the end of exams and the semester, WMN slowed down activities and events to allow students and WMN members to spend some quality time with their families and take some time to rest. We finished off the year by sending cards to our team with secret messages and compliments written by their teammates throughout the year to express our gratitude for their efforts and time.
With 2020 coming to an end, WMN would like to thank everyone for the hard work and support they have given our club. This year tested our capacity and resiliency, and we are so proud of what our team built through it all. It allowed us to witness the power of our community and what we can achieve together no matter the circumstances. We can’t wait to continue inspiring women in business, celebrating their successes and advocating for gender equality in 2021!