By Scott McCulloch
Dinner for Eight is back with a star lineup of seasoned professionals ready to share advice with students who are in the market for jobs in such fields as media, politics, business and health care.
Sixteen dinners will take place between November 20 and December 3 in this, the third year of the award-winning program, offered to students by Concordia's Advancement and Alumni Relations (AAR). The program pairs students with alumni professionals who offer job market advice over a meal.
Rani Hawli, a logistics director at Se Ce Apparel Co. Ltd., is keen to pass on his insights -- for a second time. Hawli, who earned a BSc in industrial engineering from Concordia in 2005, says: "I wanted to do something to give back to my university."
He already has. Hawli, one of 17 hosts, put in a good word at his company last year for former participant Ana Tornini, helping the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) graduate land a sales job with his company.
"She was very interested in becoming a buyer," Hawli says. "Getting a job is not always about what you do, it's about how you do it, how you interview and how you apply."
It's why Dinner for Eight, an offshoot of AAR's Mentor Program, is a hit with students who clamour for places and hunger for career intelligence.
This season's dinners are almost full to capacity.
"It's very well organized," says Samatha Pepper, a London-based JMSB graduate who works for Vision Critical, a market research technology firm. "The alumni are willing to share their knowledge."
Freelance video and film editor David Di Francesco, a Communication Studies graduate, shares Pepper's opinion. "My industry is a close-knit group where, before you actually start a career, you need someone to help you at some point."
Di Francesco took on a Communication Studies intern last year during a six-month contract he secured to edit a feature film.
"It was pretty interesting to have someone come in who had a similar background to me," Di Francesco says. "We were able to get [the student's] opinion on what he understood and didn't understand and what worked and what didn't."
Di Francesco will host his first dinner November 26. His table is already full and he is keen to pass on his wisdom to a fresh crop of participants. "I remember having lots of questions and not knowing how it worked in the industry," he says. "Whenever I come across students, I take the time to answer them. Simple information can go a long way."
• Dinner for Eight
• Concordia Mentor Program
• Advancement and Alumni Relations