Professional experience, networking and public speaking skills are all valuable assets to land a fulfilling career.
The Rising Stars program offered at the NorthWest Community College (NWCC) in Prince Rupert aims to give its students the opportunity to learn professionalism through a five-month mentorship.
“Normally the mentor gets as much out of it as the student does. It’s a two way exchange of knowledge and experience. It’s really interesting to see the growth in the students and the comments that we get from the mentors as well,” said Keith Lambourne, a member of the organizing committee and the new president of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce.
Student participants can be of any age. The organizers even appeal for students in the entrepreneurship class at Charles Hays Secondary School to apply. The teacher of the high school class, Aja Lihou, also happens to be an alumni from the Rising Stars program.
Another former Rising Star is Alexandra van Vianen, who accepted an award for the most outstanding international woman award in Qingdao, China in March. Van Vianen found a niche market to excel in the German-influenced city on the east coast of the country — she co-founded a wedding and event planning company with floral and vintage inspired designs.
Why China? She went to Qingdao on a six-week exchange through NWCC with the business admin program. In 2010, she was a part of the Rising Stars program and was paired her up with her mentor, Nellie Cheng, who was an economic development officer in Rupert and did extensive work in North America and China.
“The college paired me up with her and I got to know even more, and be more immersed in the direction I was moving in,” van Vianen said.
Van Vianen taught herself Mandarin, and at only 27 years of age she has planned at least 70 weddings. In November 2015, she decided to move her creative design skills to London where she works with a high-end wedding planner.
There have been over 100 Rising Stars since the program began in 2005. This year’s graduates were honoured at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 16. The program requires students to meet with their mentor throughout the five month period, participate in networking events, attend workshops and do a presentation.
The Toastmasters’ speech craft program teaches students the art of pubic speaking.
“We see some awesome butterflies coming out of the end after four days when they were caterpillars [before],” Lambourne said.
The program also relies on the volunteered time, energy and guidance from the mentors. BG Canada, for example, has put forth mentors over the past two years.