On May 25th and June 1st, we hosted our annual Learn 2 Get Hired event for high school students. This invite-only event gathered the top 50 students from within the TU20 community and helped them learn crucial skills, network with like-minded peers, and connect and interview with potential employers. The event, with over a dozen employers, was able to expose students to jobs in technology, graphic design, business, marketing, data science, and so much more. Students were able to come away from the event with a new set of skills, and more interview experience that they can apply for the rest of their lives. Many of them were also able to impress employers and get a position for the summer.

The First Day

On a Saturday afternoon, over fifty students and mentors filtered in to spend the next three hours learning how to set themselves apart, pitch who they are, and also learn about a variety of industries from professionals across the GTA. First, we had our keynote speaker come up in front of the group and talk about her experiences and what students can do to better themselves. Mira is the VP of Keiretsu forum Canada, one of the largest angel investor networks in the world. She sees countless startups pitch to her hoping to get a spot on one of their monthly investor meetings. She knows what to look for, both for the company, but also looking for the right founders. Mira shared her framework for how to impress, stand out, and get the job.

Afterward, we hopped into the mentor’s rotations almost immediately. Students were able to have very small and intimate conversations with executives from many different companies. Feedback was shared, Linkedin’s exchanged, and it gave students a taste of what might be coming next week. Everyone asked for more time and said they loved their conversations, but we had tons of mentors to go through and a great panel for the next segment of the day.

We had fifty high school students, but people just a couple years older and in university had interviewed and gone through the hiring process many more times. We held a panel where our audience could ask the burning questions they had to help set up for the speed interviews next weekend. Our TU20 university alumni talked about the companies they’ve worked at and all the failures, successes, and lessons they’ve learned throughout every interview and hiring season. It was great to see what our alumni were doing, starting, and accomplishing. For the high school students, they gathered valuable feedback that they could start using for next week.

We finished up the day with the event host outlining exactly what you’ll need for next week. How to stand out, differentiate yourself, and define yourself to get hired. They had a week to prepare their resumes, muster their confidence, and prepare for a great event in one week.

The Second Day

It was showtime. Students streamed into the venue with business formal on and ready to make a great impression. They had each prepared a quick personal pitch to deliver when interacting with each employer and we started off summarizing what to expect with the event.

Everyone was abuzz with stress and anticipation. They could peer into the neighboring room and see employers from around the Halton region ready to ask questions, hear stories, and hire students. The students participated in a small game to calm down; however, our first group quickly went in. Students cycled through over a dozen employers and came back sharing excellent feedback for the other students yet to go. For the remaining time in the event, student groups went in, rotated through, and came out. Many were hired, but everyone gained valuable and meaningful interview skills that will serve them for years to come. In the final thirty minutes, we held a free for all style networking that allowed students to follow up with the employers that particularly piqued their interest. It was quick, and everyone briskly walked over to continue meaningful conversations.

Afterward, we heard from students and employers. Both found the experiencing completely eye-opening. Employers couldn’t believe the amount of talent that students in high school had. They came up to the organizers and said that their views of what students were capable of had completely changed. Students were thrilled they were able to practice these key skills and were hopeful to be followed up with and have doors opened for them.

Tech Under Twenty strives to create real opportunities in Tech, Entrepreneurship, and Business. With Learn 2 Get Hired we are truly able to create opportunities and enable students to discover what real work looks like and gain valuable skills. We look forward to another great event next year, and we hope to see you all there again.