SUSK to launch new networking program for post-secondary students

Alexandra Holyk for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

The Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) is set to launch its latest initiative called SUSK Connect, pairing post-secondary students with professionals in various fields on March 15.

According to SUSK project director Kira Dzulynsky, as well as the initiative’s website, SUSK Connect is an online database that allows Ukrainian-Canadian students to broaden their professional network and explore possible career paths ahead of their post-secondary graduation. Once the project is officially launched, students will be able to access the database of professionals through their Ukrainian students’ organization on campus and contact those they wish to work with.

“The project is aimed to allow students to…learn about what the professional world is like,” said Dzulynsky.

SUSK president Roman Grod said the project has been in the works for more than a year, adding that the organization’s Board of Directors is constantly working to engage its student membership as well as provide them with valuable resources.

“SUSK touches students during some of the most stressful years of their lives,” Grod said. “They’re often forced to start deciding what kind of career path they’d like to go down at a very young age, with often a lack of insight into what the industry is like. SUSK Connect aims to connect students and professionals from various fields across the country to help provide them with the insight into what that field is like.”

Dzulynsky said the reason why the initiative is called SUSK Connect is because SUSK stands in as the first connection between students and professionals, instead of letting students struggle to find someone in their desired field. However, Grod explained that SUSK Connect is not an ongoing mentorship program at the moment but rather, it allows for students and professionals to establish their relationship themselves.

“We wanna make this as easy as possible for both parties — we want the professionals to feel interested in doing this and that they’re not taking on too much commitment, but we wanna also make this a very de-stressed situation for the students where they feel comfortable reaching out to these professionals,” he said.

Grod also mentioned that although SUSK Connect isn’t a mentorship program at the moment, it will be “an ever-evolving initiative.”

“Our goal is to ensure our members from over 25 schools from across the country have all the information about whatever field they’re going into, so that they can be as successful as possible in whatever they decide to do,” said Grod.

To qualify as a professional and participate in the program, individuals must have at least one degree or diploma from an accredited post-secondary institution. It is also preferred that professionals are currently employed, however, it is not required. People who have recently entered retirement are also eligible to participate.

SUSK’s student members will be able to sift through the various professionals listed on the site’s database to determine who they would like to connect with. Relevant information including the individual’s most recent work experience, as well as volunteer experience and education will be included in the professionals’ profiles. From there, the student and professional can set up a meeting and discuss the evolution of their relationship, be it a one-time meeting or a longer-term mentorship.

According to Dzulynsky, there are currently 135 professionals and counting that are signed up as part of SUSK Connect. Notable individuals include Paul Grod, the president and CEO of Rodan Energy Solutions, Dr. Anne-Marie Humniski who works as an emergency room physician and Yvan Baker, member of parliament for Etobicoke Centre.

When trying to find professionals to get involved Grod said there were many people within the Ukrainian-Canadian community that supported and continue to support SUSK in all of its initiatives.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t really have to convince anyone to participate,” said Grod. “A lot of people know that this initiative gives them the opportunity to educate the next generation.”

Once the initiative launches in the coming days, the next step for SUSK Connect is to convince students to participate.

“It’s a way that students can really help set themselves up for success by learning from highly successful people in our community,” Grod said.