A look at Xploration 15 from the Student Perspective

Xplor International University Chapter, Ryerson University
Interview by Skip Henk, EDP with Ryerson students Valerie Drozdowsky and Kyle Tavares


Almost two years ago Xplor International and Xplor Canada launched their first University Chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Since that time Xplor Ryerson has prospered with student members holding onsite campus events, a job fair, attending Xploration 14 as well as the 2014 Xplor at Graph Expo event and most recently Xploration 15 in Orlando, Florida.

And as time has passed some of the “founding” members of the chapter are graduating and venturing into the workforce.

I recently asked Kyle Tavares and Valerie Drozdowsky, two of the founding members of the Xplor Ryerson Chapter what their thoughts were on Xploration 15.

Skip: What was the value to you and the other Ryerson students in being able to speak with vendors and other document professionals at Xploration 15?

Kyle: Although we are used to speaking and networking with vendors when we attend other trade shows, Xploration 15 was a unique experience for all of us. As a student we usually do not get the “time of day” from the sales people because they know we are students and will not be purchasing their products or services.

At Xploration15 it was the exact opposite – we were able to speak with people who wanted to converse with us. Many of the vendor participants were decision makers who were very interested in what we thought about the Xploration15 experience, and they took the time to educate us on the goods and services they provide.

Valerie: The value that I find in speaking with vendors and other document professionals as a student is getting a chance to learn more about the mission that the vendors are trying to create as a company and also gaining the confidence to even speak to them. It may seem funny but being a student, it’s hard to know where you stand against these professionals who have worked in the industry for years. After a bit of time, the main value I get is recognition. When they start to remember your name and who you are, you feel valuable.

Skip: Was there anything in particular that you learned that may help your career?

Kyle: The experience taught me a lot about networking. As a student I found the educational sessions were very well done. I was able to attend most of the sessions that interested me and pull very valuable information from all of them. The best ones for students I thought were the LinkedIn and networking sessions. I found those very applicable for students. Many of the panel discussions also contained great information. It was great to be able to ask insightful questions about the topics.

Valerie: I have learned that building relationships is a very big part of being successful in the business world. Watching how everyone interacts at these conferences I now understand how to act, dress and communicate professionally in a conference and a working environment. All of this has made me develop a passion to work in the industry that I am entering. I have also learned how to approach and communicate with others, whether they are much older or much more experienced than I am. Being the second conference that I have attended, I found it easier to join in conversations and discussions, whether personal conversations or group discussions.

Skip: Any opportunities you may have to explore employment opportunities?

Kyle: For me personally it was a great opportunity to speak with a variety of vendors. I spoke with several vendors including Mary from NEPS to inquire what their business was all about. Later that evening their President approached me and asked if I would like an opportunity to interview with NEPS. Just following Xploration15 I had an interview and I am now a NEPS employee.

Valerie: Last year I was able to make a connection for an internship opportunity with Symcor, in Mississauga for the summer of 2014. It was required to complete a 420 hour internship at a company related to our school work and the graphic arts industry.

This year was a bit different. I did get to meet a lot of new employers, mostly from the U.S. Since I am looking for employment in Canada I wasn’t able to find an employment opportunity directly from the conference but I did make additional connections. I had a third interview with TC Media a week ago and I am still waiting for a response. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed.

Skip: Sounds like it was a great event for you both. Do you have any closing remarks?

Kyle: My involvement with Xplor International and the Xplor Ryerson Chapter has provided me opportunity to not only expand my knowledge and personal network, but also launch my career. I would recommend any student looking to be part of the Communications Industry to join Xplor, and if your school has an Xplor University chapter become part of it.

Valerie: It’s always valuable listening to the latest trends in workflows, listening to how companies are getting the younger generation more involved and how the companies are evolving their mission statements to cater more to and fit in with the millennials.
Skip: Valerie and Kyle, thank you for sharing your experiences about Xplor as well as Xploration 15. I look forward to seeing you both next year at Xploration 16.

Note: Any college or university that would like to discuss the possibility of having an Xplor University Chapter can contact Chad Henk at chad@xplor.org or call +1-813-949-6170.

Click here for a brochure on the Xplor University Chapter Program.

 

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