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Networking During a Pandemic

By: Ana Leal Cornejo
August 14, 2020
Green mug and a laptop with a Zoom meeting on the screen.

Since May 13, 2020 the Ryerson School of Journalism has hosted a number of online networking events for students to connect with alumni despite physical distancing. The meetings are held on Zoom and feature alumni with experience in a specific sector of journalism such as broadcast, documentary filmmaking or podcasting.

“We didn’t want students to be at a disadvantage because of the pandemic,” said Jaclyn Mika, one of the organizers of the events. “There are so many small interactions that would normally happen during the school year at events, pub talks or fundraisers. We didn’t want students to miss out on those valuable moments to forge connections with people in the industry.”

Mika believes the events have been successful in part due to the enthusiasm of alumni to help in any way they can during what could have been very isolating times for students.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful it has been to have so many alumni from our program answer back immediately: ‘Yes, how can I help? When do you need me? What can I do?’ Some of them carving time out of very busy schedules to speak with our students,” said Mika.

Jeyan Jeganathan (RSJ 2013) is a host and field reporter for TVO and was one of the guest speakers for the broadcasting networking event. Jeganathan believes that while networking is important for students, alumni enjoy being a part of the events as well.

“We don’t get paid for these gigs, we just share our experience and help the next generation, we all enjoy it. I have been to other networking events prior to the pandemic but this was a more intimate way to connect with students,” said Jeganathan.

Each session includes a brief introduction to the guest speakers after which, everyone in attendance is split into break-out rooms of only a few people each.

“It was great how they broke it down into groups, a lot of students connected with me after the fact which is something I always encourage,” said Jeganathan.

Also present at the same event as Jeganathan was third-year student Anastasia Anokye who normally would have been too intimidated to attend in-person networking events.

“At first I was nervous because I had never been to a networking event before. Having the meeting be through Zoom meant I could be in my own environment and I could ask questions without being intimidated,” said Anokye.

The plans Anokye had for the summer fell through as the pandemic hit in mid March and she was pushed to look for new ways to make connections in the industry in order to have an internship to fulfill her course requirements.

“If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, I would not have been looking for networking opportunities offered by Ryerson. After the event, I reached out to Jeyan  and he shared some of his contacts with me. He encouraged me to take a chance I wouldn’t have taken before and now I will be starting my internship at CHCH,” Anokye said.

She believes the same opportunity would have been difficult to find elsewhere.

“If it wasn’t for the amazing team at the RSJ, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. I could never have found this opportunity on my own looking through Google or Indeed.  I am staying hopeful because I don’t know where this internship will end up but I am grateful I got this opportunity,” said Anokye.

The Ryerson School of Journalism continues to work hard to adapt to changing times and provide the best academic and professional experiences for its students. If you are interested in participating in a future online networking event, please contact office.journalism@ryerson.ca