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Where Are They Now? Students from Summers Past (Part 1)

Author: NB-IRDT Staff

Posted on Jul 5, 2022

Category: Training , Pathways to Professions

When NB-IRDT launched its Pathways to Professions (P2P) experiential learning program back in 2020, Jessica Mann was among the first to sign up for a summer of research and training. At the time, she was an undergraduate at the University of New Brunswick looking to gain some hands-on experience and help pave the way for her future in the workplace. Now, two years later, we follow up with her to see how far she’s come and where she’s going next.

Jessica Mann

Jessica Mann – From P2P Student to NB-IRDT Training Coordinator

Meet Jessica, formerly the Student Project Manager for the 2020 P2P team and now the full-time Training Coordinator for NB-IRDT.

The more I learned about P2P, the more intrigued I was. I had other co-ops under my belt, and I was graduating, and I thought, “This has so much potential for somebody who wants to really bridge the gap between finishing school and the workplace.”

The workshops sounded really interesting to me because they provided extra learning I may not have gotten from my faculty or previous study.

Before Jessica even finished her term with P2P, she started working as an NB-IRDT staff member, eventually becoming our full-time Training Coordinator.

As Training Coordinator, what I do is manage day-to-day and plan out future training initiatives, like the Pathways to Professions program we’re hosting now – which is a roller coaster!

I work with NB-IRDT’s partners, specifically the Government of New Brunswick, to put together new training as well, like this year’s March Break policy camp.

On top of managing training programs, Jessica is pursuing further education in her spare time.

I started my Master’s in Business Administration this year at UNB. And going through that is my big goal for now – just holding on for the ride and seeing where it takes me. Pursuing an MBA was the goal last year, so now I’m living it.

We asked Jessica about her participation in P2P and how that impacted her career goals and her personal growth. Here’s what she said:

When I started the program, I was very focused on landing a career in project management, but I also had a very narrow idea of what that meant. P2P led me see what that involved practically.

My career goals didn’t exactly change because of the program. It emphasized for me how much this is what I want to do. I love coordinating and planning new things and seeing them through. But it introduced me to other nuances too, like building partnerships and networking and creating connections, not even just between team members but with outside sources, like GNB. The scope of the networking is terrifying, and I love it!

My favourite part of the program was the Career Connect series, where we met with different business people in NB and heard their stories. This is going to sound really bad, but I love knowing that other people sometimes fail. It humanizes them. It shows that everybody goes through hard times where they sometimes need to reset and go back a few steps.

Everybody has their own path to get somewhere. Some people have amazing journeys, and some have super straight lines they follow because they knew what they wanted from the start and they were determined, which is amazing.

I took a little break from school, and looking back now, I would never change it. If I hadn’t, I would never be where I am now. If I had pursued what I thought I wanted to do in first year, I would probably hate the career I would have had. Hearing successful people talk about doing the same thing really emphasized that for me.

P2P actually changed my relationship with New Brunswick. When I started doing my co-ops, I was very set on doing one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast so I could network in both areas and wouldn’t need to stay in the Maritimes after graduating. I was keeping my options open because I didn’t know if I could find what I wanted here, and I wanted to know I could go somewhere else if I had to.

I never made it to the West Coast, and I’m really glad that I didn’t. Even if I hadn’t joined NB-IRDT, I think I would have been able to find something after P2P within New Brunswick that would have been exactly what I was looking for. P2P definitely opened up those networks and my ability to reach out to people. And it really shows that you don’t have to feel trapped where you are. You sometimes just need a new perspective to see what’s actually happening all around you.

After all she’s experienced and learned since joining P2P, here is Jessica’s advice:

Never settle. If you are comfortable with what you’re doing and have reached where you want to be, make sure you live it and enjoy it and be happy where you are. But don’t settle for where you are either. There’s always something you can do to better your environment or improve yourself or improve your situation. You can keep learning and going to workshops and just grow in your area – even if the steps feel really small. Don’t settle for, “Well, this is the way it’s always been done.”

Want to stay in touch? You can connect with Jessica on LinkedIn or reach her by email.

We’ll be following up with other students in the near future, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out!

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