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Working Wisdom: McMaster Engineering alumni pass on valuable career advice to students January 29, 2018

The night started off with a group selfie. McMaster Engineering Dean Ishwar K. Puri stood in front of a room overflowing with engineering alumni and current students and captured the mood with a photo.

“The energy in the room is just incredible,” Puri said to a laughing capacity crowd at McMaster’s CIBC Hall, just before snapping his pic.

More than 300 engineering students attended the Backpack to Briefcase: Alumni & Student Networking Event on January 24. Another 120 alumni from a range of industries lent their time to offer mentorship and guidance to students hungry for career advice.

A panel of alumni shared their experiences in industry and offered wisdom to students, before an open networking session later in the evening.

Kristie Syndikus, Vice President, Corporate Supply Chain Management, Celestica, spoke about the importance of building trust and collegial relationships with colleagues.

“It’s truly the connections you make in the workforce that propels your career and will motivate you to do better,” Syndikus, a Mechanical Engineering & Management graduate (’98) told the crowd.

Blending her interest in technology with business was the perfect fit for alumna, Gabriella Bohus, who works as a Senior Manager, Digital Strategy & Innovation CIBC.

Bohus talked about honing her skills through summer internships and the value of work experience while in University.

“I worked as a java developer at CIBC,” said Bohus, an Electrical Engineering & Management alumna (’09). “And you pick up so many skills. You get to see what the workplace is all about and how it’s so much more than school, but you have to cherish the time in school because when else are you surrounded by amazing people, and amazing professors and have the opportunity to learn every day.”

Alvin Pilobello, Chemical Engineering & Bioengineering (’09), said his love for solving people-focused challenges led him to a career with the City of Brampton in corporate asset management.

“Engineering is not just a career,” Pilobello said. “It’s not just an identity but it’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of being. It’s a way of approaching problems.”

The networking event, organized by McMaster Engineering’s alumni office, was one of the largest in the Faculty’s history, and one of the most diverse with several female mentors in attendance.

“One of the principles we have at McMaster Engineering is inclusivity,” Puri told the crowd. “It doesn’t matter what race, what gender, what religion you belong to, you are welcome here. And that is how we celebrate our sense of community.”