Graduate Bachelor of Arts, English
Graduate Masters of Business Administration
University of Victoria
It was March of 2005, and I was on the verge of finishing an undergraduate degree in English at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
I was also working full-time in a managerial capacity at a bar and nightclub on campus. I generally don’t take on a job or project unless I’m prepared to pour my heart and soul into it.
I was lucky to be aligned with others that operated the same way, in my role as Manager of Food Operations at the Queen’s Pub and Alfie’s Pub on campus. Our team was able to achieve exceptional results, and we ultimately went on to turn around two struggling campus operations.
One night in the spring of 2005, after months of hard work, I received an unexpected voicemail message from the food service rep that I dealt with when ordering food and supplies for our campus bar operations. This individual worked for SYSCO Food Services and he mentioned that his company was interested in hiring a bright, ambitious grad, and that if I was interested in working with their company upon graduation, I should apply, and he would provide me with a stellar reference.
That voicemail message ultimately led me to apply for a position in sales and marketing for SYSCO Food Services. I was accepted for the role and I moved from my hometown of Toronto to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, where I spent the next five years living, working, and enjoying all that the west coast of Canada has to offer.
If you’re a student, the bottom line is this: that summer job you have, or that part-time position you’re working in while you’re in school, can lead to much bigger and better things. If you do an excellent job with what you’ve got to work with, people will notice and job offers might just come your way out of the blue.
But the key is this: you need to do an outstanding job, even when you think no one is watching. It all starts with the right attitude and you need to recognize opportunities when they come your way.
After working with SYSCO for two years on the west coast, I started my own venture distributing natural health products. In 2008, I decided to return to school for an MBA at the University of Victoria.
Upon completion of the MBA in 2010, I founded AllergyTrails.com – the world’s leading food allergy review community. I am currently focused on building AllergyTrails.com into a thriving online community of individuals affected by food allergies.
Key take-aways from Robert’s school-to-work transition
- Do more than just go to class when you’re in college or university – while working or volunteering, you’ll develop skills, experience and connections you would never have access to in school.
- Go above and beyond expectations in everything you do, even if you’re just working part-time pouring coffee, serving tables or folding clothes to make ends meet. You never know who will notice your hard work.
- Whenever possible, take on leadership positions. You will be recognized for successes under your leadership. Plus, the number one thing top Canadian employers look for on students’ resumés is leadership experience.