2021 Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology holds undergraduate conference

FCAT alumni Sean Warwick, Tiana Marconato, Kathleen Estanislao gave career advice for students

Photo courtesy of Simon Fraser University.

Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer 

On March 5, 2021 the eleventh annual Faculty of Communication and Technology (FCAT) undergraduate conference was held online. The conference provides students within the faculty the opportunity to showcase their ideas and interests in a community forum. 

With 63 projects and 84 student presenters, this year was the faculty’s largest conference. Keynote presenter Jeff Ward and a panel of four FCAT alumni shared career stories and offered advice to students.

During the panel’s discussion about the alumni’s current jobs, user experience designer and School of Interactive Arts alum Sean Warwick advised students to maintain a connection with colleagues throughout their academic careers. He said the interactive arts field is “a lot smaller of a community once you get out into the world.” 

To prepare for jobs out of university, panellists emphasized students should “be creative with getting experience,” whether through attending networking events, collaborating with faculty professors, or offering to help with social media at a current job.

Communication alum and marketing coordinator Tiana Marconato said jobs often look for writing samples. Her recommendation was for students to draft press releases independently or to reach out to local media outlets for publication.

Student attendees asked how selective they should be when looking for jobs. Kathleen Estanislao, digital marketing manager, advised job seekers to connect with existing workers at the job they are applying for to learn about the work environment before accepting an offer. 

The four alumni agreed it is important to have some flexibility because “your first job isn’t necessarily going to define your career [but] ultimately, you want to be happy on some level.” 

In his presentation, Jeff Ward spoke about his experience as an Indigenous entrepreneur, web designer, and software developer. He discussed the importance of centering values and ethics around work to ensure balance and fulfilment.

Ward currently works with nonprofit organizations, charities, and Indigenous initiatives to focus on “the impact of others through technology.” He helped develop an app called Next 150, which aims to advance reconciliation by educating users about the Indigenous land they are on.

Students asked Ward whether he finds value in career advisors with varying opinions from his own. He told students to look for people with “a diverse range of inputs.” He said it is important for people to balance their surroundings with others who can provide different perspectives, as well as with people who have similar views to maintain core values.

After the speeches, students shared their work. Presentations were split into two blocks, lasting one hour each. There were eight different rooms with an average of four projects being presented in each of them. Rooms were organized by theme, ranging from crisis disaster response to interactive design and media arts. 

Some speakers explored the narratives presented in certain news outlets, and others brought forward solutions to individual and global issues.

The event concluded with FCAT dean Carman Neustaedter thanking participants for their efforts in organizing the conference.

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