Entering a Competitive Workforce with the Help of BU

As part of this year’s Be You @ B.U. Magazine, the editors reached out to R. Zoe Costanzo, an English Honours and Sociology (Gender Diversity and Equity Studies) graduate of the Class of 2014, to describe to us her experience at Bishop’s University and how it has helped her start a rewarding career as a Development and Communications Officer at STRIVE.

I came to Bishop’s in 2010 following a year of Social Sciences at another Canadian university. Like many, I came to Bishop’s because of the small class sizes and liberal arts focus—something I felt I was missing at the larger institution I had attended before. And like many, I did not know where I would go or what I would do after university, but I hoped Bishop’s would help me find my way.

And it did. What is so great and unique about Bishop’s is the opportunity to try a variety of things – classes, extracurriculars, work experiences – that prepare you for life beyond university. I was able to be a Tomlinson Intern and run QUEUC, co-run the Gender Equity Center, be a teaching assistant and research assistant, and take courses ranging across Education, Humanities, and the Social Sciences. I was able to experience live music in Bandeen Hall, present at conferences and Research Weeks, speak candidly with professors who truly cared about what I was interested in and what my struggles were. I made friends that I still am close with today.

I now live in New York City, and work as a Development and Communications Officer at a leading nonprofit called STRIVE. STRIVE helps disconnected and at-risk populations gain meaningful employment to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and become self-sufficient, productive community members. I oversee a portfolio of institutional funders (government, corporate, and private family foundations), as well as oversee and set strategies for our digital communications and marketing, including managing the website, social media, and writing copy for direct materials (such as company newsletters and the annual reports). I volunteer as a member of GenerationJOY, the Joyful Heart Foundation’s Young Professional’s Committee that fundraises throughout the year to support the foundation and its vision of a world free of sexual violence.

I wouldn’t be here, though, if I had not gone to Bishop’s. My time there gave me a head start when I went on to graduate school and then employment—Bishop’s gives you school and work-related experiences that are hard to acquire so quickly anywhere else. When I went to graduate school at Carleton University, I already knew how to speak up and work in a seminar class, and I was comfortable and confident articulating my ideas. When I finished school and was looking for work, I could draw on my time at Bishop’s to show why I was a better candidate for employment—unlike most people my age, I had gained event planning, fundraising, and social justice experience from my time at Bishop’s.

Take chances during your time at Bishop’s. Take opportunities. Talk to your professors, to your neighbours in residence, and to the person you sat next to at The Lion. Walk through McDonald’s at midnight, sing at Acoustic Tuesday, and join an intramural sports team. Take a course that you never thought you’d be interested in, and go to a lecture at Centennial. Somewhere in there, you’ll realize that you learned more than you ever thought, became a better person than you thought you could be, and became a part of a network of purple-clad Gaiters for life.

To learn more about the Sociology program: https://www.ubishops.ca/sociology

To learn more about student clubs: https://www.campusvibe.ca/campusvibe/groups/5831bfcd-f876-4392-a68b-ac45d9b7b895

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