“When it comes to volunteering at UBC, there’s no one-size-fits-all commitment,” says Carmen Lee, member of the UBC Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Carmen graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001. After completing a one-year Corporate Communications program in Toronto, she spent the next several years working as a marketing manager for a global consulting company.
“When I returned to Vancouver I knew I needed to rebuild my network after being away for five years. In 2005, while in Toronto, I had met Christine Lee, a fellow UBC alumnus who was looking for ways to engage UBC alumni in Toronto. I was very impressed with Christine, and she was one of the first people I called.”
Through the UBC Alumni Association, Carmen was able to reconnect with the community. “I was very eager to meet people. UBC offered a ready-made network for me to utilize.”
Carmen met Natasha Sharwood in 2008 at a Tri-Mentoring kickoff event, a program that enables students to build professional relationships with community members, faculty, and other students. Natasha was a third year political science student who was looking for advice and help to transition into her career.
Carmen and Natasha immediately clicked. Natasha wanted a mentor who came from a consulting background. “Carmen came across as very polished, capable, and well spoken. I thought, here is someone I can mirror and learn from,” explains Natasha.
Carmen and Natasha attended some Next Step events, an exciting program where students gain expert insight from some of UBC’s most notable grads. Carmen also took Natasha to several of her alumni roundtable events where Natasha provided a valuable student’s perspective on different topics.
“Carmen opened doors for me,” says Natasha. “She was excellent at preparing me for job interviews. Once I had a job—it was another story. I had to deal with doing a lot of tasks for the first time, like putting together briefing notes and presentations. It was wonderful to have Carmen on my team.”
“Alumni can get involved in many different ways, depending on your schedule,” stresses Carmen. The UBC Alumni Association caters to every milestone of people’s lives. “You don’t need to be an expert in your field, and you don’t have to commit a lot of time. Start by simply attending an event.”
Carmen says she’s grateful for the friendship that’s developed with Natasha. “Being able to talk to people like Natasha has helped me give better guidance and be a better coach to the people who report to me.”
Participating in alumni activities at UBC is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience for both graduates and students. “It’s important to stay connected with UBC. It’s a great pillar of community with a world-renowned reputation for learning, research, and, most of all, its people. The ability to exchange information is extremely rewarding, and is a great way to continue the lifelong learning experience UBC represents.”