For many university students surrounded by expectations and deadlines, self-esteem and confidence can be difficult to find and sustain. This year, a student group from Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan has set out to boost student confidence.
Young Women in Business, founded in 2008, is a non-profit society based in Vancouver that works to connect and empower ambitious young women in similar fields of study or employment by increasing leadership skills and building personal networks. YWiB boasts eight chapters across Canada, five of which are affiliated with a university.
The U of S chapter of YWiB, created in March 2016, is the only university chapter located outside of British Columbia and it includes a seven-person executive team.
Anna Tavares, chapter president, founder of YWiB Usask and fourth-year management student, explains the group’s mandate.
“Basically, we want to provide a platform for women to be engaged and to inspire women from different education and professional backgrounds in the early stages of their career to achieve success in their own terms,” Tavares said.
On Nov. 24 at 5 p.m., YWiB Usask’s first public event of the term will take place in Louis’ Loft. Each year, the group chooses a different theme that drives their events and discussions. This year, the theme is “confidence” and Tavares explains that seven unique speakers will present at the event on confidence in the PechaKucha style.
PechaKucha is the Japanese word for chit-chat, and the concept was used to create a concise and fast-paced presentation style called PechaKucha 20×20, linked to an organization of the same name. This style includes 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each, meaning that each speaker has six minutes and 40 seconds to present.
Brooke Yaschyshyn, YWiB Usask chapter vice-president and fourth-year management student, explains that the group chose this particular presentation style to engage students and to give presenters the freedom to make their presentation unique.
“This presentation style is a good fit for leaving it open and not being too restrictive — take it in whatever direction you want, however you want to interpret it,” Yaschyshyn said.
The presentation is open to all students, and tickets cost $15 for students and $25 for general attendees. Tavares explains that YWiB Usask tried to choose a group of female presenters with diverse educational, personal and professional backgrounds. The slate includes Jacqueline Cook, vice-president of growth at Vendasta and recipient of a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 under 40 award, Carla Gradin, certified body language trainer and wardrobe stylist, and Zoey Pricelys Roy, educator, community engagement specialist and spoken-word poet.
According to Tavares, networking is one of the major goals of the PechaKucha event, as the existence of strong interpersonal relationships creates a positive environment in which all students can excel.
“In the business school, it tends to be competitive for everyone. So, if you’re in an environment that is already competitive and then you have the media — you have everybody else portraying females as [having] catty, competitive relationships — we don’t want that,” Tavares said. “We want to create a different opportunity, different environment so women can connect.”
Yaschyshyn adds that the event will also connect students with positive role models in the business community and potentially give them opportunities once their careers begin. She believes that these interpersonal relationships are an integral part of building confidence as students.
“It’s always, I think, helpful to find a group or find a mentor that can help you work on those things that you want to make better and help you feel better about those things that you struggle with, whether that [mentor] be a professor or a classmate,” Yaschyshyn said.
Tavares agrees, sharing that those students who are struggling to find confidence should focus on their personal strengths.
“I think confidence manifests differently for each person. So, the key is getting to know yourself and getting to know what you’re good at, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses … If you know what you’re good at and if you know what you bring to the table, I think that’s how you find confidence.”
Jessica Klaassen-Wright / News Editor
Photo: Shazia Nagji / Supplied