Michael Forsyth: Experiential learning leads to post-graduation success

June 5, 2015 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Chelsea Parker, Advancement Intern

Michael Forsyth at Pepsico Canada.Transitioning into the workforce after graduation comes with challenges. Graduates are often faced with big changes, as professional working life can be very different than student life. These changes can be both exciting and overwhelming, but taking advantage of the many opportunities offered to DeGroote commerce students can help one transition smoothly. To ease this transition, students are encouraged to take part in committees, clubs, competitions, and conferences to promote application of skills learned in the classroom. These experiential learning initiatives help students apply theories and gain professional experience before entering the workforce.

Upon completion of her first work year post graduation, 2014 valedictorian Michael Forsyth, B.Com. ’14, credits her time at DeGroote for her successful transition into the business world. Throughout her four years at DeGroote, Forsyth took part in experiential learning programs which provided her with the skills and experiences necessary to adapt to her new position as assistant marketing manager at PepsiCo. This past year, Forsyth was able to relate many of her proficiencies at PepsiCo to experiences she had at DeGroote, which advised her how to approach the situation. Forsyth would not have been able to strive and succeed with such ease if she had not taken advantage of the opportunities DeGroote offered.

…as you embark upon your professional career, remember that raising your hand … will provide you with opportunities to develop yourself as an individual and as a future business leader.

Throughout her undergraduate degree, Forsyth was very involved in the commerce community and took part in 5 Days for the Homeless, Free the Children at McMaster, DeGroote Impact, MARS Apprentice, Welcome Week Greensuits, and Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec. These opportunities taught skills which Forsyth used once she started working. “Project management, relationship building, time management, and leadership were all fostered in my time at DeGroote, and allowed me to have a sense of confidence as I tackled new challenges in the workplace,” states Forsyth, on how DeGroote helped prepare her for work post-graduation. Forsyth is particularly grateful for MARS Apprentice and Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec. “What I admire so much about these programs is that I was able to learn the theory and background of a business situation in the classroom, and immediately apply the learning’s in a real-world setting, allowing me to ‘experience’ the lessons first-hand,” remarks Forsyth. These programs teach necessary skills of business situations, then immediately require students to apply these skills in a real case setting.

Forsyth believes it is the student’s responsibility to seize the opportunities given. “I wish I had gotten my ‘hands dirty’ sooner – it probably wasn’t until third year that I decided to leverage what was around me and take the fate of my education into my own hands,” states Forsyth, on if there was anything she would have done differently. She believes students have to take advantage of the opportunities presented if they want to be successful after graduation, and getting involved is crucial to success.

As for advice for this year’s graduating class, Forsyth recommends taking on new challenges. “So as you embark upon your professional career, remember that raising your hand – especially when no one else does – will provide you with opportunities to develop yourself as an individual and as a future business leader,” advises Forsyth. Forsyth recommends that graduates view working post-graduation as an extension of their education to promote further learning and keep things exciting.

Michael ForsythOverall, Michael Forsyth is thankful for the opportunities DeGroote and experiential learning initiatives provided. This past year, Forsyth was able to build upon the foundation established at DeGroote to easily transition into her new role and have a successful first year at PepsiCo.

Michael Forsyth, B.Com. ’14, is an assistant marketing manager at Pepsico.

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