Preparing Students for Career Success

January 23, 2024 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Caitlin Costello

It helps to get advice from someone who’s been there before. That’s the concept behind the Career Mentor Program at DeGroote.

Fawaz Saeed is a fifth-year student in DeGroote’s Honours Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) with Internship program. Outside of class, he enjoys sharing his experiences and advice with students as the Senior Career Mentor for DeGroote’s Student Experience, Career and Professional Development (CPD) team.

Fawaz plays a key role in facilitating the Commerce 2IN0 Career Development course, a five-week course for undergraduate business students, and prerequisite for the BCom with Internship program. Each week covers a different aspect of career education to prepare students for internships and beyond. Mentors lead in-class discussions and group activities, help students with resume writing, job interviews and networking, show them how to use LinkedIn, and provide assistance on securing internships.

Four years ago, Fawaz was a student in Commerce 2IN0 himself. His experience being both a mentee and mentor provides him with a unique perspective and allows him to relate to those currently taking the course. He recalls past experiences from his earlier years in the Commerce program and shares lessons learned with other students to help them find their way.

We talked to Fawaz about what it was like to receive support as a mentee, how it helped him get where he is today, why he decided to become a mentor, and what he would say to other DeGroote students who might be considering doing the same.


What made you decide to take the Commerce 2IN0 Career Development course and enter the BCom with Internship program?

Getting work experience outside of the classroom was very important to me. As a student, you learn a lot of valuable information in your courses, but gaining hands-on experience in different settings is what helps you realize if an opportunity is really the right fit for you.

When I was a second-year student, I decided to do an internship because I had difficulty deciding on a major or area of focus. I am an accounting major, but before that I was considering supply chain. Supply chain wasn’t the right fit for me, and I learned that by getting work experience in that area. That’s also how I learned accounting was the right fit, and why I decided to continue pursuing this pathway.


How did having a Career Mentor help you as an early year student?

Getting advice from senior students and alumni is extremely valuable because they have been through many of the same experiences that you’re going through right now.

My Career Mentor helped me learn how to write effective resumes and cover letters. They did mock job interviews with me to help me practice for the real thing. Before that, I was applying for internship positions without any job interview experience. Hearing insights from someone who has been there before helped me prepare more effectively and develop my confidence.


What was the most valuable thing you learned from your Career Mentor?

Be yourself.

The first interview I ever had during my time at McMaster was with the DeGroote Accounting Association. I wanted to get involved with case competitions, but I was very nervous going into it and my confidence wasn’t showing up.

In that moment, my mentor reminded me how important it is to be yourself. Interviews are really an opportunity to talk about your experiences with an employer and show them who you are – so do that.

Also, do the best you can. Sometimes the simple pieces of advice are the most helpful.


What made you decide to become a mentor yourself?

I want to share my advice and experiences with other students. People at McMaster have done so much for me throughout my academic journey, and I want to give back to the community here. I want to pay it forward and help students who may be going through similar journeys or struggles.

There are many universities out there that offer business programs, but the sense of community at McMaster stands out among other schools. Even outside of the CPD department, the faculty, staff, academic advisors, and others at DeGroote are all very supportive.

After I had completed my internship, I saw the job posting for Senior Career Mentor and I knew I wanted to apply right away.


As Senior Career Mentor, what types of things do you do for the program?

I work with our Relationship Managers to facilitate the Commerce 2IN0 Career Development course. I help students taking the course set career goals, search for jobs, prepare applications and get ready for interviews. Students can also come to me during office hours to ask questions about career-related topics.

There’s also an administrative and leadership component. As Senior Career Mentor, it’s my job to manage and coordinate scheduling for our team of 15 Career Mentors.

Lastly, I help organize and promote events that the CPD team is hosting on campus.


What’s your favourite part about being a mentor?

Having the opportunity to work closely with other students and share my experiences with them. Being a mentor is a perfect opportunity to help others.

The best part is giving advice about finding internships and helping students with their job searches.


How has participating in the career mentorship program impacted your time at DeGroote?

I’ve been able to meet more people in my program and across DeGroote. It has also made me aware of more academic and career opportunities that I might want to explore.

Overall, getting involved this way helped me become more connected to the McMaster community. I want to create the same kind of collective and collaborative environment wherever I find myself in the future.


What advice would you give to students who might be considering becoming a Career Mentor?

If you’re curious about it, reach out and get to know more!

Most importantly, take time to look back and reflect on your own experiences as a Commerce student. This is key because if you become a mentor, you’ll be sharing those experiences with other students to help them prepare for success.


Learn More:

Find out more about the Career Mentor Program and connect with the Career and Professional Development Team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

We generally welcome discussion on our blog posts. However, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments in certain situations:

  • Comments which include unrelated or suspicious links or messages (spam).
  • Comments which are off topic.
  • Comments which attack or threaten individuals or a group of people.
  • Comments which include profanity or messages that would generally be considered offensive or inappropriate by the McMaster community.

This site is moderated by the DeGroote Marketing and Community Engagement team. If you have any questions please email Katie Almas.