Giving Recent Grads a Chance

July 19, 2018

Written by Nathan Laird, Program Manager, Halifax Connector Program 


When I began my role as Program Manager of the Halifax Connector Program in November 2017, I was very fortunate to have an incredible team of Program Coordinators: Saad Zora, Renee Levangie, and Doris Wu. Their skills and dedication were key to the program’s success in 2017. In early 2018, however, things began changing… Doris decided to return to China to be closer to family, and Saad and Renee were promoted internally within the Partnership.

Suddenly, I was faced with the prospect of rebuilding the Connector team, knowing that replacing Doris, Saad, and Renee was going to be no easy task. I often considered the direction of my hiring during this process, weighing the pros and cons of hiring youth versus individuals with more experience. Onboarding multiple young Program Coordinators had the potential to be a challenging task, and in many ways it would have been easier to hire experienced business professionals. 

One of the core principles we promote at the Halifax Partnership is the benefit that hiring youth can have on businesses. In fact, the Presenting Sponsor of the Connector Program, RBC Future Launch, has committed $500 million to youth employment in Canada. With our commitment to hiring youth and promoting youth retention, we made the decision to practice what we preach and hired three recent grads.

At the end of the process, we were very fortunate to hire three superstars: Christina Brock, Nada Halaweh and AJ Simmonds, all of whom are already making key contributions to the organization and connections in the community. The passion, energy, enthusiasm, and ideas they bring to the team make it a joy to come to work each day, and reinforces that we made the right decision to hire recent grads. All three are destined for greatness, and I feel a sense of pride knowing we’re helping to develop the future business leaders of our city.

For other business leaders who are considering whether to hire youth, I leave you with this thought. All of us were once young grads looking to start our careers. There was a time when each of us didn’t have the 3-5 years’ experience many companies look for. We knew we could make an impact but needed someone to believe in us. Each of us has a person who helped us transition from summer jobs to a career, and now that we’re the business leaders, this is our opportunity to help the next generation grow their careers here in Halifax.

To contact the Connector team and learn how you can get involved in the Connector Program, click here. 

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The Halifax Connector Program team (left to right): AJ Simmonds, Christina Brock, Nada Halaweh, and Nathan Laird