Finding accessible and honest career advice can be a challenge.
Beyond the Degree, a podcast hosted by U of T students Angad Arneja, Talal Fahoum, Tate Claggett, and Max Baevsky, tackles this issue head-on.
Launched in September, the podcast features interviews with U of T alumni who have gone on to build successful careers in industries like finance, technology, and human resources.
Less talking, more recording
Arneja, Fahoum, Claggett, and Baevsky wasted no time bringing their idea into fruition.
“I was sitting with a few friends during dinner and we were talking about this other podcast, a similar student podcast, and I got the idea of doing a podcast where we interview U of T alumni,” Fahoum, a second-year math and statistics student, commented.
Fahoum shared his idea with Arneja, Claggett, and Baevsky, and within two weeks, the four students bought equipment and invited their first guest. Natural networkers, Arneja and Fahoum made valuable connections in their first year that they felt compelled to share through this podcast.
“We thought that we were learning so much through these coffee chats, so [we] might as well invite these people and record them so everyone else at U of T, thousands of people, can benefit from this instead of just us,” said Arneja, a second-year Rotman Commerce student.
During each 40-minute episode, the guests share their career path and offer practical advice, like networking tips or how to make the best of U of T’s services, like the Career Learning Network.
Learning on the job
While the team works well together and learns from each episode, the process was not always so seamless.
“Before you start working on something, it just feels a little daunting,” Arneja said on launching the podcast.
According to Arneja, he sometimes felt intimidated hosting the podcast during the first few episodes, but soon realized that the guests were all once students as well.
“They were also a U of T student at some point and so it was just learning how to speak more informally and how to connect with the guest,” Arneja said.
A personal touch
Beyond the Degree brings U of T students insight from professionals who can demonstrate that the path to success is anything but linear.
“Learning the ins and outs of a specific role or job and learning how to sort of pave your way to that role is a much different experience [when] hearing it from someone who’s been in your shoes rather than at some career center, a networking event, or anything like that,” Fahoum said.
The podcast featured a diverse group of guests, ranging from computer scientists to entrepreneurs.
“I think short-term goals include trying to get people from many different areas,” Arneja remarked.
Fahoum explained that the team chooses guests based on their personal story or journey. For example, in their most recent episode, U of T alum Savana Elsays discusses switching into an human resources career at SnapTravel after earning a degree in life sciences.
Through hosting Beyond the Degree, Fahoum and Arneja have also learned about different business practices.
Fahoum advises founders to find a good team to work with: “It’s important to do it with the right people.”
With respect to starting a new venture, Arneja said that, “The most important piece of advice that I would give is don’t spend too much time just talking about [doing] things.”