How annual conference gives student staff the skills to succeed in the workforce

A large group of students engaged in a team building activity where they are working together to roll a ball along a series of halfpipes.

Student staff take part in a team-building activity as part of the 2023 Student Staff Development Conference (Photos by Christian Braun/McMaster University).

Every year, hundreds of McMaster students take on work opportunities within the university and in turn, get connected to an ecosystem of career supports and development opportunities.  

One of these opportunities — the annual Student Staff Development Conference — gives student staff the skills to enter the professional world with confidence, all while engaging in fun and interactive activities with their peers.  

The day-long conference, hosted in partnership by the Student Success Centre and Human Resources Services, allows student staff to engage in professional development, to network with their peers and to explore the many and varied career opportunities available to them at McMaster.  

Participants engage in various skill-building exercises around networking, financial management and the application of transferrable skills. 

“I enjoyed how much variety in the conference there was! I loved learning about social media, branding and how to develop ourselves professionally on LinkedIn,” said a past participant.  

Recent alumni and current McMaster staff are also on hand to share their experiences of embarking on their careers.  

“The panel of recent graduates/current students who work at McMaster was the most informative to me,” said another past participant. “Their earnest answers, coming from a perspective similar to mine, allowed me to reflect on my own career journey in a beneficial way.” 

Three photos in a grid. Two of the photos show students interacting and the third shows a row of students listening as someone out of view of the camera speaks.
The conference provides an opportunity for student staff to network, build community and learn from the experience of others.

The conference is part of a larger strategy of preparing students for the workforce that includes work-integrated learning opportunities, career counselling and support, job shadowing, mentorship and job fair events.  

“It is one of the ways our student staff get to engage in the same meaningful development and opportunities for connection that all employees at McMaster benefit from,” says Melanie Garaffa, Associate Director, Talent, Equity and Development in Human Resources Services. 

The event is also a way to highlight McMaster as an employer of choice after graduation.   

“When we invest in student staff, we are investing in the future of the university,” says Gisela Oliveira, Associate Director (Career Development, Global Mobility and International Student Success), Student Success Centre. “We have had many past participants go on to build careers here at McMaster, successfully building upon the foundation of lifelong employability skills they honed in their student staff roles.” 

This year’s conference will be held on Wednesday, July 17 from 10:00am – 3:00pm. Supervisors who are interested in having their student staff participate can send their students the registration on OSCARplus 

To learn more about career support available to students at McMaster, visit the Campus Jobs and Experience page on the Student Success Centre’s website.   

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