We caught up with Vern at our Fall 2015 Job Shadow Week to find out a bit more about his job and why he finds job shadowing so valuable.
Why did you want to be a job shadow host today?
For two reasons: I run the community investment program for the company and when the opportunity came for us to take a leadership role in the U of A’s job shadow week, it fit very well with the values of who we are and what we are trying to do – from a corporate perspective I was very supportive of it. Once that was in place, I also put my hand up to be a host. I just think it’s really important that as a professional we have the opportunity to share what it is that we do with others who may have an interest in our area and in my area in particular, a rather new and emerging area, I think I can contribute a fair bit of value to those who are starting out.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to work in Social Responsibility?
Have a strong background in something. Find a job with a company that is most directly impacted by social responsibility and sustainability – many are but some are more prominent than others – manufacturing, resource extraction, those sorts of organization, huge sorts of product developers, sales, they tend to have a much more direct link to that social license to operate and have taken the issue of sustainability and social responsibility I would say more seriously that those who do not have those immediate direct connection. Work for them, take an interest and study on your own the social responsibility world.
There is a lot of material out there in written form, a lot of networks you can join, and a lot of organizations you can join. Net Impact is one of the global organizations focused exclusively on that.
Take an interest, earn a certification in CSR sustainability, there is no pre-required program – you can come from law, medicine, engineering, liberal arts, philosophy, humanities, languages, but bring curiosity and bring a sharp mind to ask tough questions and I would also study abroad governance and corporate governance.
Why should a student take part in the job shadow program?
I have run into many people in my life who have said to me that they started a career in University thinking that is what they wanted to do, then enter into the workforce and then realized that is not at all what they wanted to do. It’s a great opportunity to test some ideas to see if the practical reality matches your vision of what it is when you are in school and hopefully it does, but if it does not, it gives you the opportunity to change your course.