From school to work, simplified

July 28, 2011

Lauren Friese, Talent Egg

In 2005, I was finishing up the fourth and final year of my economics degree at Queen’s University. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I was going to be in six months.

This experience was alarming to me. As a life-long student to this point, I assumed the school-to-work transition was a well-beaten path with all of the services and conveniences you’d expect from one.

I was scared, confused and frustrated, but at least I wasn’t alone: my friends and classmates were in the same boat. Each of my six housemates chose to delay their entrance into the workplace by enrolling in one form of post-graduate education or another, and I did the same, choosing a one-year program at the London School of Economics, where I earned my masters in Economic History.

While in the U.K., I discovered that the school-to-work transition was much less painful than in Canada. I used an online tool to research and apply to employers that interested me, and, even though I had two arts degrees under my belt and very little work experience, it was relatively easy for me to find a fantastic entry-level job.

I spent a year working for a small consulting firm in central London. My job was to interview big banks about technology and then crunch the data to produce reports. While I loved the entrepreneurial energy of the company and was proud of the work I accomplished, I realized within the year that I was not going to reach my potential working in a junior role within another firm.

Looking back, there were always signs that entrepreneurship was a career path that suited me. As a teenager, determined to become a famous, successful actress, I hustled my way into one of Toronto’s most prestigious talent agencies and also built, ran and marketed a website for young actors, appropriately called Big Dreamers.

Where Lauren is now
So I moved back to Canada in late 2007 with a simple mission based both on my own career aspirations and what I’d observed in London: Start a company that improved the school-to-work transition for Canadian post-secondary students and recent grads.

I had been there, done that and seen it done better. I wanted to take what I’d learned from my U.K. experience and implement it in Canada, the result being

Student Voice (this column) is an initiative we started to raise awareness of the struggles that students face as they transition from school to work, and to provide inspiration through success stories to the many students, recent grads and career-transitioners in search of meaningful work.

Key take-aways from Lauren’s school-to-work transition
• Figure out what you like to do (and what you don’t like to do) by exploring your interests while in school, on your summer break or after graduation.

• Work or travel abroad to learn about new points of view and different ways of life. Employers in Canada and around the world value an international perspective.

• If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to run with it and become an entrepreneur. There are many resources for young entrepreneurs that can help you start and run your own business., Canada’s online career resource for students and recent grads, wants to hear your Student Voice. Share it at