From life as a Toronto marketing executive to telling the city’s stories on the radio and from a career in the NHL to running three successful businesses, two Durham College (DC) graduates returned to campus on February 6 to share stories about their careers and life after graduation during the annual Alumni in the Pit event.
This year’s event featured Manjula Selvarajah, a 2014 grad of the college’s Journalism – Print and Broadcast program (now known as Journalism – Mass Media), and Brandon Nolan, a 2013 Business Administration – Marketing grad (now Marketing – Business Administration), who offered insights into how they’ve achieved success to the students and employees in attendance.
Now a Toronto-based freelance journalist and occasional on-air technology columnist and producer for CBC Radio, including the popular radio show Metro Morning, Selvarajah left her career as a marketing executive and headed back to school after being inspired by a story she heard on the news about Tamil refugees arriving in Canada. Driven by a desire to tell real stories that would not necessarily be told by mainstream media, she urged students in the audience to treat each day in class as if it is already their job and emphasized the importance of doing amazing work, regardless of whether it’s your dream role or not.
She also credits her DC professors and the field placement she completed as part of her program with preparing her for her current role. It’s a job that has taken her to the front lines of reporting the news and has given her the opportunity to give back, including co-founding the non-profit organization Tamil Women Rising.
Nolan has enjoyed a diverse career both on and off the ice. A proud Ojibway from the Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario, he grew up spending the winter months playing hockey on an outdoor rink, beginning his love for the game and eventually earning him a spot with the pros. After a stint in the Ontario Hockey League, he enjoyed a five-year professional hockey career that took him all over the world before being cut short by a serious concussion suffered while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes.
After recognizing a college education would give him the skills he needed to succeed in his post-hockey career, he headed back to school. Upon completing his studies, Nolan began down the path that now sees him running successful businesses with his father and brother, including 3N Clothing Apparel and the 3|NOLANS First Nation Hockey School, as well as the Ted Nolan Foundation, which supports and encourages Aboriginal youth to pursue academic growth for a better future.
He shared his story of graduating from DC and taking jobs that, though not ideal, were integral to getting his foot in the door. He also encouraged students to remember that all the steps they take in their career can lead to their goals, echoing his co-panelist’s emphasis on doing good work and providing good service.
Alumni in the Pit is part of DC’s backpack2Briefcase program, a series of events designed to help students and recent alumni make a smooth transition from college to the workplace. Events and workshops are held throughout the year to offer opportunities for both personal and professional development that will enhance the skills and training students learn in the classroom.