The second annual Suitcase Party is ready to kick-off on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Bringing together Toronto’s brightest young professionals, party-goers will have the opportunity to mix, mingle, and maybe even win 1 of 3 fabulous trips courtesy of Air Canada. But this night isn’t just about the glitz and glamour (although there will be no lack of fabulous) — it’s also about young adults making a difference for vulnerable youth in a big way. The Suitcase Party Committee is made up of 25 up-and-coming Torontonians from a wide range of backgrounds that include PR, communications, legal, health, design, real estate, finance, (the list goes on!), that have played a major role in bringing the #suitcasepartyto to life. So, just who are these fabulous folks? Funny you should ask…

jenniferam-SCPWhere do you currently work? 
I am the Administrative Services Manager at an international real estate firm called Engel & Völkers. I am responsible for all administration functions in the Toronto office, including managing the administrative staff, providing support to all our Realtors, and ensuring that the daily operations are running efficiently. Working for a global company has given me the incredible opportunity to network with and learn from a variety of individuals worldwide.

What qualities make a young professional stand out?
Possessing a quiet confidence, being genuine, maintaining the enthusiasm to succeed, and being proactive are definitely some stand out qualities!

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Professionally, I’m certain I will have broadened my knowledge, and enhanced my skills in administrative and operational management adequately enough to thrive in a national role.

That being said, life is so unpredictable that it helps to keep an open mind rather than passing up opportunities just because they aren’t in line with exactly where you thought you would end up, or how you thought you would get there. Ideally, my professional growth will complement my personal growth over the coming years. Regarding my personal life, I honestly could hope for nothing more than to know that my loved ones and I are happy and healthy.

In your opinion, what is the great challenge for the millennial generation?
Although not always a negative thing, instant gratification is definitely a challenge for Gen Y’ers because our lives are hyper-connected, and our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster as we’ve grown up. Instant gratification is said to be the adversary of hard work and perseverance. Many millennials no longer believe in the idea of going to great lengths to attain something we really desire; we expect top positions right out of school, instant answers to all of our questions, and for the Wi-Fi connection to load immediately, sans buffering. (Hey, that last one is important!) Needless to say, our capacity for patience is lower than ever.

How do we overcome this ever-growing need for instant gratification? Recognize the urges, delay acting on them, make conscious decisions, and enjoy the moment. The more time and effort we put into reaching our goals, the more gratifying it will feel when we succeed.

Why should we, as young adults, support at-risk youth in Canada?
There’s no better way of showing appreciation for the wonderful opportunities we have all been given than by trying to give those same kinds of opportunities to our at-risk youth. Strong support systems play a primary role in every adolescent’s healthy development, and for those whose families can’t provide that, we should be willing to step in. By supporting the at-risk youth, we are helping them to develop their identities, enhance their strengths, and achieve academic success.

If you could win a trip to anywhere in the world (all expenses included), where would it be and why?
Oh, this is tough! I would definitely say I’m overdue for a trip throughout Southeast Asia. Its rich culture, deep history, and gorgeous landscapes really appeal to me. I have travelled throughout Europe a few times, so travelling to a completely different part of the world would be such an exciting and thrilling experience. Plus, I really want to hang out with elephants for a day!

Carribean Beach

JENNV-SCP

Where do you currently work? What is your role?
I work for Employment and Social Development of Canada (ESDC) which is a department within the Federal Government. Currently I’m a Financial Advisor for various Service Canada offices. I work with my clients to manage salary and non-salary forecasts.

What qualities make a young professional stand out?
You can always determine which young professionals stand out from their ambition. These are the individuals who continuously strive to better themselves. They are driven and always willing to go the extra mile. 

Where do you hope to be in 10 years (professionally & personally)?
Over the next 10 years I hope to continue gaining valuable experience within the Finance and Accounting field, while also broadening my expertise in different government departments and/or the private sector. Ideally I would like to climb to a manager position.

In regards to my personal life, in 10 years I hope to be settled down with children and own my own property. 

In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge for the Millennial generation?
I’ve seen through friends and family the difficulty finding a job in their field due to high competition. The Millennial generation is highly educated and eager to work. For those dream jobs there are usually hundreds of applicants who are highly qualified and willing to do whatever for the job. Although we have an aging workforce, nowadays people prolong retirement which results in fewer positions available to the Millennial generation. 

Why should we, as young adults, support at-risk youth in Canada?
As young adults, we know firsthand the challenges faced during the transition to adulthood. Whether it’s with education, employment or other personal matters, there are numerous obstacles. By supporting at-risk youth in Canada we are aiding in the transition by ensuring they have ample opportunities and the tools required to become self-sufficient adults.

If you could win a trip to anywhere in the world (all expenses included), where would it be and why?
This is tough! I love to travel and my bucket list is quite long. If I had to choose, it would be a trip to Tanzania, Africa. I would love to go on a safari and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. A safari has been a dream since I’ve been young. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro would be an amazing adventure and incredible accomplishment.  

Suitcase Photo_with_Logo

Mark-LawsonSCP

Where do you currently work? 
I work in Government Affairs for Union Gas, a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission, and distribution company.

What qualities make a young professional stand out?
An open mind, a willingness to work hard, and the ability to deliver results. Those qualities are all useful in isolation, but together they can truly help to set you apart.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
I hope to be celebrating the 11th Annual Suitcase Party!

In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge for the Millennial generation?
I think we face the same challenges as the previous generation, and probably the generation yet to come. The challenges of an uncertain economy, the challenges of an ever-changing workforce and disruption, challenges around affordable housing, access to education and transportation…the list goes on.

But before you are filled with dismay, look at the group we attract to The Suitcase Party – a group of driven, entrepreneurial young people interested (as evidenced by their interest in causes such as this one) in giving back.

So while there are certainly challenges, I think the diverse group we attract to this party is a prime example that there are smart, motivated young people working in their professional and personal lives to confront the challenges we’re all facing. And that should fill all of us with hope.

Why should we, as young adults, support at-risk youth in Canada?
Because recently, we too were young (we’re still young!). We remember how important those formative years can be, and the importance of support and a solid foundation. So if we find ourselves in a position to help young people reach that next rung on the ladder, we have a responsibility to do so.

I’m always amazed at the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Awards night, to see how many of the young people are impacted by the Foundation’s good work.

Moreover, the Award ceremony shows just how many of those young people choose to dedicate their careers to social work, renewing the virtuous cycle. It’s inspiring, and it should motivate all of us to continue to support at-risk youth however, wherever we can.

If you could win a trip to anywhere in the world (all expenses included), where would it be and why?
I’d love to spend a month in Turkey. The country stands at its own crossroads, and at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. As a result, its culinary scene, culture, sport and history are a rich blend of that geographic reality. I’d love to spend a month touring the big cities, exploring the countryside, and getting a sense for what makes Turkey tick.

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About The Author

The Children's Aid Foundation funds programs to help Canada's most vulnerable kids overcome the obstacles in life that hold them back. We are committed to giving ongoing support to those who need it most.

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