Waterloo alumni speaks on sustainability and purpose

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Most university students are faced with the overwhelming question of “what will I do after I graduate?”

After four or more years of classes, homework, essays, labs, exams, professors, roommates, and so forth —it is both an exciting and daunting prospect to think about not identifying as a student anymore.

However, when Simone Weinstein, a UW alumni from the environment and business program, spoke at the Oct. 26 SCI Talks: Working with Purpose: Embedding Sustainability, she provided some helpful insight for those pondering this question.

Weinstein encouraged everyone to try to find what their purpose might be. She defined purpose as being your authentic self and discovering the reason why you enjoy doing things.

As the project coordinator for Provision Coalition, a not-for-profit company located in Guelph, Weinstein helps small to medium-sized companies implement sustainability into their business plans.

Sustainability is defined to include environmental, social, community, and economic aspects.

Provision Coalition works with companies by first helping them discover their purpose beyond making profits.

Then, they help the company create their vision, which is where they want to go in the future. Next, they set up strategic pillars to achieve this vision, with sustainability embedded throughout the pillars.

To ensure that the business plan gains traction, they assist in building the internal capacity of the company.

This is important to ensure that employee behavioural change takes place, and is done so by building the company leaders ability as a communicator, liaison, advocate, resistant manager, and coach.

This framework, which comes from the book Purposefully Profitable by Provision Coalition Director Brett Wills, can also be applied directly to people.

When Weinstein realized this, she spent some time trying to find her own.

“It was asking myself those questions, like why do I enjoy what I do, digging deep, [and] thinking [about] who I am at the core. It was a process,” Weinstein said.

Eventually, she realized that once someone discovers their purpose, it is not about finding one perfect job for anyone — Rather, it is about finding their purpose within a job. It is about shifting mindsets.

“Find your purpose, find the why of what you enjoy doing, and try to go after any type of opportunity that would allow to apply that to your purpose,” Weinstein said.

To identify one’s own purpose, Weinstein suggests to start asking questions such as “Why do I enjoy what I do?” as well as read books and watch videos on the topic.

For current students, Weinstein’s advice is for them to start volunteering, start passion projects, and take networking opportunities.

Attendee Delainey Lindstron-Humphries, Mechanical Engineering 1A, left the event feeling inspired.

“I’m going to  have to start thinking about my own purpose, and what I want to do, and the type of impact that I want to make,” Lindstron-Humphries said.

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