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Bell builds a community of young professionals through networking events.Supplied

Ann-Julie Bonin joined Bell Canada in 2017 shortly after earning an engineering degree from Montréal’s Concordia University. She was enrolled in the company’s three-year new-grad program and, to her surprise, was quickly managing a team of 30 field technicians – some of whom had children older than she was.

She embraced the challenge and found lasting benefit. “I loved the experience,” says Bonin, who is currently director of technical services with the field services business unit. “It taught me so much about how to manage a team. I still use what I learned there on a day-to-day basis.”

In her current role, she oversees a team of 30 managers. They are responsible for the smooth operation of the company’s contact centres and the 1,500 agents who work there.

“Bell has a strong focus on bringing in and nurturing early-in-career talent through our grad and intern streams, and our co-op and summer student programs,” says Angie Harrop, director, talent strategy. “We also offer career growth and learning opportunities for all team members through our mentoring program and Bell University resources.”

Brandon White accepted a position at Bell in September 2020 after graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston with a bachelor of computing degree, which is a mix of computer science and software engineering. “I wanted a company that had a new-grad program,” says White, a technical product manager based in Toronto. “I thought that would be the best way to get exposure to the company and get up to speed on industry knowledge.”

The program exceeded his expectations and made for a smooth start to his career. First, he participated in orientation sessions where he and other new hires were able to speak to executives. He also had an opportunity to meet and network with other recent graduates. “It helped create a community of young people,” says White.

Those who participate in the program are expected to spend a year in a position before moving on to something else. “There was a very clear path for the first three years of my career,” says Bonin. “You’re given that flexibility to find roles across the organization that are tailored to your interests and skill set.”

Mentoring has also proved invaluable to both White and Bonin. “I’ve had multiple mentors,” says White. “I was assigned a mentor who was on the cloud professional services team. He always had time for me whenever I had questions. Some were very straightforward, but I felt comfortable asking them.”

He has also felt comfortable speaking up and providing his perspective even when working with colleagues many years his senior. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, they know everyone’s voice matters,” White says. “Even seasoned employees seek out a grad’s idea.”

For her part, Bonin still has the same mentor assigned to her when she joined the company. She has found the relationship rewarding enough that she has become an enthusiastic mentor herself. “I mentor three graduates in the new-grad program,” she says. “It is extremely rewarding to be able to give back and watch your mentees grow.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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