Ten Thousand Coffees connects students, industry leaders

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Ten Thousand Coffees founder Dave Wilkin (left), and John Betts, CEO of McDonald's Canada, chat over a coffee while discussing the new program.

Imagine being a Brock University student, recent graduate or young professional and going for coffee with Rick Mercer?

How about a Skype conversation with the CEO of a multinational company?

It’s now possible thanks to Ten Thousand Coffees, an initiative designed to bridge the gap between the leaders of today and the social generation.

“What we’ve heard from students is it’s a very difficult process to go through networking as it is today,” founder Dave Wilkin said. “There’s so much talent in college and university, but traditional mediums aren’t allowing them to break through.”

Launched only two months ago, the company matches young people (novices) looking to establish themselves with business leaders and industry professionals (experts).

Novices can meet experts for coffee or chat electronically, discussing ideas and building partnerships and mentorships that are mutually beneficial.

“They all talked about how they wanted to learn about the next generation, and the way they were doing it was coffee chats,” Wilkin said of the experts.

The idea is taking off.

There are already more than 1,000 of Canada’s top experts from over 700 companies and 30 industries signed up.

All students, recent grads and young professionals have to do is sign up and find someone from a field of interest with whom they can meet.

“We provide them with the ability to contact experts and allow them to learn about them in ways they couldn’t find online,” Wilkin said. “(The) request process helps students and recent grads showcase themselves.”

Some experts who planned to meet for coffee a few times a month are doing so a few times a week, Wilkin said.

Having one-on-one conversations over coffee (or online) helps eliminate some of the awkwardness and intimidation.

“It’s way beyond having contact info. It’s learning about them and how to position yourself,” Wilkin said. “It could be anything. Not just jobs, but mentorship, insight, knowledge and being able to help industry leaders change their businesses.”

So far, young people from over 400 cities and institutions from across Canada - including Brock - have signed up.

Campus meet-ups will soon be available for students to meet business and industry leaders.

“We’re excited to meet people from the Brock community … who want to raise their hand and meet with community leaders,” Wilkin said. “There’s such great caliber and a community at Brock, the time is now to join the movement and tell us how we can help.”

Posted on March 14, 2014

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