Meet Bankole Alade
Bankole Alade is a senior Marketing Management student at the University of Guelph who founded a U of G club, Guelph Black Professionals, which had already deepened its roots and made an impact on University of Guelph students within the first year of its creation. The Guelph Black Professionals (GBP) is an organization providing professional development and experience for Black students, as well as amplifying the work of Canadian Black Professionals. This organization is an incredible addition to the experience of young professionals wishing to gain inclusive career development experience through networking, events, panels, competitions, and other career-related events at the University. Bankole shared with us his journey of creating these career opportunities for U of G students, his favourite memories and lessons learned so far while running GBP, and his advice for getting involved in the professional world.
Tell us about Guelph Black Professionals and what you do.
“The Guelph Black Professionals is an organization at Guelph hoping to provide a professional experience for Black students, as well as amplifying the voices of Black professionals in Canada on campus. We do Networking events, speaker sessions, case competitions, and recruiting panels. We also attempt to work with other student organizations and colleges to help them structure events to make them more inclusive.”
Why did you start this organization and how can people get involved?
“I started this organization last semester because I have always been really involved in the business school clubs and attended numerous events. However, I noticed that there would only be a couple of other Black students who attended these events as well. Speaking with other Black students they expressed to me why they didn’t attend these events and they expressed that they didn’t feel as though the events were for them or they didn’t hear them. I wanted to eliminate these barriers for Black students, so I started my own club with the goal of doing that. In terms of getting involved Black students can interview for our team here: https://linktr.ee/guelphbp. As well in that link, you can find our mailing list.”
What is involved in running an organization like this?
“Running an organization like this involves many different facets, especially being our first year. To begin the year, I spent a lot of time attempting to get members. I started the year with one other person to help run it with me, so the first thing I needed was members to help organize events. Secondly, we needed to create awareness of our organization on campus as well as in the community. To do this I set meetings with as many club organizers as I could get in contact with over the summer and tried to found ways we could work together. Finally, we needed to reach out to outside the industry to work with them on events.”
How do you balance this and your academic or personal life?
“The balance between both GBP and school has been challenging, however, I had a really great team that took away a lot of the burden. One thing personally that this year made me do was to become more organized and prioritize things.”
What have you learned from the process of starting GBP?
“I got three really key things from GBP. The first is that people are really ready to help when you are doing something that is truly making a difference. It was easy to get companies and the University to help with our organization, primarily because our message was so inspiring that it was easy to sell our organization. Secondly was the difference a good team can make/the importance of delegating. I’ve always been that type of person to take on tasks by myself, but this organization made that pretty much impossible. I had to rely more heavily on my team and was fortunate to have such great team members. Finally the importance of setting meaningful goals. I remember starting GBP and having tangible goals on what I wanted to see out of GBP. Like a number of members, people attending our events etc. But after our first professional event, I realized how pointless that is. What I should care about is how many people got jobs from this or how many people got interviews out of this event. That to me is more meaningful and of more importance than just attendance.”
What has been your favorite memory from GBP so far?
“I have two favorite memories of GBP. The first being a direct message I got. A person sent me a direct message saying how they were sending their kids to the University of Guelph because of our club. They were worried their kid wouldn’t feel comfortable at U of G but seeing our club has changed that for her. Secondly were the two events we ran in one week. We ran a research event and a recruitment event in the same week, which was really stressful, but it was so exciting to see how well they all turned out.”
What has the impact of GBP been on your University experience?
“It has been so incredible. I truly feel as though it has been something I can say that has begun to leave my mark on the University of Guelph. It is amazing to know that if you see a problem, you can actually solve it. Something like this will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
What would your advice be to any Black students looking for professional experience?
“The most important thing I would say is to first get involved. One thing I wish I did more was to be more involved early. Whether it is joining a student club or even starting your own. Secondly understanding there will always be barriers (hopefully as a society we work to change that) but it is still important to put yourself out there and do as much as possible to limit them as you can.”
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“The last thing I would like to mention again is this organization wouldn’t be possible without my team. However, I would like to especially thank some of the people who have been the heads of respective departments and have taken leadership roles, which have made my job easier: Mikyas Tessema, Sarah Ali, and Chelsea Ohiolei Ehimiaghe. GBP has a long way to go and I hope the success that our team has been able to bring this year carries on for years to come."