What will you do with that degree? We don’t mean to put pressure on young people, but as alumni we are curious about what today’s Trinity students will grow up to become once they leave our tight-knit College.

To help them on their journey of discovery, Trinity’s Academic Advisor, Career Exploration & Education, Cherryl-Lyn supports students in decision-making around undergraduate courses as well as applications for graduate school and next steps in career development after Trinity.

1. You joined the Trinity Student Services team in 2022. What has your experience at the College been like so far?

This is my first experience working on a university campus, and the feeling of community at Trinity is strong and special. There’s so much pride here among the students, staff, faculty and alumni in being part of Trinity College. That has really impressed me.

My favourite part of my job is my interactions with students. My earlier career was focused on employment counselling for 18-25-year-olds, and connecting with people this age is energizing and challenging and fun—often all at the same time. Trinity students have so much potential, it’s also really rewarding because the city, the country and even the world are full of possibilities for them.


2. Why do most students seek you out? How do you support them?

I end up doing a lot of myth-busting when they come to see me. It’s no secret that Trinity students are smart and ambitious. Many of them are focused on graduate school and want to be as strategic as possible in the choices they make in their undergraduate years. Many students assume based on something they’ve read online or been told that they need specific courses and specific marks to get into medical school, for example. Or that they must take physics to get into a specific field. Or that taking a double major is essential to be competitive for grad school. The reality is that different schools have different requirements, and they change all the time. On top of that, each student has to carve out the path that works for them.

My job is not to tell students what to do. It’s to help them understand their unique strengths and make sure they are aware of all their options so they can make informed choices—about their Trinity experience now as well as their future careers. I want students to be as prepared as possible so there are no surprises.


3. What trends have you noticed in the types of careers Trinity students are seeking? What are the most significant career challenges facing Trinity students right now? How do they differ from what alumni might have struggled with in the past?

There are still a lot of Trinity students who intend to pursue careers in politics, law or medicine. Internships are a big focus for many students. I’m often talking them through how to look for opportunities online using LinkedIn and other networks available to them, including in-person networks at the College.

I do speak with a lot of students who are dealing with significant stress and I can’t help but see that as a more specific challenge for this generation. They’re not just thinking about marks—they are deeply worried about the effects of inflation on their school costs, the pandemic, the environment, and conflicts in other parts of the world.

For students who want to pursue additional degrees, there’s another challenge: Many schools want students to have real-life work experience in addition to their high GPAs. But working while in school isn’t for everyone, especially in some cultures, where the tendency is to focus on marks alone.

All of this takes a toll on a young person. Sometimes I just listen. And then I do what I can to connect with them the range of supports we can offer them through Student Services, which might include learning, writing, academic or mental health supports. We have a great team at Trinity, and they truly care about the well-being of our students.


4. You recently launched Trinity’s first alumni mentorship event. Can you tell us more about it?

It was amazing! I knew that many of our students could benefit from hearing from Trinity alumni about their experiences and choices during and after their time at the College. In developing the plan for this alumni mentorship series, I hoped for good engagement but I was blown away by how receptive and willing our alumni were to help.

In September we hosted a student-alumni information evening at the College focused on the fields of medicine, law, entrepreneurship, film and television, computer science and international relations. Students had the opportunity to ask questions in larger groups and we had a fun alumni panel as well. I’m still chuckling about the audible gasp among the students when one alum who is a lawyer explained that most lawyers don’t actually spend much time in the courtroom.

Students especially like to identify with alumni who have built careers in the fields they are interested in. The event was so popular that we have planned a series of smaller group evenings over the course of the next few months, each one focusing on a more specific field.


5. How can alumni connect with and support Trinity’s current students?

There are a lot of ways alumni can support Trinity students right now. One obvious option is to donate to our student support programs, to help ensure that students have the resources they need throughout their time here.

Alumni who are interested in being mentors for students can sign up for our upcoming Alumni Mentorship Program events. We will be hosting smaller conversation circles over the coming months where students can connect with alumni from specific fields. These circles are a great way for alumni to get involved without making a full-year commitment—some might be comfortable making a presentation, while others might prefer to have one-on-one conversations with students.

There’s a particular need for alumni with diverse backgrounds. We have a lot of students who are racialized or who have disabilities, for example, who want to hear from alumni from those communities about their unique experiences and challenges in building their careers.


Editor’s note: Are you a Trinity alum who is interested in connecting with students at an upcoming Alumni Mentorship event? Send an email to alumni@trinity.utoronto.ca for more information. To donate to support Trinity’s students, please visit our Ways to Give page.