M.A.R.S. Apprentice 10 Year Anniversary

I am in full gratitude and proud mama mode. On Tuesday, January 21st I was invited to return to my school roots and to my Alma Mater McMaster University to speak at the opening ceremonies for the M.A.R.S. Apprentice. I was the lucky one who got to found the internship program in it’s first year. M.A.R.S. stands for Marketing, Advertising, Retail & Sales. My biggest mentor at the school Professor Mandeep Malik took me aside in my fourth year and said. “You know that Donald Trump show? Let’s do that!” So his idea bloomed into an experiential learning program that has now lived 10 years and is a massive success and has grown in size since I started it in 2005. The opening ceremonies were hosted at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. I was a bit sad it wasn’t in the main foyer of the DeGroote School of Business as I really wanted to get all sentimental. Apparently they still host the boardroom challenges in there still so that makes me smile. On the way into the main auditorium they had hanging posters of every Season and the names of the chairs, co-chairs and apprentices. I was so proud to see my Season 1 poster, my name as the founding chair and all my baby apprentices who have now grown up and have amazing careers!


I think I was more blown away by the attendance at the event more than anything. I launched the program before there was social media or even smartphones. We didn’t even have a website which they built in later years. I don’t even think we had many pictures of the event my year. There was maybe 30 people gathered in the foyer of the business school for my opening ceremonies and now they fill full auditoriums. I had a full panic attack about speaking in front of so many people because truthfully I put my slides together in 5 mins the night before after a long day of work and hot yoga (I’m completing a 30 day hot yoga challenge). But away I went.


I had the honour of speaking after the Associate Dean and fumbled with the slide clicker a bit. And attempted a joke in my nervousness. I had even written my speech out in the notes section of my powerpoint but there was no monitor close to the podium so wing it I did.


A lovely alumni grabbed a picture of me as I began my short 5 minute speech on what the program taught me. There were really three things I wanted to impart on the students. That one this program was the most valuable thing for me in University. I’m pretty sure I even announced that I paid McMaster tuition but I learned more running this program than I did in my classes. Whoops! Sorry McMaster! I still value the education I swear but MARS taught me skills I never would have learned otherwise. The program taught me problem solving skills, people skills (I had to teach myself how to approach companies and ask for sponsorship & internship positions for the apprentices). It taught me how to work in group settings which is invaluable in the “Real World”. I told them as apprentices they were going to fight, hate each other but they would get over it and be ever grateful for learning those skills. And finally I closed with a quote that I hoped would some how impact them. It has stuck with me all these years from my mentor Professor Mandeep Malik who I will ever be grateful for for believing that I could run this thing 10 years ago.


Make your future greater than your past
Make your contribution bigger than the reward you seek
Make your enjoyment bigger than the effort
Make your gratitude more important than your success
Make your purpose more important than the accumulation of wealth
– Professor Mandeep Malik

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