Spotlight: Brandesha Sinclair from The Working Millennial

Earlier this year I sat down with Cassondra Kyra from The Working Millennial to discuss navigating through finances as a young woman and her journey to become financially literate. In a follow-up to that interview I meet with Brandesha Sinclair, the creator of The Working Millennial to discuss why millennials need an employment website catered to them, how she sees the job market changing in the future and the challenges faced during the job search. She is a Job Coach, Facilitator and Content Creator.

On creating The Working Millennial

Why did you decide to make an employment focused website?

I’ve always had the idea in my head, but I never really saw myself taking the action to do it. One day I was browsing and Wix was having a promotion so something in my gut told me to just go for it. I always had the idea and notes for it, but I wasn’t putting in the effort to pursue it. As of Fall 2017, has been up, and right now I’m just learning and working on implementing the other ideas I have for the website.

...And what other ideas do you have for the website?

So with what I do, my passions lie with career development and media. I want to bring those together on to one platform where I can provide information to millennials. I think millennials are different, we are multidimensional, so I want to provide information that is relevant but also has personality and is informative. For the website I want to add things such as a job board for jobs available in the GTA, a spotlight for millennials making big moves in their careers or startup companies, to give them some recognition and help build that network for young professionals in Toronto. I will also be creating more visual content such as videos just to make the site more engaging.

Why do you think millennials need a website catered specifically to them?

In terms of the type of information we are offering, employment and financial literacy, there is definitely a gap in comparison to the older generation, especially in terms of finance. For example, the idea of buying a house is almost a myth for us, so just having those conversations. I find in terms of employment and career development, in speaking with my circle of friends and people I’ve gone to school with, it’s something that everyone seems to have a challenge with. Having those conversations where it’s not an older person who is more distant from the workforce and might not know what the experience is like. Whereas I’ve experienced it, and it’s something where we are able to have that conversation and exchange those tips and tricks so that all of us can succeed. We are the future, we are very present in the market right now and I think it’s very important for us to have those connections and to help each other grow in society.  And to continue that to the next generation, generation z, to help them with that transition as well.   

Do you see the working millennial as eventually being your full-time job?

What I envision for myself, I don’t see myself sitting at the desk I am right now. I do want to have something for myself and what I have going, I think there is so much potential for it. I’m learning as I go, and I just want to see it flourish and have something of my own, I don't want your typical 9 to 5. Although you see a lot of people saying they want to be an entrepreneur, they don’t really know what being an entrepreneur entails. Right now, I’m just going with the flow but eventually I would want that to be my full time thing.


On millennials in the workforce

What do you think is missing in our generation when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur?

Everyone has the idea; especially with social media and seeing all these images it's very glamorized. I can even say myself that I’m a victim to it. You see everyone living this glamorous life, but you don’t ever see what’s behind it. You don’t see that people are up until 3am answering emails or making sure shipments get to where they need to be. It’s different because you don’t know where your next dollar is going to come from and a lot of people don’t realize that. You need to have a foundation started because a lot of people just jump into something, which, I understand taking those risks for your dreams, but at the same time you need to be strategic. I would suggest transitioning into it, start it out as your side hustle and see if it’s something you can see yourself doing because some people don’t have that work ethic. I think a lot of millennials are fascinated by the idea of it but not willing to create a plan.

How do you see the workplace changing for millennials in the future?

I definitely see a shift in the demographics, different barriers being broken. So, in my experience I’ve only had one person in power that was a woman of colour. I definitely see that changing with race(s), gender, etc. In terms of the barriers I see today with gender, there’s so many women that are just so hard working yet receiving small salaries, I definitely see that changing. Diversity in terms of race, and ways of becoming more accommodating of individuals identifying with disabilities. We are much more open minded and willing to listen to what the concerns are and find innovative ways of incorporating those things and bridging those gaps.

What changes do you currently see happening with millennials entering the workforce?

Definitely with millennials I’m seeing a broader spectrum of what people are going for, especially with technology. It’s not just gender specific, anyone can do it. Even if you were to go a more traditional route like education or healthcare, technology is heavily invested in that. But with the people I cross paths with, there is definitely a more traditional lens, so with social work, nursing, ECE, there’s still a lot of women. But with immigrants and international students there is definitely a difference, you see more women in math, science and technology. It seems to be more normalized with women. In terms of the educational path there seems to be a shift but there is still a traditional route.


On the challenges of employment/unemployment

What is some advice you would give to someone that is currently unemployed?

You have to be super driven, even if you go to access career services or an employment coach; they aren’t going to hold your hand. The only person standing between you and your career opportunity is you, you have to make sure you're doing your part. Having someone create your resume for you can only get you so far. I can do your resume but if you don’t take the time to go through your career history and guide someone through your experiences, it's inconsistent. For example, when you’re in an interview and you don’t know what you're talking about. Also, be clear about what you want, even if you are at an indecisive phase in your career; have somewhat of an idea on what you are willing to explore. Having a focus helps guide your job search because you'll know where to look, you’ll know what these employers are looking for and you’ll be able to provide more quality information rather than have a generic resume applying for all these positions and being overlooked because it’s not as concrete as someone else who has the experience. And don’t be discouraged!

Since Toronto is a very diverse city with people coming from other countries, what do you see in terms of employment/unemployment for immigrants?

In a way for a lot of them coming to a new country is a lot. You don’t know how to really navigate the system and with the whole credential system you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it is equivalent, sometimes it is not. But the market is so competitive over here as it is, and you might not know who the top competitors are, or what the norms are, and you don’t have connections because with employment networking is a really big thing. Sometimes they are coming by themselves and they just get lost in the sauce.

Once again there are two types of mindsets you go, some who think they are going to get the top position because this is Canada and the land of opportunity, and you have others that would be happy with a cashier job even if they’ve had years of experience in a top-level position. Working in employment I see the realities of it and sometimes they do have to take more of a survival job. Not knowing the market, not having connections, sometimes that is used as a barrier, having your credentials from somewhere. But at the same time some individuals just don’t know how to market themselves and that’s the same for people born and raised here. You can have that credential but if you don’t know how to market those things you’re kind of stuck. You are your brand.  

Do you find that people are willing to take any job that comes to them rather than waiting it out for what they actually want to do?

That’s an interesting question because you get both ends of the spectrum. You get people that will take whatever comes to them and have kind of given up hope or just aren’t patient. In which case you’ll see people take on survival jobs until they get the opportunity they are looking for which is understandable and I kind of recommended at this time with living expenses. But don’t get comfortable in that survival job, keep looking for what you want. But you also get people that feel entitled and they’re so focused on getting a specific role, but they have some serious gaps. I’ve had some people that are super picky, and have so many great opportunities that just go out the window. So, you have those that are resistant, and those that are flexible but lose focus.

And what kind of advice would you give to each type of person?

For both individuals keep an open mind, learn what you can as you go. Definitely be determined but try not to be idle or resistant. You have to be fluid in this day and age, there are always transferable skills you can get whether it’s a survival job or not. Just learn what you can and make the most out of it.    


Written by: Ashleigh H.

Very Good Lives, the Fringe Benefits of Failure & the Importance of Imagination

While I was on vacation, I thought I was going to do a lot of reading, it seems, I was wrong. I was not in the reading mindset, and was having trouble disengaging from my inbox this trip. It might have something to do with a lot of busy events in the next few weeks, but nonetheless, reading did not make it into the schedule for me. Even now, instead I am writing. However, I was able to get through Very Good Lives, by JK Rowling in about half an hour. Very Good Lives is the printed version of Jo's 2008 commencement speech given to Harvard Graduates on the Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.

What I enjoyed about this book, other than the fact that it took me less than half an hour to read, was that it touched on two topics that I really related to, and wish I had heard when I graduated last year.

Failure, we are told so often in our educational careers, is a bad thing. Failure would lead to dropping out, and dropping out would lead to difficulty in career choices. People would tell us that failure was ok, but then remind us that we needed certain grades to remain in our program, certain levels of professionalism in order to succeed; therefore failure, was not ok.

There were certain things about my education that were very instrumental in me becoming who I am today, most of them, were not due to my education at all. However, to fail at my education, would have me failing at everything my education brought with it, so failure was not an option in the slightest.

Fast forward a few years, and the quote 'fail hard, but fail fast' is often quoted in my line of work. Failure, it seems, isn't so bad after all. Failure, in it's essence is an opportunity to learn, and gives space for growth. Nobody is perfect, and if they were, they would achieve nothing more than a perfect life.

Growth comes from failure, but do so hard, and fast, and get it over with so you can move onto the next amazing thing that came out of that failure, or something new that the failure was causing you to ignore in replace.

When you hear JK Rowling discuss the importance of imagination, the first assumption is that she believes in its importance as it helped shape her career. While that is part of it, the imagination that one has can lead you to do great things, if you let it.

Imagination is more than just dreaming up creative characters, plot lines and stories, although, I do get lost in there sometimes, especially within Jo's worlds. The ability to imagine a greater place, a new technology, or something out of your scope, is what leads to the generation of amazing ideas, and further more, amazing feats. When you combine the ability to grow from failure, with the imagination to do something greater, your opportunities for growth increase greatly.

And with that sentiment, JK Rowling wants the graduates of Harvard to live Very Good Lives, through growth, and through failure and their imaginations.

Our Top 5 Resume Writing Tips

Whether you're unhappy with your job but curious what is out there, it's always good to know what the market is like. That's why our third workshop of the year  focused on resumes! We've been waiting for this event to happen for so long. With a cool boardroom to work in at Workplace One hosted by Kathryn Torangeau, People and Culture Manager at Wave and former recruiter at Randstad Canada, she steered us through the ins-and-outs of the modern job hunt. The night could not have gone better! For those of your who couldn't make out on a rainy November night, here are the top 5 resume writing tips from our workshop to help you keep your resume fresh. You never know when an opportunity will strike!

1. Identify your motivation

Why are you looking for a job? No, seriously. Almost everyone wants to make money, but identify what your other goals are when looking at job postings. Do you want to develop specific skills or gain certain experience? Knowing what you really want will help you to tailor your resume but also find the right job for you.

2. Use job search tools

Online job searching tools have become pretty common but which ones will bring you the best opportunities? Here's our short list.

  • Monster - One of the giants! It includes jobs from Canada and the U.S. which employers post directly.
  • Workopolis - Based in Canada, this is another big site which employers will creating listings on.
  • Indeed - Definitely the most popular right now. Indeed is an aggregator which means all the postings on it are pulled from other websites, making it a great way to search widely in one place.
  • LinkedIn - You have an account anyway (and if you don't, get one!) and because HR reps and recruiters spend a lot of time checking out candidates on LinkedIn they post their jobs on their too. Good news - LinkedIn is smart so the more you fill out your profile the more likely it is to find jobs that match and bring them to you.

3. Decipher the job description

Really pay attention to the job posting you want to apply to. Print it out or make a copy of it in Word then go through and highlight any repeated words. Skills or tasks which are repeated 2+ times are a sure sign that this is what the hiring manager is really looking for. Make sure you use those same words in your resume (always being truthful!), recruiters don't care if you use the same words back at them. In fact, mirroring someone's speech patterns or body language often builds rapport and people don't mind it as much as you think they do. Make sure you balance it though, you still have to be yourself - don't just copy and paste.

4. Write a brand statement

When you Google resume templates or look for guides on how to write resumes you may come across a section called the "Objective." It's a statement at the top which usually says you are seeking such and such a job in field x, y, or z. The problem is this isn't adding any value to your resume and  you're starting off with telling the hiring manager something that they already know. Instead, start off your resume with something that differentiates you: a brand statement. A brand statement is a short summary 1-2 sentences long which highlights what value you are offering an employer while showing your personality. It should be your go-to answer when someone asks you to describe what you do.

5. Stay away from cliches

Team player. Go-getter. Innovative. Self-starter. These are all words that we know hiring managers want to hear but the problem is they have been way overused. Think about how you would define what you're describing yourself as and then spell it out. Suddenly, what you can do is a lot clearer. For example, what does it actually mean to be a team player? It means you're likely someone who listens, gives and receives feedback well, collaborates with others and doesn't put themselves before the team. Doesn't that sound more interesting than a "team player"?

What are some of your tips to keep your resume fresh?

Catherine is a storyteller, communications specialist, and blogger. When she isn't corporately communicating she is spreading her love of Canlit through her blog Hot Pepper Latte or lifting weights so she can read big books for longer periods of time. You can follow her online @cat_vendryes

Get Your Tickets For Workshop Your Resume

It’s that time again. Time to update that resume, but don’t know where to start. You’re looking for a new job, wanting to explore your options and see what’s out there, but you’re stuck at trying to put together the best kick-ass resume that shows off your skills as a young professional. Don’t worry—we’ve all been there and there are many resources to help you out. Young Women in Business Toronto Chapter is pleased to present “Workshop your Resume”, the third installment in our workshop series that helps people get back on their feet and give guidance to constructing a resume that perfectly describes you and nail that next perfect job! Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with resumes. It’s a great way to have all your work experience, skills, interests’ etc., written down and properly displayed on a sheet of paper, but it’s frustrating when you don’t know how to show off your personality on paper. I think that’s one of the biggest struggles people face when trying to put together their resume. It’s that, “How do I show off my creative and vibrant personality, but still show my work ethic?” Well, here at Young Women in Business Toronto, we have brought in Recruitment and Resource Manager Kathryn Torangeau, formerly of Randstad Canada to run a two hour workshop tutorial. This will be a great way to get one-on-one help with your resume and learn valuable tips and tricks from an industry professional that can help bring out your personal, quirky, creative, fantastic self!

It will be a small and intimate event with limited spaces, so hurry over and get a ticket! The workshop will be held at Workplace One King West. Can’t wait to see you all there!

Lessons on the Side Hustle: A recap

Last week was 

The Side Hustle: Panel & Meet up Event

 and we were blown away by the turnout! Thank you so much to our panelists: 

Katherine Andrikopoulos


Pansy Lee


Chanele McFarlane


Frances Murray

, and

Anum Rubec

 for sharing your passion!  Thanks also to our partner 

RL Solutions

for lending us their space, and of course, the attendees for your thoughtful questions. Seeing the room full of excited, passionate young women and men was inspiring. There were so many helpful ideas about how to handle the 9-5 and find fulfillment in the side hustle, so we've collected some of the thoughts below. From inspirational advice to useful apps here are the highlights from the panel to help you get your passion project off the ground:

On maintaining a work-life balance

  • Save yourself time - Delegate work you aren't good at, so you don't have to do it all
  • Plan to have a social life - Organize events in advance, plan out time for yourself, and stick to that schedule.
  • Learn to say no! -  The side hustle can become so much of your life. Don't let it lead to burn out.

On helpful resources

  • Use your network - Talk to people you already know! When you're excited about a project it can be infectious. People nearest and dearest to you may be able to help you or connect you with someone who can.
  • Build on that network - There are many venues where you can meet influencers and supporters. YWiB events for one! Also look up events that relate to your passion. Find great events near you on Eventbrite.
  • Google! - There is so much information out there, you can teach yourself everything. Look at how your favourites do it and don't be scared to imitate it at the start.
  • Ruthlessly prioritize - Spread too thin? Say no to things that don't put you ahead in your passions. There will always be more opportunities and it's the best way to keep all of your goals on track.
  • Create an accountability group - Tell people about your goals to help keep you accountable. Pick friends, relatives, and coworkers who will routinely check in to see how you're doing. Nothing is as motivating as telling others you're working on a project and having them ask you how it's going.

On facing their greatest challenges

  • Lifestyle changes - Watching Netflix at home everyday isn't an option for an entrepreneur. You're going to have to spend time outside of working hours if your want your passion project to take off.
  • Having confidence - Being in the public eye can be intimidating. Remember that if you believe in it, so will others. Anum didn't show her YouTube channel to people she knew until 1 year after she had started.
  • "Too busy" is bullshit - You can make time for what you want. Examine your schedule and be realistic about time. Do you have opportunities in your current schedule to work? During the commute or at the gym you can manage your emails, do the administrative work, or plan out your next steps.
  • Managing the little time you have - Create lists. Lists upon lists. Make sure your lists have lists. Find a system that works for you. Try a bullet journal.

What makes the long days worth it?

  • Innovation - Being able to create something new and inspired. For Frances, it's turning desserts on their head, coming up with a creative new way of doing anything is exciting and empowering.
  • Making a difference - Social enterprises that support and inspires others are their own reward. Hearing how your project impacts others, whether it's inspiring them to dress well or giving them the confidence to take on their own passion projects.
  • Reaching your goals - Having people tell you that you can't do it sucks, but it can also be motivating. However, nothing feels better than proving them wrong. For Kat Andrikopoulos, it was raising  +$300,000 for families with Alzheimer's when others thought Memory Ball wasn't going to accomplish much.

How do you get back on track when you take a break?

  • Take it slow - Don't think you can conquer your whole to-do list right when you come back. Start with 1 to 3 action items to get you back in the groove.
  • Know when you need to recharge - Sometimes not being able to keep up the pace is a sign you need a break. Be aware of what you need whether it's sleeping 8 hours, exercising twice a week, or keeping snacks nearby.
  • Go out and find inspiration - See places, do things, look for inspirational quotes. Knowing others have done it or hearing someone else cheer you on can give you the boost you need.
  • Get focused - Look at your vision board, make a list of short-term and long-term goals, or just check your calendar, especially if you have clients! Talk to your accountability group for a pep talk.

How do you stay concentrated? 

  • Get it down on paper - Being online can be distracting, sometimes you have to reign it in on paper. Write it out physically and avoid getting sucked into the internet. It's also helpful for separating mandatories, priorities, and small to-dos.
  • Find the right space - Location, location, location! Make sure you have a good space to work in. Wherever you need to be to get your work done is important. Turn off the notifications on your phone or go to airplane mode if you need the break to get stuff down.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique - Take a 5 minute break for every 25-45 minutes of work. There's even a Chrome extension to help you keep on track.
  • Don't multitask - Tackle one thing at a time to make sure you are focused and everything is done properly the first time.

What are some digital tools or apps you use to get stuff done?

  • Google Calender - For keeping track of deliverables, meetings, and events wherever you are.
  • Google Drive - Keep all of your documents with you and share them with others as needed.
  • Pocket - For savings articles or blogs so you can find them and read them again later, even when you're offline.
  • Planoly - Plan out your Instagram posts in advance.
  • Post schedule - Schedule your blog posts and social media content.
  • Evernote - Take notes on your phone then access them seamlessly on your computer. (It's what I used to write this blog post!)

What do you do when negative people come your way?

  • Know your self-worth - Don't keep negative energy in your life. It's difficult to part ways with people but it's important to know that your time is precious and if someone will only be hurting you then you don't need to spend your time on them.
  • Know that sometimes they are just concerned about you - Sometimes it's just a matter of wanting you to be safe and secure, especially when it's your close family and friends. Make sure you're looking at the intention behind the words even if they didn't express it well.
  • Practice words of affirmation - You drive where you are looking. Practicing affirmative words will keep you confident and help you stay in a positive head space.
  • React with positivity - It can hurt, but hurting others back only hurts yourself more. Make sure you react in a way that won't hurt your psyche. You'll feel stronger and better if you keep your cool and return negativity with positivity.

Balancing a full-time job and two side projects: Ask Chanele McFarlane!

Chanele McFarlane - Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well

Chanele McFarlane is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well. The website is a resource for professional women to succeed in style and their careers by providing networking, personal branding and wardrobe advice. She is also a Digital Marketing Consultant for Vision Vertical. But this isn’t her 9-5, she has a full-time job as a Digital Marketing Coordinator!

We had a chance to chat with Chanele and asked her a few questions about how she balances her demanding schedule and juggles all of her priorities. Chanele will be speaking YWiB’s The Side Hustle: Panel and Meetup event so come on out to hear more about how this accomplished women manages it all!

  1. How do you balance your full-time job, side project and personal life?

For me, the key to the balance between all three is prioritization and organization. When you have a number of things that demand your time, you have no choice but to begin prioritizing which things are the most important. For example, before starting Do Well Dress Well, I would always come home and watch a few hours of television before falling asleep. Now, that’s pretty much impossible for me to do as it means that I lose out on valuable hours that I could be writing blog posts or any other work to help build my brand presence.

I always start each week with a “master to-do list” that outlines every single action item that needs to be completed. With my entire list in mind, every morning I create a “daily to-do list” that has 2 or 3 things that I have to focus on for the day. When you break up your large to-do list into smaller lists, you’ll instantly feel less overwhelmed. It’s also important that you then assign a priority to each thing on your list - 1 being the most important.

I have found it helpful to designate certain days to focusing solely on my side projects. Monday and Wednesday evenings are for Do Well Dress Well and Thursday evenings are for Vision Vertical, my consultancy business with my husband. Tuesday and Friday evenings are usually reserved for relaxation. I then use the weekends to catch up on work for both while also ensuring that I take enough breaks, spend time with family and go on a fun date night. Sometimes, I do have to move my designated days around depending on my work schedule or other unexpected things that may come up but for the most part, I stick to this schedule. I’ve also started taking advantage of my lunch breaks so that I can save some time in the evenings. I like to use my lunch hour to draft a few blog posts, respond to emails, plan my Instagram feed using Planoly and schedule social content using CoSchedule. Being productive during this time has really helped me to accomplish more during the workweek.

Also, having a planner and a notebook is so, so important. I use both a physical planner and my Google Calendar to keep me on track. I like to use colour-coding not only to be a bit more organized but it allows me to see how much time I am allocating to each area in my life. For example, if my calendar is full of the colour pink (the colour I use for Do Well Dress Well items), I compare that to my other responsibilities to see if I need to adjust my balance.

Finding the right balance is certainly not something that happens overnight. I started my business back in February and it’s only now that I feel like I’m at a point where I’ve found the organizational methods that work for me. It takes a lot of trial and error (and yes, it took a bout of burnout as well) but through that experience, I’ve now found a balance that allows me to successfully maintain the relationships in my personal life.

  1. What inspired you to develop Do Well Dress Well and what was the process for developing and launching the website?

About 4 years ago, I was walking to the train after a long evening at my internship when the words literally popped into my head. I was at a point in my life where I was thinking about my “purpose” and what it means to succeed. I was performing well at my internship but another thing that I noticed was how much my personal style was becoming a part of my brand. I realized how much “doing well and dressing well” have in common and realized that there weren’t any resources to help guide you with both. After years of going back and forth on whether to start a website and always having people ask me questions relating to career advice and professional image, I decided it was time to bring my idea to fruition.

The process for developing and launching took about 3 months. I spent at least a month conducting research to figure out what elements I wanted to incorporate on the site. During this time, I read a lot of blog posts and spent a crazy amount of time on Pinterest gathering inspiration. I then spent about a month on elements such as setting up my domain (I actually bought it in 2014 but didn’t do anything with it) and hosting, figuring out what type of theme I wanted, setting up a business email, securing my social handles and sorting out any technical things. Lastly, for one month, I focused solely on content because I didn’t want to launch without having at least a few posts there.

  1. What is your advice for professional women looking to turn their ideas into developed projects?

Start today but make sure you are at a point in your life where you can be consistent. Being consistent is way more important than having the perfect logo or website theme. When I initially started Do Well Dress Well, I had a very different brand image than I do now. I was extremely indecisive when it came to finalizing a logo and design so I decided to just launch the website and begin building an audience. I consistently wrote 2 blog posts a week and posted on my social media channels and eventually my following began to grow. Once I reached a point where I was like “Okay, I can really do this!”, I knew it was time to go back and design a brand image that I loved and so 4 months after initially launching, I rebranded into the look that you see today.

I also recommend finding someone (whether it’s a friend, acquaintance or family member) that will hold you accountable. Thankfully, I not only had my husband who (lovingly) nagged me every day that I needed to get Do Well Dress Well up and running but I had a few friends who would send me texts and emails every few days to ask if I’ve made any progress. I’ve found that once you share your ideas with other people, it will encourage you to keep focused as you don’t want to let them down.

Last thing - make sure that you’re passionate about it. It’s so easy to come up with ideas but I encourage you to really pinpoint the ones that you truly have a passion for. These are typically the ideas that you just cannot stop thinking about. It’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep. When you decide to pursue a side project, there is going to be so many late nights, early mornings and a lot of missed events because you simply need as much time as possible to dedicate to it. If your project is a passion, you won’t be bothered by the change of lifestyle because it genuinely makes you happy and it is allowing you to become the best version of yourself.

  1. What has been the most rewarding aspect of Do Well Dress Well and what has been the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect is being able to be a valuable resource of information and inspiration for women in various stages of their careers. It genuinely makes me so happy when someone leaves a comment on the website or tweets me to let me know that they found a particular blogpost helpful, they successfully used my networking tips and I have inspired them to dress better at work. I’ve truly found my purpose in creating valuable content and creating networking experiences to help women live remarkable lives. The most challenging has been the lifestyle adjustment as building and maintaining a brand definitely takes time! It was tough at first getting used to waking up extra early to get work done before heading off to my full-time job but now that I’ve found the right balance, it has become less of a challenge.

Serial Side Hustler? Ask Katherine Andrikopoulos!

What is your day job? Roles and responsibilities? I work at Cossette Media as a Performance Manager where I develop the strategy and oversee paid search, SEO, performance display and social media campaigns. My clients include large CPG and retail companies. I lead a small team thats ensures our clients are seeing in-store and online revenue from their ad campaigns. I also stay on top of consumer trends so my clients can best serve their consumers' needs. Part of my responsibilities include educating clients on the latest search and social developments, thoughtful analysis and optimization of our clients' campaigns and developing progression plans for junior team members.

What is your passion?

I'm a people person, I love collaborating with my colleagues and mentoring team members who are newer to the media and advertising industry. I care about promoting equality and diversity in addition to awareness about early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

What side projects are you involved in? What made you get involved/co-found? How do you find the time to it all? How did you overcome the challenges?

I co-founded Memory Ball, a charity event that focuses on raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease within the under 40 demographic. Memory Ball was the result of my mentor (and also my best friend's mom) Jane, being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's when she was in her early fifties. At the time, no one could fathom that Jane had Alzheimer's at such a young age. I remember being very concerned and confused seeing her behaviour change. Seeing my best friend, Carolyn Poirier, and her younger sister, Claire, be so brave in the face of care-giving in their teens made me realize how little support there is for young caregivers.

In addition to Memory Ball, I work on Filling the Gap, a women's empowerment event that donates all proceeds to the Schlifer Clinic and I'm involved in HER Collective, a network of creative women. Filling the Gap came out of seeing very few women at the top corporate ranks. My co-founders Sadie, Janice and I wanted to do something to help women advance in their careers, showoff women's accomplishments and of course, close the wage gap for women. Gender equality is a hard thing to tackle so we wanted to help women throughout the community which is why working with the Schlifer Clinic and supporting their work with women, who've been affected by violence is very meaningful. HER Collective was started by my good friend Talya Macedo who brought me on at the very beginning, and it's been a great outlet for my creative pursuits and opportunity to work with with an incredibly talented group of young women.

On top of that, I teach digital marketing foundations on a part-time basis at Red Academy. I enjoy working with my students and other instructors.

How do you maintain a work-life balance? How do you stay organized?

My friends will tell you that I live by my GCal, everything goes in there or it's not happening. I also try and get up early to work out (which I'll admit I've been slacking on) and I make time to stretch and walk around during the day. My coworkers think I'm a nerd because I have a standing desk which makes me feel healthy and helps me focus. I also try and stay strict with time commitments and being realistic of how much I can commit to within a day. I also find completing a task right away or designating a time to do something helps keep me on track. I'm a fan of a number of productivity apps but my absolute favourite is a good old fashioned written to-do list.

Why should people get involved with side projects while working?

Side projects are a great way to learn new skills and meet people. I find that working on different pieces ultimately makes me better at my day job. I often get ideas and inspiration from my side projects to incorporate at work and vice versa.

For example, working on marketing Memory Ball puts me in the role of a marketing director, similar to what any business deals with (at a much smaller level) so I'm better equipped to understand business objectives; whereas with Red, teaching students, I can figure out a better way to explain a concept to my clients and make my presentations to them more fun and interactive.

Name a success you are proud of that’s come out of your projects?

I'm incredibly proud of what we've been able to achieve with Memory Ball. In 5 years, we raised over $300,000 for the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. I'm always incredulous when people say they've heard of Memory Ball. Oftentimes, they're confusing it with Motionball, but when they're not, it's a very proud moment. We've also gotten coverage in the Toronto Star, Notable, the Globe and Mail, CBC News, influential Toronto blogs and more, which has been significant for us to reach more people with our message that Alzheimer's isn't just an old person's disease.

How do you find downtime/relax?

Ha..ha..ha...This summer has been incredibly busy but I am making time for a beach vacation. In addition to that, and to be completely cliché, I've been re-introducing meditation into my life with the help of apps like Headspace and a book I have that has a collection of different meditations. Working on so many different projects has also helped me zero in on what's important to me, such as spending time with friends, family and my partner. I try to more of that in, which sometimes means planning get-togethers in advance.

Favourite spot in the city to unwind?

I'm a big fan of going for a walk around Kensington market, lounging in Trinity Bellwoods park or pretending to be fancy in Yorkville. I like to go to Sweet Olenka's for ice cream or grab a juice or acai bowl from the Good Press. My best friends and I love to go to Cafe Nervosa for some pizza and sangria, hanging out on their patio. For healthier pursuits, I enjoy walking around the Scarborough Bluffs on the weekend, my friends who are from Scarborough always make fun of me because I think it looks like some exotic destination and they're very unimpressed because it's in their backyard and they don't think it's as cool as I do.