All the reasons why you should become a student member of OHEA, from OHEA’s Digital Marketing Coordinator, Tamara Saslove!
I am a graduate of the nutrition program at Ryerson, a Professional Home Economist, and Chef. During my time at Ryerson I was not exposed to the profession of Home Economics at all. Like a lot of first and second year students reading this, I was not aware that the profession was thriving and that you could register as a Professional Home Economist in Ontario. Not until the fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree did I learn about Home Ec and what it’s all about. I want to save you all the time I lost my first three years, and share with you my story and why I think YOU should become a student member, and how it can benefit you!
For starters, the whole OHEA community is amazing. Everyone wants to help you succeed and connect you with people in your niche that you can learn from and network with. I was never great at networking, I would show some interest but I was afraid of rejection and so I never really put myself out there. Well I can assure you that anyone you reach out to in the OHEA community (myself included) will be thrilled to help you in any way they can! I have never met a more welcoming and warm hearted community of professionals. I assure you, you will not regret joining.
Volunteer & Job Opportunities
I attended my first OHEA conference in Spring 2016 as a student member. I was a little nervous, as I mentioned I had little experience networking and I still wasn’t really sold on the whole Home Ec thing... and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to become a PHEc yet. Well everything changed after that first conference. I met so many amazing members and it really opened my eyes up to just how diverse the field really was. I met Registered Dietitians, Chefs, Media Professionals, Farmers, Teachers, Cooking Instructors, Entrepreneurs, you name it! And everyone was so friendly and so eager to network with students and learn about what it is we want to do. During the conference, I met Kelly Atyeo who is a PHEc and nutrition communicator and the co-owner of LiveWell Marketing. Kelly heard about my background and my interests during a breakout session we were both in, and offered me a job, on the spot. I have now been working for her company for over a year and it has opened my eyes up to a whole new side of the nutrition and food industry. Had I not become a student member and not attended the conference, I likely would have never had the opportunity to work for such an amazing company!
Since April 2017 I have been the Digital Marketing Coordinator for OHEA. I remember last year I was really eager to get involved, and wanted to volunteer on the board, but there were no positions available at the time, but I didn’t let that get me down. I looked for other opportunities and still remained an active OHEA member. Then a year later I landed a paid position that didn’t even exist the previous year. You really never know what will happen, and it will never hurt to make the connections now, to benefit you later.
Getting involved in OHEA and Home Ec, whether it be by joining the student group at your University, or by volunteering at the annual OHEA conference looks great on your resume. You might be able to volunteer for, or land a paid position with a PHEc who is looking for some help and learn a whole lot while doing it.
There are so many amazing professionals within the OHEA community and no matter what your interests are, I guarantee there is a member who can mentor you, or at least give you some advice or guidance that pertains to your interests. OHEA now offers an official Mentorship Program, where students and New Grads are matched with a PHEc and can ask them questions, job shadow them and learn a whole lot. For example, since becoming a member I have had the opportunity to work with Mairlyn Smith, P.H.Ec., on her newest cookbook shoot and learn from both her and Joanne Ttooulias, P.H.Ec. How exciting is that?! And it’s all because I reached out and expressed interest in their work!
I hope that I have inspired you to get involved in OHEA. There are so many career paths you can take, and you really won’t know what you are meant to do until you jump in and start learning new skills and working in different environments. Home Ec is alive and well and I strongly encourage you to get involved. If you are interested in becoming a student member, you can learn more and register here (scroll down to the bottom of the webpage)!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Instagram @theculinarynutritionist !