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Helping today's students find their voice and brand

Cassandra McFarlane gives back to her community

Stantec employees are always looking for innovative ways to enrich the communities we have roots in. Being an active alumnus is one of the ways Cassandra McFarlane, a senior marketing coordinator for the US’s Program & Project Management Group, chose to give back to her community. How? Through advising students who are getting ready to graduate.

Cassandra was asked to deliver a keynote speech to Communications students at her Alma Mater, West Chester University. (West Chester happens to be one of Stantec’s post-secondary education clients, and we are currently designing a new Health and Sciences Building in the heart of the campus.)

Cassandra graduated from the University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications, minor in Marketing. During her time there, she became involved with the Students in Communications Organization, which helps prepare students to debut in their careers.

One of the most important lessons Cassandra has learned since graduation is that a personal brand can be leveraged for professional development, and she used that understanding to, ultimately, become a part of Stantec. Her personal brand helped her be hired, and understanding brands helps her in her daily tasks. Cassandra’s involvement in preserving and enhancing Stantec’s brand has allowed her to grow in new ways that have inspired her to give back to students in her local community.

At the keynote, Cassandra presented a how-to guide for students on developing their personal brand. “Personal branding is a pitch, selling yourself, especially when networking or interviewing for a position.” She discussed the five key approaches to use when developing a personal brand: finding your passion, developing your narrative, utilizing social media, planning the brand, and promoting the brand.

The students took very well to the message and asked some great questions about social media—thinking about what they post, before it goes viral. Hearing from a young professional got them excited to begin contributing to the world. They even asked Cassandra to return to conduct more concentrated workshops in the fall semester.

“Interacting with the students was very rewarding; I felt that, using my experiences and lessons learned, I was able to impart my own wisdom while enriching their education.” Our sense of self and brand even seeped through at the end when Cassandra was handing out business cards. “The students noticed that the back of the cards were all different. I explained that they were Stantec’s four values. One student even said that the value of putting people first was one that I was doing that night.”

Through her participation at the event, Casandra put these students first, above the hustle and bustle of her daily life, to help them develop professionally. “That moment alone was worthwhile to me because even as I was talking about personal brand, Stantec’s values fit into my message as a complementary piece in a puzzle.”

Giving back through her experiences at Stantec is one thing Cassandra had never considered. Stantec encouraged her to grow both professionally and personally, and the value of contributing inspired her to look back at her roots and think of new ways to encourage positive growth within her local community.

Cassandra McFarlane

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