Old friends, new colleagues

Suparna and Renee sitting in chairs in front of the chalkboard at the studio

Alumni return to the studio to join the growing team at CityStudio Vancouver and CityStudio Global

As our network and community of changemakers continues to grow, so too has our team. This May, we bid welcome to Renée McMillen as CityStudio Vancouver’s Communication and Engagement Coordinator and to Suparna Gupta as CityStudio Global’s Sales and Marketing Coordinator. 

Our relationship with these two individuals began long before their first day. The studio hosted both individuals in 2018-19 as students and we are so honoured to share their collective experiences, the impact of community-engaged learning, and their journey from alumni to colleagues as the beginning of a new chapter for us at CityStudio. 

CityStudio Vancouver

As the new resident storyteller, Renée is most looking forward to leaving her mark in a way where her words connect and resonate with young people in Vancouver. 

“As a student, I grew accustomed to the typical student lifestyle. I spent hours reading in the library. I pulled all-nighters writing essays. I went to classes that were shorter than the time it took to commute there. My CityStudio experience introduced me to the agency I never even knew I had. Suddenly I was telling my professors I wanted a project instead of an essay. I learned far more about what it means to engage the city and the people in it because I learned how to take ownership of my education.”

The way we engage students in the city, and in many cities around the world is shifting, who better than an alumna to tell this story?

What words of advice do you have to share with prospective students? 

“As it is in all things, you get out of your education and experiences what you put into them. Networking is a skill best developed as a student. Speak to your instructors. Look for volunteer opportunities. Your work experience doesn’t begin once you’ve graduated, it begins your first day as a student.”

CityStudio Global

To start a CityStudio in a new city you need three things. You need a place. You need the desire to bring City staff and youth together for city building. And you need champions. With the recent launch of CityStudio Chilliwack, the 14th member to join a growing number of CityStudios around the world, Suparna joins the Global team to champion these efforts.

“My role involves working on the implementation of CityStudio Global’s marketing strategy and supporting the sales processes for new CityStudios. There are a lot of things that I am looking forward to but especially getting the word out about the work of CityStudio, reaching new students, educating everyone about the benefits of work-integrated learning and so many other things. I am a CityStudio alumna. So, when I decided to apply for CityStudio Global, one of the main things which I had in my mind was how CityStudio has positively affected my professional journey and how wonderful it would be if I get a chance to tell everyone about the amazing work of CityStudio.”

What words of advice do you have to share with prospective students? 

“I truly believe in the power of networking. I agree, making connections as a student is hard for everyone. But being a former international student, I can say from my experience that it is very difficult for international students to get their foot in the door. CityStudio offers a great platform for students to work with City staff on projects, to connect with professionals, community leaders, and with other fellow students.”