Nearly 600 Saskatchewan Polytechnic students gathered in the Moose Jaw campus gymnasium for the Knowledge and Networking Opportunities for the Workplace (KNOW) Conference, focused on helping students make connections for their careers. 

“It’s all about networking for students and giving them the skills they need to enter a competitive workforce,” explained Ben Gamble, Manager of Student Experience with Sask Polytechnic Moose Jaw and one of the conference organizers. 

KNOW ran from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 6 and featured keynote speakers Jolene Watson and Jeph Maystruck alongside ‘micro series’ presentations on topics like ‘global perspectives on employability’, and ‘lifelong learning and continuous development.’ 

Attendees also enjoyed free lunch and a panel with human resource professionals. 

Organizers of the KNOW conference meet for feedback sessions during planning to find out what it is students actually need when applying to jobs or attending career fairs. They have found it is less to do with technical skills, and more to do with interpersonal competencies. 

“From our conversations with students, one of the main things is the importance of networking,” Gamble said, “being able to communicate with business partners, and having the confidence and skills to sell yourself during job interviews and applications.” 

Gamble noted one of the reasons to hold the KNOW Conference is to prepare job-hunting students for the upcoming March 13 career fair at Sask Polytech. The career fair will give students a chance to connect with 91 participating employers, including the Canadian Armed Forces, CPKC, Viterra, the City of Moose Jaw, and the Government of Saskatchewan. 

“I love being able to get in touch with industries here, and to talk with industry experts,” said Sadirul Islam, a student attending the conference. “(Connecting) with these experts allows me to gain insights and ask questions about what I can do to develop myself. 

“Last year, I studied project management, and this year I am studying entrepreneurship ... Yesterday, there was a career fair in Regina that I went to, and I will hopefully attend this upcoming career fair here. Mostly, I am looking for sort of engineering project-based positions.” 

The first keynote speaker at the conference was Jolene Watson, president of Clarity Coaching and Development. Watson is a professional speaker, executive business coach, and facilitator. 

Her address focused on the basics of networking, from body language to dressing for success, from how to prepare for an interview to how to shake hands and maintain eye contact (without going too far). 

“Anyone can benefit from these skillsets — not just students, but also employers, people that are interviewing, not just the people being interviewed,” Watson told following her presentation.  

“Body language is key for anybody to understand, not just to read other people’s body language, but to know what you are encoding to other people. So, we talked about smiling, and that’s something that is so simple and yet so effective. 

“How you hold yourself, your posture, all of these things come together, and regardless of age or industry, I don’t think there’s anything more important than the ‘soft skills’ side of life.” 

Watson said it’s important to be authentic and genuinely curious about other people in order to avoid coming across as artificial, and advised listeners to be patient with themselves, persistent and open in pursuing their goals, and willing to practice new behaviours. 

“Behavioural adaptation is everything,” she added. “I learned for years how to be a better speaker, I took every course I could, I practiced on a daily basis, and as soon as you do that, you start to rewire your brain. And you can actually get really good at something that once scared you.” 

Watson advocates the ‘platinum rule’ (treating people how they want to be treated) as opposed to the ‘golden rule’ (treating others how you want to be treated). 

Learn more about KNOW, the many courses, diplomas, and degrees Sask Polytech offers, and the upcoming career fair at