by Bonnie Dean, Corporate Communications and Public Relations ’08
Kate Millar found herself at a crossroads following her stint in Centennial’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program.
She wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted, but knew event planning had to be a part of it. It was only after interning at the York University Foundation that Millar found her true calling.
“A fundraiser is the perfect time to interact with your donors and really understand how your organization is impacting the world and the local community. You get to tap into the people who have a real love for [the cause].
“I then realized I am more of an event planner than I am a PR person.”
Following her internship, Millar was involved in planning a run for 10,000 people for the Mississauga Marathon, another not-for-profit organization and a cause close to her runner’s heart. She also worked in the development department at McMaster University before ending up at the Toronto International Film Festival Group (TIFFG), a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through the moving image.
As the development assistant for special events at TIFFG, Millar’s role includes planning stewardship events and planning the film festival’s staff and volunteer appreciation party. But it is managing the relationships with sponsors that she finds the most challenging and most rewarding.
“It’s getting these people on board and pitching it in a way that says, ‘You have to give it to us for free.’” Her passion and experience in the not-for-profit sector have made Millar very successful in maintaining strong partnerships with TIFFG sponsors.
Millar credits her successful career to the comprehensive nature of Centennial’s program, and uses the knowledge she gained to this day. “It gives you a great base of solid skills. You can start off in one area in your career and a couple of years later come to another sector where you have to start drawing on different skills.
Millar believes she learned the most from the Event Management course. “It taught you how to go out into the community, really focus on the vision and reason you are throwing an event.” She is also grateful for the writing courses and advises current and future students not to take them lightly. “Even if you don’t take a heavy writing job, you still need to be very vigilant about your messaging and how you communicate.
“There will be courses you really enjoy and there will be courses you don’t enjoy,” she says, “but you just have to do the work; you never know when you will have to draw on the skills they teach you.”