Guessy Wang, Dentistry Class of 2017, has made a business of surviving and thriving.
With an ever-changing address in pursuit of her studies – she left home at the age of 12 to attend boarding school in her native China and never looked back – Wang had to be proactive in getting to know new environments and unfamiliar faces.
“Whenever I moved to a new place, I really needed to get to know the people there and get to know the local culture,” she explained. “So I developed this habit of getting involved in the community. That is how I survived all through my life.”
It’s this experience she put to work during the past summer months, creating a business that assists international students adjusting to Canadian culture and the regional job market.
She assisted both newcomers to Canada and recent international graduates with education and career planning, resume and cover letter building, interview prep and networking resources. Wang drew upon previous work experiences as an international advisor, career services advisor and education consultant to provide these services.
Through the Ontario Government’s Summer Company program, she received a $3,000 grant to cover start-up and operational costs. She was also mentored by several local business leaders, including the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).
“It was a win-win situation,” said Wang. “The students gained from me, but I also gained from the experience through these connections.”
Though her business didn’t have a physical office, Wang met her clients on campus or in coffee shops. She got to know many of the international students attending both Western and Fanshawe College.
Her personal connection to their situation was a significant business advantage.
Wang landed in Vancouver in 2007 for undergraduate study at the University of British Columbia, where she completed her bachelor of science in microbiology and immunology.
“I understand the challenges and concerns international students face when arriving in a new country,” she said. “I experienced a lot of challenges when I first came to Canada. It would have been extremely helpful to have someone to talk to and to point me in the right direction.”
As part of her undergraduate degree at UBC, she took advantage of co-op placements in clinical research and the biotech industry to build her resume and career options. These lab and business experiences led her to the dental profession and, ultimately, to Schulich Dentistry.
Using the same survival skills she developed so well as an international student, Wang quickly adjusted to the School and got involved in the University of Western Ontario Dental Students Association (UWODSS).
The second-year student is now serving as the VP External, with a focus on bringing a Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry (SPEA) chapter to the School.
“Ethics and patient communication are becoming increasingly important in the dental profession," she said. "We are hoping to raise awareness about these issues by organizing student events and initiating case discussions. This will prepare us better for our profession and ensure we can provide the best dental care after graduation."
Her summer business is also proving to be useful to her dental education. “This experience gave me confidence and excellent practise with business operations,” she said.
With the hopes of one day running her own dental practice, Wang is satisfied with the place she has finally put down roots. “I like how people really know each other here and care about the School as a family,” she said. “I’m proud to be here.”