Backpack to Briefcase (b2B)

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The Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) program provides opportunities for students to understand their education in a broader context – opening discussions with alumni, faculty members, staff and peers about life after graduation. Alumni are invited to meet with students and offer encouragement and career advice as they embark on a new stage of their lives. b2B was recognized with a 2014 Prix d’Excellence Gold Award for Best Alumni Initiative by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE).

In 2014-15 year, students can attend various types of b2B events:

  • b2B orientation sessions and Career Centre workshops focused on developing their networking skills and enhancing their online presence
  • Career panel discussions and networking events with alumni speakers
  • Mentorship meals hosted by alumni at the Faculty Club
  • Industry-specific networking events
  • U of T Next Steps Conference

Woven into this will be opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences and to plan their next steps.

What students are saying

  • “At this event, one of our alumni speakers was able to shed light on a very important idea that I had never considered before. The alumni speaker mentioned that the purpose of a university degree is not meant to land me a job. The main purpose of university is to develop soft skills that reflect my personal values and attributes. This may be the most important piece of advice I have heard to date regarding my university education.”
    – 1st-year student, interested in pursuing a degree in Commerce and German
  • “I didn’t know what will happen and how to start the connection between my studies and work. Especially because I am a new immigrant, I was very worried about getting my first career due to my weak resume and limited personal/professional network. After attending b2B, the alumni’s stories gave me a definite idea about how to start and where to look when I pursue my career!”
    – 4th year student, pursuing a degree in Environmental Biology
  • “The next step for me is to get involved in more volunteer experiences. The alumni really helped me understand that volunteering is important in being a well-rounded individual with a wide variety of experience in various fields. They helped me to understand that volunteering helps lead to a successful career.”
    – 3rd year student, pursuing a degree in Criminology & Political Science
  • “The most meaningful aspect of the dinner for me was the creation of a stronger sense of community within my Comparative Literature Department. I was quite delighted to see such a diverse range of ages and career paths represented by the various individuals sitting at the dining table. From a 4th-year undergraduate to the alum who studied at the Centre during the 1960s, it was meaningful to look at these people and to think that we all have Comparative Literature at U of T in common.”
    – PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature
  • “Connecting with students who are facing the same struggles that I am [was the most meaningful aspect of the event]. I was able to hear their advice and we could share our experiences. I was also able to gain a broader picture of what my experience at university meant, which opened up ideas about my future plans, as well as helping me cope with this year”
    – 2nd year student, pursuing a degree in Religion & Cinema Studies

b2B + STEP Forward

STEP Forward: This is a Faculty-wide initiative that aims to develop students’ capacity to connect their academic learning to their personal values, aspirations, and practical planning, through active reflection on what they have learned.The b2B program falls within STEP Forward as it helps students:

  • Develop greater insight into their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and skills
  • Understand how their university education has prepared them for constructive involvement in society
  • Improve their ability to plan and make decisions for the short- and long-term

b2B provides opportunities for student-alumni connections and interactions through a variety of networking events and skills workshops. Reflective components before, during and after b2B events help students project future pathways and decisions in response to personal and intellectual connections they’ve experienced through these events.

b2B + the Co-Curricular Record (CCR)

The CCR is an official U of T document validating a student’s experiences and activities outside the classroom. It links the competencies gained from their experiences to skills that employers and graduate schools look for.To have b2B listed on your Co-curricular Record (CCR), a student must complete the following requirements:

  • Attend a b2B Career Centre workshop
  • Attend a b2B Career Panel Discussion or b2B Industry Networking event or b2B Mentorship Meal or U of T Next Steps Conference
  • Complete the reflective activity sent to all b2B event attendees


Academic units currently offering Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) programming to students/alumni:

  • Art
  • Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Cell & Systems Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Cinema Studies
  • Classics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Comparative Literature
  • Criminology & Sociolegal Studies
  • Earth Sciences
  • East Asian Studies
  • Employment Relations
  • English
  • Environment
  • European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
  • French
  • Geography & Program in Planning
  • Germanic Languages & Literatures
  • History
  • Human Biology
  • Italian Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Peace, Conflict and Justice
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Policy & Governance
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages & Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Spanish & Portuguese
  • Statistical Sciences


If your academic unit is not listed above and you would like to support current Arts & Science students, please let us know how you wish to get involved.


Backpack to Briefcase is proudly sponsored by U of T’s Affinity Partners:


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