Taking Risks for Success: Denisa Orlandea, Student Communicator of the Year

Taking Risks for Success: Denisa Orlandea, Student Communicator of the Year

By: Kendal Crawford
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Have you been thinking about getting involved with a club or association, but can’t quite convince yourself to make the time? Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of taking on another Co-op term, but are hesitant to risk extending your degree. Revisit the thoughts that are holding you back to see if they stand up to scrutiny, because pushing your boundaries now can not only help you prepare for the future, but also create new possibilities within it. Just ask Denisa Orlandea, who credits her willingness to take risks with helping her reach graduation with more than 16 months of professional communication experience, a volunteer position in IABC’s Student Services Committee, and the 2014 Student Communicator of the Year Award of Excellence.

Denisa completed four Co-op work terms in the natural resources industry, working in an external communications position for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and an internal communications position for Husky Energy in Calgary. By doing Co-op, she found mentors who encouraged her to try new things and go outside her comfort zone. “Writing had been a skill that I really wanted to work on,” she offers as an example, “one I didn’t feel too strongly about going into my first Co-op. But during my time at Husky I was able to focus on my writing by working with a great editorial team.” This enthusiasm for constructive feedback is a hallmark of Denisa’s success. While critique is a scary concept to many students, Denisa embraces its value as a tool for self-improvement. In fact, it was her interest in receiving professional feedback on her work that helped inspire Denisa to take plunge and prepare a submission for Student Communicator of the Year (SCOY).

Hosted by BC’s chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/BC), the SCOY award competition would see her work reviewed by professional communicators. SCOY’s judging panel carefully evaluates the critical and tactical skills employed by students to identify a communication need, create and implement a solution, and effectively document the process. “The neat thing about the IABC’s Student Communicator of the Year Award is that you get feedback on your entry whether you win or not,” Denisa endorses. “You have a panel of communicators who will judge your work, but also point out different areas for improvement and ways you can elaborate on your ideas to present them more clearly.”

Denisa drew from the work she’d done with the Trans Mountain Expansion Project to build her SCOY communication plan. “We were looking to develop an activity to take out to community events that would get children and their parents involved, one that would start a conversation about energy and what the expansion project is all about,” Denisa describes. “So, what I ended up designing was a game.” While crafting her written communication plan to explain the game’s development as a piece of strategic communication, Denisa faced the same doubts and hurdles that many students fear when trying something new. “Honestly, we tend to be our own biggest critics,” she acknowledges, “I clearly remember doubting myself even as I was preparing my entry - oh this is never going to win anything, why should I even apply? But you never know, so just take that chance!”

The chance Denisa took in submitting her work to SCOY certainly paid off, and she advises her fellow students to also attempt pushing their boundaries by participating in something new. “One way to do this is by joining an association like IABC where you can network with people who are already doing what you hope to do,” she recommends. While she initially became a member of IABC to participate in SCOY, Denisa’s new understanding and appreciation of the organization has led her to step into an Events Coordinator role for them. Here, she helps coordinate events such as the step-by-step Communication Planning 101 workshop, targeted at students, transitional members and junior communicators. So whatever associations, events, programs, or competitions you might want to try, but are hesitant to, go ahead and “take that extra leap of faith,” says Denisa. “I’ve learned to take a deep breath, apply, and just see what happens. Because a lot of the time there’s not much too lose, there are only things to gain.”


Interested in finding out more about Student Communicator of the Year Award? Visit IABC/BC's SCOY page for more information.

 IABC LogoWant to connect with the hundreds of industry professionals associated with IABC/BC? For individuals who join before graduation, the cost of student membership is significantly reduced from a regular membership. Just want to test it out? Your student status can get you a reduced ticket for an upcoming event as well.

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Posted on February 20, 2015