Jenessa Gladstone: One alumni's journey from SFU to landing roles with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Arc'teryx

January 11, 2021

Jenessa Gladstone is a Communication alumni. Having made the most out of her undergraduate experience at Simon Fraser University, Jenessa is eager to share her journey and learnings with prospective and current students. We recently sat down with Jenessa to hear her story.

Tell us a bit about yourself, when did you graduate?

I was born and raised in Hawai'i, and moved to Vancouver in 2011 to come to SFU - and I'd do it all over again if I could! I knew I wanted a career in sports, and was very fortunate to work with the athletic department throughout my time (shoutout to the men's basketball team and sports information crew!). After graduating in the fall of 2015, I joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC as their Social Media Coordinator. Fast forward five years and some shapeshifting, and I now work in People & Culture at Arc'teryx!

What is your best memory of CMNS?

It's hard to nail down one top memory from my time in CMNS. Watching Harlem Shake videos (remember those!?) and all the guest speakers in Peter Chow-White's 353 class, every single seminar Milan Singh facilitated in Race and Media, unpacking music, movies, and advertisements year over year... they were all great! I really loved the courses and discussions that focused on the relationship between media and culture, so a lot of my favorite memories float around that. I'm getting a flurry of excitement even just reflecting on it all! If I had to pick one - watching Bob's Burgers in my last class of my degree (Jody Baker's Television studies). Is there a better way to end off??

Are you still with the Whitecaps? What’s your current role?

I'm not still with the Whitecaps. I was with the team for almost four seasons, and it was a wild ride of an experience - wouldn't trade it for the world! I met some incredible people, got to travel around Canada and the US (including a couple of tournaments at home in Hawaii!), and came up with some really, really cool social media activations. I then hopped over to Arc'teryx to run their global social media accounts before landing on the Employee Experience team in the People & Culture department at the start of last year. My role now is really rooted in ensuring we're creating connections, programming, and experiences that help our employees show up as their best, most whole selves at work - and have some fun while we're at it.

How have you adapted in the pandemic? Are you working from home?

I've been working from home since mid-March of 2020, and it's definitely taken some adjustments. Originally, my partner and I were both set up in the living room of our 1-bedroom apartment, with him at the dining room table and me on our patio furniture in the corner. I'm a really big people person and thrive on the connection working in an office brings, so it took some major time and technique to cope with working solo at home (on top of the pandemic anxieties). But, after some shifting and adapting, I was able to find new ways to recreate some of the informal chats I was missing and it's turned out to help me connect with folks I likely never would have crossed paths with in the organization otherwise. I still really miss my hallway run-ins and kitchen chats, but we're making it work!

What advice do you have for co-op students or recent grads working from home? Any top tips?

Get out for walks or some form of exercise! I've had to make a point of scheduling a walk into my day as a non-negotiable meeting and it's been a game-changer. I've found it's really easy to get caught up in sitting at your desk, so you have to make a point to get up and move - even if it's just for 10 minutes (also, 10/10 recommend YouTube dance workouts...). I'd also say take the time to connect with a whole plethora of people in your org. Ask your manager for 3 people to have a virtual coffee with, and then ask each of those for another person, and so on. Being a recent grad in the workspace can be tough enough, and I can imagine the isolation from working from home makes things that much tricker, so take the opportunity to get to know as many folks as possible. More often than not I find people are more than willing to have a chat, talk about what they're up to, and share some insights. Plus, you get to make a new friend - win win!

Anything else to add? What are you learning about yourself during this time? 

Oof tough one to end out on! I think the biggest thing I've learned about myself is how important it is for me to take moments of pause. Whether it's 5 minutes to meditate and stretch at my desk or getting out for a walk over lunch, taking time to separate my mind from work has been crucial. Being home has really shown how much of that time I took for granted in the office without ever realizing it. The other big thing would be just the reaffirmation of how much I love getting together with others and, as we call it in Hawai'i, talking story. That connectedness builds a camaraderie in the workplace that is so foundational to success and can't be beat. Honestly, both of these have been imperative to my mental wellness throughout this time and encourage others to find the same!