ETOBICOKE – Graduate and former student-employee, Jenna Piunno, is working toward her dream career in the digital design field, using many of the skills developed while working in the department of Athletics and Recreation.
Piunno began her post-secondary education in the fall of 2013 as a student in the Media Studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber. In her second year of the program, the Fonthill, Ontario native attended open tryouts for Humber’s inaugural extramural co-ed softball team, where she was able to meet a number of recreation staff and athletes with whom she’d eventually end up working with. As an experienced softball pitcher with a positive attitude, she was selected to the team that would represent Humber North in the only tournament on the calendar for that season. Unfortunately, due to a number of weather issues, the event had to be cancelled, and she never had the chance to hit the field in her school colours.
After having a fun experience with recreational sports during the previous year, Piunno applied to join the recreation staff team, as a photographer, and was hired in the fall of 2015. Her main role was to capture and document the experiences of those who participated in the on-site extramural tournaments, off-site adventure programs and special events. “I got to tag along to a number of the events and activities and it introduced me to new hobbies and sports that I wouldn't have tried otherwise,” she recalls. “The bus rides to and from events with the athletes were always fun,” she added. She was awarded the Mike Gonder Outstanding Staff Award at the year-end banquet for her efforts and accomplishments in media coverage and photography during the season.
After learning more and more about program operations and behind the scenes work, Piunno quickly transitioned into other working roles, including social media content creator, recreation office assistant and gym membership representative. “Beyond letting me grow as a designer, having the opportunity to see how tournaments, schedules and staff were organized helped me to develop my own organizational and critical thinking skills that I now use on a daily basis” she added. She also gained valuable experience in sales, customer service, and effective communication.
Her advice to current and prospective student employees is to get involved wherever they can, work hard and enjoy the time with friends and coworkers. When asked about the most impactful lesson learned while working in recreation, Piunno responded by saying, “The biggest thing that working in recreation taught me is that it's ok to try new things and make mistakes -- practice and experimentation are the only ways to improve.”
Piunno graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Studies from the University of Guelph-Humber and a Diploma in Media Communications from Humber College in 2017. After graduation, Piunno remained as part of the recreation staff team in a non-student role, handling the development of marketing materials and the creation of content for the program’s social media accounts. While working at Humber, she also secured an internship within her field of study, fell in love with the role, and moved away from working in collegiate recreation.
Now, as a Digital Product Designer at Compass Digital Labs, Piunno spends her workdays creating digital solutions to customer needs. She also designs systems and processes for internal staff teams to improve productivity, and hopes to one day secure a consulting job that would allow her to travel as she works. Her long term career goal is to own a design studio, working within arts and culture spaces.
Piunno resides in Toronto and still enjoys playing softball, dragon boating, rock-climbing and snowboarding when she gets a chance. She also plans to continue capturing digital photos and tending to her house plants. She plans to travel to South Africa, Namibia & Botswana when travel restrictions are lifted.