Emily Vilcsak: MacEwan Student, Freelancer & Youth Empowerment Champion

Communications freelancer, youth empowerment champion, digital nomad and total extrovert — these are just a few of the characteristics Emily Vilcsak is known for. Despite not even being finished her university degree yet, Emily already has a number of achievements worth celebrating. We chatted with her to learn about her entrepreneurial journey so far.

Tell me about yourself.

I’m going into my fourth year of the Bachelor of Communications program at MacEwan, as a Professional Communications Major. I’ve been freelancing and contracting in the communications industry since I was in grade 10, so doing a degree in it seemed like a natural next step.

What are some of the highlights of your entrepreneurial career so far?

In the summer of 2017 I was living in Mexico and working as a communications intern for the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour — what a strange combination right? My work started mostly with non-profits and I got my break with a national marketing campaign for the Aviation Tour. 

After that, I held a couple more internships and contracts. And then my big international break came along. I’m currently working with a startup based in New York called Hello Walden. They pair creatives with coaches who can help them grow their business. It’s exciting work and I’m loving working in a startup environment.

I’ve really always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so when this New York startup opportunity came up, I jumped at it and now I’m their communications intern. Right now, my biggest project for them is building a content and resource component on the website that entrepreneurs can use to access knowledge that can help them get their project off the ground.  

Working with Hello Walden has made me realize that the startup life is my thing.

In addition to doing freelance communications work, you’re also the founder of a youth empowerment organization called Mission I’m Possible. How did that start and what’s your vision for it?

After sharing my story with a group of fellow high school students, when I was in grade 10, my principal asked if I’d like to speak at another school. 

I became passionate about helping students realize their potential and become local and global leaders, and in 2013, I started Mission I’m Possible and grew it into a youth empowerment program.

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You travel lots, to the point that you’ve referred to yourself as a digital nomad. What does that mean?

For me, being a digital nomad, essentially means that I work online (or digitally) while I travel abroad. As of 2019, I’ve been to the US, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Switzerland, and am always working while I go. Working digitally allows me the freedom to explore new places, which I love!

What’s your favourite place you’ve been to?

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of vacation time in Mexico with my family and I have some really great friends that live there, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I recently went to Medellin, Colombia which is a total innovation hub in Latin America. It was inspiring to be surrounded by such a vibrant and encouraging culture.

How did you discover Roundhouse?

I heard about the concept of co-working in my early teens, and I was really drawn to the collaborative environment that co-working spaces offers. As an extreme extrovert, I knew that working with other people was my jam. 

Because I’m a MacEwan student, I’m always around campus. One day, I saw that MacEwan had put out a blog post about the Social Innovation Institute [based in Roundhouse] and I just knew it was kind of my thing. When I saw the space, I fell in love with it. It’s open, it’s green and there’s so much light. The other coworking spaces I’ve worked at in Edmonton are very industrial with an emphasis on wood and pipes.

My motto or my personal mantra with my freelancing is that I produce communications that build connections and I find the best way to make those connections is through community. So, when I found out about Roundhouse and how community is an integral part of their values and mission statement, it resonated with me and I knew it was the perfect fit.

How has being a Community Member at Roundhouse impacted your work?

Being here keeps me engaged and motivated because the open concept allows me to be a part of conversations and collaborations that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a part of if I was working from home or a coffee shop. Even if it’s something as impromptu as a lunch with people here or a conversation with the front desk host, I’m making valuable connections. That’s important to me.

What are your favourite Community Member perks?

I love the free coffee! I also go to a lot of Roundhouse’s workshops and they’re great! Oh, and the kitchen! I really like the separation between the kitchen and the coworking space. I don’t feel like I’m in the same place all day, every day. Finally, the meeting rooms have been really useful for photoshoots and having meetings for Mission I’m Possible!

Are you a MacEwan University student? Apply to be a SAMU Community Member by June 30, 2019 to get three months of free access to our space— the perfect way to get your summer project off the ground.