Continuing Education: A Conduit to a New Career

One of the most rewarding parts of my career advising role is the stories I hear from students who have made significant shifts in their lives.

Students Changing Direction

Robert is a great example. He joined our business program studying International Business, but after a couple of years just couldn’t see the end game. After discussions with our career centre and completing a career assessment test, he gained a greater understanding of the benefits of a Supply Chain degree – as Robert says, “the nuts and bolts of International Business”. He began to seriously network with supply chain professionals and, by the end of his degree, secured a position with a major logistics firm in Mississauga.

Jeff is a mature student who made a major life change. He was working in Toronto, trying to move up, but didn’t have the right academic background to get the jobs he really wanted. His wife secured a good job in Ottawa and they decided to uproot their young family and start something fresh. Jeff began to study for a BComm degree with a concentration in Information Systems. He started networking with companies in the areas he hoped to work. He’s now employed as a Consultant for one of the larger consulting firms in the country. A dream come true for Jeff.

Both these students took a chance and changed course with positive results.

Accounting? Not what you thought it was?

We see plenty of students in our office who start out in one concentration, accounting for instance, and after a few courses realize it’s not the right path for them.

In my day, I just followed the courses that were offered and went through my BComm degree. I didn’t stray much from the beaten path. Today’s millennials are more future-minded. The business students I work with recognize that while a degree is important it also has to equip them with practical skills employers are looking for in their applicants.  They may move courses around, add a course that may help (in finance, further economics courses could be useful), or stretch four years into five to lighten the load. Many choose experiential learning options like co-op programs, which help students, explore their areas of study and obtain valuable, paid work experience they can put on their resumes.

Continuing to Grow – Designations

Let’s say you do find a career path you enjoy. How do you keep it interesting? One solution – get certified.

Many people find great value in pursuing a designation within their field, whether as a new grad or seasoned professional. A designation can signal a new direction – a pathway to a higher level job through improved knowledge in a particular subject area and more networking opportunities. Take supply chain for example – I’m associated with an organization called APICS (Advancing Productivity, Innovation & Competitive Success) which offers several certification courses in logistics, production and inventory management. Listen to some member feedback:

Volunteering on the APICS Board of Directors for the last 2 years has been very fulfilling! I’ve been able to give back to my community, help upcoming professionals, and expand my own skills and social network. My APICS engagement began in College as Student Treasurer. By applying the APICS body of knowledge throughout my career, taking advantage of progressive APICS certification training, and engaging in professional activities to maintain my certifications, I’ve had a rewarding career. I look forward to continuing to engage Supply Chain Professionals.

Lori McCluskey, CPIM, CSCP, CLTD (

My APICS journey started in April 2016 and has been an eye opening experience! APICS has bettered my understanding of how vital the supply chain field is in global business operations. As a student leader, I feel APICS has provided invaluable networking opportunities while also helping to develop the confidence and leadership skills essential for success in life. By investing in educational resources, programs, and events such as the Scholar program and the Fresh Connection competition, APICS has shown its desire to connect, support, and empower young supply chain professionals. Being a part of APICS has truly been a rewarding experience!

Victor Ho, APICS Algonquin Student Chapter VP

Life might be a highway (Tom Cochrane song) but it has plenty of intersections too. Consider where you are in life and where you want to go. Reach out and use the resources available to you – career centres, assessment tests, informational interviews with people in a field you are considering, networking events face-to-face or via on-line tools such as LinkedIn, and designation associations. You hold the ticket to your own success. Good luck!

Alanna Allen is a Business Career Coordinator, at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University.

Rachel Aiello

Rachel Aiello is a freelance journalist working her way into the industry. She is in the fourth year of her joint honours bachelor of journalism from the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College.

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