You could be on a different (happier) career path in 6 months; here's how

Mar 19 2019, 8:34 pm

It’s no secret that today’s workplace is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Disruptive innovation is everywhere, and Canada’s tech industry is thriving. Sure, this is all well and good, but how does it affect you at the end of the day?

As an adult, you’ll be putting in almost 2,000 hours of work every year — and that can feel like a lifetime when you’re unhappy in your job. Earlier this year, Forbes published an article detailing how employees need purpose more than pay to be happy and productive; we need to feel like our hard work and hustle mentality is worth it in the bigger picture. And happy employees have higher levels of creativity, which consequently benefits their work.

The sad reality is that many Canadians are unhappy in their jobs right now. If you find your work boring or demotivating and feel like your current position isn’t aligned with your career goals, you could be one of them. Statistically speaking, you probably are. But that doesn’t mean you need to stay that way. Especially because, if current trends hold steady, the average Canadian could change jobs anywhere from 12 to 15 times in their life.

It’s time for you to take a hard look at the broader possibilities in front of you. Although it might seem scary moving into the unknown, the alternative is spending the next year — or five — on a career path that fails to bring joy into your life. (Also, we’re not trying to sound like your parents here, we’re just speaking from experience.)

But here’s the fun twist: If you put your mind to it, you could be in on a new career path that you genuinely love within six months.

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Like most people, data scientist Enrico Manolo F. Unidad wore many hats before finding his true passion. He was a mortgage consultant, worked in sales, at a front desk, in traffic control, and even as a math and physics teacher for over seven years. Landing a position at one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies didn’t happen overnight for Unidad.

As a father of one with another child on the way, working as a teacher involved jumping from school to school, semester to semester. It wasn’t desirable in terms of finding daycare and a location to suit his family, so he decided to take a leap of faith and go back to school.

Time was of the essence for him, which is why he chose a four-month Data Analytics Fast-Track program at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. He stepped away from his job as a teacher and applied himself to this intensive program in data analytics, big data, and predictive analytics, which took place over a summer semester.

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you’ll ever make.”

“I totally enjoyed my experience being a student again,” says Unidad. Putting the mathematical theory he already knew into a data science perspective was extremely helpful for him, as well as connecting with peers who were going through a similar situation.

“If you’re thinking about doing something to upgrade yourself, it would be amazing to have that new skill set, because it expands your horizons much further than they were before.” Unidad stresses that “investing in yourself is the best investment you’ll ever make.”

A few short months after completing the program, Unidad landed his dream job. “I’m very happy. I consider myself a big nerd and I find myself in the company of fellow nerds. I feel very at home,” he says.

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Sales communications manager Ivy De Grandis had her own unique experience switching gears in her career. Soon after graduating from university, she started working at a bank, holding a variety of positions over time. At a certain point, she found herself looking to make a change.

“I needed to do something different, and I knew that I wanted to work in communications,” says De Grandis. However, every time she applied for a job, she got turned down due to a lack of educational requirements. De Grandis already had a university degree and a postgraduate degree in HR, but in order to work in the positions that she wanted, she needed an educational background in public relations on her CV.

With mortgage payments hanging over her head, she didn’t have two or three years to spare financially to take a part-time program. She wanted to expedite her career and become qualified sooner. Not much later, De Grandis became a student of the inaugural year of the Public Relations Intensive program at The Chang School.

She immediately connected with the length of the courses in the three-month program: “Every five or seven days we would complete a new course with a new professor and a new set of materials.” This, she says, made returning to study fun, “instead of taking a course that runs for months, in seven days, you’re on to another course.” The instructors also had “life skills,” which proved very helpful in terms of learning about the communications industry.

During the program, she learned everything from industrial relations to feature writing, communications plans, different styles of online writing, and the various areas of PR. She ultimately completed the program with a selection of writing samples that she could present at job interviews.

“The program benefited me immediately because as soon as I met that educational requirement, all of the other experience I had made me a forerunner for a lot of positions. I would apply for jobs and get interviews very quickly,” she says. Within eight weeks of graduating, De Grandis had two compelling job offers to choose between.

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Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, Dean at The Chang School of Continuing Education, says that “lifelong learning brings us not only practical skills, but the joy of discovering something new about yourself, about the world, and depending on where you are in life, it can be used to overcome employment challenges, especially if you feel like you’re not fulfilling your potential.”

It’s a fact that when we’re not fulfilling our full potential; we’re not happy. Dr. Bountrogianni notes that there are over 400,000 Canadians enrolled in university continuing education programs across the country right now and that these are people who have finished school or are working, studying at night school, or taking online classes.

“The more of us that are out there working in better jobs, the better the tax base, and the better our services will be.”

She says, “some students would like to learn the skills from their certificate programs sooner, and that’s why The Chang School began offering intensive programs seven years ago.” In many cases, employers will even subsidize courses, or help indirectly by allowing employees to take time off to focus on their studies.

“If you have a really good employer, they will find some way to support you. We have students who aren’t being paid while continuing their studies, but their employer doesn’t deduct their vacation pay. You can work out different relationships with your employer,” says Dr. Bountrogianni.

This proves that you don’t necessarily have to quit your job to study, as there are plenty of ways for you to learn. If you can find a way to make the time, there are courses or a program for you.

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In order to be successful in your pursuit of returning to education, Dr. Bountrogianni says that you’ve got to look at taking a program like it’s a part-time job. Everything should be planned and scheduled in advance, from where you’re going to study, to getting support at home.

“If you treat going back to school as though it’s a part-time job or contract, psychologically, you will succeed. If you sign up, cut classes, and randomly try to do the work, it will be more difficult,” says Dr. Bountrogianni.

In her experience, Dr. Bountrogianni has spoken to people who would prefer to make less money in exchange for working a job where they feel fulfilled and useful. And in order to make time to pursue a program you’re really passionate about, she admits, “you need to be a little bit selfish.”

As she puts it, “the more of us that are out there working in better jobs, the better the tax base, and the better our services will be.”

If you’re ready to fast-track your career, visit The Chang School of Continuing Education to find a program that helps you live your passion and suits your schedule. Their summer intensive programs start soon, and this opportunity could be the best investment you ever make in your own future. Good luck!