BCIT students are unique in that we bond over shared experience – we are all tired and overworked. In fact, we stress so much during the school year that we can hardly wait for the day when it is all over, the day when we can step out into the world and start working in the career we have always wanted.
But is that what really happens after graduation? To answer this question, the first day of Marketing Week features five graduates of the BCIT Marketing program, one from each option. Each of them are now working in the industry and have a unique perspective on what the world is like after BCIT
Where BCIT ended, real life began – just not always in the way that they intended. Here are some of their stories.
Kyle Javier – Entrepreneurship
Kyle Javier entered the Entrepreneurship program at BCIT with the goal of starting his own business. However that was not where his ultimate career path took him: his first job was at 3 Tier Logic, a digital marketing company based in Vancouver. According to Kyle he actually disliked his first job – he mostly worked there to pay the bills.
That is one of the main lessons from Kyle: your first job out of BCIT may not necessarily be what you wanted, and you may take it only to pay the bills and gain some experience. In fact he was ultimately fired from his position at 3 Tier logic; while this may seem like a setback, Kyle states this was actually a blessing in disguise because it led to his current job at Quickmobile.
Quickmobile is a company that creates meeting apps for industry conferences and businesses. The company created the meeting app in the 2000s and has since gone on to work with many Fortune 2000 companies. Kyle credits his current position as Team Lead at Quick Mobile to his previous experience at 3 Tier Logic; working at a job he disliked ultimately led him to a company he actually enjoyed worked for.
The other experience that Kyle credits for his current position is his involvement with the BCIT Marketing Association. In his first year at BCIT, Kyle was the Director of Sponsorship and later the VP of Corporate Relations; he then took on the BCITMA Vice President position during his second year. All of these leadership positions have prepared him for the job market he would enter after graduation.
In fact, his involvement with the BCITMA did not end after graduation: Kyle designed the mobile event app that is currently being used by MA members. The app is part of Quickmobile’s community initiatives; even after leaving BCIT, Kyle is still giving back to the community that supported him.
Morgan Westcott – Tourism
Morgan Westcott is currently the general manager at LinkBC, an organization that works with all universities in British Columbia that have a tourism program. She is also an instructor at BCIT: as Morgan likes to say, she has come full circle with the school that helped launch her career.
Morgan’s story is similar to Javier’s in that she disliked her first job – she was stuck packing boxes for an event company. As a tourism marketing graduate, such a job clearly did not take advantage of her strengths. In such a situation, Morgan advises BCIT students to stick it out and maintain a positive attitude; after a few months of packing boxes, she approached her manager and asked politely for a better position. As a result of her initiative, Morgan was given a sales position, an expense account and the chance to do what she really enjoyed.
Morgan’s work with LinkBC means that she spends a lot of time working with students and figuring out how to help them succeed. She has compiled her observations and experience into the Five Building Blocks of a successful student, as follows.
- Take your education beyond post-secondary, keep learning
- Relationships matter – network and form connections
- Do not be a jerk – your classmates today can be your co-workers and managers tomorrow
- Volunteer – can also help you to meet new people
- Internships – summer internships can provide you with great experience
- Part-time jobs – money is important
- Contests and events
Morgan particularly emphasizes the value of experience. In fact, she recommends that students get lower grades if it means being able to gain more real-life experience; employers care more about your practical experience than your GPA.
- Write down your vision – take the time to consider what you really want
- Scan job postings to see what you need – if there is a job you want, find out what kind of experience you need to apply and focus on getting that experience
- Don’t be shy
- Don’t skip networking events
Click here for more information on networking from another Marketing Week speaker.
- Is the number one most important things to employers
- Prove yourself – start from the bottom and work your way up
Brydon Chan – Professional Sales
Brydon Chan is currently an Account Executive at SAP, but he took a very circuitous route to get where he is today. His first employment out of BCIT was contract work; he soon wanted a more stable, better-paying job and left his current company to work at SAP.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that Brydon learned how nasty the business world can be. His former co-workers were unhappy that he was leaving to work for a bigger company; one woman pulled him aside and warned him to watch his back, because the industry was small and there would be future consequences for what he was doing.
Brydon’s work at SAP was also not quite as rewarding as he had hoped. SAP is a multinational software company that had a significantly different culture from what he was used to. His new job consisted of calling previous clients of SAP – mostly banks and financial corporations – to solicit for more business. The problem was that most of these companies had been screwed over by SAP in the past; Brydon had the difficult job of talking to people who wanted nothing to do with SAP, were less-then-friendly and often hanged up on him.
After working at SAP Brydon moved on to Clickview, a small start-up that offered educational videos to teachers. Compared to SAP, Clickview was much smaller and had a fun culture; however it also offered less compensation and promotion was difficult. Being an ambitious person, Brydon felt that Clickview could not support his need for advancement – he left the start-up and rejoined SAP as Account Executive.
Brydon’s many job changes has taught him the importance of maintaining a career vision. His lesson for aspiring BCIT students is they are going to get many job offers over their career; while that may seem exciting, Brydon advises students to think carefully about each offer and whether it aligns with what they truly want out of their career.
He also says that if you are unsure about a job offer, it is better to tell the employer that you need to think about it rather than jumping straight into a job without considering all the options. While students are often reluctant to say no to a job, Brydon advises that employers will often appreciate your honesty – it shows them that you take your career choices seriously.
Sean Bagan – Real Estate
Sean Bagan currently works in Industrial Sales and Leasing at Colliers International Canada. As a commercial real estate agent, Sean finds people to occupy buildings; he cold-calls, knocks on doors and relies on his relationships to find new customers.
Sean stresses the importance of networking and forming new professional connections. Especially in his profession, knowing the right people is key to success. He advises students to be you-centered: think about how you can help a customer or employer, rather than focusing on your own needs. In fact, BCIT students are often more successful than those from Stanford because of their practical experience and ability to form real connections with others.
Work-life balance is also crucial. As Sean explains, BCIT students often lead imbalanced lives in their push to get into the industry; however once you start working it is important to find a balance that works for you. A fourteen-hour work day may sometimes be necessary, but it should not become the norm. He provides the following seven points for how to maintain proper life balance:
- Plan Ahead
- Margin – know your limits and do not overschedule
Sean also advises that having a clear idea of your priorities can help you maintain your life balance. Before you begin your day, think about your top 6 priorities – things that you want to accomplish that day – and structure your day around getting them done. Give higher priority to large tasks and accomplish those first. Sean maintains that a big cause of imbalance and incomplete tasks is distractions; while it may be fun to surf the internet for three hours, just think about how much you could have completed in those three hours.
Olivia Williams – Communications
Olivia is currently working as an Optimization Manager at WiderFunnel. Her career path is more straightforward then some of the other speakers. After leaving BCIT, she got her current position because of the experience she gained from a practicum at Village and Co. A small social media marketing company, Olivia relates how small companies often have a close-knit culture – it is okay to not work for a giant name brand.
Another important source of experience for Olivia was her previous position as the VP of Ads and Promo for the BCITMA (are you noticing a trend here?). Like the other speakers, she recommends that students get involved and try to gain as much experience as possible – employers care about what you did, rather than your GPA. She also emphasizes the importance of professional relationships: the business world is often dependant on connections and knowing the right people.
Life after BCIT can sometimes seem like a big unknown. Everyone tells us that going through BCIT will prepare us for a real career, but it is difficult to not be nervous at the thought of stepping out into the actual job market. Thus it was especially valuable to gain the insights of people who have gone through everything we have and are now working in the industry.
A big thank you goes to our five speakers – Kyle Javier, Morgan Westcott, Brydon Chan, Sean Bagan and Olivia Williams – for sharing all their experiences with us. Each speaker had a valuable perspective on what life after BCIT is like – and what we should be doing now to prepare for it.
Special thanks also needs to be given to Nikki Nguyen, VP of Professional Development and the person who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make Marketing Week a success. Bringing in five different speakers for one event required a tremendous amount of coordination, and the BCITMA wants to recognize all the effort she has put into this event.
Which is why you should stay tuned to the BCITMA website, because coming up is an exclusive interview of Nikki’s experiences bringing Marketing Week into fruition. This is not the last time you will be hearing of her either: she is also organizing a Regional Conference for January, so be sure to connect with us on our Facebook page to get all the updates!
This event would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. You can read more about them here.