By Therese Eley, Marketing Services
"I had taken a few community courses through Continuing Studies at UVic, just for pleasure, but the Computer Based Information Systems (CBIS) program was the first professional program that I took through Continuing Studies, outside of my degree at UVic," says graduate Carrie LePage, "It was helpful because I could work at the same time."
Carrie grew up in Victoria, and as a young adult attended UVic where she completed a Bachelor of Science degree in bio-chemistry and micro-biology. But as is so often the case, her career path ended up taking her in a direction unrelated to her original degree.
"At the time I started CBIS, I was working on a technology project within BC Public Service, so the CBIS program kind of helped with that because I was feeling a little bit out of my element. I mean I liked technology but recognised that, because I had studied sciences during my degree, there were a lot of things about [technology] that I hadn’t taken the time to study."
"I realised that what would be really helpful to me in getting ahead in my career was having some business knowledge and tech knowledge. If I didn’t have those things, I felt it was going to keep me stuck in my career. But also it was important to me to have some analytical thinking skills and a global perspective, and I was looking for a framework to advance in my career."
So in 2012, Carrie began working on her CBIS certificate to gain those valuable technology and computing skills she felt she was lacking. She opted for the fast-track route, which allowed her to complete her program in just one year. And while she was looking for some immediate and applicable tech knowledge, she also felt that in the long run, her career would benefit from pairing that with foundational business skills as well. So she tailored her CBIS program to dovetail nicely into her next program, a Diploma in Business Administration (DBA).
“This is where the program admin staff were just so helpful," she explains. "They really worked with me to help me put together my CBIS program in such a way as to complete it as soon as possible and have as many of my courses be transferable into the DBA. I had taken nine courses through CBIS and about six of them were able to be transferred into the business program."
"The admin team really, really helped. I mean I had drafted my own plan, but then when I sent it to the program assistant, she could see what I was trying to do and shifted things around for me and it was just so helpful. She even managed to squeeze me into an on-campus course that was fully enrolled. I don’t know how she did it, but it was really just so helpful––I can’t stress that enough–– as it enabled me to finish the program within my timeframe,"she explains.
At the time she enrolled in the programs, Carrie was a single mom of three teenage daughters, working a full time job, so maximising her time was really important to her. By working closely with the program staff, she was able to complete both programs in about 2 years, through a combination of online, face to face, and some intensive courses.
"The intensive courses that I took, those were in the classroom on campus, and they were great because they were all day long, every day for a week. I’d use my vacation time from work for those courses and I was in a classroom with a bunch of people for a long period of time so you’d really get to know people, so that was neat. I liked that."
"And I loved the connections that I made with the international students [through the online courses] in the business program. That was just amazing."
As Carrie reflects on what a different tangent her career has taken and how she ended up in these programs, she says, "Although I don’t really use my science degree in the work that I do now, it wasn’t lost. Learning how to learn is such an important skill today, and it’s never lost. But these programs have really just been good professional development. I honestly think that these skills in particular are so valuable, no matter what industry you’re in, especially in this day and age. And Continuing Studies helped me do that."