by Behzad Mojaverian
originally published in the 2012 Spring Issue
Returning to school for most people can be a worrying experience at the best of times. Returning to school as an adult learner can seem like a “land of a thousand challenges.”
In 2011, I made a big decision to return to school. I needed to add current and upto-date skills to my resume to improve my chances in the labour market. I wanted to be more competitive, so I decided to look into Second Career funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Let me tell you; Second Career funding approval was not an easy task to manage but was worth it in the end. Travelling around the city, researching schools, completing labour market research and talking with others who are in the field can be very time-consuming. You might ask, why there’s such a demanding process in becoming a Second Career client. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is investing so much money in this program that it’s critical each client has the desire and ability to complete their program successfully. They ask a lot but I knew it was worth it.
After researching several schools, I chose the Scarborough campus of Durham Business and Computer College. While it wasn’t the closest school to my home, they offered everything I needed. With the help of my employment counselor and approval for Second Career funding, I started my course in January 2011.
My classes were small; I worked at my own pace, received individualized attention as well as hands-on training and experience from day one. I was most impressed by the qualified instructors who guided me throughout my study period. At most, there were eight- to-10 students in each class. It’s also a school with continuous intake, which was a big benefit for me. It meant that I was able to start immediately rather than wait until September, which is common at community colleges.
Because Durham Business and Computer College was not close to my home, travelling back and forth was my first challenge. I have one child and balancing my classes with school pickup and drop-off required early mornings and very long days. Traffic delays also complicated things for my wife and me.
Then there was the challenge of getting myself into the right frame of mind for learning. I had to structure my studies around my family needs. I also needed to figure out the best way to apply myself and stay motivated in the evenings to do assignments and study for exams. It took some time but I eventually established a pattern that worked for me.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to do all this on my own. The school designed a program specific to my needs. This allowed me to study only the subjects that I required and that I sought after. The flexibility in course design was a real plus for me.
I was fortunate to receive exemptions in a few subjects. I was offered prior learning and assessment recognition for previous studies. This is something all students should be aware of and consider when choosing a school. Why spend valuable time and dollars studying things you already know and have received credit for?
So what did I study? I concentrated on the subjects that would make me more marketable. I upgraded my computer skills to Microsoft 2010 in Excel and Access, MS Visio, MS Project and Project+ I also studied AutoCAD 2D and 3D, Inventor, SolidWorks and Pro Engineer. These were strong complements to my existing skill set from university and past employment experience.
About two months prior to completion, my next challenge was to prepare an effective resume and, cover letter and to start actively job seeking. With the help of Barbara Marco, the Associate Director at the Scarborough campus of Durham Business and Computer College, we wrote and rewrote my resume until it was perfect. I graduated last August with an overall aggregate average of 93% and a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Design.
Finding gainful, rewarding employment was not as easy as I thought even though I had a degree and 12-years of work experience.
I applied for various positions with little or no reply from employers. My top goal was to secure a position with Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The application process was lengthy and required a lot of my patience, but I didn’t allow myself to get discouraged. I even accepted a three -month contract position while awaiting my dream job.
The day came when I got the call from the TTC. I was interviewed and re-interviewed by a panel of three. My references were checked and I’m thrilled to say that because I was prepared, I landed my dream job in the Track and Structure Department with the TTC.
While returning to school might seem like wandering through a land of challenges, I can say that based on my own experience, you don’t have to do it alone. Now, I have a job with a future thanks
to hard work and ongoing support from the Durham Business and Computer College team and Second Career. Durham Business and Computer College has three campuses; Scarborough Campus 416 724 1053;
Pickering Campus 905 427 3010; Oshawa Campus 905 443 3010