Career change wasn’t a decision Kirsten Suhner made lightly. After all, departing the comfort zone of a secure job can be scary—not to mention involving loss of income. But with the flexibility of Part-time Studies (PTS) at the BCIT School of Business + Media, Suhner was able to upgrade her skills and training at her own pace, as she worked.
Now Marketing Coordinator at AG Hair, Suhner recalls her surprise at discovering her former career wasn’t the right fit. For years, her dream had been unwavering: a job in the mental health industry. “All through university I took psychology. I was passionate about going into counselling. But once in the field, I found I was taking my work home with me, and not in a good way.” The passion, she realized, had come to feel like a burden.
Time for a career reset, Suhner decided. “I’m a Type-A personality, very social. I love putting energy into teamwork and getting feedback. And I’ve always liked creative writing.” In mental health, she’d done some social media marketing. Lightbulb moment: she could channel communicating and creativity into a marketing career. “That’s what led me to the School of Business + Media. Their Marketing Management Certificate sounded like where I needed to be. It was an intensive program where I could put into action everything I was learning, as opposed to a traditional four-year degree of deep marketing theory.”
With more than 50 programs and 300 courses, BCIT Part-time Studies opens multiple doorways to fresh or refreshed careers. Like Suhner, many students are drawn to digital marketing, says Joe Freeburn, Acting Program Head for Marketing Management PTS. “It’s the way the world is going: communications are expanding, and the delivery is all digital. As well, the technology is changing so quickly that even our most recent graduates are coming back to upgrade their skills.”
But it’s not just marketing. The entire workforce is more fluid, Freeburn says. “Nobody stays with the same company for 30-40 years anymore. The status quo isn’t enough, or maybe they’ve been displaced. Whatever the reason, people are looking at changing jobs, at the skill sets demanded by the changing market. They want to become more marketable and more sellable.”
To accommodate different schedules, circumstances and even time zones—the School of Business + Media attracts many international students—PTS has developed different modes of delivery. “We have the traditional once-a-week, in-person weeknight or weekend class. We have blended online and in-person. We have online synchronous, where a course is delivered online at a fixed time. Third, there’s asynchronous course delivery, where students can watch a recording of the class when the time suits their schedule, but still must contribute to online discussions and assignments.”
Find the learning path that suits you
There’s another advantage to going the PTS route: you’re not immediately locked into one learning path. Instead, the courses, taught by faculty whose industry experience stays current, encourage you to explore, experience, and find your way to the path you prefer. Freeburn explains, “You can take one course, dip your toes in, see if you like it. Maybe then try something else. In marketing, for example, the introductory course lays down the foundation; from there, students can choose options from tourism to sales, to marketing communications, and more.”
Unlike the past, where training was strictly pre-career, today’s professionals recognize that their careers will be transformational, not static. Their learning will be continual. “Be open,” Suhner advises. “Try courses you might assume aren’t for you.” She recalls rolling her eyes at the idea of learning about B2B marketing, “but it wasn’t boring at all. I was engaged with B2B, I enjoyed it, and what I learned, I’m using now.”
The Part-time Studies learning route goes as far as students want to take it. Students may opt for skills upgrades now, then consider following a course track to different certifications. “We’ve got PTS set up so students can ladder to a certificate, to a diploma; to a degree. Whatever they choose to do, it’s there for them,” says Freeburn.
“I’m so glad I took the leap,” Suhner says. “I had an idea, just an idea, of the change I was looking for. Through Part-time Studies, I learned exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, there’s that feeling of uncertainty when you start out. But if you don’t try, you are never going to know. It’s never too late to do that. No one’s career trajectory is linear, not these days.”
Find out more about the comprehensive programs and courses offered through Part-time Studies at the BCIT School of Business + Media.