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Graduation Woes

Wrapping up the last few months of my college career, all I could think about was the ultimate student goal of “graduating”. After 17 years as a student, I was finally ready to be done school and feel like a “grown up” moving into the working world. I remember a feeling of pure excitement to start doing something meaningful where I can contribute to a higher purpose. However, as the last few weeks of my student career wound down, all I could feel was anxiety… What truthfully happens when I graduate? Where was I going to work? How was I going to survive on the competitive job hunt? I spent so much time thinking about graduating, I hadn’t even thought about what happens next! After school, getting “out there” is when everything really starts and where you need to take chances, make mistakes, and grow!

Day 1 after graduation and I’m officially a “graduate”; but also, I’m unemployed. A terrible feeling, at least for me… so what now? Kitchener – Waterloo had always been a tech-hub and coming from a technical school like @ConestogaCollege, I knew I had a lot going for me in the region. Amongst a sea of startups and tech companies, one stood out as the community leader: @D2L. A company founded and headquartered in Kitchener – Waterloo with dozens of employers awards over the years and a great community presence. The name was unmistakable when I saw it on one of the community’s most notable tech building: @The Tannery, alongside big names like @Google and @Communitech. Better yet, it has offices globally and offered world-leading technology solutions that really made an impact! D2L is changing the way the world learns!

Week 1 out of school I went straight to the job hunt, landing resumes in the hands of anyone that would take one. As funny as it seemed, I was so nervous to apply to a large company like D2L, that I hesitated to apply for weeks (eventually I did). After a few interviews, I was disappointed to be turned down for the role I had applied for. I was pleasantly surprised however that the Recruiter took the time to find the best fit for me at D2L. While I wasn’t the right fit for the role I applied for, they thought I was a great fit for D2L and kept in touch! With that little bit of help and some luck, I started the new interview process and made it through! The dream graduate job was mine!

I haven’t looked back since getting that job as a Product Support Analyst. The job was challenging, fast-paced, exciting, and challenged me to apply everything I learned at school. The things I loved most were:

  • I had the autonomy to own an area of focus for the team
  • I had the opportunity to provide training to the team and make a real impact!
  • I was doing everything. From databases, to scheduled tasks, to troubleshooting code and even mobile testing – so exciting!
  • The team was recognized across the company as product experts. If you could master support, it really gave you an opportunity to build relationships, work cross functionally, and support the overall vision to Reach Every Learner!

As I spent a few years in this role, absorbing all the info I could, I realized I had fallen into a sort of niche on the team, often working with special client inquiries. I loved what I was doing, I had built great relationships and after not too long; a role was created which happened to be aligned with exactly what I already did and loved! The role of Partner Success Specialist. I moved into the role and was now the only person at D2L with this title, proudly representing our open extensible platform for all partners. Just like that, I found something that was meaningful to me and I was proud to call my “career”.

The Product Support team has always been a steady ground for learning and growing. Like me, many other Product Support Analysts have honed their skills on the job and found their true career calling. I have had peers follow the Support career path, landing in Technical Account Management or Customer Success. Others moved towards testing and development, while others took the roads even less travelled and found their dream role. What is also interesting is that many Product Support Analyst peers have continued to bring their passion into the PSA roles every day – some are still in the same team to this day – either as senior team members or leading entire teams! The truth is, at D2L we believe that the world becomes a better place when people are empowered to reach their unique potential through learning and development. With this in mind, D2L provides guidance and support to help all D2L’ers reach their career goals.

To this day I still credit my professional success and career aspirations to D2L and my incredible experience in the role of Product Support Analyst. It’s perfect for graduates looking to flex their new-found technical skills, not to mention, experience the incredible learning culture the team has. It was the perfect experience for me, to help find my true passion in other areas of the company; in my case as an integration’s guru.

Where does that leave me today?

Graduating from Conestoga gave me the base skills I needed to be successful in the industry. To all Conestoga graduates, I want to remind you that one of Kitchener’s leading tech companies is right next door to you, and might just have the perfect job opportunity for you. I hope sharing my experience will encourage other technical grads like myself, 5 years ago, to find a career that truly makes them feel passionate about life and brings meaning to their work.

To all of you finding your first job out of school: be bold, don’t be afraid to apply to the big companies, and put yourself out there! If you’re ready to take the first step, why not start by checking out the D2L open postings!

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