This editorial feature is sponsored by The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University.
An undergraduate degree used to be rare and earned only by an elite few, but today, a bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level jobs.
Undergraduate degrees provide important tools, such as critical thinking and research skills, but they don’t always offer everything students or employers are looking for.
Some students choose graduate school to give them a leg up, but that involves a good chunk of change and time—most masters-level programs require dedicating a year or two of full-time study to one academic field, and cost an average of about $6,000 per year. The tuition for professional and MBA programs is even higher.
If grad school doesn’t work for you and you don’t feel prepared to start job hunting, consider acquiring a certificate from a continuing education program.
“Continuing education courses are more focused and provide practical hands-on training. They enhance the knowledge gained from post-secondary,” says Tracey Lloyd, who teaches a new career readiness and advancement workshop at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University designed to help people start, advance or change their careers. Lloyd is also the director of the Alternative Youth Centre for Employment (AYCE) in Toronto.
Karen Cleveland, who also teaches the workshop and is the marketing and communications manager at St. Joseph Media, says, “Education doesn’t stop the day that you graduate.”
The beauty of a continuing education certificate is that you can work around it. Classes can be taken in the evenings and on weekends to fit around full-time or part-time work. At Ryerson, students can also build an internship into the program to meet professionals in the field while gaining experience in class and earning credits toward a certificate.
Continuing education programs often explore industry-specific knowledge, processes and trends. Industries are constantly changing and adapting, and a certificate program keeps you abreast of the latest technology and developments.
Many certificate programs also offer co-op, internship or job experience to enhance students’ classroom learning. For example, the publishing program at The Chang School provides several 12-week internship opportunities each term.
Internships provide experience, industry contacts, and the chance to explore your options and find what you really want out of a job.
Continuing education students get the chance to learn about—and sometimes even learn from—their industry’s top players. “Often continuing education instructors are from the field and can provide leads and up-to-date industry and labour market information,” says Lloyd.
Instructors and guest lecturers are also connected to other prominent people and organizations. “It’s a good way to tap into the hidden job market,” says Lloyd. Especially in highly competitive industries, the best jobs are sometimes posted within an organization rather than being open to the public.
Fellow students should not to be overlooked either. Your classmates can put you in touch with other industry professionals and, one day, you could be working side by side with them. They could even help you explore other companies or departments within the industry, and develop strong business relationships between your organizations.
What it all comes down to, though, is starting the career you want. “Education always bolsters a resumé,” says Cleveland. Continuing education “shows a commitment to career and professional development.”
Dedication to education and professional development is a key trait that employers look for in candidates. Lloyd says, “As a potential employer myself, I see an employee who has invested in continuing education courses as an engaged person, committed to their ongoing professional development.”
Lacking the hands-on experience to land a job? Try adding a postgraduate specialization to your repertoire. Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education offers several certificate programs, many of which are available online. Add expertise in project management, sustainability, economics, publishing, GIS, public relations, and more! Visit www.ryerson.ca/ce for details.