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#161: Ceilidh Millar – Students, be open to exceptional opportunities for learning and growth

Ceilidh MI’m a recent broadcast journalism graduate. Before I’d completed my diploma, I was fielding employment offers and signed with Global Television News. At 19 years old, I’m the youngest news writer on staff. Was I the best or brightest journalism student? Absolutely not!

Fresh out of high school, I was accepted into BCIT’s Journalism Program. Just 17, I was the youngest student and discovered the majority of my classmates possessed a post-secondary education. Some already held English and journalism degrees. The School of Broadcast Journalism accepts 1 out of 4 applicants. The  stringent entrance requirements included a written entrance exam, transcript evaluation, personal interview and letters of recommendation.  Despite screening students beforehand, in my pod of 20 students, 4 dropped out within the first month. It quickly became clear that the program was designed to make or break. Yikes! I only had high school English and being a teen, I knew very little about politics, the economy and world issues – the hallmarks of good journalism.  What on earth had I been thinking? How could I possibly survive?

If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of achieving!
Ceilidh Millar, Graduate, British Columbia Institute of Technology

Were there times I wanted to quit?  ABSOLUTELY! By the end of the program, just over half the students remained. I recognized then, there are characteristics you need that cannot be taught. The ability to focus, work hard and persevere through difficulty. In the end, these traits serve you better in life than anything you’ll learn in college and are the traits employers seek.

A university or college education comes with no guarantee of a job. Today’s graduates must approach their job search without a sense of entitlement. Last year, an article I wrote was published in a national newspaper and a classmate inquired how much I’d been paid. Upon learning I received no fee, this person curtly remarked, “I won’t do anything, unless I’m paid!”  This individual missed out on some exceptional opportunities to learn and build their portfolio. Think that attitude goes unnoticed by prospective employers? Think again!  That student happens to be a grad without a job.  Hmm –  self-fulfilling prophecy?

Although I carried a heavy course load throughout college, I volunteered my time as a writer and reporter. I LOVED volunteering and enjoyed many wonderful experiences which helped me grow both as a journalist and as a person. I never expected to receive anything in return or had the, “What’s in it for me?” attitude. I realized the students who fared best in securing employment were again not necessarily the best or brightest, but those who took it upon themselves to go beyond what was taught in school. They volunteered their time in the industry, learning skills, gaining valuable experience and making connections. The old adage is true, “You learn best, by doing!”

Upon reflection, what have my college years taught me? Perhaps the greatest lesson learned, is knowing I still have SO much to learn. Oh, and that old cliché actually IS true, “It’s not the final destination, but the road travelled which will provide the adventure.”

As I begin my career, I’m excited to embark on this new journey which I’m sure will have many twists, bumps and surprises along the way! So to all you new grads out there, in the words of Horace, “Begin, be bold and venture to be wise.”

Where I am now

I am a writer for Global News BC and host of “Turn It Up!” –  a new series profiling artists in the music industry on Delta TV. The founder of “End Bullying Through Peer Advocacy,” I’m the 2013 youth spokesperson & ambassador for Kids Help Phone (Western Region.)

Awarded the 2013 Association of Broadcast Communicator’s Scholarship Award and the 2012 Clarion Award for “Excellence in Communications” by the Association for Women in Communications, I’ll be moderating Youth Bulge at the 2013 International Women’s Forum in Vancouver this October.

My recommendations for employers, schools & career-centres

Establish mentoring programs for students and new graduates. Pairing a young person with a mentor is one of the best ways to provide opportunities for enhanced learning and help foster a positive work environment.

My recommendations for students

Be open to exceptional opportunities for learning and personal growth. Don’t be afraid to attempt things outside your comfort zone.  If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of achieving!

I wish to share one of my favourite quotes by Robin Wiszowaty, author of My Maasai Life. “Opportunity isn’t a chance; it’s a choice. And it is the choices we make that define the paths our lives will take.”

This #StudentVoice Belongs to:

Ceilidh Millar
Broadcast Journalism
British Columbia Institute of Technology

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