Interior Designer Creates Perfect Work/Life Balance

Jocelyn Haroldson

With the help of MRU’s Interior Decorating Extension Certificate, Jocelyn Haroldson transitioned from stay-at-home-mom with a home-based consulting business to featured designer at Calgary’s Rochelle Cote Interior Design firm.

Jocelyn completed the MRU residential decorating program in 2012 and has been working in her current position for the past two years.

“We cover everything residential,” Jocelyn says. “That includes everything from private client homes to working with builders on their selections and decorating their show homes.”

Jocelyn has been working in the field for many years. She started a home furnishing retail store in Inglewood in 1996, shortly after arriving in Calgary from Saskatchewan.

“I would go down to Mexico, fill up a big container of folk art products and bring it back to sell in the store. It progressed to a point where we wanted to be able to add new lines without having to go down to Mexico for artisan buys,” she says.

“I found wholesale companies I wanted to work with. We implemented upholstery lines and furniture lines, but still worked with local artisans, so we would have a well-rounded offering for our clients,” she says. “With that came the need to hire interior designers to help our clients make selections. Sometimes choosing the perfect fabric for a sofa opened up a whole new avenue for what they’d like to do with their homes. And I didn’t have the skill set at the time to do that.”

“I didn’t get into the interior design side of things myself until I stepped in when the interior designer wasn’t there for a client meeting one day. The client was happy with what I put together. I started to do more and more of that,” Jocelyn says.

Once she started her family, Jocelyn sold her successful business to focus on raising her two children.

“I wanted to still work casually,” she says. “So I started to do interior decorating projects out of my home. Requests came in from family and friends and former clients.”

Wanting to take her interior decorating skills to the next level, Jocelyn began researching educational options. “I was figuring out how I was going to make this happen while raising my young family – balancing being able to go to school, go to work and be at home. The MRU program spoke [to that] and the flexibility of it worked really well for my family. I could work hard when I needed to and pull back when I needed to.”

“I think that the MRU program gave me some skills that I was lacking,” Jocelyn notes. “My favourite courses were Perspective Drawing and Interiors Past & Present. I could not sketch well and that was always something that bothered me. The Perspective Drawing classes gave me the confidence to be able to sketch something out for a client. I seem to have a natural knack for space planning and making things work well together, but I didn’t know why. The Interiors Past and Present course filled in the why – to know what eras and lines worked together.”

Jocelyn’s interior decorating career fits well with raising a family. “There are times that are busier than others. When you’re doing an install, that might be an incredibly long day. But not every day is an install day so you can  pace yourself. We work with clients who are working full-time as well. It can be difficult to schedule in those meetings and get those selections done so occasionally you do need to work after regular business hours,” she says.

Her children are now 10 and 12. “I spend my out-of-work time now with them and their activities. Driving everywhere, non-stop,” she laughs. “We love Calgary. We’re happy to raise our family here. It’s home.”

See more of Jocelyn’s story.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Michael Poon

5 Ways to Thrive as an Adult Learner

intl-adult-lrnrs-week 200pxIt’s Adult Learners’ Week from April 11-19, 2015. In celebration, we’re giving you our top tips for success as an adult learner at MRU’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.

Been a while since you were a student? Don’t worry — it’s a little like riding a bike. Technology may have changed but the basic principles of academic success have not.

As an adult, no one is forcing you to come to class. It’s something you choose yourself to meet your professional development goals. You’re already motivated to succeed, so here are some tips to guide you on your learning journey.

1. Before you go to your first class, find out where your classroom is.
There’s nothing worse than showing up on your first day late and flustered because you couldn’t find your classroom. Reduce your stress level by finding out your classroom location in advance.

This information — and other requirements for your first day — can be found on your Confirmation of Registration. Here’s how to access it. (Click on “How do I find out where my classroom is?”)

You can refer to campus maps to locate the class once you know the number. Tip: classrooms starting A through Y are in the main building. EA classrooms are in the Faculty of Arts building; EB in the the Bissett School of Business building; and EC in the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning.

2. Figure out how to get to campus and where to park.
Never mind your classroom — what if you’ve never been to the Mount Royal campus before? Where can you park?

The MRU campus is located 10-15 minutes from downtown Calgary at 4825, Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary, AB T3E 6K6. It is served by several Calgary Transit bus routes. Get information about bus routes and parking lots here.

This information and more is in our Welcome Guide for Continuing Education students.

3. Do you need textbooks or other course materials? Check your Confirmation of Registration to find out.
Almost as bad as arriving late to class is arriving unprepared. Make sure you know about required textbooks and other materials in advance. These are also listed on your Confirmation of Registration. Here’s how to access it. (Click on “How do I get my textbooks?”)

You can order your books through the MRU BookStore online. If you prefer to shop in person, these are the BookStore hours. They even have special tips and advice for Continuing Education students.

4. If your course is online, there are things you need to know before it starts.
If you’re new to online learning, you can take our free Online Tutorial to become familiar with the online learning environment.

You should be prepared to log in to your online course right on the start date to find out about course expectations, assignments and other important information. Instructor contact information is available on the online course site. Make sure you’re in the know right from the start of your course.

5. Come to class prepared and stay on top of your assignments.
There’s really no special trick for this. It can be difficult to find time for studies in your busy life, but skipping classes and leaving assignments til the last minute definitely won’t help you reach your goal.

Mount Royal University has some tips and advice on studying and writing effectively that are applicable to adult learners, too.

Happy learning — this week and all year round!

— by Karen McCarthy

Advisory Member Steers Program in Right Direction


Jeff Skipper is a member of the Advisory Committee for MRU’s Technical Writing Extension Certificate. He is the Director and Lead Consultant of Peacebridge Performance Inc., which provides consulting services in change management, communications, training and technical writing. As well, Jeff serves as President of the Alberta Chapter of the Association of Change Management Professionals.

Jeff has had the opportunity to recommend the services of many graduates of the Technical Writing program to clients who require their services in creating clear, efficient and comprehensive documentation.

“Efficiency is a huge requirement in business today. For example, health and safety procedures require that people know exactly how to execute an action quickly, precisely and consistently every time. Technical writers help them do just that and grads of the MRU program are among the best in the field,” Jeff says.

“The MRU certificate in technical writing is an important asset, but it’s not a guarantee of quality. Clients need to see the writer’s work to see if their writing style and skill sets are a good fit.”

“Good writing is good writing and always will be, despite industry trends,” he says. “We are seeing more software applications being used in technical writing. Developing content for platforms such as SharePoint is a growing need in business. MRU takes that input to adapt its programs for changing needs. The Advisory Committee also recommended an Advanced Microsoft Word course be added to the program, as it is an essential skill in technical writing that our grads needed to have.”

“There is an increasing recognition of the value that technical writers bring to the table. Companies are starting to get it,” Jeff says.

“Calgary is very contractor-heavy, so technical writers are often engaged on a project basis. This is often extended once the company understands what good technical writing can do for their processes and procedures. Clarity leads to greater efficiency, which impacts the bottom line,” he notes.

The Advisory Committee is a volunteer group of industry experts — plus one student and one graduate — who meet regularly to help ensure that Mount Royal’s curriculum is current and relevant. They also develop new programs to meet training needs in Calgary and beyond. Most Continuing Education programs at MRU have Advisory Committees.

Jeff at Laguna Seca in Monterey

Calgary has been Jeff’s home base since 2000, where he lives with his wife and children. He believes in working hard and playing hard. In his spare time Jeff enjoys motorsports and driving his convertible. He also runs marathons and plays hockey twice a week. “I even get to drive the Zamboni,” he says with a laugh.