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Education: A Renewable Resource

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Farah Kaleem, Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations, The Talent Pool

 

It’s all too familiar a story; someone is laid off from the energy sector and scrambles to find a job in a climate where there are fewer and fewer opportunities in their industry.  The body of the story is a montage of trials, interviews and realizations that a change needs to be made to achieve success. The end of that story has yet to be written for some, but for some proactive others like Farah Kaleem, the next chapter has begun.

Farah moved to Calgary two years ago from Pakistan. “I was working with CAPPA (Canadian Association of Petroleum Production Accounting) as an Events Coordinator.  With the economic downturn, our sponsorships were drying out and we didn’t have budget to do events.” She admits that the writing was, indeed, on the wall, “After the annual conference, they decided to let me go.”

“It was my first winter in Calgary,” she says. That foreign chill embodied her internal struggle.

Like many who were let go late last October and afterwards, she had to make use of her new found time, “For the first few months, I was too busy looking for work, but the market was brutal. It took me a while to realize I had to do something constructive.”

So, she enrolled at MRU Continuing Education.

“I was referred to MRU Cont. Ed. by a friend doing his Supply Chain Management Certificate,” she admits. “He said why don’t you look at their courses. They have really good instructors and the class sizes are small, so you get adequate level of attention from the instructors.”

On this recommendation, she signed up for an introductory course on Marketing and Strategic Communication. While taking the course, she says, “I really enjoyed my experience. The teacher was very focused and open in terms of sharing ideas and listening to our ideas and experiences.”

As she delved further into the certification from late February through July, the perks only got better, “I got exposure to professors from different industries doing similar types of work I was doing,” she explains. This allowed her to reach into these different industries for employment.

Just this week, Farah Kaleem started her new job as a Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations at The Talent Pool, which supports businesses in search of skilled professionals. She is optimistic about this role, which reports to a supervisor Farah describes as, “very accomplished, cooperative and I am looking forward to learning a lot from her.

Having successfully navigated the waters of career change during an economic downturn, it seems like she’s the perfect person to assist others in their transitions. She chimes, “It’s exactly what I wanted and needed.”

And so, the story’s conclusion is a new beginning, a continued new life in Calgary with an exciting new opportunity. “I love it here.” She says of her new hometown. With the transitional help of MRU Continuing Education, things are looking up for Farah.

– by JLove

Amazing Grace Under Fire

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Kara Solecki, Police Studies

 

If being part of a police force means being calm in the face of chaos then Kara Solecki has selected the right program.

Currently enrolled in the Police Studies Extension Certificate at MRU Continuing Education, Kara and her family were forced to show grace under fire when they were among the 88,000 residents evacuated from Fort McMurray this summer.

“I was at work,” Solecki remembers, “and reports started coming in that specific neighbourhoods had mandatory evacuation orders, and pictures started surfacing of the fire in full tilt in town.” That was the time that her ‘serve and protect’ instincts kicked in. “It wasn’t so much shock at that point as it was fear; worry about all of my friends and family, and then a sort of surreal calm; it was time to plan what the next step was.”

That next step was gathering with her family (mother, father, two sisters, aunt and uncle) and leaving their home in the Timberlea neighbourhood at the mercy of the spreading wildfire.

“We didn’t know where we’d end up so I was planning for the worst and getting any supplies that may be necessary.” She says. Among the short list of items she was able to grab were her textbooks. She recalls, “For whatever reason, at the time I didn’t think I could part with them… It was exam time!”

Despite a nail-biting drive out of town on a quarter tank of gas, an evacuation plane ride into Edmonton by Westjet and the community of Rocky Mountain House rallying to support her family as they stayed temporarily with friends, Kara kept up with her studies. “I got through that month away through the help and support from my professor Doug King and keeping busy. There was so much emotional turmoil at that time, but staying busy with school work was just so normal, and it felt like it grounded me.” In hindsight, she reflects that, “I needed this sense of normal so desperately, when everything else was anything but normal.”

She remains appreciative that Doug King and other staff at MRU suggested and supported any extensions she might need, and let her know that told her to focus on her safety and well being. That support, Kara admits, “allowed me to put my worry elsewhere.”

“The flexibility of MRU’s online Police Studies Extension Certificate has always been important to me, as when I signed up, I decided to continue working full time as well as pursue other studies.” Now back with family and friends in her hometown she’s grateful to be immersed in her studies while dealing with her new normal, “During the time I was evacuated, this flexibility obviously showed it’s benefits once again.”

As for what’s next, she realizes that the unexpected happens, but it’s a good idea to have a plan. “It is my hope to attend MRU‘s Bachelor of Arts – criminal justice degree program in the fall of 2017, then I plan to pursue a career in probation or parole; hoping to be one of the first people of contact in the road to rehabilitation for criminal offenders.”

Kara concludes, “Taking this course helped clarify what a huge portion of my future will look like and made me realize that I never want to stop learning.”

-by JLove

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Fire in Solecki’s neighbourhood
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Evacuation Road in Ft. McMurray

Back to School: By the Numbers

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Back to school brings back many memories.

You can always count on a few staples; first day photos, that written assignment asking what you did last summer, and some new form of math.

This Fall semester, MRU Continuing Education plans to keep one of those back to school staples strong with a new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate. “The program is designed to provide students with a working knowledge of accounting principles, the bookkeeping process and the use of accounting software,” says Kate Estby, Program Coordinator, BPE. “It aims to provide both a theoretical foundation and the practical application of accounting knowledge.”

The distinction is comprised of two core courses, Financial Accounting Fundamentals (36 hours) and Accounting Fundamentals Practice Set (12 hours), then students can select two of the following accounting software options.

         MS Excel Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 2

         Quick Books Level 1

Estby thinks a major draw is the hands-on focus of the program saying, “It provides students with a month’s worth of accounting documentation for a small retail business. Students are expected to practice the activities performed during the accounting cycle, including journals for business transactions and adjusting entries, extracting trial balances, posting journal entries to the general ledger and preparing financial statements.” It’s designed to be as real-world savvy as possible to provide students with authentic practical accounting situations.

This type of offering is one of many that MRU Continuing Education is offering. Accounting Basics is a career skill that is easily transferrable. According to Estby,

“This program would be great for anyone who works with the accounting department including managers or payroll professionals.” In addition, she notes, “the combination of both theoretical and practical knowledge provides the skills needed to make yourself more marketable to work in business and management positions.”

But, its relevance goes further, Estby says, “The practical nature of the course also supports individuals looking to start their own business who need a foundational knowledge of the accounting system.”

Regardless of who you are, there are some back to school staples. First day photos we’ll leave to you, what you did last summer can be posted on your social media channels, but for the new form of math… we’ve got you covered with the new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate.

To find out more about the program join us for an online information session on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 12:00 – 12:30 pm. To register or to find out more, click here.

 

– by JLove