We enjoy sharing great stories with you, which is why we interviewed six recent grads this past summer.
Derek Witten (’12), Chelsea Beyer (’12), Becky Brown (’12), Meagan Driedger (’13), Caleb Chan (’09), and Alenka Kyslik (’11) discuss their post-TWU experiences. We’ve compiled their honest answers about challenges in the workplace and advice for students below.
How do you feel TWU has prepared you for life post-graduation?
Derek (’12), Communications Assistant for MP Joan Crockatt: Those professors who covered my papers with red ink were my best friends, I just didn’t realize it until post-graduation. Every day at work the writing skills that I learned in my degree come into use. Besides that, Trinity taught me how to think for myself, how to adventure in my mind, and those are gifts that will be with me for the rest of my life.
Chelsea (’12), Faculty of Nursing Research Assistant for University of Calgary: Trinity Western University has instilled a passion for academics in me. Aside from the many things that all the coursework taught me, more importantly, the small classes, my peers, and the outstanding professors cultivated a great love for learning that continues to influence my life post-graduation. Because of that experience, I left wanting to better the people and world around me through continuing to advance and cultivate that same passion for knowledge.
Becky (‘12), Program Instructor for ELSA: TWU enabled me with the skill set I needed to find employment. I have found that TWU’s small network has allowed me to develop relationships and avenues that have enabled me to find employment.
Meagan (‘13), Staff Accountant for KPMG Vancouver: The years I spent at Trinity were the most formative years to date in terms of me learning about who Christ has called me to be: whether in work, in relationship, or in the ways I serve Him. It was the experiences I was given that really helped shape me as a person. This involved serving on student leadership, living in dorms, and learning alongside a very diverse student body. I feel more excited and prepared for Christ’s calling on my life outside of TWU because of the education, the friendships, and the ways I was able to see God at work during my time at Trinity.
Caleb (’09), Composer and Musician: At TWU, I learned to align myself with God’s purposes. It was at TWU that I healthily evaluated my values, motivations, passions, desires, potential, and sought to understand my faith more deeply. I was encouraged to view the measures of successes differently and to know the importance of artistic creation in church and culture. In many ways, I am still processing things I have encountered during my undergraduate year and am still realizing truths that I had not understood before.
Alenka (’11), Associate Brand Manager for Infinite Game Publishing: Through the community-centric environment at TWU, I felt supported throughout all of my university years. I was able to learn how to work best in a team, which has proved to be an invaluable asset in my professional life. More than anything else, being able to participate in various internships taught me how to work in a professional environment. This not only helped me in my professional life, but has taught me how to create a network and meet new people.
What challenges have you experienced since graduation?
Derek: The challenge of complete freedom has been a bit overwhelming. You can’t live off the grand ideas and visions grafted into your mind by Dr. (insert favourite prof) after university. There’s not this continual stimulation anymore. You have to develop your own vision for your life.
Chelsea: The biggest challenge I’ve faced since graduating is coming to the realization that the post-secondary path to a career is a process, and one that doesn’t succumb to your own schedule or timeline. Canadian graduate programs in Clinical Psych are painfully competitive, and trying to find your niche while not having the wind knocked out of you is difficult.
Becky: I feel burdened for those in need of an unknown hope, having worked in secular and Muslim environments. While teaching English in Turkey, I was in a place where the silence of God was almost deafening. In North America, we have the privilege to have our calendar set up around the Christian calendar, while the calendar in Turkey operates around holidays like Kurban Bayram. Conversely, many people did not know what Christmas was. If they did, they thought that Christmas was on January 1st to bring in the New Year. Something as foundational as a calendar can shake up your world. This silence of God within society enabled me to appreciate the reality of God even when formal acknowledgements of his presence are lacking.
Meagan: The biggest challenge for me has been knowing the community which was so much a part of my time at TWU is ‘discontinued’ in some ways. The incredible friendships I formed have been scattered as people go their separate ways. Returning home for the summer before starting my job in the fall has been an immense blessing for me, but has also been very challenging. I do not have the opportunity to spend time with people who have helped to shape me during these past few years. Working downtown will bring new community and opportunities, but I will definitely miss the close proximity that we were able to share as students at Trinity.
Caleb: The job market in the arts is tough and it was a challenge coming to terms with it. Throughout my masters, I was constantly reminded that it isn’t easy being a full time musician. There were some difficult decisions to be made, but with some patience I am beginning to now see the rewards. More importantly, I’m also realizing that not everything is about rewards! Now, I need to steadily mature my artistic pursuits such that I may bear fruit in all my endeavours.
Alenka: Since graduating, I accepted a position on the other side of the country in Montreal, Canada. It has been a very interesting and rewarding experience moving to a place where I knew virtually no one, in an area where the primary language is French. Through this I have learned that I am able to adjust to a dramatically different culture and thrive in it.
If you had just once piece of advice to share with graduating students, what would it be?
Derek: Find some friends who love the same things you do and hold onto them. Start a band. Form a writers group. Talk about businessy things with businessy people (sorry, not my area of expertise). Nothing exciting happens in isolation.
Chelsea: One piece of advice I’d give to graduating students is to go after what you’re passionate about. I know that’s completely cliché, but the world has a way of snuffing out enthusiasm by making things seem too difficult or cumbersome. If you can figure out what you love, it may take a little (or a lot) of patience, but the work you have to do to get to where you want to be will feel a lot less like work if you’re going after something you’re passionate about.
Becky: Do not get too caught up in your career or be anxious about your life beyond graduation. God will work through you in ways that you do not expect. Do not be discouraged when things do not follow your plan. God seems to delight in mystery. When He humbles you, delight in Him and give Him thanks. He exalts the humble.
Meagan: At my brother’s recent high school graduation, the speaker challenged the students with this: “your life is too important to waste it on yourself”. I thought that was an immensely valuable piece of advice. We all have so much to offer and give to those around us. It is easy to get caught up with career aspirations or being entirely focused on how we can be successful, but God calls us to live for each other, and ultimately to live for Him. No matter what degree you are graduating with or what skills you have, you have something to offer the world around you. God has a purpose and a plan that is unique to you.
Caleb: Seek the heart of God and much will be revealed to you.
Alenka: Take risks, as you will only regret the things you didn’t do. Meet people and develop a network, try out new industries, and go places. Reach out to people and ask about opportunities, the worst someone can say is no. Rethink your preconceived notions about what you should do and where you should be. Don’t stress about what could happen, the experience will always be an adventure. Don’t strive to make money, strive to do what fulfills you and adjust yourself to the lifestyle it provides.