Making it happen
The flexibility of the Mechanical Engineering Technology diploma allowed George to start out part-time.
Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
The idea of going back to school can be a daunting one at any age, but the decision to make the investment in yourself and your future is worth taking the plunge.
George knew he wanted to go back to school to earn a credential so that he could move forward in his career.
What were you doing before you began SAIT?
I was working for a local fire protection contractor as an estimator, project manager and designer.
What made you decide to come to SAIT?
The two primary reasons I chose SAIT were because a diploma allows me to get to my next step and I was able to do a lot of it through online and evening deliveries. It was also “unfinished business” because I had to leave college as a teenager due to finances.
What was your SAIT experience like?
When I first transitioned from the part-time online/evening option into full-time daytime classes, it was intimidating. There were only two instructors who were older than me and I was even in the same class as someone who had gone to elementary school with my daughters. That being said, I felt very included and had a great time. Most of the time I was a student, but because of my life experience, my instructors would occasionally ask me to share how the concepts we were learning in class could be applied out in my field.
What was one of the biggest challenges while in the program?
Math and Thermodynamics were tough. Luckily I had the right attitude, support and encouragement to get through. Instructors would come in on weekends and hold study sessions and I took advantage of the tutoring that was available through the Lamb Learner Success Centre. Our Academic Chair Olga Malikova was also instrumental in helping me be successful, as were my wife, kids, family and friends.
What would you say one of your biggest takeaways from the experience has been?
There have been a lot. One of them has been the relationships I was able to build — I still keep in touch with some of my classmates and instructors. Another was the capstone project. It really helped me hone my communication and presentation skills.
What would you say to someone contemplating a career change?
Do it! Don’t be concerned about age. It wasn’t a barrier at all. I felt welcomed and learned what I came to learn. SAIT can provide a lot of opportunities for those who are willing to do the work. And the instructors help with a lot of “aha” moments and those are great.
I’m still working in the same field of fire protection, but have since moved to working for a national company. I’m currently in the process of applying for a licensee designation with APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta). I am also looking at a couple other courses to maintain professional development requirements. I honestly do see myself back at SAIT for more.
George’s story is part of the Making it happen series featuring stories of career changers who chose SAIT to help pivot their profession. Read Lauren’s story.