Changing tracks for a changing world
Two of SAIT’s class of 2020 valedictorians are adapting to land the careers they want
It’s an unprecedented time to be graduating from post-secondary.
Graduates around the world are finding new and unorthodox ways to celebrate their academic achievements before bravely stepping into a changing landscape of work and opportunity.
The future’s unknown, and a little scary. But the SAIT class of 2020 is making plans. They’re finding their way through the chaos.
For two of our 2020 valedictorians, adaptation is what brought them to SAIT. And it’s what will carry them forward from here.
Persevering through a crisis
Melisa Carnovale worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years before deciding she needed a change. She knew in an increasingly digital world there was a future in IT, so she enrolled in Information Technology – Computer Systems at SAIT.
The move to a tech-based industry wasn’t intuitive for Carnovale — she didn’t know much about computers. But with hard work and the support of her instructors and peers, she gained new skills in computer proficiency, digital literacy and multi-tasking.
Those are the same skills helping her cope with the impact of a worldwide pandemic.
“What I’ve learned is essential considering the safest and most comfortable way to engage with others right now is on a computer,” says Carnovale.
Her final semester at SAIT is one she’ll never forget. The transition to online learning in response to COVID-19 taught Carnovale and her classmates how to pivot in times of adversity.
“The class of 2020 will be remembered for our perseverance, and our ability to work, achieve and deliver through crisis,” she says.
With instructors cheering her on and a resume bolstered by experience with computer languages and specialized software, Carnovale landed an internship at Cisco as a software development engineer. In her role, she’ll apply what’s she’s learned at SAIT about adapting for success.
“As students during a pandemic, we had to find ways to keep going. That skill will be important as we enter the workforce in this new world.”
Meeting challenges head on
After months of looking for work and having no luck, Mackenzie Niewchas knew he needed practical skills to complement his university science degree.
He enrolled in SAIT’s Environmental Technology program, attended field school and got the hands-on experience he’d been lacking.
When the pandemic hit, Niewchas felt equipped to handle online learning thanks to communication and study skills acquired at SAIT.
“Knowing how to communicate effectively ensured I was able to get the help I needed while learning from a distance,” he says, “and having the drive to study at home was crucial in my last few months of school.”
Now, Niewchas has his sights set on a career in environmental consulting. With the global economy reeling from the impact of COVID-19, he knows breaking into the industry won’t be easy, but believes SAIT has prepared him to rise to the challenge and meet it head on.
His advice for Environmental Technology students looking to become job-ready is simple — stay informed on what’s happening in industry and government, grow your professional network and keep moving forward.
“Every day at SAIT was made up of small moments that were steps along the way to a brighter future — from forming a bond with a new friend to learning a lesson in perseverance,” says Niewchas. “It’s the small things that make a difference — remember that when you’re breaking into your industry and you feel too small to effect positive change.”
Despite current circumstances, Niewchas is excited to graduate and optimistic about the future.
“The class of 2020 is resilient and will have a huge impact on the world as we make it through this current challenge.”
Celebrate the achievements of Melisa, Mackenzie and the rest of the class of 2020 by tuning in to SAIT’s virtual Spring 2020 Convocation Ceremony.