Rebooting her future: Meet the #SAIT2021 Spring Valedictorian

How Lauren Schwering shifted into a promising career in cybersecurity
How Lauren Schwering shifted into a promising career in cybersecurity

After completing a diploma in criminal justice and working in administration, Lauren was looking for a new challenge — and to transition into the exciting world of tech. She decided to come to SAIT to bridge her previous experience and future aspirations, and is now leaving with not only a diploma in hand and a full-time job lined up, but also as SAIT’s Spring 2021 Convocation Ceremony valedictorian.

"If you’re ever on the fence about going back to school, just jump in with both feet."

Meet Lauren | Information Systems Security (ISS) diploma graduate

Why did you choose to come to SAIT?

I knew I wanted to go into IT but wasn’t prepared to go to university for a computer science degree. A large draw was also the employment rates of SAIT students.

Did you hesitate at the idea of going back to school to shift careers?

It would have been easy to continue to be an administrative assistant for the rest of my career, but I knew I would never have felt fulfilled. I had applied for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and after a deferral, I knew it was time to further my knowledge in a different industry.

Describe your experience in the ISS program

When I first started at SAIT, I was unsure of what to expect. Being a mature student, I wasn’t confident I would develop relationships with other students and faculty. Fortunately, and much to my surprise, there were many more students like me — also unsure of what to expect, needing a change from their current jobs and ready to be challenged.

As for the program itself, I’m not going to lie, it was hard. During orientation, we had numerous instructors and SAIT staff tell us how difficult the program is. I kind of blew that off, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. But it has been a lot of work. You have to ensure you’re self-motivated and don’t procrastinate! That being said, the instructors have been amazing and genuinely want to see you succeed.

Thanks to the relationships and connections I established over the past two years, I was able to find success in the program and I now consider many of them part of my extended family.

What industry opportunities have you had throughout the program?

Last summer, I was able to put what I learned during my first year into practice through my internship with Canadian Natural Resources Limited. While working in the real world, I was able to learn additional skills I may not have had the opportunity to otherwise. I was also able to secure a permanent role with KPMG as a risk advisory consultant, which I’ll be starting this fall.

How does it feel to be representing the Class of 2021 as valedictorian?

I am beyond honoured! I could never have imagined coming into a completely new field and being named as valedictorian. With that being said, I am so proud of each and every one of my cohort and the graduating class. We successfully finished what we set out to do and are now reaping the rewards of our hard work. I am proud to be representing the Information Systems Security program and show that you don’t need previous experience to be successful.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career change?

If you’re ever on the fence about going back to school, just jump in with both feet. With a school like SAIT, where you have numerous avenues of support and assistance you can’t go wrong. You’re never too old, you haven’t been out of high school too long and you definitely can do it. Follow your passion!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I certainly want to thank those who have pushed and encouraged me the last two years. The support from my instructors, classmates, husband and family have been imperative to my success. I also want to say thank you to those who went out of their way to nominate me for valedictorian and for all the kind things that were said. I’m excited to see what great things lie ahead for all of us. I know we are now much more attractive candidates since becoming SAIT graduates. The sky is the limit — let’s take our industries by storm!

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