Episode 4

April 11, 2023


Graduate Certificates with Grad Cassandra Mair

Hosted by

Pat Quigley
Graduate Certificates with Grad Cassandra Mair
Storyteller In-Depth
Graduate Certificates with Grad Cassandra Mair

Apr 11 2023 | 00:20:29


Show Notes

Professional Writing - Communications graduate Cassandra Mair shares how impactful the graduate certificate program was on her career and how this can be the case for so many students pursuing this type of education. 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello and welcome to Storyteller in Depth, a podcast where we go behind the scenes to learn more about the story, art center's, people, places, and things. I'm your host, pat Quigley and in today's episode we'll explore graduate certificates at the Story Art Center. What are they and are they worth it? Let's find out Speaker 0 00:00:30 Graduate certificates or what you may often hear as post-grad programs are programs that while short induration can provide students with a significant amount of critical information and skills that they can apply to their future careers upon graduation. Before enrolling in this type of program though, students must already have a degree or diploma. So a graduate certificate can either act as an additional level of learning to add to their existing knowledge, or it can be an introduction to an industry that they want to explore more. Currently the Story Art Center has 15 programs that range from publishing, which was actually one of the first programs on our campus to children's media, journalism, public relations, advertising, professional writing, and more. While our campus has been running graduate certificate programs for a while now, we frequently hear from students that this type of educational pathway is not often discussed when they're pursuing their first degree. Speaker 0 00:01:25 But at the same time, we hear how rewarding the journey is when students do find post-grad options and are grateful for the experiential hands-on learning that they receive, which often differs from their previous education experience. To help us uncover a more personal understanding of our graduate certificate programs, we welcome Cassandra Mayer to the podcast. Cassandra is a 2021 graduate of our professional writing communications program who took the program online. While her experience is unique to her individual experience, many students throughout our programs can share similar sediments in regards to the structure and the way material was taught. So thank you Cassandra, so much for being on the podcast today. Speaker 2 00:02:08 Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 0 00:02:11 Yeah, it's, it's awesome. And it's great to, to talk to you finally from seeing all the posts that have been on, you know, on the Centennial website and it's great to finally put, you know, a, a voice and a face to the name. Speaker 2 00:02:23 Yeah, definitely. Those blogs were, I guess, quite a while ago now, but they were great to write <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:02:28 Yeah. Um, so that's kind of what we're here to talk about and to talk about the whole experience with the post-grad program and everything else. But to get started, let's talk about you, who is Cassandra and, and talk a little bit about yourself. Speaker 2 00:02:43 Um, yeah, so I'm Cassandra. Um, I'm 25 and I'm a writer. Um, I went to university for professional writing at the University of Waterloo for four years, undergrad. Um, the official program name was, was Rhetoric Media and Professional Communications, a big launch spiel, but it was just essentially professional writing. And um, I graduated right when Covid was starting in 2020. Um, so coming out was hard to find work and so I ended up pursuing a postgrad and looking into it because I didn't wanna do a master's. Um, it was gonna just be too expensive, too long, that kind of thing. So I ended up looking into Centennial and, um, since having graduated, I guess last year now, um, I'm currently working with a marketing and PR agency and doing writing social media, pr, outreach and such for them. Speaker 0 00:03:40 That's awesome. Congratulations on the job and Oh, thank you. And getting to where you are now. That's incredible. So what kind of initially drew you to pursue a post-grad program and what did you know about the graduate certificates while you were in your undergrad? Speaker 2 00:03:55 So, initially during my undergrad, I was never going to pursue anything after. Um, it was a law in four years, honestly. And I, I mean, English writing, I didn't really see a need for anything further, um, in my education. And then, um, like I mentioned, coming outta the pandemic, finding work was really, really hard. And I knew someone who had gone through this exact program and had absolutely raved about it and had said that like the entire class got a job. That was their main goal, that it was awesome. Um, so then I ended up looking into it and I was like, yeah, this is great. But during undergrad I really knew nothing about postgrads at all. They really didn't talk about it. It was really masters, PhD, that kind of stuff. Cuz that's in the same, um, I guess the same stream that'll all be through the uni University stream. Right. They really don't talk about college. Um, so yeah, <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:04:55 Yeah. That's, that's incredible. And I'm glad that you ended up choosing Centennial. Like what made you, what stood out to you about the post-grad program with Centennial? You know, apart from other like colleges, Speaker 2 00:05:07 Well other than hearing someone talk about rave reviews, um, I liked that they put, their whole emphasis was on, we're gonna find you a job, we're gonna teach you practical skills and you're going to get a job. And that's all I wanted, honestly. I just wanted to get my start. I'm young, I'm just coming out, it's time to start working and doing stuff. So that really, really drew me in. Um, as well as the placement at the end was really, really enticing. I don't remember for sure if the other, um, other programs that other colleges had there or not, but it looked really, really good. So, yeah, Speaker 0 00:05:43 Well for sure. I mean, I am a graduate of the broadcasting and film side of things back in 2015. And you know, that was one of the whole reasons that I chose Centennial too. Like I just wanted to, they they touted that you're gonna get end up getting a job, you're gonna have have this amazing experience where you get so much time to, to work in the real world. And I was like, why would I think anywhere else? Right, exactly. Is this, this is perfect. A hundred Speaker 2 00:06:07 Percent. Speaker 0 00:06:08 So in your experience, what differences would you say exist between a university degree and a graduate certificate in terms of the style of material you learned and the delivery of the courses? Speaker 2 00:06:21 Honestly, they're night and day. Um, I found, so university, um, is very theory based and so you're learning all the theory behind everything, especially English. Um, even being on the more practical stream, cuz Waterloo had three English streams. Um, you're still doing so much literature and Shakespeare and all these old, um, philosophies if you will. Um, whereas college is so practical, you're actually learning the skills that I use every single day in my current job. Um, your hands on, you're working on real-time things right now. You're not learning about not to slam old authors, but you're not learning about stuff from hundreds of years ago. Right. That's kind of a bit outdated. Um, and too, like, I mean college has placement. I know university at co-op, but it's, it's definitely different. Um, I didn't personally do co-op in university, but I had friends who did and um, yeah, they're just completely different as well too. Speaker 2 00:07:28 I just wanna touch on, um, university has so much lecturing. You go to the hall, you sit for three hours, they talk to you, whereas college, um, they'll talk to you, but then you're doing stuff, you're engaging, you're answering questions, you're doing writing like little blurbs. Um, they really bring you out so you're not just sitting there taking notes doing la da da for however many hours, which is, um, I think much better, a much better learning environment, honestly. And two, like you're doing more projects, you're not doing so many tests, at least in my program, which is just so much better. Cuz then you can use that going forward, right. For, um, portfolios, future jobs. Whereas using an essay for a job, it's, it's not that relevant. Speaker 0 00:08:12 <laugh>. No, not at all. And I mean, yeah, just getting some of that practical, like really sinking your, your teeth into doing actual things Right. Which is, yeah, like you said, just better than writing an essay Speaker 2 00:08:26 Way better. Right. It Speaker 0 00:08:27 It teaches you so much more. So like how do you, how did your post-grad program help you develop professionally? Speaker 2 00:08:36 Well, it really taught me skills that I can use realistically in any professional writing job because I covered such a wide range of forms of writing. Um, it gave me the skillset and the exact skills that I need, like editing, like how to do, do technical writing. It's not just, um, general writing. And so that really helps my professional career in whatever I decide to pursue afterwards. Um, also doing to the placement and um, I guess for lack of a better word, placements through the infamous Storyworks program, um, really, really helped as well. Just learning how to email someone professionally like a client. Um, even my profs, uh, sorry, instructors and colleagues as well. Um, learning how to interview someone. I ended up doing an interview like interviewing a professional. Um, I could go on. There's so many little things throughout the program that just really helped. Um, just even just building my confidence as an individual in the program really, really helped me now professionally cuz now I can say I, I do have the skills, I am capable. I can do this. I know these people who know I can do this. It's good. It's really good. Speaker 0 00:09:54 That's amazing. Like I wish, I wish I could have, you know, got some of those interview skills before so that when I went into the first couple interviews I was like, I don't know what to talk about. I don't know what to say. Yeah. How do I talk to you? Yeah, right. And, and just having that knowledge, especially straight, like wanting to go into the workforce like that, that's huge. Right. Speaker 2 00:10:13 Definitely. Speaker 0 00:10:15 Yeah. So obviously the learning is, is different in a way when you're doing a post-grad, so some would say it's experimental learning. Uh, how did that play a role in your experience in your post-grad program? Speaker 2 00:10:30 Um, so it really gave me a taste of like the real world and that kind of work. Um, sorry I'm drawing a blank. <laugh>. Um, yeah, just having, having two even instructors who have current jobs in the field, they're not just instructors so they know exactly what's going on. They're at the forefront of everything. Um, and I like that too. The program, especially my program, I'm sure others as well. Um, it changes every single year to adapt to the, uh, environment, right. And the markets and what's important, what's in demand, how things are changing, especially in communications. Things I feel like are changing at such a rapid pace right now, <laugh>. Um, so that's really appreciated that every single year you are at the forefront of things and you're learning exactly what you need to come out right now. Um, yeah, Speaker 0 00:11:31 And as you said, like you did this during the pandemic, which yeah was a very hard time for students everywhere and for, uh, you know, professionals everywhere trying to learn how to balance your home and your work life and your post-grad studies. How did you do that? How did you manage that? Speaker 2 00:11:51 Uh, a planner, a really detailed planner. <laugh> <laugh>, um, yeah, I'd never used a planner before to be honest with you. And I use that thing every single day and just writing down menial tasks. Um, and I mean, I blocked off time as well, so like from eight to four while I'm doing school or such. And then evenings would be my time or I'd go to work. I remember I was fortunate enough not to have to work too much. I did have a job, but um, I was living at home at the time, <laugh> with the pandemic. Um, so I didn't have to work a ton, but you just have to look ahead as what I did. Um, started early, asked questions early, did plans, like planned out all the writing that really, at least for me helps me, um, if I have a plan I can really kind of bang it out really fast. Um, yeah, and just attend office hours. I attended quite a few office hours, um, and all classes to always be on top of things and just never missing emails or notes from people. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:12:54 Wow. That's some really good advice too. I mean, I live off of my work calendar and my personal calendars, I should probably sync them up a little bit better so that, you know, I do have that really nice home work balance, but I, I commend you for that, for, for keeping that strict schedule. Speaker 2 00:13:12 It wasn't always such a balance to be honest. Like at times, obviously it school's really important. I mean if an assignment's due it's due, um, you gotta get it done. So it definitely, it definitely wasn't always blocked eight to four. But Amy and I tried to maintain that and I mean, I tried to maintain time to myself. I feel like as long as you get those few hours a day to yourself to not even worry about school, think about it, then it's, it's manageable. At least Speaker 0 00:13:40 <laugh>. Right. So what would you say would be the most rewarding part of your postgraduate program and your experience? Speaker 2 00:13:49 I would say, I'd say overall I think the most rewarding part was doing work that I can use now, if that makes sense. I, I couldn't, I wouldn't say it'd be a certain moment. There's a lot of like accomplishments and good moments that happened. Um, but being able to have a really, a really well-developed portfolio, I think that really was the highlight of doing the entire thing for me even now cuz I feel so good about having a lot of, well, really good writing to show people in future jobs, future endeavors. Um, and I had like nothing before so I think that just, and they help you too, like in one of the classes we designed our portfolios so it looks great. I know that <laugh> it has good stuff and what it needs in it and I guess that's very, very specific to my program. But yeah, I really, really think that's a big thing for me. Speaker 0 00:14:48 Awesome. And obviously getting, you know, eventually getting the job at the end too, right? Like being able to Speaker 2 00:14:53 A hundred percent. Speaker 0 00:14:54 Like that's awesome. Yeah, it's, it's great to get a job after you go to school cause you're like, finally everything paid off for me. Everything worked. It's great. Speaker 2 00:15:02 A hundred percent. Yeah, I, I should have said that too, but yeah, getting the job <laugh>, it's, I've been here for almost a year now, so it's just like, yeah, <laugh>, but it's great. Definitely. And I hope everybody who does this program's able to get a job just the same as I was cuz it was, yeah, it's the best to just do co-op and then they're like, Hey, we wanna hire you. And it's like, wow, okay, you're gonna pay me now for what I'm doing. Like yeah, <laugh> Speaker 0 00:15:25 It is, it's awesome. It's definitely awesome. What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing a postgraduate program at Centennial College? Speaker 2 00:15:36 Um, I would say similar to what I said before, just always be on top of things. Um, also know why you're doing it. I'd say like going into it, know why you're pursuing a postgrad. Is it cuz you love education and you wanna learn more? Is it cuz you want a job? Is it, cuz there's nothing better to do, so off you go, I don't know. But I think, um, knowing your goals and your needs is really, really valuable going into it. Um, I also think too, like knowing your boundaries at the same time, knowing, um, how you learn, what works for you, what might not. If you need extra help here and there, I think knowing that is really, really important. Um, I'd say to jump headlong into every single opportunity given to you, the, like Centennial College, even just being able to do the post-grad diaries, blogs was such a good opportunity for me just to be able to write like that and help other people and explain my thoughts. Um, they give you a lot of opportunities and I think you should take as many as you're comfortable with, obviously, but I think you should take them because they're great experience and you meet really great people and you do really cool stuff and yeah. Speaker 0 00:16:59 Cool. And I was actually gonna ask you about that. I was gonna ask about the post-grad diaries, like okay, how did that come about? How did you, like, why did you want to do that? Speaker 2 00:17:08 Um, yeah, so we were, I guess I wanna say approached in a, a course right at the start that they were looking for people to do these post-grad diaries series. Um, just to talk about our experiences throughout the program. And uh, I believe I ended up being the only one who did them. Um, but I just, I wanted the opportunity to, uh, to honestly share my experiences to help others potentially because I didn't know a ton going in. Um, and I mean, I'm a writer so I like, I like writing <laugh>, so I wanted the opportunity as well to just, um, brush up on my blog writing, that kind of thing. And it just really seemed like a cool opportunity with the college and I never really had stuff like that. University. I feel like there's so many kids in your program that you're a number, right? You're not a person and opportunities like this don't really come up unless you have to fight for them. Like, it's, it's a totally different environment, whereas this was just handed, not handed, but offered <laugh>. Um, and yeah, I really, really enjoyed it too. It was really great. And it wasn't a big commitment either. I believe it was only four throughout the entire year, so really, really good. Speaker 0 00:18:18 Did you get a lot of feedback from that? Like from friends, family, instructors, f uh, other people, p peers? Speaker 2 00:18:26 Um, to be honest, not a ton. I don't know if a ton of people knew I was doing it <laugh>. Um, I think like obviously my parents were like, this is great, and my friends were like, that's so cool. Um, but I, I don't really know. I just kind of sent them off into the world and I, I haven't even looked at them since, to be honest. I don't really know what happened to them. <laugh> obviously they got posted, but yeah. <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Speaker 0 00:18:53 Cool. Um, yeah, so thank you so much Cassandra for, for being on the podcast today and you know, if people want to find out, uh, more about the post-grad program and, and stuff like that, obviously they can go to the Centennial College website and, and find out more about that. And if they wanna look, uh, read up on your post-grad diaries, uh, they can also check those out on centennial college.ca. So thank you so much, Cassandra, and best of luck in everything in the future. Speaker 2 00:19:20 Thank you so much. Speaker 0 00:19:28 This was a great conversation. It's clear how impactful Cassandra's graduate certificate was on her career and how it can be the case for so many students pursuing this type of education. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Cassandra. If you're interested in learning more about the Post-Grad Diaries blog series, she wrote, check out the post about this episode on our Instagram at StoryArt Center. At the end of every episode, we wanna pose a question that will make you reflect or go in depth about what we discussed on the podcast today. So for this episode, let us know about your journey to the StoryArt Center and how your program has helped you propel into your own career. You can leave us a comment or tweet us at Story Art Center. Until next time, I'm Pat Quigley and this is storyteller in depth.

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