Langara Alumni who visited us on campus at event such as Alumni Talks, share their stories and inspiration. Included here are stories from Alumni who graduated from the following programs: Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Data Analytics, Kinesiology, and Web and Mobile Application Development.
For updates on these Alumni and where their career journeys have taken them, visit their LinkedIn profiles.
The EXPE 2300 course that I took and the career workshops that I attended helped me discover my skills and land my Co-op position.
Title: Software Developer II
As a Software Developer, I am part of the team who is responsible for updating the technology stack behind our Human Capital Management Software, Dayforce. The problem scope and user impacts are teaching me a lot about user experience, product design, and problem-solving. With the constant advancement of technology, it is always a good practice to keep up with current trends and practice the art of continuous learning.
Make it known that you are looking for a job.
My career strategy was to graduate from Langara with some industry experience. The EXPE 2300 course that I took and the career workshops that I attended helped me discover my skills and land my Co-op position. Eventually, my experience and transferable skills helped me land a full-time position after too. While I was looking for an employer, my strategy was to apply to as many jobs as possible, attend networking events, and make it known that I am looking for one.
Do interviews with a positive attitude!
Think of it as a conversation with friends where you talk about your experience and skills, and try to learn more about the role, the team, and the company. Researching the company before the interview will really make a difference. If I was to look back, one thing I should have done is to do multiple co-ops with different employers so that I get to experience different environments.
Keep your connections alive.
Networking is important. One way of approaching people is to listen to what they are talking about, find something to add to the conversation, then jump in and introduce yourself. This helped me ease up about the whole process. Do not worry if you did not get it the first time, just like any other activity, it comes with practice. The more you talk with people, the more comfortable you get. Creating connections with people in your field of interest and keeping those connections alive is immensely valuable for your career.
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Baljeet's LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.
Do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you do not understand it clearly.
Title: Graphic User Interface Designer
Company: Robert Half
Industry: Talent Solutions
While studying, I worked part-time in a remote job as a graphic designer for a company in Korea; this helped me apply the concepts I learned in school. It was hard to do remote work at the same time as studying at Langara College, but I think this helped my job search. It also showed that I had the ability to work remotely even though there are big time differences.
Prepare for your elevator pitch during networking events.
When I was looking for jobs, I sent approximately 4-5 resumes per day. I researched the company, and tried to connect with the HR team on LinkedIn and made sure to put their name on the cover letter. In addition, networking is important, especially when showcasing the skills you have. When attending networking events, make sure to be kind to everyone and prepare your elevator pitch. The most challenging part is to be consistent in attending networking events. You should be consistently going to every event the organization offers... I found out that it takes time. A few tips that I can share are be more proactive and consistent when you want to join a new network community and do not expect any job related or hiring information at the start of your relationship. I did a great deal of networking in and out of the campus. Inside Langara College, I joined clubs to expand my network with other students who were studying other courses. I got the chance to see senior grads who got jobs at Big Tech companies in Vancouver.
Do not be afraid to ask questions.
In terms of interview tips, prepare not only for technical questions, but behavioral ones as well. Be at the interview venue ten minutes before, and look around the area to see what the work environment is. Lastly, do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you do not understand it clearly. In my field, I feel that the difference in interview questions is that they are focused on behaviour as opposed to professional knowledge. Approximately 80% of the questions were on behaviour. I would say about 75% of the questions are non-tech questions. At the end of the interviews, there was a design test and I was tested on my knowledge of web design.
Be proactive wherever you are.
Find opportunities to mingle and connect with great people. As students, it may be through joining Langara clubs and on-campus networking events. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to people on LinkedIn and ask for a coffee talk. Connect with Langara graduates who are in the industry you are aiming for. I think I would have spent more time on my portfolio and website that showed my style of website design, as it is unique among my classmates. I also would have included more about my personal story, e.g. what is my hobby and what kind of person I am, and how I enjoyed the school and school clubs.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Bella’s LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
Use your time in school and after to slowly build up your stack of skills, and do not be shy to ask help when stuck with a problem.
Title: Digital Marketing Manager
Company: The InsureBC Group
I got into digital marketing about 6 years ago, and since then I realized that I am more interested in the applications of digital marketing in the financial sector. That is why I work for InsureBC. I am also the founder and CEO of Digiimark (a marketing agency based out of Vancouver). My long-term goal is to learn all the skills from different financial sectors and find different problems to solve.
Learn how to apply what you are learning in the real world!
I began by assisting a local company as a social media specialist, which exposed me to the many tools they used internally to manage and track all of their campaigns. More significantly, it taught me how to apply what I was learning in theory to real-world situations. I also networked and asked questions to industry professionals about the tools they use to manage digital campaigns, and then went home and researched those tools. From there on, I developed my self-help curriculum for all of the skills I would need to learn to start my company.
Have you applied to enough opportunities?
I swear by this rule: if you apply for 100 jobs, you will receive around 5-6 responses, 2-3 in-person interviews, and 1 job. So whenever you are having trouble finding employment after school, ask yourself whether or not you have applied to enough opportunities. Also, this is when your network comes in handy.
Use your time in school to slowly build up your stack of skills.
Pick a vertical you would like to pursue as your career and note down all the skills you would need to be successful in that career. Use your time in school and after to slowly build up your stack of skills, and do not be shy to ask help when stuck with a problem. Also, to ace your next interview, be sure that you know more about the company and the person interviewing you. Plan by preparing a presentation or elevator pitch specific to the organization. This will make a great impression and leave them wanting to learn more about you.
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Chetan's LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.
The people I network with are ones that I have some common interests with, and I value these relationships because of the advice and mentorship I receive, as well as the relevant opportunities that I learn.
Title: Student Services Operations Manager
Company: Langara College
Since working at the College, I’ve been very fortunate to work on several different projects and with many different leaders to learn all about the different areas in Post-Secondary Student Affairs. I hope to be an administrative leader in Student Affairs, so my current role as Student Services Operations Managers aligns very well with my goals. In my current role I work closely with all the Student Services Managers and collaborate with other non-academic units, which allows me to expand my knowledge of Student Affairs.
I’ve always felt a strong connection to Langara.
As a former student athlete I’ve always felt a strong connection to Langara. As an employee, I feel a strong sense of belonging and I enjoy working with all the great students, faculty, and staff here.
During my studies, I was also a member of the women’s basketball team, so I didn’t have much extra time to work or volunteer on top of studying and practice. At the time, I was thinking about physiotherapy or occupational therapy (OT) as future career options, so my strategy was to connect with people who were in the same or similar fields and volunteer during the off season to gain relevant experience. I spent a lot of time speaking to our team Athletic Therapist and my physio about what their day-to-day work looked like and the education they did. They had great advice on what courses I should take and connected me to relevant volunteer opportunities. In the summertime, I volunteered with Providence Health Care to work with the physio and OT on-site. The experience I got through volunteering helped me learn that I did not want to pursue physio or OT.
I define networking as making connections and building relationships.
The people I network with are ones that I have some common interests with, and I value these relationships because of the advice and mentorship I receive, as well as the relevant opportunities that I learn. After graduating from UBC, I took a targeted approach with my job applications and only applied to jobs that were relevant to community, sport, and recreation. I had also reached out to people in my network to see if they knew of any opportunities that I may be interested in. A majority of the jobs I got were actually from people in my network.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Denise's LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
I think the most common challenge for new grads or students is the lack of experience by projects.
Title: Associate Full Stack Engineer
Company: Amazon Web Services
My career goal is to become a Principal Software Engineer and I'm currently working as Senior Associate Full Stack Engineer which is one step towards reaching my goals. My strategy in college was to do as many Computer Science related courses as possible, which covered different areas of the subject like computer science theory, web development, software development, algorithms and data structures, networking, etc. It gave me more insight into the subject and helped me to choose a path that I liked the most.
Never underestimate an interview, one small question could be the decision making point.
For the interview process, I would say it’s most important is to prepare before every interview. I had some experiences where I could have passed the interview process, if had I have prepared for it. Never underestimate an interview even if you feel like you know everything, one very small question could be the decision making point. For interviews at junior levels, the most important piece of advice would be to go over the actual languages and tools mentioned in the job listing. Make sure to do your research about what questions the company has asked in the last couple months. This might be through asking people that work in the company through LinkedIn or searching the discussion sections on sites like glassdoor.com or leetcode.com. Often many post the questions they have been asked for specific companies.
The most recent experience I had, which completely changed my way of looking at interviews, was when I passed Amazon's interview for the Software Developer position. I always thought that I'm not among the brightest and smartest people that works for FAANG companies, but having worked there, I can say that it is achievable. You just need to be consistent. It took me around 6-8 months after I graduated to get my first tech job but after I got that position the growth is exponential.
The most important soft skill would be your confidence in selling yourself.
At the end of the day, an interview is just like a seller trying to sell something valuable to a customer. You need to have confidence in your skill set and be able to deliver the correct message to the interviewer. The key is communication.
I think the most common challenge for new grads or students is the lack of experience by projects. Yes, courses do provide some material to understand and learn the concepts, but you need to do some hard work and build some working projects to show your team efforts. These projects can really lighten up the resumes as a student's resume is often empty due to lack of work experience.
Once you start working on real world projects many new doors are going to open.
Getting your first job is the hardest part. But once you crack the first phase you go from studying from lectures/course materials to actually learning from a professional setting. It opens new gates to how you think and approach problems, and then you start to understand how things actually work together. We often learn new programming languages and tools separately, but once you start working on real world projects, it opens up the connections.
For current students, I recommend to go through Langara’s Computer Science courses list and try to pick some good ones that are in line with your interests. For instance, if you are more aligned with web development, then Langara has courses like Web Development 1/2 and Full Stack Development 1/2. Also, collaborate with more students and try to build new projects that you can show on your resume and Github. After graduating I did not have any projects, so I started building projects which took quite a bit of time to get my resume to a level where I felt confident. In this sense, I would have definitely collaborated more with some friends to create some projects to show in my resume, especially during the last few semesters.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Gursharan’s LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.
Never lose hope when you are not receiving responses to your applications. Most alumni have submitted 100+ applications but you only need one “yes” to start your journey.
Title: Software Engineer
I have always been curious about how teams work cross-functionally in big tech companies, and my job as a Software Engineer allowed me to experience it first-hand. It helped me grow as an overall engineer by exposing me to things I do not normally come across with.
Hands-on experience teaches you so much more than just text-book learning.
My projects tremendously helped me develop the confidence to show up for interviews. Doing so pushed me to put my skills into action and practice what it will be like in the real world. In-person meetups helped me build connections and practice my communication skills. I remember introducing myself to people and letting them know that I will be graduating soon, and I am looking for work opportunities. I also discussed my projects and asked for their feedback. A lot of the time these were in tech company offices which kept me inspired thinking that I will someday work in a similar office space.
I got all my jobs through LinkedIn.
It is important to have a strong LinkedIn profile. Believe it or not, I got all my jobs for the past four years through LinkedIn. When I am looking for a job, I would turn on my “Open to Work” status and make sure my profile is up to date. Letting your connections know that you are available for new opportunities always helps out. Students who aspire to be Software Engineers should be thorough with CS fundamentals such as programming, data structures, algorithms, and the like. Programming platforms like LeetCode and Hackerank helps you practice questions that might end up in your coding rounds. Improving your communication skills is important too to be more confident. If I were to look back, I would invest more time in learning new technologies and working on my projects.
Do not compare yourself to other people.
Never lose hope when you are not receiving responses to your applications. Most alumni have submitted 100+ applications but you only need one “yes” to start your journey. Continuing to work on personal projects, building your Github portfolio, attending networking events, and keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date are some of my tips for students. I also believe that developing your soft skills such as communication, being a team player, and conflict resolution will help you succeed in the industry. Do not compare yourself to other people. As long as you are better than yourself from yesterday, then your journey is unique!
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Harmanpreet's LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
I started networking by joining tech events, college sessions, and many more. I also sought internal mentoring sessions, which enabled me to build trust with the organization’s executives, and later got my full-time offer.
Title: Implementation Specialist
Company: Harris Computer
I am passionate about building a data-driven mindset in different businesses, and my role as a Technical Implementation Specialist helps me understand how projects are implemented from requirements gathering to final deployment.
I categorized my career strategy into three phases.
The first phase was survival. I did part-time jobs both on campus and in the retail industry during my first few years in Canada. The next phase was breaking the chain of part-time jobs and getting a full-time role in the tech sector. Lastly, it was to look for the best way you can help others, and be part of a global organization.
I looked for jobs using the rapid-fire strategy, then I learned this does not help.
I was searching for a job initially through a rapid-fire strategy wherein I sent multiple applications online and waited for an email from the recruiter. Eventually, I learned this does not help. Therefore, I started networking by joining tech events, college sessions, and many more. I also sought internal mentoring sessions, which enabled me to build trust with the organization’s executives, and later got my full-time offer.
You already have the necessary skills, that is why your profile was selected.
You were invited for an interview for a reason. I suggest you prepare and make the most out of it. Learn more about the business, and the community it is surrounded with. Also, do not compete with the job description, but rather integrate it with both your technical and soft skills.
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Jaspreet's LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.
Find someone to become your mentor.
Title: Manager, Power PMO
Company: MNP Digital
My Bachelor’s was in Architecture and Urban Planning. After some years working as an Architect, I became a construction Project Manager. After finishing my program at Langara, I found a job as a Junior Developer. Then, after a year and a half as a Junior Developer, I felt I was ready to invest in Project Management in the technology field. I knew the knowledge I gained as a Developer would help me become a better technology Project Manager. My current work provides me with experience at the top management level which will keep guiding me into the operational management side of the business.
Networking is the key.
I was passionate about technology since I was a kid. Moving to Canada to study was my opportunity to explore this side of me. I came to study web development at Langara and during the program, I was fascinated by front-end development and people’s connection to technology. Just like any other student, I started working part-time in the retail industry to gain customer service experience and improve my communication skills. Entering the Canadian market as a Junior Developer allowed me to explore these interests and also to discover more about myself. It was networking that helped me land my first job.
My first job as a Web Developer came from being a SWAP student at Langara. In my first full-time job as a Developer, a friend from Langara who finished the same program as me two terms before and one of the instructors at Langara referred me to the position. When I decided it was time to change, I sent out a lot of resumes but received fewer interview requests. It is important to prepare your resume and align your skills and strategies. When preparing for an interview, I recommend students practice a lot. The beginning will not be easy, but after some time you will feel more comfortable and natural when discussing your experiences and abilities. Also, research the company and position beforehand so that you can understand what they are looking for, and prepare accordingly.
Besides the referral for my first job, I was already applying and looking for an opportunity. Then when I decided it was time to move on to a new challenge, I had to spend four months applying for jobs until I got an offer that I accepted. It is very stressful to look for a job. I learned a lot from it. My biggest challenge was adapting my resume to each application. In the beginning, I used to send the same resume for all applications, and I was not receiving feedback. Once I started adapting (targeting) accordingly to the job I was applying for, I received a lot of interview invites.
Find someone to become your mentor.
Your college colleagues or instructors can be your next push to your first job in the field. If you can find someone that can mentor you, it will be extremely useful. It can be a friend that is and experienced developer or a co-worker who is happy to support you. I know it is not easy to find this person, but if you have someone like that in your network, make sure you get some support and feedback. Another piece of advice is to remember that being a Junior Developer is hard, you are still learning. Do not underestimate yourself. Before accepting the offer for my second job, I refused two different jobs because I knew they were not the right ones. Remember to consider your interests and your future goals when you accept a new offer.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Liz’s LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
I wanted my career path to be engaging and challenging and my job as an Automation Scientist allows me to work closely with scientists in the pursuit of discovering life-saving therapeutics.
Title: Automation Scientist
I wanted my career path to be engaging and challenging and my job as an Automation Scientist allows me to work closely with scientists in the pursuit of discovering life-saving therapeutics.
I allotted one week per resume to understand the science each company was doing.
While I was a student, I already wanted to step foot in the industry and I did this through volunteering in laboratories, doing my co-op, running my eight-month research project, and consistently networking with professionals in the field. While applying for jobs, I allotted one week per resume to learn and understand the science each company was doing and tailor-fit my cover letter and resume.
Practice answering commonly asked questions like “Tell me about yourself.”
Whenever I was invited for an interview, I made sure to research the company beforehand, what they are up to, and their recent successes. I also allot time to prepare and practice how I will answer commonly asked questions like “Tell me about yourself.”
It is perfectly okay to ask questions about your education and career.
You need to think about it now since it is a factor that will lead to a rewarding career. It is okay to ask for help and advice from people around you. I highly encourage students to develop their communication and writing skills too. Events where you can practice your public speaking and networking, are great places to start.
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Roshan's LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.