Show ’em you mean business


Taking a continuing education course or completing a certificate can tell your boss or prospective employer you mean business.

Whether you’re resolved to climb the corporate ladder or want to find a challenging new career, taking a continuing education course or completing a certificate can tell your boss or prospective employer you mean business.

“The decision to continue your studies shows an employer your initiative and the desire to develop new skills,” says Janis Miller, dean of Corporate and Continuing Education at Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in Toronto.

“Many of our students already have college diplomas or university degrees and are coming for career change or career advancement,” Miller says. “Lifelong learning is certainly keeping us current and provides stimulation. It creates interactivity and provides an opportunity to make new contacts. At the same time, we know learning is good for our health.”

Many employers encourage continuing education. “Many offer tuition reimbursement, though many say it doesn’t get used as much as they’d like,” Miller says. Humber offers more than 200 certificates that range from four to 18 credits, depending on the field of study.

Overwhelmed by the selection? Humber offers career advancement services to help you determine what course of study best meets your needs and interests. Some students may even be eligible to receive credits based on prior learning and work experience.

Academic advisors can help you set a path, but the best advice for many students is to follow their instincts.

“If you follow what fuels you, your passions, your interest and your career goals, you’ll find the courses that inspire you,” says Marilynn Booth, dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto.

“It has to be in the student’s head and heart that this is right for them,” Booth says. The Chang School offers more than 1,000 courses and more than 80 certificates. It also offers a range of professional designations.

More and more, students are returning to school to complete courses relevant to their career goals. “The trend we are seeing is that students now want to learn what they need to learn and when they need to learn it,” says Booth. “The need for a whole certificate is not the same as it was in the past. It’s ‘just in time’ learning — and we have to keep up with that.”

Colleges and universities are responding to the demands of adult learners by delivering courses in a range of ways, including online and in-class. “Students really want a combination of in-class and independent courses and the flexibility that comes with that,” Booth says.

As online learning continues to develop, it’s becoming more and more dynamic. “Learning on the web is not just putting course material on the website,” Booth says. “We’re trying to make them more interactive and dynamic so students can have interaction with other students and their professors. You don’t just take a course to learn specific content … It’s also an opportunity to interact with colleagues with different perspectives.”

Certainly, returning to school can be a daunting experience. But you’re not alone, educators remind. “I encourage anyone to visit a college. I think they’ll find them friendly places,” Miller says. “I’ve talked to many students who were intimidated about returning to school, but their sense of pride and motivation becomes much stronger as they experience success.”