From mature student to a thriving career in management | Vancouver Island University

Liette Masse graduated from the Bachelor of Tourism Management program in 2019. She came back as a mature student because she wanted an undergraduate degree on her resume to complement her extensive work experience. She now works as Manager of Donor and Alumni Relations at VIU.

This blog series shares the stories of VIU alumni to help inspire the next generation of learners. In this blog, Liette shares more about her career path and why getting her undergraduate degree was so important as well as some advice to help current VIU students get career-ready.

How key was education in career advancement?

It was not key in the first 10 years of my career, but later there were a few cases where I knew I wasn’t progressing because I didn’t have my undergraduate degree. I’m from Ontario and when I moved here, the job market was more competitive. That’s something I share when I speak to students in the diploma program who are thinking whether or not to do the undergrad degree. Do it now. You are already in the zone! Coming back in your thirties to do a degree is difficult, but it’s possible. I worked full time and went to school full time. It was hard work. The other reason I ended up going back to school wasn’t just so that I could advance into management in my career, I was also looking for a change.

Tell me about your career progression.

I started my career in the non-profit industry, then I ended up in municipal parks and recreation. I decided that I wanted to get into first-level management, so I enrolled at VIU. I found a job on campus in the Athletics and Recreation department. I also did a couple of different contracts in various departments on campus. One of them was in the Alumni Relations office, in the role of Alumni Relations Coordinator. After finishing my degree, I applied for the Manager of Donor and Alumni Relations position.

What aspects of your background have been the most helpful?

I have done a lot of community development work and it doesn’t matter what I was doing for work, I was always involved in the community and working with different organizations to implement programs, and that’s what landed me in this office. Engaging alumni and working with donors, I am still doing that community development piece for VIU.

What incentives are there for staying in the same job?

When I started at VIU, I didn’t want to leave the institution. I like being in a post-secondary setting. We also have good benefits and an excellent pension. We have the option of dividing up our work week between working from home and from the office, which gives us flexibility and helps with work-life balance.

What kinds of experiences would you encourage people to have before entering this field?

Lots of experience working with different stakeholders and community groups is important prior to coming into this type of role. Networking and being involved are important. Ideally, it would be great to be paid considering the present inflation situation, but I also think it is important for students to gain volunteer experiences. It’s important to have the designation, but having real-world experience is crucial.

If you were conducting a job search today, how would you do it?

Having an updated LinkedIn profile is extremely important. It’s important to maintain an online presence and I highly recommend that. In the past, networking and word of mouth helped me to find jobs.

Do you perceive career switching as a bad thing?

Career switching just means growth. I have taken something from every single job I’ve had to help me with my next one. We are a new team in our office. Some have come internally from other departments, and some externally. The transferable skills each candidate has brought have been driving our team to its full potential. I would say it’s a good mixture.

What advice do you have for students who want to stay on and work for VIU as you did?

Stay connected, take on any opportunities that come your way, join committees, get involved. Don’t just come to VIU to go to class. Get involved in the community. That’s what helped me gain the positions I have been fortunate to hold here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top