Liette Masse graduated from the Bachelor of Tourism Management program in 2019. She returned as a mature student because she wanted a bachelor’s degree on her resume to complement her extensive work experience. She currently works as Donor and Alumni Relations Manager at VIU.
This blog series shares the stories of VIU alumni to help inspire the next generation of students. In this blog, Liette shares more about her career path and why earning a bachelor’s degree is so important as well as some advice to help current VIU students get career ready.
How important is education in career advancement?
It wasn’t key in the first 10 years of my career, but then there were cases where I knew I wasn’t advancing because I didn’t have a college degree. I’m from Ontario and when I moved here the job market was more competitive. That’s what I share when I talk to diploma students who are considering whether or not to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Do it now. You are already in the zone! Going back into your thirties to take a degree is tough, but it is possible. I work full time and go to school full time. That’s hard work. Another reason I went back to school was not only so I could advance into management in my career, I was also looking for a change.
Tell us about your career development.
I started my career in the non-profit industry, then I ended up in urban 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 do several different contracts in different departments on campus. One of them is in the Alumni Relations office, as the Alumni Relations Coordinator. After completing my degree, I applied for the position of Manager of Donor and Alumni Relations.
What aspects of your background were most helpful?
I’ve done a lot of community development work and no matter what I have for work, I’ve always been involved in the community and working with different organizations to deliver programs, and that’s what brought me to this office. Engaging alumni and working with donors, I still do the community development part for VIU.
What incentives are there to stay at the same job?
When I started at VIU, I didn’t want to leave the institution. I love being in the post-secondary environment. We also have good benefits and a very good pension. We have the option of splitting our work week between working from home and from the office, which gives us flexibility and helps with work-life balance.
What type of experience would you recommend people have before entering this field?
A lot of experience working with various stakeholders and community groups is important before getting into this type of role. Networking and engaging is important. Ideally, it would be great to be paid given the current inflation situation, but I think it’s also important for students to get some volunteer experience. It’s important to have a designation, but having real-world experience is essential.
If you did a job search today, how would you go about it?
Having an updated LinkedIn profile is very important. It is very important to maintain an online presence and I highly recommend it. In the past, networking and word of mouth helped me get a job.
Do you consider switching careers to be a bad thing?
Career change means growth. I’ve taken something from every job I’ve had to help me with my next one. We are a new team in our office. Some come internally from other departments, and some externally. The transferable skills each candidate brings has propelled our team to reach their full potential. I’d say it’s a good mix.
What is your advice for students who want to stay and work for VIU like you?
Stay connected, take any opportunity that comes 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 get to the position I’m lucky to hold here.