Launching in celebration of UBC Okanagan’s 15th anniversary in 2020, alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni in 15 questions.
An entrepreneurial alumnus from the UBC Okanagan campus, he currently resides in Kelowna.
1. What is your name?
2. What education did you receive at UBC?
I received a Bachelor of Arts degree – majoring in History. I graduated in 2009.
3. Why did you choose to study at UBC?
There were a number of factors that made UBC attractive to me: most importantly, the quality of education available at the institution, but also the location. Having such a fantastic school right here in the Okanagan, close to family, made the decision a relatively easy one for me.
4. If you could start University again, would you do anything differently?
I would. I would slow down a little. When I was in University, I was in a race against myself to graduate as quickly as I possibly could. I really enjoyed my time at UBC, but I think my ‘get it done asap’ mentality combined with a very packed course load meant that I missed out on certain opportunities. If I were to do it again, I would still be ambitious and driven, but I would also give myself a little more room to explore other programs and opportunities.
5. What was your first official job after graduation?
I worked in a small, independently-owned print shop.
6. What is your current profession?
I’m the Co-Founder and Director of Client Services at By Jove Co. – a boutique marketing and branding agency based in Kelowna.
7. What is the best part of your job?
There are so many things that I love about my work, so picking the ‘best part’ is quite challenging. I find the rich diversity endlessly enjoyable! For example, we work with a broad range of clients from shopping centres to bakeries. As a result, no day or campaign is the same and I’m constantly learning about new sectors and industries – I’ve got so many interesting facts stored away… my Trivial Pursuit game is on point!
Most industries, nonprofits and causes need some kind of marketing help too, so working in the industry also presents me with a great opportunity to lend my skills to causes and organizations I’m passionate about helping (be it in a volunteer or paid capacity). It’s a real dopamine hit to see a concept or idea come to life and resonate with a wider audience.
8. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?
It sounds so naive now, but when I was in my final semester of University, I thought I’d be able to walk out with a degree in hand and land a ‘dream job’, but as I started to assess my options, I realized the work was only just beginning. Wrapping my head around that was a challenge! I was like: “Ok, society – I’ve got my history degree! Now, where is my fancy car?”
Your degree or diploma will open certain doors for you, but it won’t do the heavy lifting. You need to put the sweat equity into building your reputation, experience and developing your skills. I believe it is an ongoing process.
9. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming years who have concerns with the current work climate?
Every challenge presents some form of opportunity. Truly. There’s no textbook or PDF with all the answers to your unique situation. Try to uncover the opportunity of your circumstances and play to your strengths. If you’re passionate about a role, but don’t have the resume to back it up, why not record a little video to go along with your resume where you can explain why you’re so excited about the job? Think creatively and try to make things happen for yourself – be proactive, not reactive.
The economy and job market will forever fluctuate, so focus on improving your skills and don’t be afraid to reach out to potential employers (even if they’re not advertising) and mentors. Be willing to ask questions (including asking why you weren’t hired for the position, if applicable), and be as enthusiastic and positive as you can be while being authentic.
And remember – your career won’t be built overnight. If you have to start by doing something totally different from your end goal, that’s ok. Your end goal could even change – mine did! Focus on doing work you feel good about, develop your key skills and experience and you will get there eventually.
10. What’s the best advice you can give to help plan a career?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out on day one. If you know what you want to do, that’s wonderful, but if you’re unsure, that’s ok too. Many of the tools and platforms that I use in my line of work didn’t even exist when I graduated. Focus on work you feel good about doing, and over time, many of the blanks will be filled in for you.
I would also highly recommend networking and volunteering. I know networking sounds boring or intimidating to many, but I prefer to think of it as making friends. It’s a chance to show up to an event and meet people with similar interests. philosophies etc. Force yourself to speak to at least one new person. Hopefully, if you get along well enough, that person will refer to you, recommend you for a job or might even become a new best friend.
Volunteering is excellent as it enables you to give back to the community, but it also gives you the opportunity to build your resume and experience while sampling certain industries and sectors. It can also be considered a form of networking. For example, studying for a fine art degree – why not volunteer at a gallery to get a taste of what working in the art world can be like?
11. Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
I wouldn’t say I have a mentor in the truest sense of the word. I’m constantly self-analyzing and observing people and interactions. In that sense, I feel as though I’m continually learning from others – perhaps it’s a great way to introduce myself or a really succinct way of explaining something. I’m happy to adopt new ways of doing things. University may be over, but I’m still learning with every passing day!
12. How and where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in talented, driven people – even those who aren’t in my field. For example, I find the dedication of champion athletes inspirational. I find the single parent diligently working three jobs inspirational. I try to borrow inspiration from a variety of sources and use the lessons and examples to spur me on.
History also remains inspiring to me. From famous rebels who stood up for what was right, to my own ancestors fighting military campaigns, or overcoming potato blight in 19th century Ireland, there are so many fascinating, engaging stories that fire me up and give me perspective.
I find art, specifically music and poetry, very inspirational too. I’m a fan of dorky inspirational quotes as well. I’ve been called basic for that, but I think those people are just jealous!
13. How do you balance your work and home life?
In my opinion, self-awareness is key in so many areas of life – from relationships to work/life balance. Try to be aware of how much time you spend working versus being at home or relaxing. In the beginning, time yourself and keep a log if you have to, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries – not just with others but with yourself too. Hold yourself accountable! For example, if the temptation to check your emails while relaxing is simply too great and it is eating into your downtime, leave your phone in another room and only check it at set intervals, so you’re not getting lost in endless notifications. Whatever you’re doing, try to be present.
14. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?
Freakonomics is a great book – it shows that there’s a hidden side to nearly everything and forces you to consider the different layers to a whole range of diverse topics. The takeaway: always dig deeper! Things aren’t necessarily what they seem.
Also, anything by Bill Bryson. Entertaining, witty, well-written and often educational!
15. Who is one UBC Okanagan alum you would like to nominate for afterwords?
Dustyn Baulham – Founder and Visionary at Rebellious Unicorns Production Company and General Manager at the Kelowna Pride Society.