I always tell everyone that I have the BEST job in the world and I would never trade. Being in a business, an industry that allows others to achieve their goals, there’s no feeling better than that.
As the campus director and owner of Academy of Learning Career College Thunder Bay campus, Jaimie Mintenko achieved a series of professional goals and inspired many students to make a difference in their lives. She received the Top 20 under 40 Northwestern Ontario Visionary Awards earlier this year that recognized her professional achievement and contributions to the community. Today, we are going find out what’s the story behind Jaimie’s success!
How being the director of Academy of Learning College assisted you on your professional achievements?
Jaimie: Being the Director of Academy of Learning Career College has always been a personal challenge of mine. It took me a lot of planning and going outside my comfort zone to get to where I am today. Setting my goals and putting plans together to achieve them had really helped building the confidence for myself and my staff, which also helped us in achieving goals throughout the year. Running a college was not my original career plan, I never said out loud that I’ll be the owner of a private career college before. However, education has always been close to my heart when I was in school. Therefore, when the opportunity (of taking over the college) arose, it became a natural path for me to develop a successful career in and to embrace a great passionate at the same time.
What did you learn from being the campus director of Academy of Learning College?
Jaimie: I’ve learned quite a wide variety of things. There was a steep learning curve when I first came on board, and it took me some time to learn about all the programs at the campus. In addition to that, I also learned that everyone is looking for an opportunity; whether it’s myself, my students or my staff. From witnessing the change in people and seeing students grasp hold of opportunity and make it reality for themselves, I really see the change in confidence and self-esteem in them. This spirit is basically what keeps me going on a regular basis.
Would you say that you are inspired by your students?
Jaimie: Yes, definitely! Sometimes students will come up to me and tell me what difference I have made in their lives, and what they were able to achieve and accomplish because of the learning they’ve had at our campus, nothing compares to that feeling. Sometimes I can be having the worst day on the face of the planted, but when I sit down and talk with a student or when someone stops me while I’m in the community, their words are always so cheerful and inspire me in many ways.
What are some of the most inspiring qualities you saw on your students?
Jaimie: The most inspiring qualities would be their work ethic and dedication. I have so many students who have family responsibilities and are working and going to school on top of it. They’re just driving determination and sometimes I don’t even know if I have this in myself. Sometimes you wonder how others can do it, but they go against the odds every day to make their success come true.
What students liked the most about your campus?
Jaimie: Students at our campus told me that they liked our small size classes, unlike what you can experience in a typical public college. Students like that they can see me on a regular basis; and they know that as their admissions person, I’m always there for them. I help them out on financial issues and I’m there to support them when they need any kind of guidance. As their counselor, I’m there to make sure that my students are being taken care of.
They loved the skills provided at the college. Everyone says the skills they learned at our campus are very applicable. I get calls all the time from students saying “thank you so much for teaching me how to use sage 50 or I wouldn’t have gotten a job.”
They really like the camaraderie of other students. Our students often found everyone at school has very similar goals. They’re all looking to achieve similar things, so they were able to bond over that. Some students are in the stage of life where they are not making many friends anymore, it’s very nice for them to come close with people that shares a common goal.
What are the most popular programs at your campus?
Jaimie: Our sign-ups are actually very cyclical. At this moment, our most popular programs are in the healthcare field. We’re starting to run a PSW program in this upcoming September, so that’s been a major interest for our new students. However, medical office administration has always been another interesting program that’s also in high demand. Also, Medical office assistant is another very popular program. I also noticed a large amount of popularity within the accounting and bookkeeping program as well. I found that as long as there is business, people are always going to need bookkeeping and accounting skills to go along with it. Our students are most interested in studying and finding jobs in those fields.
Personal Support Workers (PSW’s) are in high demand throughout the Thunder Bay labor market. The course is built on providing hands on, high quality training for students by replicating real-life PSW training scenarios. Students are able to graduate with the PSW Certificate within 8 months and leverage the support from the Thunder Bay campus to prepare for entry into the employment sector. This program is implemented by qualified and experienced instructors that will lead students through certified curriculum in a small classroom setting (maximum of 10 students). Deadline for applications is August 25th, 2016 and the start date for the program is September 12th, 2016.
Is there any upcoming events at your campus?
Jaimie: Right now, we’re in anticipation for the start of the first instructor-led course we offer here, and that would be our PSW program starting September 12th.
The PSW program is the first instructor-led program that we’ve ever had here at the Thunder Bay campus. Some of our other programs are typically offered through our integrated learning system, which is something that only Academy of Learning offers. It’s a combination of a variety of learning styles that the students are able to take advantage of. Students will learn through multi-media platforms, read through their textbooks, conduct hands-on activity, and receive support from a facilitator at our campus in order to achieve the best learning result as possible.
What’s your view on career change?
Jaimie: It can be petrifying. When I see the stress on some students’ faces as they walk through the door, I can’t help but think where they could be at mentally. Career change is an intimidating thing, but you should know that it’s going to be ok on the other side. After seeing the improvement on confidence and self-esteem our students established while going through the training, I realized that career change is actually a significantly positive thing. For all career changers, you need to know that you’re taking a step forward towards a better future for yourself, and you’ll over come any obstacles along the way. If you have the confidence to make that move, it’s going to pay off in the future.
Can you give some advices to people who are considering a career change?
Jaimie: Step 1: Figure out what’s out there. I found so many people who don’t do their research ahead of time. You really need to do your research and discover what kind of opportunities are out there. You need to find out if something is right for you. I know a lot of students who have considered a career change before, and when they have this kind of researched knowledge on the table, it really can help a lot when going through the change.
Step 2: Set up an appointment, meet with people who you could potentially be working with. Everyone wants to be taken care of; they want to be looked after when finding the most suitable programs to prepare them for the career change. Having a knowledgeable and strong support really helps diminishing some of the fears in terms of making a career change. Knowing that you’re being taken care of, and are on the way to achieving the registered diploma that can help accomplish your change of career is very important.
What do you want to say to your current and future students?
Jaimie: I would like to say a big “Thank you!” to all my students! I do what I do every day because of their success. Seeing how hard our students are working inspire me on a daily basis, especially on the days that I’m feeling down or have things in life that I don’t have solutions to. Seeing the smiles on the students’ faces and all the objectives that they’ve accomplished make my work worthwhile. I always tell everyone that I have the BEST job in the world and I would never trade. Especially in running it as a business; I love the business aspect of things, but being in a business, an industry that allows others to achieve their goals, there’s no feeling better than that.
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