“Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby.” – George Bernard Shaw
(ANNews) – A graduate of the first offering of the Northern Lakes College Computer Network Specialist program, Brett Gladue had been interested in technology since early childhood. “It started with computer games,” Brett reports, “I started figuring out how to change or upgrade the games I played, or I’d pick apart computer equipment to try to figure out how everything worked.”
But while Brett demonstrated a talent for tech at an early age, lack of access into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields pushed Brett into a common employment industry in northern Alberta. “Since graduating high school, I worked as a labourer in the oilfield. I’d never worked in an office environment. I did secure a trade in pipefitting, but the job never felt right for me. And then, by 2019, the industry really slowed down.”
With little work to pick up and a sense of occupational dissatisfaction, Brett was on the lookout for anything that would pay the bills. It was his wife, Amber, who drew his attention to the new, Computer Network Specialist program offering at Northern Lakes College, and encouraged him to register.
“Amber was really supportive and really happy for me. I received a couple grants to help with financial costs, and then I was ready to begin the course.” There was only one problem; almost immediately after the start date, the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down all in-class learning. Luckily, Northern Lakes College was prepared – and so was Brett.
“I didn’t expect to do the whole course online, but NLC made distance learning very easy. Students could participate in the online classes in real time, which I and about ten other ‘regulars’ did, or they could study and view the classes on their own time. I learned a lot and took in a lot of new information.” But perhaps the best thing about the online experience was the way it was received by Brett’s school-aged son.
“His school moved online, too, so for the first time not only did he know his dad was in school, but he actually got to see me learning. A lot of the time we sat side-by-side doing our work. I hope he found it inspiring.”
Now employed as an IT Technician for the Bigstone Health Commission, Brett has encouraging advice for others in search of their calling: “Take the risk and get an education. Try something you are already interested in – look at your hobbies and find a career that is similar.”
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