The Dream Team

2015-2016 Issue 2

“What am I doing with my life?”

That’s a question advisors hear often at the School of Continuing Studies. Robert Guirguis and Mary Rubiano are academic advisors, Emilie Nketiah is the Career and Transition Advisor, and France Bruneau is an Administrative and Student Affairs coordinator. “Students come to the School because they have an idea of where they want to be, but they don’t know how to get there,” explains Bruneau. “I think our goal is to help them succeed, however they want to define their success.”

We sat down with Bruneau, Guirguis and Nketiah to discuss their roles, their expertise, and what they do to help current and prospective students.


How would you describe what you do at the School for prospective students?

RG: There’s a lot of information out there; we try to bring it to life for prospective students.
Some individuals come to us because they want to advance in their career; others are looking to transition jobs, or just looking to see if there’s something we can offer to help get them where they want to be. We often ask them, “What do you want to achieve from taking a course with us? What are you missing to get that dream job? What tools do you need to take the next step?” We want to help them so that they’re well-rounded candidates when they re-enter the job market.

EN: Potential students often come in with an idea or a course in mind, but what they need is a strategy. I help them determine where they want to end up, and together we pick the programs and courses that will close the gap.

FB: We’re their sounding board. We make sure they’re in the right place at the right time. I have an open-door policy with my students; I see them through all the steps of their studies in Language and Intercultural Communication.

What are some common questions you receive?

EN, FB, RG: What am I doing with my life? Can I get a master’s after this? Will I get a job? Can I do this job without knowing French?

RG: We get a wide range of questions. A lot of people come in with a plan in mind and look to us to answer the question “am I on track to achieve my goal?”

EN: The main question is often, “What do I do next?” The individual is instrumental in answering that question. You need to take inventory of your skills, and come in with a few ideas we can work with.

How do you help once they become a student at the School?

RG: We end up being their student advocate within the School. We help them problem solve, and encourage them when things get tough. Life happens. Sometimes plans have to be readjusted, and we’re here to help them get where they’re going.

EN: We offer support. It’s a partnership. If you’re willing to invest in yourself, I am going to help you achieve your goals.

FB: Sometimes we have to step in, because we want them to take their studies seriously. We discuss the issues together, so it’s a collaborative effort. Ultimately, it’s for their benefit.

EN: I don’t give bad news; I give hope. Learning how you can improve is an opportunity to become better and achieve what you want. It is the beginning of an action plan.

Do you have a favourite story you’d like to share?

FB: There are a couple. With language courses, you can see your progression. Each class helps, and the improvement is almost immediate.
One woman came to the School to improve her French. Once she improved, she became an executive assistant, and now leads the Montreal chapter of a large non-profit. She already had the background; she just needed a boost. For her, that was language classes.
Another time a man came up to me at an immigration fair and asked, “Do you remember me?” He was an engineer who had all the professional tools, and only spoke French. He took our English course, and he wanted me to know that he’s now a CEO. Hearing those stories is the best reward.

EN: I had an individual career advising meeting with a student who was having trouble finding a job. He had strong skills and abilities, but he needed help in presenting himself as a good cultural fit to employers. With his permission, I was entirely honest with my feedback, and he returned for two or three other meetings to practice mock interviews. About three weeks after our last session, he called me to say he got a job. I’m not sure who was more excited – me or him! Suffice it to say that it was a happy ending.

FB: Students often tell me, “I can’t believe how nice you are.” We take the time to listen. And I think the work we do here is truly amazing.

What would you say to someone who is considering a course at the School, but is still on the fence?

FB: Come in and ask your questions; you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Some have an idea but say, “I don’t know, I’m too old, I don’t have the time, it’s too expensive.” But it may not be as impossible as it seems. The School is extremely flexible, with classes in the evenings, afternoons, and on weekends.

RG: Decide what you want to do and go for it. You don’t have to commit to a full program. In some cases you can take as little as one course.

EN: Do your research. Visit our website, ask questions, then come in and see us – we’re here to help. There are countless resources available, and so much of it is geared towards our target market of adult learners. There’s an entire community behind you, rooting for you to succeed.


2 Responses to “The Dream Team”
  1. evelyn espanola says:

    can i still pursue my nursing because i have some difficulty to find the right schedule