“The biggest effect continuing education has had on my career and life is my increased confidence…What you learn becomes a piece of you, and makes you a better version of yourself.” - Clara Tsim, SCS Learner.
For Clara Tsim, lifelong learning is a way of life. After earning a business degree, Clara began her career working for the Canadian Government. “I’ve always been curious. After completing my degree, I was eager to do some personal development, and wanted to learn to speak Mandarin to learn more about my culture,” explains Clara. “In 2004, I started learning Mandarin at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), and had a really positive experience. So, when I wanted to do some professional development, I knew SCS was the right choice. Much of my work is project-based, so I decided to start by earning a Project Management Certificate at SCS, and my love of continuing education just snowballed from there.”
Over the next 17 years, Clara earned certificates in Mandarin, Risk Management, Financial Analysis and Investment Management, Financial Trading and Option Strategies, and Applied Specialization in Mindfulness Meditation. She also earned a Master of Public Administration at the University of Victoria. “I enjoy taking a mix of courses that help me develop both personally and professionally. And some do both! For example, my finance-focused certificates have helped me not only on the job, but also in my personal finances,” says Clara, who received a Marilynn Booth Award of Excellence from SCS. “The biggest effect continuing education has had on my career and life is my increased confidence. Taking a wide range of courses has diversified the tools in my toolbox, opened doors, opened my mind, and allowed me to see things from different perspectives. I know my skills are transferable, and this has diversified the types of projects I can work on, and multiplied my career options.”
According to Clara, a commitment to lifelong learning has allowed her to enter any work situation with confidence and a problem-solving mindset. “When you are armed with knowledge, you are able to make better decisions, both professionally and personally. Learning has helped me relate to other people, work collaboratively, build relationships, and understand other people’s perspectives,” she reflects. “I work on a lot of multidisciplinary teams, and having skills in project management, risk, financial analysis, trading, language, and mindfulness, allows me to contribute, break down silos, and lead on a whole new level.”
In order to succeed in her studies, Clara — who is currently a Senior Financial Analyst with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) —was adamant about time management, and carving out dedicated time for her learning. “I appreciated the flexibility of online learning, which I was able to make work with my schedule. I also gave myself breaks between courses, really scheduled my time carefully, and tried to avoid rushing assignments as much as possible. In many classes, we did a lot of group work and team building; it was great to grow with likeminded people from different sectors, and learn from their experiences,” reflects Clara. “My instructors were really inspiring. In fact, my Risk Management instructor gave me a strong academic reference to support my application for my Master of Public Administration.”
For Clara, studying at SCS has meant the ability to say “yes”. “A commitment to lifelong learning has allowed me to try new things, and build transferable skills,” she says. “When I am given new challenges, I can say YES, because I have the confidence I can do it. Learning at SCS has given me a ‘can-do’ attitude, and taught me that I can overcome any challenge.”