Graduating – Now what?

Add a graduate certificate to increase your job prospects

Years of hard work are about to pay off for university students graduating in June, but many face an uncertain future because they still aren’t sure what jobs suit their education and skills.

“What can you do with an English degree, or a Liberal Arts education?” says Seneca College Professor Beth Agnew. “Science and Computer graduates have defined a field, but there is a great deal of competition for every job opening.” The solution, says Agnew, is to add a post-graduate certificate in Technical Communication to your skills and boost your employability.

“Our program is perfect for bright, curious people who love technology and who have a knack for figuring things out or explaining things to other people. The one-semester job placement also gives them experience, and many of our students have been hired permanently by their placement employers.”

Graduates of the program are often snapped up by high tech firms wanting technical writers to create user documentation, content for web sites, and online help.

“Our grads may also work in institutions or government as information officers, or policy & procedure writers. Some even go on to technical training and project management,” says Agnew. “It gives you so much more versatility in the jobs you can command, and it’s a lot of fun.”

A veteran technical writer herself, Agnew has worked in aerospace, geoscience, software, biotechnology, automotive, manufacturing, telecommunications, broadcasting, game development, and marketing.

“My background? Fine Arts,” laughs Agnew. “If you’re smart, with good writing ability, and excellent research and interviewing skills, getting up to speed on industry knowledge is not that difficult.”

Starting salaries aren’t that bad either: $45K-55K per year is not uncommon for a new grad.

Seneca’s Technical Communication Program is a 1-year post-graduate program that teaches students how to communicate complex information clearly and effectively. “Students learn from instructors who are practitioners in the field, and they receive hands-on training on the software tools that are used in the profession. One more year while you are already in study mode is a small price to pay for a wealth of future opportunities,” says Agnew.

Shailaja Kumar, who graduated from the program in 2006, found it to be the perfect launching pad for her career. “I had no work experience at all, just my degree in Engineering (Telecommunications). During my co-op I created a user guide for an open source software product, and it was later seen by someone in California who offered me contract work at $35.00 an hour. That manual was also a great portfolio piece that helped me get a job as an Information Developer for a software engineering firm.”

“Even if you don’t want to work as a technical writer after graduation,” says Agnew, “Having that Technical Communication graduate certificate demonstrates to employers that you are comfortable with technology, can communicate clearly in multiple media, and that you have skills other candidates with your degree don’t have. Anything that sets you above your competitors for a job is going to improve your prospects significantly.”

For more information on the Technical Communication Program, and to apply, see http://www.senecac.on.ca/fulltime/TECC.html.

Professor Beth Agnew is the Co-ordinator of Seneca College’s Technical Communication Program, which has been producing capable technical writing graduates for more than 15 years.

More students choose Seneca than any other college in Canada. With eight campuses across the Greater Toronto Area, Seneca provides internationally and nationally recognized polytechnic education, training, and pathways that are key to graduate career success in the global economy. Every Seneca diploma, certificate and degree program is developed to a high academic standard, in consultation with industry, integrated with information technology, combined with technical and transferable skills, and reinforced by opportunities for ongoing education and re-training.

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