ElevateYourSkills allows students to gain professional learning alongside their degrees, helping students increase their chance for jobs
The ElevateYourSkills option at McMaster Continuing Education enables Mac students to gain professional learning alongside their degrees. ElevateYourSkills an accessible and flexible way for students to gain career skills in a wide variety of areas.
Lorraine Carter, director of McMaster Continuing Education, explained that, with the competitiveness of the job market, this option can equip students with the tools that they need to succeed professionally. Carter also added that the option was particularly built with students in mind.
“Now there is great attention by industry, employers [and] government on not only academically prepared students but also students who have a practical skillset when they graduate. This idea of elevating or enhancing the skills that you can utilize shortly after graduation is what ElevateYourSkills is all about,” said Carter.
Carter emphasized that traditional university education, which often includes more theory-based learning and less practical knowledge, is also incredibly valuable for academic enrichment and skill development. She further emphasized how academic skills are even more valuable when complemented with practical skills.
“If we think about, for instance, the social sciences and the humanities, they cultivate many important skills, but they can be hard to articulate. Whereas, if you are an English student or history student and you can complement your studies with courses and programs that are focused on career development, then I think you are in a better and easier place to leap forward and secure work that is ideally meaningful for you,” said Carter.
Michael Foster, a communications student at McMaster, completed a digital marketing certificate through McMaster Continuing Education. As a fourth-year student applying for jobs now, Foster is glad he did the program.
One of the greatest benefits, Foster said, was being able to put the theoretical knowledge he learned from his communications classes into practice.
“[T]here were some aspects that I got taught through communications that complemented the different technical skills [in digital marketing] such as search engine optimization or digital marketing strategy, market analysis or Google ad campaigns and how to properly write different captions, closed captioning and blogs for different companies . . . I thought it was really, really good to understand that, while also understanding my theoretical side, so I can put everything into my best practice,” said Foster.
The number of courses that a student takes for their certificate depends on their area of professional study. For Foster, he took five courses which he finished in about two years, all of which he took online.
The flexibility to study online and use the courses in his certificate as electives towards his communications degree helped Foster complete the certification alongside his busy schedule.
Now, as he is about to graduate and enter the workforce, Foster said that he is getting a lot of job interviews and believes the extra certificate has helped prepare him for the job market.
“When I first went into my certificate program, I was looking at the industry and how future jobs in my industry are kind of difficult to come by at the time. [I] saw what the requirements were for those jobs and I promised myself that after my undergrad I don’t want to try and get any big education again for another two years. I just want to go into the workforce, start making good money and certainly get a name for myself in the work experience. So, as I was looking for what these jobs needed, I realized my degree is kind of missing some of these things,” explained Foster.
Given that completing an extra certificate is not something everyone does, Foster emphasized that doing so was a way to stand out in the workforce and be ahead of other competitors.
“It helps when [employers] are scanning through your resume and see your technical and theoretical skills that come from your undergraduate degree,” said Foster.
Foster encourages students to consider the ElevateYourSkills approach especially if their degree does not directly lead them to the workforce.
“If you’re a person who is kind of looking for a route that’s not necessarily given to you directly through [your] degree program, look to expand, look to create your own path because there are options out there and ElevateYourSkills is one of them. It helped me out a lot and it gave me a little insight into the real world. That helped me get to where I am today,” said Foster.
Interested in learning more about ElevateYourSkills and how you can get a career certificate alongside your degree?