Faculty of Applied Science & Technology
Degree: Computer Systems Technology Fast Track
Year of graduation: 2007
Back in 2004, Anju Kohli felt like she was facing a brick wall at every turn. Trained in advanced computer studies in her native India and armed with experience both there and in the United States, she was living in Mississauga and eager to step into the Canadian workforce. But Canadian companies did not recognize her credentials and Anju was unable to find work in her field. It didn’t help that her previous management position in the U.S. took her even further away from the hands-on IT work experience that employers were looking for. Not a particularly good recipe for success in a sector characterized by rapid change.
“It seemed like every step forward I made was followed by five steps back,” said Anju, now in Production Support for the VISA Technology Department at TD Bank. “At first I found it very depressing. I was dipping into an ever-decreasing bank account and working a variety of jobs unrelated to my field, including a stint at a coffee shop.”
Enter Sheridan College and the Fast Track to Technology Occupations program (FTTO). Anju enrolled in the FTTO Computer Systems Technology program funded in part by the Ontario government. Having gained advanced entry into year two of the three-year program, Anju went on to graduate at the top of her class, receiving several academic awards, including the President’s Silver Medal. She welcomed the program’s co-op work placements which gave her the domestic experience she needed to start building a career in Canada. Following graduation she was snapped up by CIBC for a contract position which was followed by the opportunity to join TD.
Not that there weren’t a few bumps in the road, however. Life at Sheridan was quite a change from Anju’s student days in India. “The age and cultural disparities were significant challenges,” she recalled. “Most of my classmates were many years younger than I was and they had a different approach to learning. I wanted to work very hard to finish as early as possible,” says Anju who lives in Mississauga with her husband and two children.
Her advice to mature students at Sheridan today centres on maintaining a positive and open mind. “Be flexible and realize that there may be a gap between how you learned and how skills are taught today,” says Anju, pointing out that today’s employers are looking for creative thinkers and problem-solvers.
“Don’t think of your age. You are a student like everyone else so put your heart into it and don’t lose your zest to learn.”