Once she completes her one-year program at Algonquin in the spring, Mona Wazzi will begin her full-time job at a language school in downtown Ottawa. Wazzi is part of a small community at the college who have chosen to take advantage of a practical learning environment after completing their university degrees.


When Mona Wazzi graduated with honours at the University of Ottawa last spring, she intended to find a great job.

She never thought the search for a career after such a successful university stretch would be as difficult as it was.

“I graduated from the University of Ottawa and I couldn’t find a job,” Wazzi said. “They should have helped me with the process.”

Her solution was to enroll in the teaching English as a second language program the following school year.

“I ended up getting a placement at Interlangues Language School,” Wazzi said. “It was fun and I got offered a full-time job with them when I finished.”

Wazzi is part of a small community of former university students who registered at Algonquin in hopes to get a better handle on their future. In fact, as of November 1st, 2014, 1,854 students or 18 per cent of the school’s first level students had attended a university prior to the college.

And of the 10,283 first-year students, 1,191 or 11.58 percent had completed a university degree. as confirmed by Jeff Macnab, the associate registrar.

“We see it going both ways,” Joanne McDonald said on university students coming to the college. McDonald is the manager of career services and student activities and has been working at the employment support centre since 1990. “University graduates sometimes make the decision to get a college education because it’s hands-on, It complements their degree and because it bridges quite easily into the labour market.”

McDonald works with current students and graduates to examine their resumes and credentials to match them with a job, whether it is full-time or part-time. Her best tip to adjust to the new work environment is to always customize your resume to the specific job posting.

“We’ve had big promises in the last five years that there would be lots of retirements happening,” McDonald said with a laugh. “It’s starting to happen now, but it’s not as quickly as we thought it would. Certainly job seekers really need to learn how to network.”

McDonald also puts an emphasis on boosting a social media presence.

“We had an opportunity to get this new feature from LinkedIn before it was even available across Canada,” McDonald said. “We were the first ones in Canada to be able to offer it to our students.”

In the end, Mona Wazzi is happy with the role Algonquin played in kick-starting her career after university.

“I don’t think there’s one thing people have to be for the rest of their life,” Wazzi said. “That’s why a one-year program is great, because I can change my entire career and explore new options.”