Fueled by tenacity and hard work, Candace McKibbon’s career takes off

If you wanted to work at a particular organization, how many times would you submit your resume before giving up? Once? Twice? Maybe even 10 times? Not if you’re Candace McKibbon.

“It took me months,” recalls the Airport Operations Diploma alumna (2014) of trying to land her first job after graduating from BCIT. “I sent them my resume 20 times. I just kept pushing it out.”

It paid off. Candace ended up getting hired at her organization of choice—for a minimum-wage job scanning boarding passes. Not quite the job she was imagining, but she happily accepted her foot-in-the-door opportunity and got to work. Within months, Candace was moved to the information counter, and later was promoted to the position of customer care trainer, eventually supervising an average staff of 20 at a time.

Since then, Candace’s career has taken off. She is now working her dream job as a terminal duty officer for the Vancouver Airport Authority. It’s exactly where she wanted to be when she graduated from Airport Operations, and she credits her BCIT education for giving her not only the technical knowledge but also the soft skills to get her there.

Candace McKibbon winning award“BCIT taught me to be really flexible in a fast-paced environment and how to network and build relationships,” says Candace, who has demonstrated excellence in study and work (she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Technologies, the Dean’s Graduating Award and a number of scholarships while at BCIT as well as named on the Wings and Helicopters Magazine’s Top 20 Under 40 list). With sharply tuned skills and a tenacity for achieving her best, Candace was able to not only land that first job and but also to move up the ranks to her current role.

As a terminal duty officer, Candace is responsible for representing the Vancouver Airport Authority in the terminal building.

“We’re here 24/7, and we respond to all kinds of operational concerns—anything from security breaches to long line-ups,” she explains. “We have to build relationships with everybody in the terminal, including police, ambulance, fire and customs, and work with them to manage different incidents.” That means she is boots-on-the-ground most of her work day (which is 12 hours long, 4 days on/4 days off), walking 15 km or more per day to ensure she’s aware of concerns that may need attention.

If you’ve experienced anything like a baggage transport problem, flight delay or facilities malfunction at YVR, someone like Candace has her finger on the pulse of it and is working alongside other teams to come up with a solution.

What’s next for her career? Candace knows she will always be working in the exciting aviation industry and says she looks forward to learning more and facing new challenges every day.

Beyond her career, Candace is equally goal-oriented. While working full time, she was the executive director of the British Columbia Aviation Council (BCAC) for the past two years. Currently, Candace volunteers with the council to help attract and engage younger people to the BCAC to help promote the growth of aviation in the province.

“I love my job—it’s challenging and fun and every day is different,” says this proud BCIT alumna, adding that it took patience, hard work and a positive attitude to get there. “If you’re a new grad, and you’ve landed a job that maybe you think you’re overqualified for, take the job with a smile. And know that your education at BCIT has given you everything you need to move up. That dream job will come.”

Learn more about BCIT’s School of Transportation and the Airport Operations program.

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