Rock solid options make mining a good choice for mature students

Mining for mature students
BCIT Mining programs offer graduates diverse career opportunities.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to change course in your career, there’s plenty to unearth in the field of mining — from exploring new terrains to challenging norms.

And that’s just scratching the surface, according to Shawna Waberi, an instructor for the Mineral Exploration and Mining program at BCIT.

“The career opportunities available to our graduates are very diverse and wide-reaching,” says Shawna.

Students can choose from two options: a two-year Mineral Exploration and Mining Technology diploma or a four-year Mining and Mineral Resource Engineering degree.

Both study options are unique, says Shawna, and prepare graduates to work any aspect of the mining industry, whether it’s exploration field work, engineering consulting, or at an operating mine.

For mature students — anyone who’s been in the workplace for five years or so — this practical, targeted, and comprehensive approach packs significant appeal.

“I think that one key draw, which is inherit to the BCIT experience, is that students in our programs learn what they need to know to land a job in the industry when they graduate, and not a lot of what they don’t,” says Shawna.

“The last thing that a mature student wants is to waste time or money on education that results in a career path with limited options or longevity-slash-sustainability.”

Aleksander Saddlemyer approached his degree studies with specific career goals, a pivot from his previous interdisciplinary degree with a focus on international development.

“I chose this BCIT program for the involved and direct learning style they are so well known for. The outcomes from the program aligned with where I saw my career going,” explains Aleksander.

He’s currently working at Teck’s Elkview mine on the survey team, a placement through one of BCIT’s work experience programs. These are field-related work opportunities available to students in the mining program, similar to BCIT’s co-op program. He will return to BCIT next September to finish the last two years of his engineering degree.

“Initially I was only interested in a four-month summer [position],” he recalls. “However the additional 12 months of work experience are proving to be extremely beneficial to my learning and understanding.”

What is the work like so far?

“Some of my daily tasks include laying out engineering designs in the field, updating engineering designs on files that get sent to the shovels and dozers, and using drones to obtain information about various aspects of the mine,” he describes.

Mining for mature students
Megan Gent is a graduate from the Mining and Mineral Resource Engineering degree program.

Recent graduate Megan Gent wasn’t quite sure what to expect when she chose to study mining at BCIT.

“I actually didn’t even know this field even existed until I was in it,” reflects Megan, with a chuckle.

She’s more than happy with her choice and speaks enthusiastically about her decision.

“Mining is a good industry to get into,” says Megan, who finished the four-year engineering degree program last year and now works as a Mining Engineer In Training at Stantec. “But I also was really lucky in that I had great work experience and internships while I was in school.”

Megan was also active on-campus with the Women in Engineering Club, and involved in the Canadian Mining Games.

“I think mining is such an exciting industry to be in. It’s very dynamic. There’s so many things going on,” Megan says. “It’s such a massive global industry and it’s in a really interesting point of change but more so because of things like regulations, environmental stuff, and diversity.”

Second-year student, Alex Bateman, was also drawn to the dynamic nature of mining when deciding to do her Mining Engineering degree at BCIT.

“You always have to be on your toes. It’s kind of exciting and changes a lot,” Alex says, talking by phone from her work experience job at a gold mine in Kamloops.

Alex already had completed a degree in economics and math, and was employed in forestry when she decided to make a big career change, and delve into mining.

“From my experience from already being in school before, this program was great because early on, there is a large focus on very mining-related and application material,” she says, reflecting on her experience so far at BCIT.

“You’re able to get exposed to many aspects of the mining industry early on and kind of see if you really like it or not.”

She also has insight for women who might be considering mining.

“I’ve never experienced anything negative at all. But what I’d just want to say to other women who are considering the program, is just don’t be intimidated if you’re sitting in a room alone with 14 other guys,” says Alex. “Because my experience on-site, you’re just as large of an asset as anybody else — maybe even more so.”

She’s also got some rock-solid tips for anyone starting out.

“Ask a lot of questions,” Alex says. “Everyone’s been in your shoes at one point and can offer some advice.”

While searching for a program that’s right for you may look a little different, BCIT programs continue to provide applied learning and industry connections that prepare learners to be job-ready in the workforce. Learn more about BCIT Mineral Exploration and Mining and your path to building a career in the field at an online info session on October 28. Register here.

(Story written by Chantal Eustace. All photos were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing protocols.)

Leave a comment