Studying part time to succeed in the Canadian workplace: Three pieces of advice from Hans Hwang

Hans Hwang relocated to Canada from China in 2015. He brought 20 years of experience as a software developer specializing in Quality Assurance (QA) and testing, and held a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. Nevertheless, in Canada, he struggled with finding local employment. He was lucky to be able to work remotely for a past employer in China.

But he knew he needed to try something different, to nail the interview and successfully move into the Canadian workplace. After looking at options, he chose to register in a BCIT Computing Part-time Studies (PTS) course in 2018. What attracted him? “The course content is very practical, all the courses are related to real-world jobs,” says Hans.

Start with just one course

“It was easy to start,” he explains. “You can take one basic course, and apply to enter the program after three of four courses are completed.” The model allows students to sample the content to make sure they enjoy it before committing to a program.

Commit is what Hans did. He accelerated through two credentials: the Applied Database Administration and Design (ADAD) Associate Certificate, which ladders into the Applied Data Analytics (ADAC) Certificate. Through the programs, he was able to update his expertise and earn Canadian recognition for his skill set.

Getting the interview and then landing the job

“I got an offer within two months of starting my job hunt,” says Hans. He’d been attaching a copy of his Certificates, which he received “with Distinction” for his high grades, to his cover letters. Now he’s enjoying working as a Senior Software QA Engineer for an AI and machine learning company leading the mining industry.

“We create innovative products that combine machine vision and AI. We help the mining company achieve safe, sustainable, intelligent, and more efficient mining,” he explains. “I get a great feeling since I know I am helping us launch more stable and better products.”

“The BCIT education is very helpful because of its practical course content,” reports Hans. “Sometimes I will go back and review part of the course materials in order to solve a work task.”

He enjoyed the instruction, explaining that instructors typically gave a detailed explanation of concepts, all very job-related, and included practical exercises every class to build experience. “My English was also very limited at the beginning,” admits Hans. “But with the practice over my years at BCIT, I can now freely talk and write in the job environment.”

“The BCIT education is very helpful because of its practical course content” – BCIT Computing grad Hans Hwang

Advice for other students?

Hans has three key pieces of advice:

  1. Work hard to get high grades. Hiring managers trust that success at BCIT will translate to success in the workplace.
  2. Make use of available services and resources. “BCIT Student Association Career Services was very helpful, and my first interviews were at the BCIT hiring fair.”
  3. “Refine your resume and cover letter, and rewrite the cover letter each time before applying for a job.”

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