In 2003, Ashley Cline was poised to launch a new career in broadcasting. As a gifted student and a brand new graduate of Lethbridge Community College's (LCC) Broadcast Journalism School, Ashley easily landed a practicum placement with Global TV in Calgary. “I found the work experience really valuable because after I'd had a chance to see what broadcasting was really like, I realized that it wasn't quite the right fit for me,” observes Ashley.
“Broadcast journalism is a really hectic business and you have to be willing to work on the fly, with very little stability. I guess I realized that I enjoyed working at a higher level—with planning and strategy—and I realized that I would be better off finding a different way of making my diploma work for me.”
Luckily, while Ashley was completing her diploma at LCC, she had noted the Athabasca University degree completion and transfer credit opportunities that were posted in the College calendar. Without wasting any time, Ashley arranged to meet with the AU Advisor at LCC and discovered that she would be able to receive credit for all of her completed diploma courses – taking her half-way towards her degree in Communications Studies.
Ashley says that the unique delivery of the AU program through distance and grouped study at LCC - not only allowed her to launch her degree with a significant head start, but it also allowed her to take as many courses as she chose. The flexibility proved to be a major benefit that allowed her to progress rapidly towards her degree, while also allowing her the freedom to work while she studied. “I was able to compound the value that I brought to my work by combining my technical background, which I gained at LCC, with my growing understanding of communications theory, which I was learning quickly through the AU degree program and then adding even more value through the work experience I was gaining while I studied.”
Her employer at the time, The Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League, was grateful for the expertise that Ashley brought to her promotional work for the team and now, as an honors graduate of the Bachelor of Professional Arts in Communications Studies from AU, Whistler Blackcomb has moved quickly to recruit her for their ambitious, pre-Olympic communications work.
As a PR Assistant for Whistler Blackcomb and the only communications person in their Human Resources department, Ashley feels that her skill set is completely suited to her mandate and adds that she wouldn’t have been considered for the position if she didn't have her degree under her belt.
“I'm really grateful for the way my AU studies broadened my career goals and opportunities – I really feel that I gained a comprehensive understanding of the communications process – from the perspectives of strategy through to delivery – with a thorough understanding of the need to constantly evaluate the processes,” Ashley notes. “I use the skills I learned every day as I juggle the complexities of blending existing strategies with introducing new ones so that I can help to deliver success on innovative new projects like the Visions Olympic Spirit Campaign,” an internal communications strategy aimed at preparing the staff of Whistler Blackcomb for the coming Winter Olympics in 2010.
Ashley's unique combination of experience, applied skills, and degree studies creates the kind of hybridized skill set that employers prize. Ashley, who is exhilarated by the challenges of her new position, says that she would highly recommend the transfer program from AU and says that by studying with AU, students have a chance to apply their knowledge quickly and to ‘test’ whether the work they're doing really suits them – providing a win-win situation for both students and employers.
Updated February 25 2015 by Student & Academic Services