DC grads return to share their experiences during Alumni in the Pit

Durham College (DC) alumni talked hockey, health care and their roads to success during the third-annual Alumni in the Pit, which took place on November 3.

The event saw Nicole Blackman, a registered nurse and Dylan Wade, director of partnerships and business development for the NHL Alumni Association, return to campus to share their experiences following graduation as they answered questions and provided guidance to students who are about to set out on their own career paths.

 “75 per cent of your day is spent working,” said Blackman, who graduated from DC’s Nursing program in 2004. “With that stat in mind it’s important to make sure you are doing something you love.”

“Patience is key,” added Wade, a 2007 graduate from DC’s Sports Business Management program. “You’re not going to get what you want if you don’t ask for it but also know it may not happen overnight.”

Blackman began her education in a completely different program but soon discovered her passion was nursing. She didn’t have the required grades to get into DC’s Nursing program so she completed academic upgrading and was subsequently accepted. She credits her college professors and the relationships she formed with helping her succeed and began looking for her first job five months before graduation – something she advises all soon-to-be grads to do. Her path has taken her to a remote community in Ontario’s far north to focus on Aboriginal health and back to the Durham Region again and she has continued to pursue her education along the way.

“I want to stress that learning never ends,” she said. “Be humble when you start out, seek guidance, ask lots of questions and take advantage of professional development activities. And don’t forget to start an RRSP, that’s where my first paycheque went!”

Wade also began his post-secondary studies in another program, and, like Blackman, realized he wasn’t on the right path. DC’s Sports Business Management graduate certificate was the solution and, after completing one semester in class, he embarked on a four-month field placement with the University of Hawaii; something he credits with helping him launch his current career. Upon completion of the placement and, after reaching out to his contacts, he landed his dream job with the NHL Alumni Association, where he’s remained working for the past eight years.

“I’m not necessarily the norm in the working world,” he said. “I’ve stayed in one spot and worked my way through the ranks. When my job has felt stagnant, I’ve advocated for a change and sought out mentorship from both within and outside the organization. My position with the association has changed because I put together a rationale and made a case for growth and more responsibility.”

Despite coming from very different programs both alumni agreed that finding your true passion, hard work and gratitude are the keys to success.

“We’re thrilled we could reconnect with two fantastic representatives from the college’s growing alumni community,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This event gives our students the opportunity to learn first-hand from graduates who have been in their shoes and have successfully made their way in the working world. We’re so pleased that DC’s programs and employees have had such a positive impact on their careers.”