Corbett Gildersleve  

Current Dual Degree Program Student


Words of wisdom

In high school, Corbett’s history teacher imparted some valuable advice to his fledgling students: “If you go to university, learn a language,” he said. “It will make you more marketable.”

These words still resonated with Corbett almost 10 years later when he embarked on a journey to Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, to study and learn Mandarin with SFU’s Dual Degree Program (DDP) in Computing Science.

The program offers students the chance to gain two degrees – one from each university – while gaining life-enriching international experience by living in China for two years.

Exploring opportunities

In the years between high school and starting university, Corbett worked in various jobs including Alberta’s oil and gas industry and even campus security at SFU. A self-described “stereotypical millennial” who relishes variety, he was seeking a change. Corbett dabbled in computer animation before finding a match with SFU’s computing science program, specifically the DDP. He had already grasped basic Mandarin in a night class and was intrigued by the total cultural immersion offered by an exchange to China.

While studying at Zhejiang University, Corbett lived in the city of Hangzhou where he enjoyed the “laid-back lifestyle, with a great market and amazing food places.” On campus, he was exposed to a variety of cultures and met fellow globetrotters from Korea, Germany, Spain and Czechoslovakia. “I made a lot of new friends and many of us still keep in touch,” he says.

New perspectives

Corbett says the DDP program gave him invaluable life experience and since returning from China, he feels energized with a drive to get involved in his community. “The DDP exchange made me more relaxed, more easy-going and more open to trying new things,” he says.

The experience even motivated Corbett to run for president of SFU’s Computing Science Student Society. He was successful and recently began his first term in the position.

Along with a knowledge of Mandarin and an enriched understanding of Chinese culture, Corbett returned to Canada with another valuable asset: a rich network of new connections, which he hopes could lead to future career opportunities.

Looking ahead

Whatever the future holds for his career, Corbett is ready to embrace it. A people-person, he hopes to land a role with plenty of interaction with customers and clients, perhaps in user experience.

Not afraid to think outside the box, Corbett has also considered capitalizing on the language skills he gained in China and the networks he established by opening up a bakery in Hangzhou, specializing in cheesecakes.

It is fitting that he advises students considering studying computing science at SFU to be open to new things, make new friends and above all, be willing to say “yes” when great opportunities arise.