People Profiles

Brad Ellert, APEX Certificate Graduate

November 04, 2015

Hacking into government databases was not something Master of Computing Science student, Brad Ellert knew he wanted to do, but after his experience with the APEX Certificate Program, it seemed like a natural progression. Accepting a friend’s invitation to join his team for the Canadian Open Data Experience, Brad travelled to Toronto where his team won the prize for the Best Student Team Submission, using government data to solve problems and create an app. After learning from APEX the value of taking chances in order to “create your own luck,” Brad accepted the opportunity despite his misgivings and ended up with not only a hackathon title to his name, but also a valuable experience.

Creating your own luck is a major theme of the APEX Certificate Program, and something that struck a chord with Brad. “A lot of people talk about being lucky and how things have just fallen into their laps,” says Brad. “However in most cases, it’s when a person is really proactive and goes out to find opportunities that they seem really lucky,” he says.

One way to find opportunities is to have a strong social media presence. Unlike many students, before starting the program, Brad wasn’t very active on social media. Although becoming an overnight Twitter addict is hardly necessary, the value of a strong LinkedIn profile is clear. During an APEX lab, Brad created an account which got him noticed by future employers, as well as his hackathon teammates. While he still might not be updating his status regularly, Brad’s LinkedIn is helping his future job search by creating a profile that will leave a lasting impression on potential employers.

According to Brad, the best way to create your own luck is to start early because, “graduation comes up much faster than you expect”. By developing your skills and getting your name out there while still completing your program, your chances of transitioning into the job market are that much greater. While taking part in the APEX session on Creating your Own Luck, Brad was inspired to start actively pursuing his career path. “I was really inspired to take something away from everyday situations, and not just let opportunities pass me by,” he says. “If you’re always looking around to see what’s out there, then you can make those opportunities for yourself”.

Brad took part in the APEX Certificate program and is now working for Océ Display Graphics Systems developing large format printers. The APEX Certificate Program is a structured professional development program run through the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows. The program equips grad students and postdoctoral fellows with strategies and support to help them navigate the transitions from academia to possible career paths.

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