Ali Asghar Merchant, APEX Certificate Graduate
Ali Asghar Merchant, Master’s of Engineering graduate, knew he wanted to build his professional career in IT project management and team coordination. He just didn't know where to start.
Fast forward a few years and Ali is now thriving as a Project Analyst for TD Canada Trust. How did Ali get his dream job? Where did he start?
"My experience with the APEX Certificate program played a key part in developing my networking skills, which turned out to be exactly what I needed to land a post-graduate job that was perfect for me," Ali explains.
Of the many workshops offered, Ali credits the Creating Your Own Luck and Online Presence workshops for having the biggest impact on how he now makes connections. "I used to shy away from interacting with new people, and now I make a point of it," Ali says.
How much has Ali's online presence changed in the past two years? Before the program, Ali's LinkedIn profile contained only 12 connections and no profile picture. Two years later, visitors to Ali's LinkedIn are now greeted with a professional photograph, an up-to-date list of experience and skills, and over 500 useful connections. “It's unrealistic to expect that recognizing your own worth is enough to get you a job – you have to work hard, really hard, to make others see it too” Ali says.
According to Ali, the skills he acquired from various APEX sessions helped him immensely. “APEX provided me with a space where I could build my resume and network with like-minded individuals. It gave me that “extra” motivation to go above and beyond”. Ali took the APEX teachings to heart, going "above and beyond" in his hard and soft skill development. Recognizing that he would be competing in a market that places a high value on hands-on experience, Ali began his pursuit of IT-related positions as soon as he entered his second semester. Soon after, Ali found himself extremely busy. By his final semester, he was working several part-time jobs, including but not limited to technician, events assistant, teaching assistant and graduate team leader for the International Mentorship Program. He also found time to give back to the University, and volunteered as a 50th Anniversary Project Ambassador. Finally, Ali got the chance to apply for a co-op with Telus. When asked about the application process, Ali smiles and says “All my documents were ready to go; all I had to do was click and apply. At the interview, I was comfortable enough to impress the employers and found out I got the Project Coordinator position within a week.”
Ali's hard work has certainly paid off, and he wants other graduate students to know that they can succeed too. Ali’s advice to his fellow students: “Take advantage of the resources available at your school! Once you have graduated, your access will be limited and it will be harder to get the support you need.”
Ali took part in the APEX Certificate program and is now working for TD Canada Trust as a Project Analyst. 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 transition from academia to the next step.