Professional Profiles

SFU communication program leads to flexible career

August 18, 2015
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Kathryn Haslemore. Photo by Jessica Jacques.

By Andrew Kochergin

Kathryn Haslemore started her own freelance business after completing SFU Continuing Studies’ Technical Communication Certificate.

Working full-time from the comfort of her home, she writes and designs a travel website, packaging for a range of skincare products, a range of nutrition-themed web content and workbooks, and several other pieces. The flexible schedule helps Haslemore balance her career and personal life, and the diversity of her work helps her connect with new people and discover new hobbies.

Haslemore learned about SFU’s online certificate when she was a project manager. She was drawn to the communication and design elements of her job. “I wanted to formalize my communication skills somehow, without committing to a new full-time degree,” she says.

SFU’s program appealed to her because she could try a course before committing to the entire certificate, and because the online format would allow her to continue her studies if she returned to her home in New Zealand.

She enjoyed the breadth of the curriculum. “I had expected the program to focus purely on writing,” she says. “However, we covered more than that, including research, design, indexing, specific software applications and the overall documentation process.”

The highlight of the program was the Technical Writing: Advanced Workshop course. “We actually took a step back to analyze our own writing process, to help us improve our overall technique,” she says. “I still reflect on the perspectives I gained in this workshop.”

The instructors were all industry professionals—technical writers, editors and design consultants—who coached students in industry best practices.  

The online format fostered a friendly, collaborative environment with her classmates. Even though they didn’t meet face-to-face, they worked together on editing projects.

While Haslemore didn’t return to New Zealand in the middle of the program as she had planned, she did move to Calgary to start a new full-time job. “The online format gave me the flexibility to successfully juggle coursework with my professional and personal life,” she says.

While she worked on her final project, an e-book on Type 2 Diabetes, she scheduled Skype sessions from Calgary with her instructors in Vancouver to get feedback on her work in progress and ask questions.

After graduation, armed with a new set of skills in technical and business writing, as well as content design, she decided it was time to pursue her passion for communications. “The certificate gave me the confidence to embark on a freelance career.”