I can’t stress how excited I was to join to team here at UIT. I’ve been an advocate for this organization for as long as I’ve known about them. Our goals line up beautifully. But I really wasn’t sure about the job title. Student success coach?

Student Success Coach seems like something you’d say in a sentence that also included the terms “synergy” and “go-forward”. I’m not saying there aren’t times when you can go-forward synergistically in order to achieve success, but my understanding of UIT was that they tried to avoid some of the fluffier elements of modern corporate culture. Startups are lean and efficient. Corporate buzz-words are not.

I wanted to be a teacher. Hell… UIT is contracted out by Cape Breton University. Could I be faculty? By gum, I’m wearing a tweed vest as I write this. That makes sense!

And that got me to thinking about my friends who are teachers or faculty at a university and the paths they’ve travelled in order to get to that point. Those paths are totally different from my own. I realized that it would be unfair of me, and disrespectful to those professionals, to try and usurp a job title that required specific types of effort, education, qualifications and experience that I don’t have. It would also be disingenuous of me to present myself in such a way, especially given that UIT is about providing a non-traditional style of education.

So what qualifications and experience do I have? What type of effort has gotten me to this point. Most recently I’ve been a programmer. I’ve written delightfully complex code for industry leading clients as part of some of the greatest tech companies I’ve ever personally encountered. Before that I was in hospitality and tourism management, and I did it at some of the largest and most prestigious hotels in eastern Canada. And throughout my whole career I’ve prided myself on providing exemplary customer service.

I’m a programmer, and a manager, and a customer service specialist. I’m not a teacher.

Eric Lortie: Not a teacher

Eric Lortie: Not a teacher

When I stopped trying to think of myself as a teacher it became clear that student success coach was the ideal job title for what I’m doing.  They’re students here at UIT but they’re MY clients. As with all university students, they’ve opted to pay my employer a sum of money in order for me to do my job, a fact for which I am incredibly grateful. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on the number of bursaries available to our students, but this cost deferred from the students makes it even more important that I do my best. I have my job because students have paid their tuition and in some cases community members have provided them with bursaries.

My job isn’t to teach them. I’m not a teacher. My job is to help them achieve success. I’m a student success coach. Teaching is certainly a big part of it but there’s so much more to what I’m doing for them… and success is such a broad term. Some of them want to start a startup. Some of them want to go out and become employees of existing startups. I can help with both of those, and my experience leaves me much better suited for it than someone who has the type of experience that would leave them well suited to teaching a specific subject in a classroom.

In order for them to find success, I’ll help them learn cutting edge technical skills. I’ll help them understand what they should be looking for when it comes to finding employees, co-founders or co-workers. I’ll help them understand what sort of work environment they should be striving to create at their startups or what type of work environment they should be looking to join. I’ll ensure that when they graduate in 10 months they have the best possible community available to help support them as they head out to the next stage of their careers.

My personal goal is to have a meaningful, long-term and positive impact on Cape Breton. By helping students at UIT find success, I’m able to amplify my efforts tremendously. We have such an amazing group of students right now. We haven’t even finished the first week and I’m already full of excitement to see how the year ends.

Their success will astound you.


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