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Alumni Engagement

Grad profile: Mike Shillinglaw (Web Site Development, 2013)

June 27, 2013

Mike ShillinglawMike Shillinglaw, a recent graduate of the Web Site Development certificate program at Red River College, has come a long way since last summer. After 12 years, the father of two was left jobless after being let go from his federal government position as a graphic designer when budget cuts were made at his research centre.

“It was interesting because I was actually looking for a change,” says Shillinglaw. “Working for the government, you often had certain responsibilities and it made it difficult to branch out. I felt my skills were lacking, and in order to be employable I knew I had to upgrade my skills.”

Thanks to an incentive program run by the government for past employees, Shillinglaw was eligible to receive an education allowance to help support his next career path.

Naturally as an RRC alumnus (he graduated in 1990 with a diploma in Advertising Art, now known as Graphic Design), Shillinglaw looked into RRC’s Continuing Education programs.

“I looked online and I liked the course offering. In the end I thought the Continuing Education program was the right fit because not only could it meet my training needs, but also my timing needs. I was able to work with the coordinators to fast track it and be done in nine months.”

Shillinglaw credits a big part of his success to physically being in the classroom with his instructors.

“My instructors went out of their way to make sure we were up-to-date with the current trends and new technology,” he says. “They know a lot about the industry and they’re not just giving you the book stuff.”

Even with the guidance of his instructors, Shillinglaw admits the transition from the work field to the classroom wasn’t easy.

“I remember starting my first JavaScript class, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how it worked. I sat in the classroom and my instructor would challenge us to create something on the fly and make it work. I just couldn’t get it.”

After some hard work and a few extra assignments, Shillinglaw was able to succeed in the course, but again appreciates the support made available in the classroom.

“I got the most satisfaction and best learning experience from being in the classroom because you saw that you’re weren’t the only one struggling and not understanding.”

Today, Shillinglaw is a full-time Graphic/Multimedia Designer at CONVIRON, a local manufacturing company that specializes in agricultural research equipment. One of his first projects will be rebranding and re-launching their company logo and website. In addition, he works closely with the marketing team to produce video, print and electronic media.

“I don’t think I would have been offered the job without having the experience of completing the RRC Web Site Development program. I think learning the web programming languages was key, so I really appreciate the efforts of the instructors. I was able to say during the job interviews that my coding was up-to-date, and I even showed them some of the course assignments I had done.”

Profile by Elizabeth Catacutan (Creative Communications, 2013)