Colton Gadoury grew up immersed in the Internet. Today, his favourite hobby is settling in and logging onto Red Dead Redemption, or connecting with friends over the occasional virtual sports game.
At 24-years-old, with post-secondary certification in Electrical Applications and after a lot of consideration, Gadoury enrolled in the first Pathway to IT cohort in January 2023. He says the program was a logical fit for his circumstances: with a tuition of just $500 thanks to RBC Future Launch, the program didn’t strain his budget as much as launching directly into a diploma or bachelor program might have, and was the best way to change his job title from electrician to software developer.
“The Pathway program gave me the confidence to make the jump between industries. I wasn’t sure where I would fit in the information technology industry because it’s so huge, but the Pathway helped me explore options and figure out where I wanted to go… It helped introduce me to a lot of opportunities in tech for a Métis person such as myself,” said Gadoury.
Despite his affinity for technology, Gadoury initially hadn’t considered a career in IT before attending RRC Polytech. From a young age, he thought he would be a tradesperson and pursued that path.
“Since I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and there was some expectation to attend post-secondary, I rushed into a trade I thought I might like,” Gadoury said.
After experiencing that frustration as an electrician, Gadoury reflected on what it was that did make him happy. As an avid gamer that grew up with the evolution of the internet, he’d acquired technical skills from his hobbies that he hadn’t realized he could transfer to a career. He used that foundational knowledge of computer systems and coding that he’d gleaned over the years as inspiration for a new career trajectory: information technology. It’s a constantly-growing, goliath industry with plenty of opportunity to carve a new path. He just needed to know where and how he could gain the skills to take the plunge.
The biggest challenge for Gadoury’s career change was the uncertainty. Making the choice to pursue a different profession meant that his established and steady income would become temporarily unstable, and he wouldn’t know for how long. The Pathway program eased his hesitation and he says he’s glad he went for it.
Gadoury recalls his favourite experience being the Sprint to Innovate course. He and his classmates broke up into groups to generate concepts for improving the user experience, or UX, on RRC Polytech’s internal staff HUB site in three areas: filling out expense reports, obtaining keycard access, and booking rooms. The first group designed a wizard to calculate and populate spaces based on information users provided; the second group proposed a virtual assistant chat box to provide users with advice and direction; and Gadoury’s group constructed an interactive booking map to engage users.
At the beginning of the term, Gadoury says he was nervous at the prospect of their project. It felt like a lot of work loomed over them, especially during the planning stages to determine the best path forward. Each group figured out how to work with the existing site structure to integrate their solutions and by the end of the term, they presented prototypes to mock clients. Gadoury says the collaboration transformed his reservations into confidence, and he was proud to apply the skills and knowledge he had acquired through the program.
The experience with Sprint to Innovate and the support he received in the Pathway to IT program confirmed for him that taking a leap to the new career – one he finds rewarding with endless opportunity – was the right decision. Through the Pathway program, he’d made connections with other Indigenous IT professionals making technological progress for a variety of Indigenous organizations.
Gadoury is looking forward to focusing his portfolio in RRC Polytech’s Business Information Technology (BIT) program in Fall 2023. He says he can see himself applying his skills to front-end development to innovate user experience by streamlining digital interfaces, or contributing to the programmatic structural integrity of software through back-end development—both areas have wide applications out of which Gadoury says he could carve a rewarding career.
Pathways at RRC Polytech
Pathway to Information Technology Programs prepares Indigenous students to take the lead in technology and helps to jumpstart an education in technology. Pathways are exploratory and preparatory, ensuring that Indigenous students have the foundation to start strong in their post-secondary journeys. Pathways are for Indigenous students that haven’t experienced post-secondary education yet or want to build a starting point for an education in a particular industry—which includes career-changers like Gadoury.
The Pathway to Information Technology is generously supported by RBC Future Launch, which has reduced the program’s tuition to $500 for each intake until 2024. For more information about the Pathway to IT Programs and to get your application started for Fall 2023, check out the Program Explorer.