Careers in disability and community support: credentials, real-world experiences can help shape career paths

August 12, 2022

When Laura Bustamante first began pursuing a career assisting those with disabilities, she saw herself helping people. What she didn’t expect was how the work would help her understand the struggles and discrimination that people face every day.

Bustamante (shown above), an RRC Polytech grad, completed her Disability and Community Support diploma in 2017 after moving to Canada from Chile, then started her career after graduation as a job coach for people with disabilities. She now serves as the Work Experiences Services Coordinator at SCE LifeWorks.

“This is a country full of opportunities for everyone and thanks to my preparation at RRC Polytech, I have not only been able to live and work in Canada with my family, but it’s also opened the doors to a meaningful and fulfilling career path that I never considered before — just making a little difference in the lives of the people I support day after day.”

A career in disability and community support can take you down Bustamante’s path — where you’re helping those with disabilities in their work setting — or you may find yourself working in their homes or the communities where they live. The program partners with more than 100 organizations that facilitate connections for students and grads with those who need assistance, so the possibilities are as varied as those entering the workforce.

“All types of people are needed,” says Colleen Isfeld, a Disability and Community Support instructor for the last eight years.

“If the interested person is someone changing their career, later in their life, or straight out of high school, it takes different energy, different ages, different interests, different ways of being. If a person is trying to decide whether they’re the right type of person for this work, you can find a good fit.” Read More →

Careers in hospitality and tourism management: Jobs take grads to interesting places, program helps them land leadership roles

August 10, 2022

When Laneil Smith got into the restaurant industry, it wasn’t just for the love of food — it was for the love of creating an experience.

“I think so many people connect through food and drink,” says Smith, owner of Marion Street Eatery in Winnipeg — and a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program — in a recent alumni profile.

“I think of relationships I’ve created in the past and usually they revolve around the dinner table in some form.”

Creating that experience — whether it’s an international vacation or a sit-down dinner — is at the heart of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and it starts with a foundation of building customer service skills. These skills allow students and grads to turn their passion for the industry into something that’s pleasing for customers.

“We have courses on customer service,” says Lori Slobodian, instructor in Tourism Management, one of two second-year specializations that students choose from, along with Hotel and Restaurant Management.

“We have all kinds of courses to help students develop those skills if they don’t have them.”

“As they develop those skills, they have to develop teamwork, exceptional interpersonal skills, good self-control, emotional intelligence and empathy — all big pieces of leadership,” adds Blair Mineault, an instructor on the Hotel and Restaurant Management side.

There’s also the option for students to exit with a certificate after one year and enter the workforce with their foundational skills.

Regardless of the path, the end goal of the program is to graduate a student that is ready to be a leader in their workplace. Part of getting there is lab work done at Jane’s, a fine dining restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District that’s open to the public and is staffed by both Hospitality and Tourism Management students, along with those in Culinary Arts.

“For a lot of them, they’ve never worked in a restaurant before,” says Slobodian of the Jane’s experience.

“So it’s a brand new environment. It’s a fine dining restaurant, too, so the dress code is different, and dealing with customers is on a different level, so they develop all those power skills to be successful in that situation — and that transfers over to their co-op positions, as well.”

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Careers in construction management: Flexible program provides opportunities to enter workplace sooner, upskill for management roles

August 3, 2022

Construction is more than just steel-toed boots on the ground, with many leadership roles working on sites and behind-the-scenes to ensure planning and execution is completed to code. Demand is always high, especially in a city like Winnipeg, with ever-expanding commercial and residential opportunities.

That’s where the Construction Management degree program from RRC Polytech comes in. Uniquely positioned to give students a range of career choices, the program gives grads the option of three exit points for different levels of certification — or they can continue with the four-year program to get the full Bachelor degree. Students also have six months of paid co-op experience each summer to provide hands-on learning.

The result, according to program instructor Tammy Harper, is a grad who’s instantly hirable.

“When we were in-person for convocation, someone would always ask, ‘Who has a job right now?’ and pretty much all our students have their hands up, and really the ones that don’t are trying to decide which job to take.”

Harper’s focus for instruction is in leadership and human resources. Both are critical parts of the Construction Management program, which provides all students, even those with a skilled trades background, the opportunity to develop managerial expertise.

Harper teaches a leadership course that prepares grads for real-world challenges, including solution-based management,problem management, analytical thinking, conflict resolution, and how to be a leader that adapts to their employees’ needs.

“Being a leader is easy to say but hard to do, and part of it is being the leader your followers need. I try to teach them about different kinds of leadership — trying to figure out what your strengths are and what others’ strengths are, and how to lead that person in a way they can be successful.”

Technical learning is part of the path, too. Ellowyn Nadeau, also an instructor in the program, explains how students get more specialized as the terms go by — but still have that opportunity to step out on one of the exit points and learn in the workforce, if they so choose.

“In first and second year, it’s a lot of technical information — math and graphics, surveying, communication fundamentals — courses that give basic knowledge. Then third and fourth year are much more practical, very related to working in construction and courses become more specific,” Nadeau says.

“Exiting out of the second year gives you a credential you can sell to employers, and you can build your career that way. Exiting out of third year, you get more experience because of your co-ops and more practical pieces. And after four years, it’s a degree, on par with universities.”

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Careers in early childhood education: Whether starting out or upskilling, find the program that fits your next step

July 27, 2022

For those who love working with young children and helping them succeed, it’s never been a better time to turn that passion into a career.

“This is the time,” says Bryan Dueck, an RRC Polytech instructor in the Early Childhood Education – Workplace program.

“This is the most exciting time in the early childhood education field, certainly in recent history. There are substantial government incentives that are coming in within the month, there are very significant changes to the wage scale and career laddering, and there’s even tuition rebates with details forthcoming. If you have any interest in working with children, get in now — it’s a very exciting time.”

This new funding from both the provincial and federal levels has opened the doors for new positions, both in leadership and on the ground floor.

To help workers get trained and through those doors, RRC Polytech has two programs available: the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, which involves learning full-time before heading out on practicum, and the Early Childhood Education – Workplace program, which requires students to have at least one year’s experience in the field and allows them to take courses part-time while continuing to work.

For the latter, students will come in seeking an ECE Level 3 designation from the province, which allows them to take on more supervisory roles in child-care settings, from room leadership to managing a centre.

“We would typically see students that have been in the field longer than that one year,” says Dueck. “The vast majority of them are looking to leadership positions already. Many of our students kind of know where they’re headed.

“Often, we’ll see our students within a few months of graduating overseeing curriculum for a smaller group — about 16 children — and have about two or three staff under their supervision. That happens quite quickly.”

This is the experience of ECE Workplace grad Amanda Jack, who graduated from the program in 2016 and now has taken on multiple leadership roles thanks to what she learned in the program.

“The program helped me so much with taking skills I already had and helping me hone them,” says Jack (shown above). “They helped make me better, not only in the path I chose in life, but also as a person. Immediately after graduating, I was promoted at my job and then multiple times again in the years that followed. Now, I’m managing one 50-space child-care centre and overseeing two others.”

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Careers in mechanical engineering technology: Grads well-prepared for industry, whether building work spaces or the next wave of transportation

July 20, 2022

When asked to describe the complex work of mechanical engineers, RRC Polytech instructor Sergei Broeska turns to the movies.

“In Iron Man, they show Tony Stark designing the suit — and he’s pulling stuff, interacting with a computer, then he just presses a button called ‘build.’”

“What that movie does to manufacturing is it walks all over it, because it doesn’t include design, all the steps that go into the process. It takes hundreds of people to make one component, and you don’t know that until you experience it.”

The actual step-by-step processes are at the core of RRC Polytech’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, a 28-month diploma offering that prepares students to work in the design and production of high-quality manufactured goods.

Broeska has taught in MET since 2019, working mostly in manufacturing-based courses. Students are also trained in other areas such as design, quality assurance, computer-aided engineering, and building systems design and control.

“They certainly get a sample of everything,” says Tanya Hansen-Pratt, a first-year instructor in the program. “In mechatronics, for example, we’re covering mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and really showing them the possibilities of what’s out there. They’re getting a taste of a lot of things, and then they can specialize as they go further on in their education.”

RRC Polytech instructor Sergei Broeska

One of the main advantages of the program — two, actually — are co-op terms after the first and second years in the classroom. These four-month opportunities for students to work in the industry allow them to return to the classroom, or enter the workforce, with a much better idea of what will be asked of them in their careers.

“It is an incredible experience for the students,” says Broeska (shown at left).

“They’re so much more enlightened, and the lightbulb is on, and when I say something, they can put two and two together because they’ve experienced it. They often come back so much more mature with their professionalism. Because they’ve worked at a company, they come back with a bunch of knowledge that they’ve applied.”

“We’re not just using this information because we’re trying to be mean,” agrees Hansen-Pratt with a laugh.

“They’ve now seen it applied in the real world and they can say, ‘Oh, that’s why this is so important,’ and that really helps them in the following terms by taking that real-world knowledge and applying it in the classroom.”

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Careers in civil engineering: Real-world experience prepares grads to meet industry demands

July 13, 2022

Over the past two years, some industries have slowed down. Some have even come to a stop for certain lengths of time.

In civil engineering, though, there’s been no shortage of demand. No matter the discipline, the work of building and planning has continued and even increased as the world has dealt with COVID-19.

“COVID did not stop construction,” says Shari Bielert, program chair for Civil Engineering Technology (CET) at RRC Polytech.

“The supply-chain issues we hear about every day have to do with materials, but (they exist) on the employment side, as well. The construction industry, the environmental industry, all of it needs students in the program getting these skills and graduating.”

The demand in the industry is a phenomenon addressed by the program, where first-year students get a general introduction to different CET disciplines before branching off, doing co-op work, and choosing one of five program options: Architectural/Engineering Technology, Environmental Engineering Technology, Geomatics Technology, Municipal Engineering Technology or Structural Engineering Technology.

The co-op aspect is a fantastic opportunity for students to not only get into the workplace, get paid and see how their theoretical knowledge can be applied, but also get more established than their university peers in the workplace, often as early as their first year of studies.

“Our students have the advantage of working more months than students in university programs — basically until it freezes up in Winnipeg in October, which is good,” says Dylan Yanchynski, one of the co-op coordinators for CET.

“There are those who leave and go back to university and the construction firms are left with a lot of paperwork, there’s a lot of outstanding things from the end of summer. Our students can work until winter and we’ve noticed that over the last couple of years that employers are, for the first time ever, keeping their co-op students throughout the year as they get tied to a project, or take a lead on that project.”

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Girls Exploring Trades and Technology camp returns for the first time since 2019

July 6, 2022

Summer school is about to take on a whole new meaning for dozens of Winnipeg tweens and teens.

RRC Polytech is rolling out its summer camp programming with hands-on day camps for the next generations of skilled trades experts. The camps take place at the College’s Notre Dame Campus over the next few weeks.

After a two-year hiatus, the College’s Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (GETT) camps are back and, quite possibly, better than ever. More than 140 would-be campers applied for 32 coveted spots in the program, which takes place this week and next at the College’s state-of-the-art Skilled Trades and Technology Centre.

Each camp will see 16 campers aged 12 to 14 exploring plumbing, woodworking, cabinetmaking, welding, robotics, transportation trades and — for the first time in its 16-year history — masonry. At the end of the week-long program, each camper will bring home a project of their own making: a steampunk-style desk lamp made of black iron pipe.

GETT camps are completely free of charge, providing a fun way to introduce girls to applied skills and technology skills while encouraging them to consider a variety of career choices, without a financial barrier.

“The GETT camps are a great way to introduce trades and technologies to girls, giving them the opportunity to develop new hobbies or interests that can turn into a career they may not have considered,” says Derek Kochenash, Dean, School of Skilled Trades and Technologies, RRC Polytech.

“The popularity of this year’s camps shows that the stigma of women in trades is on its way out, and it’s more important than ever to continue to provide safe spaces for girls to explore careers that are rewarding, challenging, and creative.”

Starting next week, RRC Polytech is also hosting Technology Exploration Camps for children entering grades six and seven this fall. These camps give middle school students a real taste of various engineering technology-related disciplines, such as civil, electrical and mechanical. During their week-long experience, campers will learn the way things work by creating model bridges, building and programming their own robots, and even manufacturing a working model of a medieval catapult.

While the GETT and Technology Exploration Camps are at full capacity, RRC Polytech offers a variety of additional in-person and online summer camps for kids in Manitoba. Newly added camps include:

  • Jumpstart Digital Art | Ages 14 – 18
  • Quickstart Digital Art | Ages 12 – 18
  • Queer Coded (for 2SLGBTQIA+ teens) | Ages 13 – 18

Visit for more information.

Careers in electrical engineering technology: Grads set for exciting paths thanks to co-op opportunities, expert instructors

July 5, 2022

As the country and world at large becomes more connected, electrical engineering technologists are critical to maintaining those connections because they design, install or maintain all types of electrical and electronic systems.

Fiona Hatherell, an instructor in RRC Polytech’s Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program, puts an even finer point on it.

“The kinds of jobs EET graduates get are kind of invisible to the everyday person,” she says, noting these behind-the-scenes, yet critically important careers include electrical technicians, broadcast engineers, technical writers, substation technicians and more.

In RRC Polytech’s program, students gain a foundational knowledge in their first year of the 28-month diploma program. After that, they enter one of three specializations — Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, or Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology — before a mandatory co-op where they get to put their knowledge to work.

Students also have the optional opportunity of a co-op between first and second years, which can help them bring some practical knowledge back to the classroom.

“They come back from co-op with a really enriched sense of where they’re going in their program,” says Hatherell. “They have stories and a much better understanding of what they’ve seen and how to apply it in the classroom. It’s quite incredible.”

The co-op aspect of Electrical Engineering Technology isn’t simply about sending students off without direction, however. RRC Polytech instructors, including co-op coordinator Hojat Norouzi, take an active role in monitoring students and pushing them toward success.

“I monitor and try to secure as many jobs as possible for our students. Employers will post a job with us starting in January each year, and students will receive emails about particular jobs, where they’ll then have the opportunity to apply.”

Norouzi says the mandatory co-ops, strategically timed at the end of Year Two, often create a launch pad for entry level jobs.

“In many cases, I would say more than 80 per cent of the time, the student working in the co-op program — especially in the second year — the same employer will hire them when they graduate. I’ve seen many cases when a student finishes [their first] co-op, they come back to do the final term and they continue working at that company, too. If a student is performing well, they would secure a full-time job after graduation.”

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Lights, camera, action: A second chance at convocation

June 22, 2022

Today, after two years of virtual graduation ceremonies, RRC Polytech alumni — along with their classmates, friends, family, loved ones and College staff — are gathering for a second chance at convocation.

Almost 1,000 alumni will don a cap and gown to cross the stage in person during ceremonies at the Centennial Concert Hall.

“We recognize that being surrounded by classmates and loved ones, and crossing the stage is a major milestone to help celebrate students’ hard work and achievements,” says Dr. Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic and emcee of the alumni graduation ceremonies.

“We wanted to be able to provide this memorable in-person experience to alumni who had virtual convocation ceremonies over the last two years,”

Earlier this spring, after receiving positive survey responses from alumni who graduated between Spring 2020 and Winter 2022, the College announced that special return convocation ceremonies would be held for alumni.

For Tian Tian, who first arrived in Canada in 2020, not only did she have to learn how to navigate a new country and way of life, but also remote classes in a new online learning environment. Despite all the challenges, Tian seamlessly managed a demanding class schedule, found time to give back to the community, and began building a family.

Having started her education journey at the onset of the pandemic, and finished during another wave of the pandemic, she now has the opportunity to attend the in-person convocation ceremony she had anticipated.

“I am grateful to be able to join my instructors and fellow classmates in person — they have been fundamental in helping me build brave relationships here at RRC Polytech and prepare for my future career,” says Tian, who is a 2021 honours grad of the College’s Manufacturing CAD program, and recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for outstanding achievement.

“Today is also extremely special because my son, Alexis, who became our youngest classmate, will be with my family in the audience while I cross the stage.”

Tian will bring remarks at tonight’s 7:00 p.m. ceremony, which — like those taking place at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — will be available to livestream at

Congratulations to the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022!

RRC Polytech launches new Orange Shirt Day design by local artist Peatr Thomas

June 21, 2022

Local artist Peatr Thomas, seated near one of his outdoor muralsRRC Polytech is proud to have worked with local artist Peatr Thomas on an original design for Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, in support of the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award, created in partnership between the College’s School of Indigenous Education and its Campus Store.

Thomas is an Ininew and Anishinaabe self-taught, full-time multi-disciplinary artist from the Pimicikamak and Miskooseepi territories. A youth facilitator for many years, he is sharing passed-down knowledge, traditional teachings, culture and the healing process by creating visual forms of art.

“Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters and truth and reconciliation have become such a large part of the College community, and we can see how it has been embraced through the engagement and attendance of our events and workshops, but also through the funds we have raised for the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award and the Indigenous students we’ve been able to support so far,” says Carla Kematch, Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

Part of the values of truth and reconciliation is embedding Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and I’m so honoured that Peatr agreed to work with us to create an authentic piece of artwork that staff and students can feel proud to wear that is true to the meaning behind Every Child Matters.

“Peatr is an established artist in our community with a distinct vision — many will recognize his incredible murals throughout the city, and we are so grateful to him for sharing his art and teachings with us. I can’t wait to see this path for us grow and to create more opportunities.”

All proceeds from Orange Shirt Day sales, as well as those from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit designs, go towards the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award. The word Mínwastánikéwin is Cree and means ‘to set it right.’ This award seeks to advance Indigenous student achievement and since 2019 has distributed $1,000 awards each year via the College’s annual Truth and Reconciliation Week held at the end of September.

Peatr Thomas' new Orange Shirt Day designWhile consulting on the shirt’s design, Thomas met with RRC Polytech Elder-in-Residence Paul Guimond and an Orange Shirt Day committee to share what was important to convey, and to explore what the College seeks to achieve through its strategic direction: supporting Indigenous student success through supports, programs and initiatives like the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation training, the Blanket exercise, Truth and Reconciliation Week, and more.

Thomas says his design represents courage. “Courage to move forward. Courage to speak the truth. Courage to make changes for the better. The youth today will have a better chance at a great future with the protection of the Bear Clan, guidance of our ancestors, and having the room for growth. Remember and pay tribute to the young ones lost. Remember to honour the survivors.”

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