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Full circle: Administrative Assistant grad enjoys role at RRC, helping new students

February 28, 2018

When Courtney Brown was a student at Red River College, little did she know her career path would bring her right back where she started.

Brown completed the 17-week Administrative Assistant program in 2014. After building up her experience with a real estate firm and in the Winnipeg school division system, she joined RRC’s School of Continuing Education in 2017 as a Customer Service Representative (CSR).

“It is kind of funny to be back at Red River,” Brown says. “I certainly didn’t expect it or plan it.”

As the member of a small team of CSRs, Brown fields all kinds of queries from current and potential Continuing Education students. Being a student herself not so long ago is an asset in the role, Brown says.

“I know the campus and I’m familiar with Continuing Ed. programming, even if every program is different. Having been here full-time was a great background. Not that you need to attend RRC to work here, but I feel like it’s helped me perform well in my role.” 

Whether it’s a straightforward issue with a password, for example, or a potentially more complex question about tuition, Brown is there to help students.

“It’s a very rewarding part of the job to put students at ease. It might be someone who’s returned to school after decades in the workforce. Every call is different. People feel they have a branch to grab on to and they’re so appreciative of the help.”

Brown, who graduated high school in 2011, credits the Administrative Assistant program for getting her ready for the working world.

“The program not only builds your technical skills like keyboarding, but also things like event planning and overall professionalism. The program equips you to work in all kinds of office settings.”

Part of that preparation was a three-week practicum with Downtown Winnipeg Biz, a full-time experience in which Brown was paired with a staff member of that organization to learn how they run their day.

Last November, Brown was invited to be the minute-taker for RRC’s Administrative Assistant Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on course content and resources required to ensure the program stays relevant, effective and efficient. It was a great opportunity to share her insights as a recent graduate.

“I told the committee that it’s a well-rounded program and that the practicum is also valuable. It’s about what employers are looking for. The work I’m doing now definitely mirrors what I learned in terms of customer service, but if I went into an accounting-oriented role, I’m confident what I learned in the program would still serve me well.

Brown also offers advice for anyone considering entering the Administrative Assistant program.

“It’s a fast-paced program and you have to be ready. You move through things quickly. You need to grasp the concepts in order to complete one course and move on to the next. And it’s a significant workload; I was fortunate to be living at home, so I was able to make studying or getting extra help my 100% focus.”

Along with the CSR responsibilities in her current role, Brown also provides support to Continuing Education instructors who teach evening courses, helping ensure they have supplies, printed materials and anything else they might need.

For Brown, the Administrative Assistant program has provided the background to handle diverse responsibilities in a range of employment settings. It’s a base she plans to continue building on.

“Becoming an office manager would be a long-term goal. It’s kind of the natural progression for office life and the path I’m on.”

— Profile by Randy Matthes (Creative Communications, 1993)