Ulethbridge Bachelor of Management graduate Keean Lehtinen (BMgt '22) hasn't waited until graduation to put his educational experience to work. Here the general management major with dual minors in supply chain and international management speaks about how his Dhillon School of Business experiences, like promoting grassroots change in the community through Co-operative Education and dinner with the premier, have shaped his perspectives.
What was your most memorable ULethbridge experience?
I remember the first time I explored the campus, having driven 800 km with my mom from a small community in Alberta to see the school. I talked to some of the current students, staff and prospective students, and I noticed one continuous message — the University of Lethbridge is an incredibly special place. The small classes, the tight-knit community, the personal connections between the staff and students, everything was deeply personal and engaging in a way that I have never seen at another school.
What experiential or work-integrated learning did you participate in as a student? What were your three biggest takeaways from that experience?
Since May 10, 2021 I have been working as the Industry Support and Government Relations Coordinator with the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. The co-op program and my workplace have provided me with incredible opportunities to connect with local businesses, to promote grassroots change in the community and to connect my academic experiences with real, meaningful work. My biggest takeaways from my work-integrated learning experiences are:
- That it's worth it. The process of writing a resume and cover letter and having it repeatedly bounced back with more feedback has made it so that I am genuinely proud of the experience that I can present in a professional environment.
- Challenges make or break a job. It's always tempting to return to areas of work where you've had previous experience, and it can be intimidating to move into a role without knowing what to expect, but taking on the challenge is what allows you to grow as a person. Through the incredible leadership of the co-op program and my employer, I have experienced more personal and professional development than I ever thought possible.
- Mistakes are a good thing. You will never make a mistake if you never put in the work, and you will always make mistakes when you put in the effort. The key to success and growth is embracing mistakes, learning and changing in response to your own shortcomings.
What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?
The most important lesson I took from my university career is that everyone you meet is just another person. I went to get coffee and lunch with professors, I talked with staff about their work, and through the co-op program I was able to have a casual conversation with Premier Jason Kenney over dinner. One of the most harmful mindsets a person can have is that people with influence are off-limits when in reality connecting with these people can provide you with incredible insights and perspectives.
Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?
I will forever speak highly of Jim Clark, who taught me about startup and family businesses. I remember the second day of classes, he already knew everyone in the class by name. Jim called on students to share their opinions and insights from their personal lives, then connected their experiences with the program materials. He created an environment in the classroom where everyone felt valued, and all of the information felt valuable.
Did you receive scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.
My first year at the University of Lethbridge, I received the ULSU Volunteer of the Year award, and near the end of my program, I made the Dean's List. The most valuable thing I got from these awards was a lesson, which is that people really do notice when you put in the effort.
I got interested in volunteering because I believe that the volunteer opportunities through ULethbridge are fun and interesting ways to connect with people. I really got excited about my studies because the subject matter covered in class was so interesting to me that I voluntarily pursued more information relating to it. The University of Lethbridge has a way of bringing people's passions to the forefront and giving them opportunities to explore and engage with them.
What are your hopes and plans for the future?
I want to continue looking for opportunities like those that have been provided to me by the amazing efforts of the people that helped get me to graduation. From my business law professor giving me advice on how to excel in law school, to the co-op office demonstrating how to really shine in an interview, I hope that my future continues to provide me with opportunities for growth and exploration.
What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?
It's not easy, but that's why it's worth doing. The University of Lethbridge provides an incredible amount of resources, support and opportunities for you to develop as a student, as a professional and as a person. Make sure you take advantage of everything offered because you will never regret being a part of this community.
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