ULethbridge's Kelsey Dellosa (BFA/BMgt '22) started her post-secondary experience with the Faculty of Fine Arts, majoring in new media and minoring in marketing. Then, thanks to a well-timed scholarship, Kelsey decided to pursue a Combined Bachelor of Fine Arts - New Media/Bachelor of Management (BFA/BMgt). Now equipped with two degrees and valuable work experience, Kelsey tells us about her most memorable university experiences (including examples of some of her favourite projects), the lessons she's learned and her hopes for the future.

Please tell us a bit about your experiential or work-integrated learning. What were your biggest takeaways from participating?

In the last five years, I have worked in various student roles across video/post-production, web design and development and most recently in my current virtual role as a digital e-commerce coordinator for Canadian Tire Corporation in Toronto for over 16 months. During my co-op, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with various teams across merchandising, digital product, marketing, and supply chain to help support the ‘Online Only’ program during a critical time of change and growth.

(1) The applied aspect of experiential learning immensely complements classroom learning. Group projects help to simulate the level of teamwork and collaboration required “on the job” but the co-op program truly helped build my confidence to add value to tangible projects with real companies.

(2) Having access to industry leaders within an organization is another added benefit to student work experiences. For the most part, current employees are eager to meet students because they have also been in your shoes at some point. In the same way that you would prepare for a job interview by researching their company, it is important to maintain that willingness to learn by internally networking with SMEs during your work term.

(3) Through gained work experience and exposure to various job functions, students can know what they like or dislike in a career early on. Thus, there is minimal risk to try out different roles and industries compared to post-graduation. At the same time, students can adjust their program/course selections based on their new interests in certain disciplines, e.g., project management, visual communication, etc.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

For my fellow new media students, it is difficult to forget, but very easy to appreciate all the time spent in the new media labs on the Lethbridge campus. The camaraderie of late-night grinding for our end-of-semester projects was not always an easy feat, but it was all worth it once we celebrated final critiques. I am thankful to have been welcomed by a cohort of talented fine arts students that would encourage creativity, persistently help troubleshoot technical problems, and act as moral support both within and outside the classroom. My decision to leave Calgary AB for the much smaller town of Lethbridge AB was motivated by the countless testimonials I read about the supportive ULethbridge community. I have felt a sense of belonging since my first day at UHall in 2016 and will continue to for many years to come.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

Time management is not a one-size-fits-all approach, it will evolve as your life commitments and responsibilities change over time. After juggling a dual degree and experiential learning for most of my undergraduate studies, I have had to continuously learn and refine my organization and productivity strategies. The most important lesson I have learned so far is not to spread yourself too thin. It is important to try and establish healthy personal and professional boundaries early on so that you can show up as your best and brightest self.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

New media
Christine Clark: I would intentionally enroll in Christine’s lectures each semester because I was that fond of her teaching style. As one of the designated web design and development professors, she sparked my initial interest in e-commerce as it related to both my new media and marketing education. From my first to final year at ULethbridge, she has been nothing but supportive and open-minded, especially to different cultures and backgrounds, e.g., acknowledging and working with Blackfoot elders for campus projects related to Reconciliation. It is refreshing to have a professor like Christine who stays up to date with new technologies and best practices. She has exemplified this by encouraging students to extend our learning beyond the classroom and attend industry conferences such as the annual CAMP festival (Council of Artists and Multimedia Professionals) held in Calgary AB.

Notable projects: ulethnewmedia.com/student_showcase/reconciliation-tree/

Bob Cousins: I thoroughly enjoyed Bob’s Narrative for New Media course as it lays a great foundation for creative writing in various media. Whether you are into animation, film, gaming, or television, this course is one that even non-new media students can enjoy and learn from too.

Notable projects: ulethnewmedia.com/student_showcase/for-the-record-this-isnt-a-fridge/

Michael Madore: Another one of my memorable experiences at ULethbridge would have to be our Costco field trip for our Retail Management class. Although I could not participate in Michael’s IME program, I still appreciate his incorporation of experiential learning in nearly all of his courses. Michael also spoke highly of Canadian Tire as a digitally savvy corporation which influenced my future career aspirations. Despite the Toronto roles not being advertised on the job board, I was determined to join their e-commerce team and was successful enough to turn it into a self-initiated co-op. It was truly a full-circle moment when I got to meet some of the managers who played a pivotal role in bringing to life the innovative customer features that we had learned about in class.

Rhiannon Mesler: Rhiannon’s Marketing Innovations course taught at the Calgary campus was the final marketing elective of my degree and I am glad it was. Despite the challenges of virtual teaching with COVID-19, the course was delivered in a way that offered lots of creative collaboration and open discussion. The competitive teamwork simulations we got to participate in were a unique experience that I wish had been part of my other management courses.

Co-op team
Tracy Horne, Erin Kennett, Stacey Gaudette Sharpe, Lukas Neamtu.

Erin Kennet: Special shoutout to Erin who has been a fantastic coordinator to me in the past few months. She is flexible to the unique needs of each of her students but still holds them accountable. When I felt the standardized work-term assignments had become a bit redundant by my third term, she was incredibly open to feedback and vouched for a trial “Co-op Cafe” so students can connect more organically and speak to the highs and lows of their roles as a group. Instead of passively adjusting deadlines, I really felt like Erin listened and responded to make our co-op experience worthwhile and memorable.

Hani Hasan, Sean Gillies, Alex Thompson, Victoria McFadyen, Jasmine Szeto, Chika Osike, Emily King, Hanna Sutherland, Kennedie LeFeuvre.

Despite all these friends living in Calgary AB for many years, surprisingly I did not meet any of them until I moved. I am very grateful for all their positive support and the lifelong friendships that I have made at ULethbridge.

Did you receive scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.

I am extremely appreciative of the donors who continuously supported my academic studies, specifically the Abbondànza Fine Arts scholarship (valued at $3,000) in 2019. Before I entered the co-op program last year, I primarily worked student jobs in the summer funded by the Government (Alberta STEP and Canada Summer Jobs). Both student aid and scholarships eased a lot of my financial concerns so I could stay focused on my courses during the Fall/Spring semesters.

Prior to declaring my combined BFA/B.Mgt degree, I was only pursuing a marketing minor. A driving factor for me not wanting to take on a second degree was both the financial and time commitment. The larger scholarships I received in 2019 covered nearly a semester’s worth of expenses, which inspired me to pursue further educational opportunities and challenges.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

Throughout my undergraduate studies, I envisioned myself pursuing a master’s program. After working full-time in the corporate retail industry for over one and a half years, my focus has now been towards on-the-job training, but I am still open to higher education in the future.

At the start of my academic journey at ULethbridge, I was determined to break into the TV/film industry in post-production roles. Then a few years into my new media degree, I shifted my prospective job interests to web design and development, specifically in e-commerce. At Canadian Tire, I was able to test my analytical and cross-functional communication skills more than in any role I have previously held. Through the guidance and support of many senior leaders on my team, I was motivated to pursue management consulting. Although it feels bittersweet to have an “end-date” to my current role, I am incredibly happy to be welcomed to Accenture's New Grad Strategy Analyst Development Program in Calgary this Fall.

My career map of where I thought I would be 5 years ago looks a lot different than what it has become today, which I believe was heavily influenced by the University. I am thankful that our liberal education model broadened my academic and career outlook to various opportunities that span across industries and markets.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

Embrace the growing and diverse community at ULethbridge and try to get involved in campus events or student clubs. Joining these extracurriculars does not necessarily have to relate to your degree (e.g., I was part of the Spanish Club for a few years). Club membership can be of general interest, complement your liberal ed requirements or simply be a time and space for you to socialize with peers and volunteer your time.

Congrats Kelsey!

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