David Bishop is in his fourth semester of SAIT’s civil engineering technologies (CVT) program, and although he was uneasy about going back to school at 34, he isn’t anxious about job prospects.
“I’m not worried,” said Bishop, now 35, regarding his career post-graduation. “Civil engineers are required in so many fields of work that there’s always a demand for them.”
Bishop recently attended a lunch-and-learn put on by some of Canada’s engineering companies.
“They need CVT’s as soon as we graduate, so there’s hope,” Bishop said.
Bishop’s wife Nikki works downtown and has seen friends getting laid off recently.
“I get a little nervous about Dave’s prospects given the current environment,” she said.
But she is optimistic about his future in the industry.
“I know that with Dave’s years of industry experience and high grades, he will get scooped up fairly quickly.”
Bishop had been in construction for 10 years before attending SAIT.
“I didn’t want to be swinging a hammer for the rest of my working career. That sort of career takes a toll on your body,” he said.
While they were living in Kelowna, his wife was recruited for an accounting job in Calgary in 2014 after finishing her four-year bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“We decided that once we moved here to Calgary from Kelowna that I would go back to school while she was working,” Bishop said.
“The timing just worked out well, and the CVT program was very similar to what I have experience in the construction industry already.
“[Nikki] was really supportive. It was kind of only fair, since I supported her through her four years of school. She’s only on the hook for my two.”
Added his wife, “I’m not going to lie, being the sole bread-winner in the last two years has added some extra stress to life.
“However, I know how insanely smart Dave is, and to not fully support his career goals was just not an option. He supported me through four years of university as well. The support goes both ways for sure.”
“The tuition at SAIT was so much more affordable as well,” he said.
Although Bishop feels confident in his future career as a CVT, his confidence in going back to school as a mature student was less than assured.
“I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with all the younger kids in the class, but honestly some of my best friends now are those same younger people,” he said.
“They didn’t mind that I was older, and I didn’t really notice that they were younger.”
And although he had earned straight As in high school, Bishop was concerned that the 13 years since high school would be an issue in math and physics.
“I did a bunch of reviewing before I started to get back into it. Once I started I had a steep learning curve for about the first two weeks, but after that I was caught back up to everyone else.” he said.
“So I had stressed hugely about it, but in the end neither one of those things were a problem.”
Both Bishop and his wife attended school as mature students.
“We have both made comments about wishing we had gone to school earlier,” she said, adding that education creates higher earning potential, as well as job satisfaction and more available career opportunities.
To not fully support his career goals was just not an option. – Nikki Bishop
“For sure, the sooner the better. However, if the right timing is 10 years later, that’s OK too.”
Bishop recommends that prospective mature students “take that leap of faith and go for it.”
“It isn’t as hard or intimidating as you’ve made it out to be in your mind,” he said.