Feb. 12, 2024

What’s Next on Your Career Path?

A Q&A session with Alumni Career Development Specialist Andrea Christensen, BEd’99, MEd, CDP ahead of the 2024 Grow Your Career Conference.
Career PathFinder

In the landscape of career development, few resources prove as invaluable as the guidance and expertise of a seasoned professional. Enter Andrea Christensen, BEd’99, MEd, CDP, an alumni career development Specialist whose impact on our alumni community is both profound and inspiring.  

With a career dedicated to fostering growth and opportunity, Christensen supports any UCalgary alumni navigating the ever-evolving professional world. 

With well over a decade in education and career advising, Christensen's journey is both unique and inspiring. Starting her career in elementary education and entrepreneurship, she built a strong foundation that set the stage for her shift into development. This was then highlighted by earning a career development post-bachelor's certificate and a Master of Education in adult education, deepening her expertise and opening doors to several diverse roles. These included independent career consulting, working on government contracts in Alberta and managing programs at Bow Valley College.  

AC Headshot

It was in 2017, through her involvement with the CERIC (Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling) Content & Learning advisory committee that Christensen’s passion for career development truly blossomed. Engaging with other dedicated professionals across Canada, she found herself at the heart of a community intent on advancing the field. This experience has not only enriched her professional life, but also cemented her status as an expert deeply committed to fostering growth and development within the career-development sector.   

Her journey is a testament to the impact of continuous learning and collaboration in shaping a fulfilling career, making her an asset to anyone seeking guidance in their professional paths. 

Christensen’s work not only highlights the importance of continual career development in an ever-evolving employment landscape, but it also serves as a powerful reminder to alumni everywhere: the journey of professional advancement is ongoing and the resources available, like her expertise, are here to be embraced.  

“Career development is closely intertwined with our personal interests and skill development, which evolve over a lifetime,” says Christensen. “Career values, the things that are fundamental for us to have satisfaction in a particular job or role, these will shift based on what is happening in the greater context of life. 

“Therefore, being able to align yourself with meaningful work and make the pivots necessary to feel satisfied, takes intentional self-reflection, as well as an understanding of what opportunities exist in the labour market. Since both of these things are continually shifting, knowing how your skills align and recognizing gaps can facilitate choice-making to ensure you feel good about where you are at, and where you are heading.” 

In her current role, Christensen offers support to the UCalgary alumni community and is committed to the empowerment and success of the individuals she advises. 

What are your goals as the career development specialist with UCalgary Alumni?   

It really depends on each person, and I always let them set the direction for their own learning by asking what success looks like for them. I provide a variety of workshop topics and both small-group and individual virtual meetings, along with a resource library of webinars and ongoing career programs. Hopefully, every alum that is looking for career-development support can find something that will help. That would be my overarching goal — that everyone would find the support they are looking for, at any point in their career.    

What is the most common question or questions you are asked when alumni come to you for help or guidance?   

I often work with individuals that feel stuck and are looking for some strategies or resources to help them move in the right direction. Sometimes, it’s figuring out what the “right direction” is, and I support them in that process.   

If you could give just one piece of advice to alumni looking to advance their career or start a new one — what would it be?   

Intentionally reflect on each experience in work and life and ask what it taught you about yourself. Understanding things like what gives you energy, how you enjoy spending your time, what kind of impact you want to have on those around you and in the world — staying “in-tune” with yourself will serve you well in navigating future life and career choices.  

Is there anything about Alumni career programs you wish everyone knew? 

I wish more people knew that career-development support is available to help students and alumni at any stage of their life and career. All UCalgary alumni have access to Alumni Career Programs — tools, services and resources to help guide you along every stage of your work journey. Career development is about so much more than finding a job or developing a resume; it really is about the ongoing management of life, work and skill-development, and I encourage everyone to explore what is available to them. No matter if you’re looking for new opportunities or are aiming to grow professionally in your current career, we have programs, workshops, individual coaching and online seminars at your disposal!  

In addition to the Alumni Office career programs and supports, there is also a current partnership with UCalgary Continuing Education. UCalgary alumni have access to a 15% discount on eligible courses to support their professional development. 

What is the most rewarding thing you take away from your position?  

The diversity of the people I get to work with is always so interesting and fulfilling. Since I work with all UCalgary alumni, I have the privilege of working with people at every age and stage of their career and they are from any university faculty, with dozens of types of degrees and hundreds of career paths. They come from all over the world with built-in beliefs about identity, culture and work. I'm continually reminded of how complex people's lives can be, and I just appreciate being able to help or support them in some way. 

Grow Your Career Conference 2024 

As February draws to a close, the anticipation builds for the seventh annual Grow Your Career Conference (GYCC), a cornerstone event for professionals seeking inspiration and guidance on their career paths. Each year, this conference stands out as a great opportunity, gathering a diverse array of inspiring professionals and thought leaders. These are individuals have not only carved unique paths in their respective fields, but have also shown remarkable resilience and made significant impacts in their communities.  

“GYCC … brings together inspirational UCalgary alumni to share their experiences and expertise with the alumni community,” says Christensen. “It offers a variety of topics and speakers and both virtual and in-person delivery, with a goal of providing value for alumni at any point in their career journey; start, late stage, retirement — all of it.” 

This year's conference program features an eclectic mix of topics, esteemed speakers, seasoned career-development professionals and a variety of interactive formats. This includes a pair of webinars on Leveraging A.I. for Your Future Career Success and Unconscious Bias and How it May be Impacting Your Career. The in-person conference day, to be held on March 2, includes a morning keynote on Navigating Career Success with former mayor and UCalgary alum, Naheed Nenshi, BComm'93, as well as multiple seminars and activities throughout the day.    

The diversity of the programs ensures attendees, regardless of their career stage or aspirations, will find something that resonates deeply with their professional needs. Whether you're poised to launch your career, are seeking advancement or are contemplating a complete career reinvention, GYCC is designed to enlighten, inspire and propel UCalgary alumni towards their career goals.  

Alumni Continuing Education Discount

We are excited to partner with UCalgary Continuing Education in offering alumni a 15-per cent discount on various courses. Navigate your career and enrich your life through an impressive variety of offerings.  

Continuing Education's mission is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for lifelong learners, regionally and globally, empowering people and transforming communities for a better future. It offers a wide range of seminars, courses, and programs for individuals and organizations seeking professional development, academic preparation and personal enrichment.