People of Georgian: International alumna’s key to success staying open to opportunities

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Prerna Sharma

What I’ve learned so far in life is to always show up and the rest follows.

It could be something as simple as asking your professor for an opportunity. “Professor, is there a project you’re working on I can assist you with?”

Don’t be laid back. Just show up and success will follow you.

A person with long, brown hair and pink dress shirt smiles while standing outside against a wall of windows.
Prerna studied computer science engineering before coming to Georgian.

Embrace new learning experiences, says Prerna

In most cases, I think students are scared to show up, especially at networking events. “What will the consequences be? I might make a fool of myself.”

Don’t be worried about that. If you show up and make mistakes, it’ll be a learning experience for you, and that is better than not showing up and not knowing what could have happened.

Prerna ranks among Top 8,000 in India

It’s also good to be open to new life experiences. My own story begins in India, where I was always interested in math.

There’s a national examination that takes place before you can study engineering, and I scored a rank in the top 8,000 in the entire country.

I got into college there and that’s how I entered computer science engineering – a degree in which I discovered my passion for data analytics and statistics.

The more I learned about data analytics, I realized there were other educational options for me. That eventually led me to Georgian’s Big Data Analytics program.

Ten people stand together against an interior brick wall.
Prerna, second from left, was part of a committee of the XcelerateHER Program, a business accelerator program for female-identifying business leaders.

Georgian faculty plays ‘pivotal role’ in Prerna’s career

The faculty at Georgian played a pivotal role in kickstarting my career, and I am immensely grateful for their support.

The first job I got as a project manager was at Georgian’s Department of Research and Innovation.

That role gave me exposure to a whole new world of working with community and industry partners on different research projects, and an understanding of making strategic decisions while working with different stakeholders.

After this role, I went on to work with the City of Orillia as a business analyst, and I’m currently working as the Economic Development Officer with the city’s Business Development division.

If anybody asks me about the college, I always recommend Georgian College as the place to be, and No. 1 compared to the other colleges in the province.

It’s not only the college you’re going to or the education you’re receiving, but also the life experiences you’re getting by living in Simcoe County.

Canada has so many different experiences to offer, and I’ve made sure that I don’t miss out on them.

A person dressed casually stands outside in the woods in front of a blue-and-grey tent.
Prerna has gone camping in six or seven different parks since moving to Canada.

From data analytics, to skiing and camping

I tried skiing for the first time in 2020 after seeing toddlers learning on the Bunny Hill. I fell a couple of times, but finally this year I graduated Bunny Hill and went downhill skiing on a larger hill! I’m very proud.

I’ve also gone camping, even though I was initially scared because I’d never done it in my entire life.

I didn’t know where the washrooms were going to be or how to cook my food, but I was open to experiencing what this activity has to offer. And now, I can proudly say in the last two years I’ve covered six or seven provincial parks and have my bookings ready for this year.

As a former international student, I would tell current ones: I know you’re coming to a new country with new cultures and traditions, but don’t be afraid.
Hold on to your roots but be open to embracing what this country has to offer.
This is a beautiful country, and your hard work never goes unnoticed or unrewarded.

So, I urge students to get out of their comfort zones and live different experiences. Show up to networking sessions and learn about the experiences of others.

And no matter how many times you fail, do not give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

This is how you’ll grow – not only in this country but in your life.

Prerna Sharma, an alumna of Georgian’s Big Data Analytics program (class of 2020) and Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Orillia.

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