IT professional re-enters workforce with new big data skills
September 26, 2019

In 2009, Patrick Whissel moved to Barrie. After working as programmer for 20 years, he was eager to take some time off of work and spend more time with his family. But the world of IT moves fast, and when he was ready to return to work, he found the tools he was an expert in were no longer industry standards. Returning to the workforce, he says, was a challenge.

“I visited a job fair and met with representatives from Georgian College,” says Patrick. “After a short conversation they suggested the Big Data Analytics program would be a great way to leverage my existing programming skills and knowledge of databases. After some research, I realized how my passion for data and using data for decision-making would be fulfilled in this field.”

Working with his employer and family, Patrick decided to enter into Big Data Analytics on a part-time schedule, registering for two courses every term.

“It minimized the impact on my busy work schedule,” he says.

After two years, and two final semesters with a heavier, three-course workload, Patrick graduated.

“The program helped me realize that despite being almost 50 years old, my skills were still very relevant and learning the tools used in the industry today and applying them to this new architecture was very easy,” says Patrick.

“But the most valuable benefit was meeting and working with people from various age groups, ethnic backgrounds and levels of professional experience and applying our different knowledge towards a common interest. This really enhanced my thirst for knowledge and made the return-to-school experience truly enjoyable.”

Patrick found himself in a mentorship role with younger students seeking advice on how to succeed in their own careers.

And as a bonus, he and his daughter, also attending Georgian at the same time, caught up on school gossip over lunch at The Last Class.

“Now I am equipped and proficient with a new portfolio of IT tools and a network of great friends ready to take on new challenges in the Big Data industry which has also been dubbed the sexiest job of the 21st century,” says Patrick.

Georgian College graduate Patrick Whissel shakes hands with his Big Data Analytics program co-ordinator Chris Dyck.
Patrick Whissel (left), a recent graduate of the part-time Big Data Analytics graduate certificate program, shakes hands with his professor Chris Dyck.

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Graduate certificates help you take your existing diploma or degree to the next level. These programs have built-in work placements or real-world applied learning opportunities so you can focus on developing the skills and experience employers are looking for.