For this month’s Humans of Ace blog, we had the pleasure of talking to Co-Op Instructor Leanne Mackenzie of the Co-Operative Education department in Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Leanne completed her Bachelor of Commerce Degree at UBC in Marketing, and after spending time with the Canadian Airlines marketing department and Clinique Cosmetics as a Territory Manager in BC, she was eventually introduced into the Co-Operative education field. Joining the KPU’s Co-Operative Education faculty Leanne took responsibility for a number of roles ranging from working with IT, Marketing and Human Resources students as well as teaching a few courses in the Public Relations program. Leanne has solidified her position with Kwantlen over the years and genuinely loves helping students along their career journey.

How long have you been working with Kwantlen?

Yikes – it has been 18 years. I started when my youngest son was 6 months old. I thought I would pursue this field just while my kids were young, and return to the Marketing world, but I absolutely love the variety of this job. Assisting and coaching the students one-on-one in reaching their career goals; seeing them grow as professionals, and the opportunity to use my marketing skills to build employer partnerships. It’s great now that many of my previous co-op students are hiring co-op students

What inspired you to join the career education field?

There were two moments that increased my knowledge about this field and inspired me to join it later on in my career.  The first one was at UBC in my 4th year when the Career Service Manager encouraged me to apply for a job that required a Master’s Degree (I only had an undergrad) and then assisting me in writing my cover letter and resume. I got the job, and will never forget her advice, encouraging and supportive nature. Right then I thought, cool job!!!  The next time, although unfortunate, was when Canadian Airlines merged with Air Canada, and I found myself in the world of career transition and employment assistance. My 6 months of outplacement support including workshops, one on one coaching, etc, and again I thought, cool job! A few friends even remember when I said maybe I will leave the marketing field, and do something in Career Education and Assistance…it clearly was meant to be.

 If you could give your younger self a piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t worry so much about making a mistake or the wrong decision, just take the opportunity, change and go for it!!! You learn more from mistakes than when everything goes right in your life. Drink good wine and buy the shoes…….and as my team knows, keep calm and carry on!

What is your most memorable moment with a student?

Wow that is a hard question as there have been many memorable moments, both challenging, absolutely crazy, frustrating, rewarding, successful, inspiring, heartwarming………the list goes on. I swear sometimes we could write a book of the funny and crazy things we have coached or encountered with co-op students.  Probably the most memorable however are the students who had immense challenges in their life, lack confidence, or are overcoming obstacles, and need additional support, advice, and encouragement. Co-op success didn’t come easily to them. However, by enrolling in the co-op program and being open minded, open to feedback and most of all persistent, they landed their first co-op job (many times about 10 – 20 tries) and blossomed, gained confidence and maturity, and landed great jobs after graduation. I am thankful to have played a part in assisting them to reach their true potential and career goals. I can think of over 30+ (probably more) of those students, and I keep in touch with all of them. One of them even sits on the KPU Board of Directors now! I truly love my job. Love seeing a student grow, succeed, learn and love that many of our KPU HR Co-op grads are now hiring HR Co-op students!!!

If you are not in the office, what would we find you doing?

Having recently become one of those crazy dog owners, I would be walking with my dog and husband.  Also, now that both our boys are in university, I am back to focusing on playing golf, as well as doing all those projects I was going to do when I was pregnant and still aren’t done.

If you could be a character in any book, which character would you be?

Anne of Green Gables, one of my favorite childhood books, and when I had the chance to visit her home at a CAFCE conference in PEI, I was over the moon, and yes wore the braided red wig. She had the amazing ability to turn the simplest things into something magnificent and use her imagination to make her surroundings a more exciting and beautiful place. Even though she has a temper, talks incessantly and isn’t afraid to voice her opinions, she has a heart that is pure and good ….kind of what I see in myself, especially the talkative part!!!!

Three word my coworkers would use to describe me?

I received feedback from my amazing team…here is what they said: passionate/enthusiastic, a little on the crazy side, genuine, motherly, problem solver, impulsive (in a good way to get things done).  Whoops, that is more than three, but it was nice to hear all the lovely comments. And sometimes a little chaotic (in a good way so they say)