Three tips for success at BCIT, from upgrading to graduation

It’s a challenge to know where and how to start a program and career in a new country, in another language, but for Zak Husayn the most important factor was doing it right. He’s now about to graduate from BCIT’s Architectural and Building Technology (ABT) Diploma and is already getting workplace experience through practicum placements.

Zak had completed a couple years of engineering at university in Libya before emigrating to Canada. “I was working here, in different jobs, but I wanted to improve my life with something related to what I started at home,” he explains. He looked for options that could fit his interests in design and architecture, his lifelong knack for sketching. “ABT covered design and construction and the science behind the building – it was a real 360 view.”

“BCIT changed my life. The environment is nice, I always found help, and the instructors were all very knowledgeable and helpful.” – Zak Husayn

Upgrading: A solid foundation

Zak took a range of BCIT upgrading courses before successfully applying to ABT, including MATH 0001 – BC Math 12 equivalent for BCIT, PHYS 0309 – BC Physics 11 equivalent for BCIT, and Professional English Language Development (PELD). He’d been looking for equivalency test when he came across BCIT Program Advising and was put on the path to upgrade his prerequisites.

“I’m glad I took the time to improve my English,” explains Zak. “It made a better foundation for my studies.” He appreciated that PELD offered more than general English skills, with a focus on what would be needed in his technology program.

“I got a strong understanding of how to write a report, an essay, a resume, a cover letter,” says Zak. “Report-writing was really essential – my labs in subjects like HVAC and plumbing required these things I learned in PELD.”

A taste of the workplace

Zak’s program led into two practicum experiences, but even before he was experiencing the workplace he could see that employers were keen to hire.

“At job fairs it was clear that the employers wanted the students from BCIT,” notes Zak. “They know that the BCIT students have applied skills and know what’s going on in industry. When I saw that, I thought to myself ‘you’re going to be okay.’”

During the recent spring break Zak worked in a construction office environment. He appreciated all the coordination and teamwork required in the industry. At first, he found the regular meetings to be particularly interesting, even overwhelming.

“I was not expecting the level of professionalism, the open good and bad feedback,” he explains. “It was so surprising to me, but I can see that this transparency moves the company forward for everyone’s benefit.”

Now on his second practicum, he’s working for a developer doing feasibility studies. “It’s very related to my last year of study,” says Zak. “There is a lot of focus on trying to combine lots and build in density to meet the need for housing.”

3 tips for success at BCIT

Zak says three things made the difference for him at BCIT, after picking a program of interest that suited his skills:

  1. Ask questions: “Ask as many questions as you can! There is no such thing as a bad question. We’re all here to learn, and we’ve invested our time and finances.”
  2. Follow the requirements: “Pay a lot of attention to the specific requirements, that’s your focus. You have a lot of courses so keep your attention on the actual course requirements – do your homework, don’t miss classes.”
  3. Meet the deadlines: “Time management is important. I take my time very seriously; I learned that at BCIT.”

Looking ahead

With graduation coming this May, Zak is excited to start working. “But I might work for a couple of years and then come back for a Degree in Construction Management, maybe a future Masters in Building Science.”

“It’s an exciting time in the sector – there is so much construction happening!”