Janan Lewars case study

Client Training Specialist, Top Hat
International Development Department, 2019

Describe your current role and the journey you took to get there

I am currently a Client Training Specialist with Top Hat, an Education Technology company. I manage new professor's customized onboarding journey and ensure that they are ready to adopt the platform for their upcoming class. Its been a great experience learning about the challenges some professors face especially during this current global pandemic. This informs me on how to cater to each training session to their needs.

After completing my post-graduate degree in Fall 2019, I started my first job in January 2020 at a charity. Due to COVID-19, I was laid off at the end of March 2020. Although I was Initially incredibly discouraged, I was able to find a contract job in May 2020.

During this time period, I also took advantage of LinkedIn Learning and Coursera by taking a few online courses to keep my mind busy while job hunting. I also reached out to my network to get advice on job hunting in an incredibly competitive climate. I was able to secure my job with Top Hat in October 2020.

Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University?

I have always been passionate about education and young people, which is why I was interested in doing a degree at the International Development Department. As long as I was in a company or organization whose focus was either helping youth and involved improving education I would be happy. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be working at Top Hat, which seeks to disrupt the higher education space through our active learning platform

Did you have any work experience before your graduated?

Yes, I did have work experience before I graduated. Before starting my Master's program at the University of Birmingham, I had worked as a research assistant during my undergraduate degree. After completing my undergraduate degree I worked as a Transfer Specialist at Computershare. This provided me with my first experience working in an office environment.

What do you love most about your role?

I love that I am speaking with Professors every day. I love the education space and collaborating with professors on how to incorporate active learning into their classroom has been great!

What is most challenging about your role?

Busy days! Time management has proven to be key in my role, with a lot of back to back meetings. It is critical to have great time management skills to avoid burn out!

Have you faced any key challenges during your career journey and how did you overcome them?

I believe one of the biggest challenges is the job market being incredibly competitive. COVID-19 has made it incredibly challenging for many people - in particular, recent graduates to enter the job market.

After completing my Master's degree and returning to Canada in September 2019, I had applied to many jobs and received a lot of rejections before receiving an offer to commence work in January 2020. Shortly after, COVID-19 happened which led to getting laid off. This was incredibly challenging for multiple reseasons.

I was exhausted from the previous job hunting search in the fall and was anxious that I would not find another job since the jobs available were slim and the people applying to jobs doubled with many others being laid off due to the pandemic.

What kept me motivated was my community of friends and family who provided me with encouragement! This time period forced me to pause and consider what I was truly passionate about and understand that asking for advice from people is valuable. I received advice on how to change my approach to job hunting.

How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?

Completing the Master's Campus-Based Internship was incredibly beneficial and something I have been able to speak to in terms of getting exposure to business development skills.

In addition to this my degree, in development policy and policy really provided me with critical thinking skills that are transferrable in any industry.

Being President of the International Development Society provided me with the opportunity to collaboratively work with my classmates and organize some great events!

What are your career plans for the future?

I am incredibly interested in Strategy and Partnerships. In the future, I hope to transition into this field.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in getting into your industry or role, or if they’re unsure what they want to do?

First, if a student is unsure about what they would like to do, I would recommend talking to as many people as possible in various industries - get an idea of what their day-to-day is. This will help you navigate what you may be interested in! If students are interested in a customer success role I would recommend developing strong interpersonal skills!

What would be your key piece of career advice for a student just entering the employment market?

Networking! It is incredibly important to build a professional network that you can go to for advice!


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