Originally posted by Jordan Fujiwara.
Alyssa Alidina’s story is all about stepping out of her comfort zone: and loving it. It all started when she was finishing up her BScN (Natural Resources Conservation, major in Global Perspectives) at UBC. This Vancouver native knew one thing: “I wanted to go to grad school; I didn’t want to work after my undergrad.”
The then Dean of the program, David Wheeler, was in Vancouver at one of our info sessions that Alyssa attended. “That the Dean had so much investment in the program meant a lot to me,” she recalled. In a span of six months prior to getting accepted into the Corporate Residency MBA, she wrote the GRE, GMAT and LSAT while also working part time during school and full time in the summer, but was so enticed by our program that it was the only one she ended up applying to!
Accepting the offer and coming to Halifax was her first major challenge and departure from the ol’ comfort zone. She was moving across the country to a small city she’d never lived in, with no family or friends around to help her adjust. Luckily, the orientation week for the program remedied that issue with a three-day trip to Liscombe Lodge. “We came out of [that time at Liscombe] so close, we already knew we’d be a family,” says Alyssa. This is a common sentiment among a lot of people in the program, myself included!
With 40 new friends (or family, either is applicable), Alyssa was ready to tackle the next big venture outside the comfort zone: the corporate residency. Her undergraduate background was in the area of sustainability, and she had just come straight out of it so she was naturally a little apprehensive when she interviewed with TD Securities in September. “I had no financial experience,” she admits. “I hadn’t even picked up my finance textbook yet when I walked into that interview! We were basing the entire interview on ‘fit,’ we barely talked about the job, just me and how I would fit in the organization.”
She ended up getting the job offer (Business Analyst in Management Information Systems) and was faced with another big move to a new city, Toronto, after only six short months in Halifax. Despite the unfamiliar job and city, Alyssa rose to the challenge once again and thrived. “I realized I’m one of those people that can be happy anywhere, as long as I surround myself with people and things I like. I’m comfortable making things work. I’m a little tougher than I thought, I guess!”
Indeed she is. TD tossed her right into a project that involved developing an internal business intelligence tool that she was highly involved with for four months. “After that, my boss got a promotion and his role expanded enormously. He brought me under his wing and basically got me to do what he didn’t have time to do, like attend meetings or plan meetings with clients and internal/external auditors. I also did some HR work and the business continuity plans for my team and standardized them for new teams that came along with my boss’ promotion. I was sort of a Jack of All Trades.” She also attended a sustainability conference where she got hear fellow Vancouver native David Suzuki speak about issues that she had studied in her undergrad. Busy!
Now she’s back in school, which has been yet another huge (but welcome) adjustment. “I grew to love Toronto,” Alyssa says, “and I’ll probably go back there. I’m in the part of my life where I not only can handle but crave the fast-paced life of the downtown financial core.” She will most likely go back with TD, but is not going to close the door on any other opportunities. For example, the lifestyle of a business consultant appeals to her.
“I’m just really happy. I love the program. I’m so glad I decided to do things I wasn’t comfortable doing,” she says in closing. “Never close yourself off to anything. ‘Fit’ is also everything.”
This is a truth that I think you have to experience before you can truly appreciate it. And Alyssa has experienced it in spades. See everyone next week!