• Lauren Kan

The Road to RED

Updated: Aug 22

If you know me, you’d know that at my university graduation almost exactly a year ago, I promised myself that I would take a break and work for at least a year before even considering going back to school.

Worlds collide. Found a TWU mug at RED!

Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen.

Well, here we are. A little over a month ago, I began my journey at RED Academy.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How in the world does a girl with a bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics get into digital marketing? And quite honestly, your guess is as good as mine.

But I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

Sports have always been a huge part of my life. I grew up watching hockey and soccer with my dad, and started playing ringette when I was in the 9th grade. Up until this point in my life I had never really been exposed to the world of playing sports, so I think this really kickstarted my desire to study Human Kinetics.

So, when I graduated from high school, I began a Kinesiology diploma program at Douglas College. Don’t get me wrong, I really thought it was my dream to become a physiotherapist and work for the Canucks (lol classic, am I right), but it was hard. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, I really struggled with the biology courses I had to take to complete my major, and that was so discouraging, but I stuck with it.

Then, in my third year (yes, I took an extra year working towards a diploma I didn’t even complete, don’t come for me) I discovered business. I had also always been interested in psychology, so I put most of my elective courses towards psych credits, but I ended up taking an ‘Intro to the Administration of Leisure and Sport Services’ class, which was basically like an intro to business in sport, and something clicked.

It was in the plan to transfer after my third year at Douglas anyways, but after a couple of those ‘Business in Sport’ classes, I knew that was something I wanted to pursue.

And thus began my transfer journey. It’s a long and honestly, kind of random story for another day, but it ultimately landed me at Trinity Western University, where I spent two years finishing off my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Kinetics with a specialization in Sport and Leisure Management.

After a couple of the hardest, most intense (sh!t literally hit the fan in every single area of my life: personal relationships, friendships, mental health, you name it), but greatest years so far, I graduated from TWU.

Once a Spartan, always a Spartan (Grad 2018 – Trinity Western University, Langley BC)

I ended up getting a job working as a receptionist at a chiropractic clinic. I hoped that this job would help me decide once and for all whether I wanted to pursue further education with relation to my Human Kinetics degree.

While interviewing for what would become my role at the clinic, I was promised the opportunity to use my business/marketing background, as well as my experience with photography and social media to help out with marketing efforts and building the clinic’s online presence. This sounded like a dream come true. Not only would I get to explore and learn more about running a business (specifically marketing for a clinic), but I would get to do it while not feeling horrible about not using the extremely expensive piece of paper I had recently acquired.

Even just the potential opportunity to learn more about how social media and the digital world could be used in marketing was enough to get me excited. I began using all of my free time (and even some of my time at work) to learn all that I could about social media and digital marketing: reading blog posts, watching YouTube videos, even purchasing a couple of courses on Udemy. I couldn’t get enough.

I was eager to accept the position and to take on this new role, but was quickly disappointed when I was met with condescension, dismission, and frankly, lowkey discrimination from my boss (who also happened to be the owner of the clinic… Yikes).

Don’t get me wrong, I truly loved the other people I got to work with, helping to create effective and efficient systems and making great connections with patients. However, it finally got to the point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Through sharing my experiences with a few trusted loved ones, I began to realize that I did not deserve to be treated this way, and that it was actually affecting my mental health pretty severely.

It took a couple of months and one big final incident, but I finally mustered up all the strength that I had in me (I’m a recovering turtle; if you know, you know), and quit my job. I didn’t really have a backup plan, which scared the heck out of me, but I knew deep down that it had to be done.

The most important thing I learned from this whole ‘not having a backup plan thing,’ was that it really is okay to not have every single thing in your life planned out and know what’s going to be next (disclaimer: I am so blessed to be in a unique position where I could afford to not have a backup plan). I wouldn’t have been ready to jump into another full-time position, straight out of this experience. It wouldn’t have been fair to anyone; to me or to the potential employer.

But, I digress. Back to the reason you’re here: how I got to RED.

Because I was unhappy at work, I started using some of my free time at work to research digital marketing courses. I was primarily looking at the part-time program that BCIT offers because not only is it cheap, but the Burnaby campus is also quite literally a 10 minute walk from my house. However, I pushed the idea aside when things started getting even harder at work and while I was in the process of leaving the job.

A couple of weeks after quitting and attempting to recover from this whole experience, I began to do a bit of freelance photography and graphic design work to keep myself busy, but I quickly realized that freelancing was not something I wanted to pursue as a full-time career. It’s hard.

This is when I began to notice that I was being bombarded by RED Academy ads on Facebook and Instagram. At first, I brushed it off, but quickly realized that one of RED’s most unique qualities is that each program gets to work with real clients, providing all students with not only a portfolio upon graduation, but also the opportunity to learn about all of the dynamics involved in building, collaborating, and managing client relationships.

It sounded like RED was the cream of the crop when it came to tech schools in Vancouver, and the general consensus of my research (which was extensive, trust me) seemed to agree. So, I decided to submit my email address, and request some more information about the Digital Marketing Professional program.

Camera in one hand, snack in the other. Classic.

I soon exchanged a few emails with the admissions team at RED, submitted an application, booked a tour and scheduled a separate interview with an instructor, submitted a writing sample, was accepted into the program, and started my first day; all in the span of two weeks.

I am now just over one month into this program, and it is hard. It is extremely intense, and I am very tired. I spend a good majority of my time outside of class solidifying concepts, doing homework, and trying to keep up with projects. But, I have already learned more than I could ever imagine. Not to mention that everyone that I have met so far is incredible. Friendly, motivated, and SMART.

I finally feel like for the first time in a very long time, I am doing something truly for myself. Something that I am actually kind of good at, but most importantly, that I am passionate and excited about.

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