BA 2006: Major Political Science, Minor Commerce


I never expected to be a Program Leader with UBC Continuing Studies but I kept an open mind and I love my job.”

Through her studies in Political Science and Commerce and through her experiences in the Arts Co-op program, Diana McKenzie understands the importance of networking, volunteering and getting involved with the business community. For McKenzie, the extra time it took to graduate because of her involvement in the Arts Co-op program definitely paid off in the end.

McKenzie started her Co-op journey as a special events assistant with the Multiple Sclerosis Society for an eight month work term. She gained many different marketing and organizational skills while she managed the event registration, chaired a steering committee, fundraised and promoted events.

She was able to strengthen her skills in her next job as a programming assistant for Arts Umbrella where she picked up a keen interest in multimedia. Between managing design projects and creating promotional materials, such as postcards, to producing advertisements for print media, McKenzie had to find time to liaise with six print companies to negotiate quotes, specs, print runs and proofs while working under strict deadlines.

Currently, McKenzie works as a Program Leader with UBC Continuing Studies where she is involved in the planning, development and administration of a portfolio of market-oriented programs. She’s also involved in hiring instructors, managing students, collaborating on marketing strategies, and giving promotional information sessions.

Her background in marketing, event management and communications made her a strong candidate for her current position, along with her work with the Vancouver Board of Trade as a student in the Leaders of Tomorrow program and as a member of the International Association of Business Communicators. She enjoys the openness, flexibility and support offered by her current position in developing new program areas and updating existing ones.

McKenzie’s Co-op experience taught her the hard work and persistence required to find a job. “Apply for whatever interests you even if you don’t think you’re qualified or your skills fit. You might surprise yourself with what value your collection of skills and experience are worth,” says McKenzie.

McKenzie “can’t say her BA alone would have prepared her for the workplace – I certainly wouldn’t have the job I do now without Arts Co-op.” Her experiences taught her valuable skills not taught in a classroom, such as learning how to communicate with all types of people and managing her time effectively and efficiently.

McKenzie encourages graduating students to “Learn the art of information interviews and join associations you may be interested in. Don’t get discouraged and don’t expect immediate results. Find a mentor if you can.”

To current students, McKenzie says “make use of all of [the] resources available to you while you’re in school… It will be invaluable to have such knowledge after you graduate to navigate your own job search.”

Finally, for students thinking about joining Co-op, all McKenzie can say is, “Absolutely take it. You will not only understand the job market and your opportunities much better but you will have the skills to take advantage of them.”

McKenzie continues to take courses in Multimedia and Web Development with UBC Continuing Studies and hopes to obtain a masters degree in sustainability. She is constantly taking advantage of the professional development opportunities at UBC.

For McKenzie, “What you do in your own time can be just as important and valuable as what you learn on the job.”