Dalhousie Launches Non-Credit Diploma Program to Support International Students in Transition to Working World

Is there a better professional feeling than when a project finally comes to fruition? For the Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development’s Kieran Parmelee, manager of special projects, one year of hard work made this a reality.

Upon joining the Faculty in the fall of 2022, they were tasked with developing a program designed to help international post-graduate students develop in-demand leadership skills and work experience in Canada. Thus, the Post-Graduate Diploma in Professional & Leadership Studies was born (“PGDip,” for short).

The 16-month non-credit program, offered in partnership with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), enables these students to build valuable workplace skills through a mix of courses and certificate, one-on-one career counselling, job search assistance, and a four-month work term in their field of study.

After months of developing the program, reviewing applications and, of course, promoting it, the Faculty welcomed its first group of students on in early January of this year.

“It has been a joy to meet the students in the first cohort of the PGDip and see their excitement about the coursework, career counseling from ISANS, and the opportunity to use the skills they develop during the work term,” says Parmelee. “The students are motivated professionals, and this program is a bridge that will contribute to their successful careers in Canada.”’

Mohja Alia, manager of employment and bridging with ISANS, is delighted with this training partnership with Dalhousie.

“We believe that the structured and focused approach to support this group of mature students will connect them to meaningful and long-lasting employment opportunities in Nova Scotia,” she says.

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A warm welcome

One of the enthusiastic students is Abigail Taylor, who hails from Ghana. She says, “On arriving in Canada, I observed the kindness and helpfulness of Canadians. Despite missing my flight due to an extended time at the Immigration office, the officials at the connecting flight desk were supportive.”

Taylor was also very pleased with the warm welcome she experienced from the program staff, as they checked in to ensure her smooth transition. “The first class with my professor, Michelle, was informative and enlightening,” she adds.

With a professional background in digital marketing, Taylor has her eyes set on specializing in business management. With the skills and knowledge that she’ll acquire in the program, she plans to make a great impact in Ghana and, by extension, Africa.

“I aim to inspire the next generation of women and girls in ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] by passing on this training and experience to women-led businesses,” she says.

“Specifically, I want to help them deal with organizational conflict and corporate governance through an agency or, even further, a series of events that would last a lifetime. I will help highlight and address the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles in as far as the technology business landscape is concerned. This will mean a giant step in the right direction for women and girls the world over.”

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From specialization to the working world

Acceptance in this non-credit program is no easy task, as students must show that they’ve met prior academic standards, English-language requirements, and work experience as part of the application process.

Students accepted will first complete foundational courses in leadership and human resource management. Then, they will choose to specialize in Project ManagementHuman Resource ManagementBusiness AnalysisAdult Education or Business Management.

Once students successfully complete the program, they will be awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma in Professional and Leadership Studies and each completed certificate. They can then pursue a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to remain in Canada to work while furthering their career aspirations and providing our workforce with skilled leaders.