It all seemed like yesterday when I was finishing up my NCA exams and looking forward to the start of my Human Resources Certificate course at the Chiu School of Business, Bow Valley College, Calgary AB.

I get asked a lot, why HR? For me, it was the fastest way to learn about the legislative framework of employment and labour relationships as well as gaining relevant knowledge on HR functional areas. Having wielded the position of HR Manager and Legal Manager in 2014, I know very well that there is some overlap. I cannot begin to quantify what I have learnt on Employment Standards, Privacy, Discrimination, Human Rights, Duty to Accommodate, Occupational Health & Safety, Worker’s Compensation, Termination Procedures, Labour Relations, Grievances, Arbitration, amongst many others.

My first semester at Bow Valley was pretty much a breeze, I quickly acclimatized to the academic culture and expectations which included back-to-back assignments, team projects and examinations. The one experience that tried to mar my smooth sail was finding out that I had skipped an entire page in a final exam. I was so sad, not because of how hard I had studied or that one-page cost me 0.07 from my semester’s GPA but because I realized I didn’t pay enough attention to details. I was so confident of what I had written and didn’t bother to confirm that I had indeed attempted all questions. This experience was a learning curve for me, it was a mistake that I embraced which really humbled me and eventually shaped me to be more thorough, diligent, and I pride myself now as someone who pays “extreme attention to details”.

My second semester on the other hand was tough. First, I got a job and had to work three days a week, then I cramped my entire semester full course work into two days. This meant I had to attend lecture 9am – 5pm, twice a week as I had 5 courses in-class. In addition, I had an online employment preparation course with an assignment or two due every week, and this was a pass or fail course, whereby if you missed the submission deadline of any of the tasks, it is tantamount to a failure. Also, because I had all my lectures on the same days, all my assignments were due same day or a day apart. As if the semester wasn’t hard enough, Covid-19 happened.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the delivery of lectures was moved online, and I completed the rest of the semester through Brightspace D2L and Microsoft Teams. We did some exams using Respondus Lockdown that shuts down everything else on your system to prevent exam malpractices. Also, 80% of my exams were more of scenario-based short-answer questions which required applying knowledge, and this we had to do in the most limited time-frame possible. The implication is that there is no recourse to any study materials else you would never finish on time because we had less than two minutes per question at every given time. It was tough and to be candid, I was stressed from the whole Covid-19 anxiety coupled with the fact that daycares were closed. I literarily wrote my exams amidst screams of “we want mummy”, as my husband did all he could to keep the girls away from the room I was in, while he was also working from home at the same time.

Barely a week later, the results were released and I had a perfect 4.0GPA. As bumpy as the semester was, it was all worth it in the end. Having also passed my Employment Preparation course, I was qualified for work experience placement. I had commenced plans for work experience (practicum) since 2019 and knew that the way to get the best of both worlds was to be attached to an employment law firm. Charles Osuji of Osuji & Smith was very receptive when I met with him to discuss the possibility of undertaking my practicum with his firm, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from a great mind like Charles. Osuji & Smith is one of Calgary’s Top 3 Employment Law Firms, so yes, I am under the tutelage of the very best.

I am very grateful for the wealth of knowledge that I gained from my experienced instructors on the legislative framework of employment and labour law as well as the HR functional areas, I am so happy to be applying this and it is truly exciting. I am grateful for my family members and friends (including Moyosore Sadiq), who encouraged me especially at times when I was close to giving up.

My special thank you goes to my very supportive husband who was there for me through-out the process, showering me all the tools I needed to excel, listening to my rants when I felt overwhelmed, and constantly giving me a reason to forge ahead even better each time. I am thankful for my children who were so understanding every time I couldn’t play with them because “mummy has to do her assignments”.

Above all, I am super thankful to God almighty who made it all possible, as I could not have done it on my own.

To every internationally trained lawyer out there struggling with one thing or the other, please do not give up, just find other ways to get it done. You can do it; your dreams are valid!

Cheers to securing articles soon, getting called and being able to practice as an Employment Lawyer.