Ariella Waddell

Credentials: Vancouver Island University

Position title: Digital Student Support Assistant

Woman with glasses smiling at the camera

Major:  English – Creative Writing

Certificate: Digital Studies

Graduation Date: Summer 2018

How did you end up working at Vancouver Island University?

I originally started down the path I did at UW-Madison because I planned to be a librarian. I even got into grad school at UWM for LIS. Unfortunately I had to drop out because of family issues so I leaned heavily on the practical skills I gained from my Digital Studies Certificate. The pandemic saw many places transitioning to a digital space and I helped not-for-profit and academic institutions with that transition.

What does a typical day in the office look like for you?

I’m in charge of digital literacy for the Continuing Education Department. Essentially, my job is to make a new students’ transition to learning in the digital age as seamless as possible. This includes helping them navigate learning management software, databases, and the technology in general.

How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?

I have created new websites, managed social media, done extensive amounts of graphic design and audio/video production. Pairing my English major with the Digital Studies Certificate was one of the best decisions I made because it provided me with very practical, real world skills. If I could have majored in DS I would have.

Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class or professor when you were a student?

Yes! Com Arts 449: Sound Cultures: Podcasting and Music with Professor Jeremy Morris. Professor Morris is a wealth of knowledge and one of few experts in his field. I felt very fortunate to have worked with him. The structure of the class was also the most pleasing I encountered as an undergrad. The class size was small and intimate and allowed for a greater understanding of the material and much more one on one time with Professor Morris.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Pick up skills that you can sell in an interview. Learn how to talk about your traditional undergraduate degree to potential employers. Find student jobs and certificates to hone your skills and give you the type of real world experience employers are interested in. The degree is only attractive if you can prove that you actually learned something from it. Plenty of people graduate with a ‘C’ average and have nothing to show for it but an expensive piece of paper. Take command of your learning so you can stand out from the crowd.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?

Being able to pivot from working in libraries for nearly a decade to working in social media and communications without anyone batting an eye. It feels like I genuinely have something to offer no matter where I’m working.