Second time’s the charm

November 14, 2016

After some soul searching, Bachelor of Commerce graduate found his calling in human resources

When Ryan Agozar first went to university, he loved science. Science, however, didn’t seem to care much for him. “I was good at science in high school,” he says, “but when I was in university, it lost its sparkle.”

Ryan soon realized he was putting in too much work in exchange for mediocre grades, and his love for science just wasn’t enough to keep him going. “I was basically killing myself for failing grades,” he says. “At that point, I realized this is not what I want to be doing.”

So he took some time off and entered the workforce—folding shirts at a retail store. As his friends started their dream careers and his parents asked him about his future plans, Ryan knew he was destined for more than an incomplete science degree and never-ending piles of unfolded shirts.

“My parents didn’t want to push me to do anything I didn’t want to do, but my mom kept asking me if I had considered going into business,” he recalls. “I was thinking, ‘To be an accountant like you? No, that’s boring!’”

thumb-Tara_ManyfingersRead about Tara Manyfingers, a member of the Class of 2016, who found her way in the arts world.

But his mom made a good point: Ryan knew how to talk to people and that could make human resources a good fit. The seed was planted. And then a radio ad for MacEwan University’s School of Business prompted him to make his move. “Start your business career at MacEwan University.”

While working during the day, he began his Human Resource Management diploma at night. “There was a big difference from when I was here fresh out of high school,” he says. “I had no idea what I wanted to do my first time in university, but when I came back as a mature student, I knew what I was working toward. That made it a whole lot easier.”

Not long into his diploma, he decided to get his professional certification—but that required a degree. He transferred into the Bachelor of Commerce program, but even before that, he was already seeing career opportunities.

“As HR people, we always talk to each other. We know that jobs are scarce at the moment, especially at the entry level,” says Ryan. “But the more that word gets around that you’re available, willing to work and that this is the career path you want, it’s, ‘Hey! I know someone that’s looking for you—give me your resume and I’ll forward it on.’ And that’s how I got my first job.”

Not everything went exactly as planned. “I got laid off, but I was also in the degree program by that time, so I decided to stop working and focus on finishing my degree. I powered through the entire 2015/16 academic year.”

Never afraid to put himself out there, he attended a networking event after completing his final courses. “I wrote ‘Recently Graduated’ on my name tag. It got the conversation going and the other person realized that I was someone who could work for them. That’s how I got my current job.”

Ryan says it’s important to find out what motivates you, and it’s clear that though it took a few years, he found a goal to work towards.

“That was one of the things that my organization behaviour course taught me,” he says. “A lot of it was about ‘so why are you here? What is your motivation? What are you working towards?’ And ever since, that class has been driving me to find that goal and work towards it.’

Now that he’s back working in his field, he has some valuable advice for other students. “Put yourself out there,” he says. “Everyone graduating with you has the same credential, but what’s going to make you stand out? Why should I hire you over the person standing beside you?”


MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the more than 2,900 members of the Class of 2016. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.


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