Back to school 2023-24: Advice for new students from 10 NAIT alumni

Tips for success from those who've done what you're doing

Sometimes, there's nothing more reassuring than talking to someone who's been where you are now. What did they do that worked for them that might work for you? What would they have done differently? What would they want you to know to make your experience as good – or even better – than their own?

We put the call out to the NAIT alumni community for words of wisdom for current students. What we received was advice from 10 successful grads who started out in exactly the same place, on NAIT campus, full of questions.

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nait grad dawn lameman

Dawn Lameman (Bachelor of Business Administration ’16, Accounting '12)
Aboriginal Liaison Specialist, NAIT Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre

Congratulations on making it to post-secondary! Entering your first year can be nerve-wracking, exciting and probably both. Here are some of the things I wish I had known when I started at the JR Shaw School of Business:

  1. Be organized. Download a calendar with notification settings and enter all of your course deadlines. My go-to is Google Calendar, because it lets you plan your schedule on a desktop/laptop and will sync with the phone app.
  2. It’s not “just 5%.” Some of your coursework will come with small percentages but do not throw away valuable grades. I had classmates who would skip out on those assignments and regret it later because 5% can be the difference between a pass or fail. And, if you skip out, you also miss the opportunity to learn the skills and deliverables the assignment was created for.
  3. Focus on well-being. Student success goes beyond your GPA. Your overall well-being is paramount for success, and NAIT provides all the services you need to remain balanced. Please access them! Using the services and community of the Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre completely changed my post-secondary experience and my life.
  4. Stay connected. It is easy to lose yourself in schoolwork and deadlines to a point where you forget important things in life. Carve out 30 minutes of every day to ground yourself with special people, activities and places, and reap the rewards of connection.

Welcome to NAIT! 😊

Gurlal Singh (Electrical Engineering Technology ’22)
Electrical Designer, Smith + Andersen

Keep a NAIT map with you in a place that’s easily accessible. Either have it on your phone or print it off and put it in your backpack.

Cheyenne Starblanket (Materials Engineering Technology ’22)
Junior Quality Control Inspector, ClearStream Energy Services

Go to campus the day before to find your classes, coffee and bathrooms.

andy karesa, technical Sales Specialist, Spartan Controls, nait grad

Andy Karesa (Bachelor of Technology ’16, Instrumentation Engineering Technology '12)
Technical Sales Specialist, Spartan Controls

Within the first few months, building relationships is critical. The content you learn in the first semester is important to success in your field, but the relationships are what will make a difference in your career. Focus on building those, especially with individuals in other programs. Build a strong network of people who can support and build each other up.

Avery Armstrong (Landscape Architectural Technology '18)
Landscape Designer, Salisbury Landscaping

Show up and put in an effort. Get to know your teachers. Meet students from other classes. Create connections. Go to all the free-lunch seminars you can. Leave extra time to get to class because the LRT is usually late. Buy the NAIT hoodies because they are super cozy. Finish your projects well before they are due (and give lots of time for you to print the final draft).

And then volunteer as alumni when you graduate.

Justin Nand (Bachelor of Business Administration ’16, Finance '13)
Accountant, Pace Technologies

Don't simply go to NAIT, be part of it. Get involved on campus with clubs, volunteering, athletics and skills competitions. You will gain new skills and experiences, meet wonderful people and, most importantly, have fun.

Also, explore the campus. NAIT has a beautiful campus that has several areas where you can study, eat and meet new people. There are also several offices and services on campus that are happy to help you, such as the library and the NAIT Students' Association (NAITSA)

Finally, take care of yourself. Being in a new environment can be stressful and overwhelming. Always remember you are not alone. There are thousands of students who feel the same way you do.

NAIT has a wonderful counselling office to help any way they can. Create study groups and go for coffee. Schedule time for schoolwork, and things like work, volunteering, athletics and downtime. Watch an Ooks home game with your classmates on a Friday night. You are only in school for a short time – enjoy it while you are still there.

nait grad carolyn kincade

Carolyn Kincade (Bachelor of Technology ’17, Dental Laboratory Technology '07)
Osseointegration Technologist, Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine

Learning is supposed to hurt if you are doing it right! The ups and downs are expected, keep trying!

Victoria Popik (Bachelor of Business Administration – Management '16)
General Manager, Under the Sun Stained Glass and Art Studio

It’s okay to cry every day for the first month. We’ve all been there! It’s an adjustment, but you’ve got this!

nait grad matt rigby

Matt Rigby (Management ’22)

Ask questions! If you’re thinking it, others are thinking it too.

Kate Puim (Digital Media and IT '16)

Never be afraid to approach your instructors. They are there to see you succeed.

Enjoy every minute of your time at NAIT. It goes by way too fast.

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