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Turning A Hobby into a Career

Brett Gladueʼs NLC success story

“Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Brett Gladue is a graduate of Northern Lake College’s (NLC) Computer Network Specialist program. He has been interested in technology since early childhood.

“It started with computer games,” said Brett. “I started figuring out how to change or upgrade the games I played, or I’d pick apart computer equipment to try to figure out how everything worked.”

While Brett demonstrated a talent for tech at an early age, lack of access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields pushed Brett into a common employment industry in Northern Alberta.

“Since graduating high school, I worked as a labourer in the oilfield. I’d never worked in an office environment. I did secure a trade in pipefitting, but the job never felt right for me. Then, by 2019, the industry really slowed down,” said Brett.

With little work, and a sense of occupational dissatisfaction, Brett was on the lookout for anything to pay the bills. His wife, Amber, drew his attention to the new Computer Network Specialist Program offered by Northern Lakes College, and she encouraged him to register.

“Amber was really supportive and happy for me. I received a couple grants to help with financial costs, and then I was ready to begin the course,” said Brett.

There was only one problem; almost immediately after the start date, COVID-19 effectively shut down all in-class learning. Luckily, Northern Lakes College was prepared. Brett was too.

“I didn’t expect to do the whole course online, but NLC made distance learning very easy.

Students could participate in the online classes in real time, which I and about 10 other ‘regulars’ did. The others studied and viewed the classes on their own time. I learned a lot and took in a lot of new information,” said Brett.

For Brett, perhaps the best thing about the online experience was the way it was received by his school-aged son.

“His school moved online too, so for the first time, not only did he know his dad was in school, but he actually got to see me learning. A lot of the time we sat side-by-side doing our work. I hope he found it inspiring,” said Brett.

Now employed as an IT technician for the Bigstone Health Commission, Brett has encouraging advice for others in search of their calling.

“Take the risk and get an education,” said Brett. “Try something you are already interested in. Look at your hobbies and find a career that is similar.”

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