Meet a Keypather: Nicole Bernadowitsch
What is your role at Keypath, and what does a day in your life at Keypath look like?
I’m a Team Lead with the Student Success Department, and I have been at Keypath for three years. The number one priority on the Student Success team is to make sure that our students are supported. Student Success Advisors support students throughout their program, from the first day of class all the way through to graduation. We reach out to students regularly to see if there’s anything we can support them with or any resources we can share.
My role changes from day to day. I help to drive metrics, encourage culture, and set team goals. Some days I’ll plan social events for our team. On other days I’ll listen to my team’s calls and fill out evaluations. I do train with my team in Canada and the Student Success teams in the US and UK, so I get to meet all the new people and train them, which is something that I really enjoy.
What is the most important skill for someone in the Student Success team?
I don’t know if this is a skill, but the most important attribute of a person is kindness. We never want our students to feel like they’re just a number, so it is so important to be kind and understanding. Students often come to us because they’re going through a hard time – they’ve just had a crisis, or they’re struggling with their class, or they got a bad mark and they’re upset, or they can’t pay their tuition. And I think we have to take that moment to hear them and to be understanding. For some of our students, this might be the only bit of support they get during the day, because I know a lot of them have very strenuous jobs.
It’s really important to be kind within our own team as well. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, I talked to my teammates more than I talked to pretty much anybody else, and it was so nice to not feel isolated and to have so many kind people around me. We could all use more kindness in the world.
Out of Keypath’s four core values (be inventive, be collaborative, be a lifelong learner, be committed), which resonates with you most and why?
I have always strongly identified with being a lifelong learner. I am very much a self-professed nerd. I’ve always loved school. I finished my Masters Degree when I was 22 but I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work because I was reluctant to commit to a job that was stagnant where I felt like I couldn’t grow. What I love about Keypath is that there is always a new challenge.
Since joining Keypath I’ve gotten new roles, I’ve learnt new things, and I’ve taken on so many projects. Some projects I’ve asked for, some I’ve created myself, and some projects other people have created for me. I’ve grown so much in the last three years because I have been gently led outside my comfort zone, which encouraged me to learn a bunch of new skills. Math is not a strength of mine, but I’m learning forecasting, and everyone’s been very supportive and given me great advice. Thanks to their support I’m really getting the hang of it.
I’ve made huge strides in the last year. I’ve been learning about business and discovering that I’m actually interested in this side of things. I really appreciate that I’ve been given so many opportunities because I can look back on all the skills that I’ve developed and all the new interests that I have discovered.
How has Keypath aided your professional development or growth as a person?
Keypath was my first job out of school. I finished my Masters in August of 2018 and I started here in October, which was the most amazing thing. My first role was as a Student Success Advisor. I was very nervous because this was my first foray into the professional world, but by talking to students every day I was able to step out of my shell and become confident in my role.
A year later, I became a Senior Student Success Advisor. This was a really great opportunity because I got to know the global team better: I got to interact with people in the UK and the US, and I also got to meet so many more advisors, some of whom became my mentors and helped me to grow. They shared advice and perspectives that I had never considered, which really helped me to find my own voice. After about a year of being a Senior SSA, I became a Team Lead, and that’s what I do now.
I’ve been in my current role for a year at this point and I am really enjoying it. I love that each role has its own challenges and has taught me a new skill set. The Senior SSA role let me be creative in coming up with team initiatives, and the Team Lead role has encouraged my organizational skills and allowed me to learn more about the business side of the company. It’s been a really exciting adventure, and it’s helped me to grow in a way that I never thought I would. I’ve been discovering sides of myself that I didn’t know I had and interests that I didn’t know I wanted to pursue.
I have become a lot more confident with each role over the years and more willing to try new things because there are so many people here to catch you if you fall. Even if you do make a mistake, no one is going to hold it against you. Keypath is a very safe and supportive space for growth and development.
How does your role help our students succeed?
I work with a lot of students who have familial obligations, and a lot of students who have started their careers but want to make a change. These students are balancing work and family with school, so we’re their cheerleaders. I would say it’s one of the most important things we do. Our Undergraduate Students are often looking at between five and eight years to complete their undergraduate program. Even for Graduate Students, a Masters degree will typically take over two years to complete. It’s easy for students to become disheartened after one or two classes and feel like they’re still going to be studying for a long time.
I hear this all the time from Undergraduate Students: “I’ve been here two years. I don’t feel like I’m making any progress. I’m not even at my halfway point. What do I do?” And we are here to encourage them, cheer them on, remind them of the goal, and put things into perspective. They might not be getting much support otherwise, so it’s really important for students to know that there is someone in their corner. We can also provide resources that the student might not know about to help them to be successful.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Keypath?
Definitely the people. The people here have been so amazing. I’ve had so many mentors, even from different departments and different roles, who have taught me so much. And my team members have become friends. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I still got to talk to my team every day, and I’ve seen people have babies and get married. It’s been such a nice, comfortable space to get to know people, and I think it really is the people that make Keypath so great. I love being surrounded by people who really care about me as a person and want to foster my growth. I know they’re invested in me, and I think that’s rare to find. It makes me feel very lucky and grateful.
What would you tell someone who is considering a role at Keypath?
You should apply! We have a Social Committee that plans fun events for us, and we have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that’s committed to making everybody feel safe and welcome. I’m on both committees, and I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in this way. I’m also part of the Global Collaboration Club, and my last global partner was in Australia. The opportunity to be on these committees, and the fact that these committees exist, speaks to how much Keypath cares about us as people.
We also have a lot of fun at Keypath. We play games, we had a foosball tournament, we have costume contests, we went trick-or-treating around at people’s desks one year, we had a lip sync battle, we had a giant Jenga tournament against our CEO (which we lost), just to name a few of my favourite memories. For your mental health, I think it’s important to work at a company where having fun is encouraged and people want to be there. I am very lucky to have found a place at Keypath.