NIC Alumni Spotlight: business degree gives alumna a new career and lifelong connections

NIC alumna Andrea Smith says her experience at NIC didn’t just change her career – it changed her entire life.

Smith started the business program in 2009 as a mature student. She was looking to move from a job to a career, which would also support her family.

NIC was a great option because Smith didn’t want to uproot her family to move somewhere else. She was able to fulfill her studies while still being close to home.

“I was 33 years old with a family and a home here, so it wasn’t like I could pick up my life and go to Victoria for four years,” said Smith. “NIC offered everything here, and the cost was significantly cheaper as well.”

The structure of the BBA program also helped her transition to school because the laddering of the credentials made it less intimidating, said Smith.

“I wasn’t starting a degree; I was going in to start the program, then the certificate built to the diploma, and the diploma built to the degree,” said Smith. “It was really good to be able to have those stepping stones because I didn’t go in saying I’m getting my four-year degree; I went in going this will give me hirable skills.”

While finishing her final semester at NIC, Smith began her career in public practice as a part-time accounting clerk doing bookkeeping, reconciling clients’ financial records, and preparing Notice to Reader files at Deborah A. Ewart Inc. in Campbell River.

Over the years, her success led to secure full-time position at the public accounting firm of Deborah A. Ewart Inc.  In January 2019, Smith and Ewart formed a partnership and rebranded the firm as Pier CPA Group Inc.

Having found such success from her time at NIC, Smith is committed to paying that forward to the next generation of students through offering co-op and work experience opportunities.

“The support I received through NIC, both in class and through work experience, was invaluable to developing my skills and preparing me to go out into the workforce. I think it’s great that I can help other students do the same,” noted Smith.

Smith says she left NIC, not just with the hireable skills she was looking for, but with lifelong connections to her fellow students, faculty and the broader business community. 

“I still keep in touch with several close friends that I met during college. We still support each other,” said Smith. “NIC has given me lifelong friendships, as well as a lifelong career.”