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Hey Coach!
I’m a 30-year-old guy and I feel that my career still hasn’t taken off yet. I have a BA and three years of sales and marketing experience at a major Japanese auto manufacturer. Though I always wanted to be a management consultant, I recently decided to forgo that path and stopped preparing for my GMAT because of the cost of an MBA. Scholarships are not freely available to international students – so it’s better to focus on something within my reach.

Now I’m thinking of using my three year auto experience gained outside North America to get a job in the Canadian auto industry. To get there, I’m enrolling in a diploma program in Ontario which is automotive-focused.

Do you think it will look unwise on my CV to go back to diploma level, since I already have a four year business degree? Will the employers think that instead of going for an MBA or other higher degree, I’m going backwards?

My intention is to refresh topics like accounting and get the Canadian automotive perspective by enrolling in that course, and probably get my foot in the door through co-ops.


Do you think this move might help me to get a job in Canadian automotive industry (not aftermarket, or suppliers, but the actual manufacturers) or do you think that only an MBA can help me?

Lastly, do you think this move is ill-timed? I mean, given the current crisis in which all automakers are feeling the credit punch directly. Should I look to other fields which interest me, like human resource management etc.?

Thanks for sending me your question. As you have probably read in the news, this is a grim time for the automobile industry in North America. If you decide to pursue a career in the auto industry (which will eventually recover) then I think obtaining a college diploma is an excellent plan. University degrees are accepted as a standard in the business world but very few universities prepare students for the business world with practical skills. Colleges excel at this.

Take for example my daughter, who is 23. She has a BA from the University of Toronto but she has found it difficult to differentiate herself in the job market. She decided to get a diploma in copywriting from Humber College. The two certifications together will open many doors for her and put her first in line for opportunities. Employers recognize that practical college programs are more geared to business than university degrees, but having both will get you a job faster than just having one.

I don't think it's a step backwards to get a diploma. It depends what you want to explore career-wise. Many companies prefer employees to work their way through the business so they have a feel for every aspect of the way the company works rather than being a single focus expert who can only do one job. I don’t know if this is the best way to get a job within the industry. Why not make a list of questions and call the HR departments of the automakers and see if they will take the time to answer your questions? Your strategy sounds good to me but you may have to vary it from company to company.

If you were looking for a job in the automobile industry right now, I would say it is extremely ill-timed, given inventory problems and lay offs, but if you go to school for a year, things will look a lot different and many of these companies will be looking for fresh talent again.

I hope my perspective helps clarify things for you. Best of luck and keep your sights set on your goals! jp