Why an Undergrad Degree is a Map, Not Directions.

Post originally published on the Medium.

In March 2009, one month before I would write my final undergrad exam my professor asked our class of 25 would-be graduates if any of us had a job lined up. I slowly raised my hand and said I had accepted a contract to work as a student recruiter for the university. My professor looked back at me like I had three eyes.

A student recruiter?

That wasn’t what our world-class program meant to inspire. The Sports Administration program creates graduates that run professional sports teams, lead marketing for fortune 100 companies, or other world class sports professionals.

Now, what he didn’t know, was that I had also been offered a job at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. MLSE was, and is, the pinnacle of the sports industry for many of the grads in my class.

At the time, I had no idea that decision would shape the next 10 years of my career working in post-secondary education. In that moment, I wasn’t exactly sure I was making the right move. It felt right to work for an organization that went above and beyond to give me the best experience possible. It felt right to give something back.

After being fortunate to work for Laurentian University, my alma mater, for five years in a variety of capacities, I set out to fulfil my original designs of taking over the world. I joined a well recognized digital agency that had a focus in PSE but allowed me to spread my wings to other industries. It was a perfect fit.

Since then, we’ve grown the business tremendously, nearly doubling revenue in just two years. Working with excellent clients and executing the type of creative projects I had dreamed of. However, after all the long nights, forfeited weekends and holidays, I just didn’t feel like I was living up to the expectations that I had set up for myself at the beginning of my undergrad. Then, my most important realization came.

My professors didn’t expect me to run MLSE, they expected me to find my passion and enjoy my work. They wanted me to be able to live my dream after four years of education.

Now, seven years later, I’m so lucky to have raised my hand in that class. The real reason I was in the program was to be pushed to my limits, to understand what I loved, what I loathed, and allow me to choose a path that was the best fit. Not necessarily choosing the path that was set before me, but choosing the one that made me want to get up in the morning and dedicate my day towards it.

I understand now that my undergrad experience was about learning how to choose which path to take, how to read the map, rather than following someone else’s directions.



About JP Rains

JP works with clients in Education, Sport, Politics and Industry. In his day job, he is the Director of Digital Strategy at Laurentian University and teaches as a lecturer in the School of Sports Administration, within the Faculty of Management.

JP is also an associate of Fraser Torosay Inc. a strategic communications company. Prior to that, JP was the Vice-President at Soshal, a digital marketing agency, where his primary function was to lead the development of solutions for clients (building websites, strategic marketing, social media and digital marketing).

Educated in the field of business, he earned his Masters in Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce, specialized in Sports Administration at Laurentian University. JP is the chair of the board for the Post Secondary Education Web Conference of Canada, a board member with the Laurentian University Alumni Association, the president of the SPAD Alumni Chapter, the co-chair of the Golf Marathon For Hope and is a winner of Sudbury's Top 40 under 40.

Visit his website at jprains.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *