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Moving to Canada alone at 18, a Ghanaian expat’s impulsive nature is her greatest asset

For many people, impulse has a time and place. You use it sparingly, to add pizazz when things are getting dull. But for 27-year-old communications grad, Princess Akushika Tettey, impulsiveness is a way of life.

In fact, it’s one of the first things she mentions in our phone interview. “The more you get to know about me, the more you realize I just coasted on impulse decisions,” Princess says with a laugh, speaking from a quiet corner of her workplace in Vancouver.

It’s the beginning of her answer to the question: what made you fly halfway across the world, alone, to go to university?

And it’s that same impulsive nature that would lead her to a stable and vibrant life years later.

 

Princess Akushika Tettey, Digital Marketing Pro Grad, Marketing Op Specialist at Softrak Systems moves to Canada

Flying on a whim

Princess left her parents and two brothers behind in Ghana at the age of 18 based on a university brochure she grabbed during a field trip in high school. “It was the only school brochure I picked up,” she says. “Months later when my dad asked where I wanted to go to university, I’m like ‘hey I have this brochure.’” Her dad had always said studying internationally was a good idea. “He wanted me to go to school abroad because it gave me an edge,” Princess adds.

Combine the conveniently placed brochure with the classic youthful craving for independence, and Princess was sold. “I was a teenager in a hurry to leave home,” she tells.

Her chosen field of study—Law—was no less impulsive. It was a whim that stuck when she mused about it to her extended family. “My grandmother said ‘You should definitely be a lawyer, because your grandfather was a lawyer and you should follow in his footsteps,’” Princess recalls.

And so, using a sizeable portion of her middle-class parents’ income, Princess enrolled in university and hopped a plane to Canada.

 

The good with the bad

Once in Canada, Princess’ impulsive decision to venture out alone had its drawbacks. “I realized adulting is hard,” she laughs. Her thirst for independence turned into relief that she still had her parents to turn to for support in some capacity. Phone calls with Mom and Dad became her lifeline. “If I called and they were sleeping, they’d wake up and talk to me,” she says. “If they called and I was sleeping, I’d wake up to talk to them.”

She also realized that Law was maybe not where she was suited. “It wasn’t the subject matter so much as the people I was with that I didn’t like,” Princess explains. “They’re all there to become lawyers. If I’m going to spend 8 or 9 years around the same people, I better like them.” Before the first year was up, she switched her major to Communications based on the fact that she had already done a bunch of the courses. “The switch was easiest,” she admits good-naturedly.

At this point in the story, it would certainly seem that Princess was “coasting on impulse decisions”.

 

Princess Akushika Tettey, Digital Marketing Pro Grad, Marketing Op Specialist at Softrak Systems

Searching for stability

After Princess had successfully secured her Communications degree, she was spread thin working three part time jobs. “I worked at a daycare, in film and also remotely managed the social media profiles of various musicians based in Ghana,” she explains. She enjoyed the work, but didn’t feel satisfied. “I wasn’t really comfortable juggling all these different schedules.”

“My dad always reiterates—he just wants me to be stable, secure and happy.”


Despite the fact her parents used a small fortune to send her abroad for school, Princess had never felt too much pressure to achieve grand things in life. “My dad always reiterates—he just wants me to be stable, secure and happy,” Princess recites in a way that belies how often she’s heard the words.

And stability was something she sorely needed now, for the sake of her career and her immigration status. “I knew I needed to focus on just one thing,” she says. “Especially because, being international, I had to start working full time for a year to get permanent residency.”

But any attempts to find full time work in the Communications field just underlined a glaring deficiency on her resume: technical experience. “Most full time jobs would say ‘Must have experience with Google AdWords or Analytics or SEO’,” Princess says. “And I was like ‘What is this? They didn’t teach me this in my communications degree.’”

It was almost time for her impulsive nature to reemerge and save the day.

 

Princess Akushika Tettey, Digital Marketing Pro Grad, Marketing Op Specialist at Softrak Systems at RED Academy

Like an old friend

It was one particularly curious day that Princess began looking into ways to gain the technical marketing skills she lacked. She stumbled upon Vancouver’s RED Academy. “I just did a checklist between the course syllabus and the requirements for a couple of job postings, and it crossed off all those checks.” Such a simple exercise was all it took to activate Princess’ impulse. She signed up for the Full-Time Digital Marketing Professional program right there, two weeks before it started. “I wanted to get right into it,” Princess says.

The feeling of diving suddenly into a new world was like an old friend. “I went in prepared for a 9 to 9 schedule. Those were intense days,” she remembers. “I was ready to put a huge amount of energy into it, so I was very glad it required that from me.”

As Princess collected the technical knowledge she needed to land a communications job, she also built up a new support network. “Everyone was super helpful. The Instructors, the staff, even my fellow students,” she says. “It felt like we were all in this together.” The program’s intensity and small class size was a breeding ground for lifelong friendship to form. “I found one of my best friends there,” Princess points out, adding—“She’s leaving tonight on a work trip for a few months and I’m lending her my suitcase. That tells you how close we are.”

 

Princess Akushika Tettey, Digital Marketing Pro Grad, Marketing Op Specialist at Softrak Systems at RED Academy - in Olympic Village

Stable, secure, happy

After her whirlwind at RED, Princess found the world of job searching completely opened up to her. There were the Personal Professional Development seminars and career consultations that helped decode the resume and cover letter-writing process. But Princess also made some key connections. “My time at RED exposed me to people in the tech industry who were willing to guide me through the whole job search process,” she says.

Now, two years post-RED, Princess works as a Marketing Operations Specialist at Softrak Systems in Vancouver’s beautiful Olympic Village. “I ride my bike along the seawall to get to work everyday,” she says. “In my spare time I kind of do what’s presented to me at any point in time. I could go to a concert or a festival. Tomorrow I’m going to have a half day and go to the beach with friends.”

The job insecurity is gone, and a stable immigration status is just around the corner. “I’ve cleared every single hoop that they’ve presented for permanent residency, now it’s just a matter of months,” Princess says positively.

“I feel good because I know I’m not stagnant. I feel myself growing and changing constantly. Learning new things, meeting new people, having new opportunities presented to me.”

And most importantly, she’s happy. “I feel good about where I am in life, I feel good about the journey that I’ve taken to get here,” she affirms. “I feel good because I know I’m not stagnant. I feel myself growing and changing constantly. Learning new things, meeting new people, having new opportunities presented to me.”

Even while Princess has unlocked that stable, secure and happy life her dad wished for her, she knows there’s still room for impulsiveness in her future. “I actually see the value that being in this position is giving me in my career,” Princess begins, “and if 5 years from now I feel like I’ve outgrown this position and I’m ready to move on, I can do so with confidence.”

Written by Carly Walde

 

If you are interested in finding out how RED Academy can help you make a change in your life like Princess – speak to one of our career advisors today.

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