Vance Gillis – Champlain’s New Montreal Student Life Manager

Just like in Burlington, Student Engagement is very important. In Montreal, Student Life Managers organize events for students on campus and are also responsible for taking the students to all of the Game Studio Visits. They are also responsible for helping students navigate the semester both inside and outside of class.

Vance Gillis just joined Champlain College last August as the new Montreal Student Life Manager. The students currently studying abroad in Montreal have enjoyed and appreciated him and his help a lot. Vance has also organized events other than Game Studio visits including a visit to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a Dim Sum Lunch, and a Boat Tour. Vance has helped them see more of Montreal through these activities.

We wanted to know more about Vance, why he decided to become a Student Life Manager, and what kind of work he did before joining Champlain. Here is what he had to say:

What made you decide to become a Student Life Manager?

“There are a few things that made me want this job. I mainly wanted to continue my education work which I am passionate about. I wanted to get closer to the video games industry, and I was interested in the fact that the students coming to Montreal are students who are aspiring to work in the games industry. Besides that, I like Champlain’s practices, the size of the program, and the fact that it was a study abroad program I would be facilitating.”

What kind of work did you do before joining Champlain?

“I’ve done all sorts of work! I have had lots of jobs in multiple industries. I’ve worked in corporate financial institutions, team and project management, education, drama, and arts for theater companies. I’ve run programs and taught classes at some of these companies. I even helped to revive a company that closed during the pandemic. I have enjoyed all of these jobs and I find the fact I was able to bounce around was nice.”

How do you like the job?

“It’s great! I like working for Champlain, working with passionate students, and the structure of the school. I am always here to support the students and another perk of the job is getting to operate all the fun stuff!”

What do you think about your first group of students (us)?

“You guys are great! You all were different than expected because I thought you were first years because that never came up in the initial interview. I was able to get some insight into what the groups are like because I have friends who have done this job before.”

Are you excited for next semester and for the future of the job?

“As much as I enjoyed this semester, I am excited for next semester. It’s going to be very different because of the Ubisoft competition and the weather, which is why this semester lots of outdoor stuff was done earlier, but I am excited to see what the students work on. Going forward, the summer program intrigues me so I am very excited for that. It makes me very happy since it’s a film program and I actually attended film school. Due to the workload towards the end. Next semester, we are going to load up game studio visits at the beginning of semester so that students can have more time to focus on their finals.”

What is your favorite part about Montreal?

“I find the size of the city to be nice. It’s a big city but it never felt too small and anonymous. You don’t always run into the same people and it’s very easy to get around with only 30 minute bike and metro rides to everything. Nothing is too far and I would like for Montreal to maintain this population without too many high rise buildings.”

What are some obstacles you have faced in this job and/or adjusting to Champlain?

“Starting too soon before orientation was definitely hard. I had to quickly catch up and learn the values of Champlain and think about what orientation would be. PM had left so I didn’t have the previous Student Life Manager to train me. Throughout the first month, I was getting my bearings together and I saw the job as a big puzzle in terms of figuring out what I could do on the job. However, I was relieved that the students were serious about work and that they were not first years.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“It was nice to get to meet the Burlington people and it also feels nice to be part of a bigger organization. Even though we are a smaller, satellite campus in Montreal, I’ll put it this way: ‘We are Champlain but we have our identity.’”

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