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NAIT Grad Changes Lives with Computer Skills

Woman sits on desk in front of slideshow on display

By Stephanie Swensrude

Joanne Swensrude sits in her home office sipping chai tea. Her dog rests at her feet and there is a green screen hung behind her.

“Hi, Maria! Hey, Joseph,” she chirps to her computer. Today, Swensrude is hosting an online webinar. Hundreds of people tune in every week to catch Microsoft Office lessons in real-time from the comfort of their cubicles.

Joanne Swensrude has run her own computer training business, Know it Sooner, since 2006. The name came from some of her first clients.

“People would always learn things and then say, ‘wow, I wish I would have known that sooner,’” said Swensrude. “So that is where the name came from.”

In 2006, Swensrude wasn’t quite happy working for someone else. She had three young girls who she missed every day, and most of all, she wanted to be her own boss.

She took the leap and started her own business. This would allow her more flexible hours and more time with her “dollies” as she calls her daughters.

But not every step of the way was easy.

“We have slow periods,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll go almost a month without getting much work, and there’s not much you can do.”

“Being your own boss requires a whole different set of skills. I set my hours, so I have to have the self-discipline to get out of bed and get to work and not get distracted.”

However, Swensrude enjoys a more flexible schedule since expanding her team of teachers and her line of webinars. She hosts live one-hour seminars online. Attendees tune in from the United Kingdom, B.C., and Houston, Texas. And since all she needs is a laptop, she has broadcasted her webinars from Mexico, San Francisco and more.

“That’s probably the best part of my job, that I can do parts of it while travelling,” Swensrude said.

Though most of her clients are from the corporate world, she believes everyone, including NAIT students, could benefit from Microsoft Office training.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” said Swensrude. “Business students will absolutely need Excel in the future. And everyone needs to know how to use Word and PowerPoint, for papers and presentations.”

Swensrude hopes she can be a role model for women looking to start their own business.
“I took my computer skills, my teaching skills and my networking skills and I built a business,” said Swensrude. “It wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did it.”

“And if I can do it, anyone can,” she laughed. “Find what you’re good at and use it.”
You can find out more information about Joanne Swensrude at knowitsooner.com.

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