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Nils Vik Environmental Design Alumni

Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?

I am the owner of a specialty coffee shop in the heart of Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District which opened in 2011. Fast forward 5 years––I extended the insights and experiences I learned through operating Parlour Coffee to help open a second café, Little Sister Coffee Maker, and begin operating a wholesale roasting operation called Dogwood Coffee Canada Ltd. I am in charge of general oversight of these businesses and take on special projects to push them forward but also to help carve a unique niche.

The most rewarding experience of operating my own business is creating and fostering new relationships. The greatest challenge within this profession is maintaining a particular level of quality and attention to detail that I am personally proud of whilst meeting the needs and expectations of clients.

What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?

The experience that introduced me to the idea of opening a café with a particular sense of identity was a studio trip in the final year of my undergraduate studies. I believe that the environmental design program helped foster a passion for thoughtful details and practices. Through this lens, I was able to re-approach my entrepreneurial habits.

As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed? 

I definitely did not see myself being in the coffee business while I was a student––I didn’t even drink coffee until my final year. I thing that changed for me was that I wanted to see my ideas and plans realized rather immediately versus sitting on paper for some time. One thing that didn’t change was my enjoyment of planning and executing minor details.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in Environmental Design?

I would suggest throwing yourself completely into your studies and being open to the outcome. I was never set on having a particular career, but I was interested in soaking in as much information and experience as possible. Also, I would highly discourage ever pulling an “all-nighter”. I always slept, at least a few hours, every night and my studies never suffered.

What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?

If you don’t see the job you want, make your own work. Self starters always win.

Tell us a fun fact about your career path.

I got Samuel L Jackson’s autograph. Other than that, I basically changed careers a few months after receiving the Rado Design Award for the Best New Protoype at IDS11 in Toronto while working for EQ3.

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