The Big Picture

As I sit here contemplating how to begin this first blog post, I find myself reflecting on how I even got to this point. I never set out to start my own business, yet through a series of events, many outside of my control, here I am. My career path has taken me through a teaching degree, stints working as a tutor, supply teacher and adult diploma program teacher, to a Career Development Practitioner certificate, to a job as an employment advisor in a college, to being my own boss. It hasn’t been an easy path by any means, but it is one that I wouldn’t change, because it has led me to this moment. And my journey has given me the very insights that led me to want to start this business in particular.

I confess that when I was in school, I never gave much thought early on to what I might want to do as a career. I was a good student, and figured I would worry about careers when the time came. The thing is, when the time came, I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. I never visited the career centre in university, instead focusing on my heavy workload and trying to get good grades. Thus, I had no idea what I might do upon graduation. After a time, I decided I wanted to go to Teacher’s College, since I always enjoyed school and public speaking and figured the job would be a good fit (probably because various people told me I would make a good teacher). At first, everything was fine, but the job market was much tougher than I thought it would be, and my teaching career never really took off the way I hoped it would. When I made the difficult decision to leave the field, I didn’t know where else I could apply my skills. Luckily, I was referred to a career exploration program, and this helped me to see that employment coaching would be a good fit. I enjoyed the work, but never really found my niche. Little did I know though, that through all of these career ups and downs, my real purpose in life was starting to emerge.

The common thread that ran through all of this work was that students didn’t seem to have any idea where they were headed or what they wanted to do once school was finished. Even the ones in college had only a vague notion of what kind of career they might get with their diploma. I wondered how they could be this far in school, and yet be so uninformed about their options. It occurred to me they should have started considering their futures long ago, much as I should have when I was in school. Perhaps then my path wouldn’t have been so hard.

According to a report by People for Education, an organization supporting public education in Ontario, the current state of career education in our province’s secondary schools is less than ideal, although there are plans to try and improve this. Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 are supposed to have learning portfolios, and career and life-planning committees are supposed to be established in every school. Also, teachers are supposed to receive professional development to help them integrate career and life planning in the classroom. The problem is that the implementation of all of these initiatives has been challenging, and there just isn’t enough guidance staff in schools to handle the extra work. In fact, 16% of secondary schools don’t have a full-time guidance counsellor, and 1 in 10 schools struggles with a ratio of 600 students to one counsellor. Clearly something must be done to help deliver the earlier career planning intervention that teenagers need.

This brings me to why I have decided to start this business. I realized I could combine my knowledge of teaching and career coaching with my own experiences finding my purpose in life, to help teenagers uncover possibilities for their own futures. I like to think of it as helping them to see the “big picture” of career development – understanding that instead of focusing on a job title as an end game, the key is to see options and possibilities. This fosters flexibility and resilience, two traits that will be key to navigating the future job market. Without these, youth will continue to experience difficulty and uncertainty along their career paths. I want to try and help them minimize that.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope that maybe it will help others in some way, at least to avoid some of the mistakes I have made in my own career. And I hope you will consider contacting me to help you and your teenager to see the big picture.

Cheers!

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