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For those who are not aware of this, I work for CERIC, the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, a Canadian charitable organization whose role is to support and enhance the work of career service professionals in Canada. It is for this reason, as I turn 5 years in my current role, I have learned a …   Read More

For those who are not aware of this, I work for CERIC, the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, a Canadian charitable organization whose role is to support and enhance the work of career service professionals in Canada. It is for this reason, as I turn 5 years in my current role, I have learned a thing or two about the meaning of careers. Of course, I am not going to try to convince you that I know nearly as much as a career service professional, but mainly having turned 5 years at my current job, and since I am still relatively fresh in my career path, I wanted to share a few things regarding my career journey.

What is a career?

Crossroad in lavender meadow and with tree alone
During our career path, there will be a time or times where we will face a crossroads.

If there is anything I can say I know is that I have a descent grasp of the meaning, first, a career is not a job, this I know well. A career is a combination of your life experiences, education, work experience and I would add, shaped by your personal world view. It can be added that your career ambitions, such as a desired position, can also shape the direction your career takes. For more on this, I would leave my friends in the career service profession to define it, although it is not a clear cut, cookie cutter definition, because each career path is unique. A career path is more like a personal journey.

Education does not define your career path

As valuable as an education is for a career path, it is only but an ingredient in the career formula.

As I mentioned above, education is only but a component of what defines a career thus it may not be sufficient to direct you where you are going to end up. Although there are some educational choices that, if you stay on, can sediment your career path, like medicine and law, perhaps in the majority of the cases, education itself may not immediately determine your career path. I would say that this is so much so the case now, with advent of the technological revolution, the internet is changing the way we do things, whether it would be how we use taxis, how we shop, how we interact with one another. For example, in the field of marketing and communications, it is enabling the creation of positions never seen before, but which are becoming a necessity, this is the case of jobs like social media manager, online marketing manager, cloud services consultant etc.

Personal preferences

Our personal preferences, big or small, will be guide us to a specific point in our careers.

I get asked the following question by people I mentor: How did you realize what you wanted to do? The answer can be lengthy, but the gist of it is that you actually know what you like early on your life. In my case, I knew I like working with computers since the moment I laid my eyes on one. Computers was a only but a start, but still although broadly, it helped to start to defined it gave me a point of reference upon began a period of discovery. Certainly, there was a lot of wonder about computers, especially once the Internet came along, just over what it allowed me to do. I knew using the internet enabled computers allowed for access to information and people, it brought me the world closer together. I did a lot of exploration, as it is necessary, I tinkered with computer programming, graphic design, web design, interaction design, history of communications, psychology and business studies. I am thankful that my career path began at the advent and wide adoption of the internet, a technology that boomed at around the same time I started my career exploration. The important aspect to sum up from personal preferences is to be aware of what you like and then try to see what out there can nurture this preference.

Life experiences

Our lives experiences will shape us into the individual we are today, consequently so do our choices.

We are all unique individuals, not only because biologically and phenotypically we have our differences, but also because we have a unique personal history or events that have left us an imprint in us. Our life experiences are own, what they left us, whether good or bad, is for us only, it shaped us into the person we are today. Our life experiences will also be a contributor to our career path. We have all heard of: “he or she has an innate ability for…” or “he or she is naturally gifted.” Yes, I believe some people have natural abilities, how? I’m not quite sure, but if I reflect on it for myself. I sense, and have been told, I have a naturally ability over certain things too, how? I can’t explain it, even when it is . The truth is by “life experiences” I mean more about the events in our lives that shaped us. For example, for me, one of the events that shaped me is living in Lima, Peru around the civil war of between the 80s and 90s. What this particular experience did for me is to appreciate the things given to me, of course, not that I am perfect at appreciating things, but definitely when you live in conditions where electricity and water were scarce or at times even non-existent, or where bombs or riots could arise at any given point, that gives you some sense of appreciation of what you now have.

Work experiences

It is important to have a work experience early on, no matter what, it teaches you something valuable.

I have always tried to emphasize the importance of beginning to work at the earliest possible age. By this I don’t mean it in the way many kids around the world have to work to survive whether it would be selling candy on public transit buses, polishing shoes on the streets, becoming a child soldier, working on a sweatshop etc. These are of course things that should not be allowed to happen. What I mean is once you have achieved a level of independence that allows you to hold the responsibility of a paid job, that opportunity should be exercised and continued all the way until you have accomplish a great deal of work experience that puts on a career path. As with education, work experiences should be varied, but as on topic as possible. For example, I started working at a McDonald’s restaurant when I was 17 years old, assuming all the roles in the restaurant until I became a manager. My next job was working as research assistant for the University of Toronto, then as an instructor for the University of Toronto, all throughout having graphic and web development clients, my current stop being at CERIC.

A career path vs. YOUR career path

Often we can be led to a career of our parents’ choice rather than our own.

One of the most important things, I have learned is the difference between YOUR career path versus a career path. What happens often, especially with young undecided minds, is that we can be swayed towards a particular career direction, often this is true with parents, but also mentors, friends or even people we try to copy from. A career path should be made your own, because if it is not it has the potential to lead us to the “I hate my job” situation, this is not a place you want to end up. So, as much as certain people think have an influence on you, you have to grow up and take charge and release yourself from those who want to impose a career on you. What I have heard is how much parents fixate on the concept of financial stability equals a good career. If the emphasis is placed on money, then money you might get, though I am not sure how that will translate for the psyche of those who choose to this. I think it will impact all other important decisions in life, including even who would ultimately become you life partner. I should also not dismiss and acknowledge the very likely possibility that some individuals can learn to love what they do. Although, I think this is possible, and  I have personally witnessed people do this, I think to land on the right spot on knowing YOUR career path will be far more rewarding than learning how to love your career destination.   If there is one issue I think it is important for young people to understand is how important it is to understand some of the concepts I have shared above early on, because if we let the circumstances of life dictate how we assume our career path, then the outcome has the potential of leaving a negative mark, not only or your career, but also on your mental health. We have all, at some point, heard of a friend who hates his or her job. Well, it is not necessarily the job’s fault, it is sometimes the circumstances that led to him or her to the hated job. As someone once said:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Anonymous


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