Hello Everyone! I’m Ruth
Career Counsellor, Education Consultant, Employment Coach
If higher education were a stock, it would be the darling of Wall Street.
Brandon Busteed on the convincing and confusing value of higher education – Forbes Article 2019
I agree with Mr. Busteed, cautiously. He provides some convincing arguments for why higher education is a great investment.
I must admit, I’m biased toward the notion that no education is wasted. And while it’s clear to me that pursuing higher education is worth your time and money, I also know through my own personal and professional experience that:
The path from education to work is neither direct, nor easy.
Why? First, the world of work is changing at a dramatic pace. In this crazy gig economy, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over a huge number of tasks that can be automated, more education alone does not guarantee ultimate work success.
Second, having a great education builds knowledge and skills, but not necessarily in ways that lead to a job offer. In my own case, I had completed two degrees before I discovered how to both recognize and land a great job. That came from working at an Executive Recruitment boutique and gaining the inside scoop on how employers make their hiring decisions.
Third, though support for our transitions abounds, we don’t always discover this until it’s too late. For example, despite two university degrees under my belt, I didn’t realize the power of the Career Centre until years later when I worked in one of Canada’s finest. I missed a terrific early opportunity to put my best self forward and transition successfully from education to work.
In May 2018, I retired after 18 years working at the University of Toronto, where I helped thousands of students explore the next step on their career journey. My goal in this blog is to research the changing relationship between education and work and explore tensions young people face in navigating their education and work decisions. I’m keen to generate dialogue among students and early career adventurers, their parents and loved ones, educators and career supporters. I hope to offer readers insight and inspiration.
- 18 years at the University of Toronto (U of T) working in co-op education, academic and career coaching, counselling and training
- 3 years at York University career coaching undergrads, grads and doctoral students in the Faculty of Environmental Studies
- 7 years at Deloitte in Human Resources Consulting, focusing on executive, managerial and professional search, performance management and compensation
- 5 years’ experience creating, testing and refining strengths-based resilience and mental wellness programs for young adults
- Extensive program and resource development experience from 20 years in consulting, co-op education and career centre environments serving education and work transition needs of young adults
- Between the ages of 12 and 25, worked in over 30 crappy jobs until I figured out how to get a real job
- Most unusual jobs: Flat Work Operator at the Banff Springs Hotel and Bicycle Tour Guide with Butterfield & Robinson (B&R) in France
- Master in Education, Career & Work Counselling focus, University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
- Master in Environmental Studies, Quality of Work Life focus, York University
- Honours Bachelor of Arts, French Linguistics, Laval University
My Favourite Vocational Assessment Tools
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator
- Strong Interest Inventory
- VIA Signature Character Strengths
My Approach: 4 Simple Steps
After a 15-minute free consultation, I send you a brief proposal that sets out a service agreement, timing and budget. If you sign an agreement and submit a 50-percent deposit on the full budget, we start working together.
The Service Agreement covers:
- Focus of service - education or work transition
- Type of service - coaching, writing support, presentation support, resource provision
- Expectations - your role, my role
- Number of hours and hourly rate (discounted according to number of hours)
- Timing of service (in relation to goals and deadlines)
- Limits of service
In our first meeting together, we need to get to know each other so that I can best support you in making your education or work transition.
The Foundation meeting grounds us both, by:
- Allowing us to share how we prefer to work
- Assessing how ready, willing and able you are to meet your transition goal(s) and I am to help you
- Gathering information about you that supports your transition. This might include:
- Grades and test scores
- Relevant past and present experiences
- Stories that feature your strengths, values, personality, interests and goals
- Formal assessments if desired (additional fee for cost recovery) including Strong Interest Inventory, Myers Briggs Type Inventory, MSCEIT and EQi, VIA Character Strengths
- Establishing realistic goals that target education, work, financial, lifestyle and geographic preferences
Sometimes clients know exactly where they want to target their application efforts be it for education or work transitions. In which case, we can skip this step and go right to engagement.
On the other end of the spectrum are clients who are at the beginning of their transition journey or uncertain of their next steps. They therefore need time and support to research their options.
The main goal of Exploration is to build a long list of education or work options, clarifying for each option:
- Degree of competitiveness
- Eligibility to apply given existing grades, scores, courses, related experience
- Application timing, process and requirements
- Networking considerations
Engagement is all about skill building in relation to two typical application hurdles - presenting in writing and presenting in person.
Presenting in Writing
As a general rule, applications for education or work require some form of written submission. To achieve a quality submission, we engage in three important skill-building tasks:
- Reviewing/critiquing your draft documents related to your specific transition.
- Working together to strengthen your writing, focusing on audience, purpose, structure and relevant details.
- Enhancing format and layout; correcting for grammar and spelling.
Depending on whether clients are making an education or work transition, examples of documents include:
|Personal statement or essay||Letters (or emails) of introduction|
|Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)||Resume or CV|
|Online profile||LinkedIn profile|
|Writing samples||Slidedeck for presentation|
|Letter for special consideration||Business proposal|
Presenting in Person
Some applications for education and most applications for work require an in-person interview and/or presentation component. Advanced preparation and rehearsal help you focus your "pitch", cultivate relationships with your audience and manage inevitable performance anxiety.
The process of preparation and rehearsal with me typically includes:
- Clarifying your audience of your upcoming in-person event - i.e., 1-1 or group interview, presentation, networking event
- Clarifying the anticipated style of inquiry/interaction of your event - i.e., formal or informal, single meeting or full day, backgrounds of people you'll interact with
- Reviewing resources to prepare and rehearse
- Engaging in practice interview(s), presentation(s) or networking scenario(s) to identify strengths and weaknesses
- Conducting focused self assessment
- Receiving focused evaluation, insight on mannerisms, and corrective strategies