Hi, I’m Ruth
“You’ve been a wonderful help and inspiration to me and I truly appreciate all the time you have taken to aid me in my search . . . or is it a quest? Having met and spoken with you has helped me make this a positive and even “fun” experience.”
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 this through my own personal and professional experience:
the path from education to work is neither direct, nor easy
Why? 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.
Having a great education builds knowledge and skills, but not necessarily in ways that lead to a job offer. I was well educated, and in my 30s 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.
putting your best foot forward
I experienced firsthand the challenges young adults face transitioning between education and work when I began working in career services with undergraduate, graduate and PhD students at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.
Passionate about solving some of the world’s biggest problems, they struggled to put their best foot forward for competitive summer and full-time job competitions. We’d work together diligently to clarify their goals, refocus their resume and cover letter, and practice confidence before the interview. Oh the sweet taste of victory when they landed the job!
co-op education – two sides of the career puzzle
That led me to work in co-op education at the University of Toronto Scarborough, serving co-op students across all arts and sciences disciplines. My team and I supported hundreds of students annually to land co-op placements that gave them a taste of the real world and a test of their potential.
It was fascinating to visit them in a range of entry level roles – from research scientists at hospitals and pharmaceutical organizations to policy assistants in government to communication specialists and software developers in high tech. In the short 2 months they had been in their co-op placement, they had literally transformed – from nervous often uncertain student to eager, competent adults excited about their future. Rapid learners, they won the hearts of employers with their creativity and questioning attitude, proving to employers yet again the value of hiring co-op students.
There was no doubt in mind that gaining experience in one’s field of study enhanced a young person’s sense of self and future potential. And that experience in turn improved the value of their education once they were back in the classroom.
career services – in the presence of greatness
I went on to work in career services, supporting students across a rapidly growing campus. In addition to supporting their summer job searches and search for work after graduation, I spent countless hours with students seeking a way out of their current education program or into a different one. Or they were planning their next big education move – to graduate or professional studies where the competition is intense and the application demands onerous.
Whether supporting their career planning, their application to graduate school, their job search, or their interview prep, I often found myself saying “I feel like I’m in the presence of greatness.” So much raw potential in every student I met. It was always a privilege to hear their career stories and help them put their best foot forward.
change the relationship between education and work
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.
I also coach a limited number of clients at any time to support their major transitions: from high school to university or college, from undergraduate to graduate, studies to the workplace or from the workplace back to university or college.
MY YOGA STORY
I have been a student of yoga and mindfulness sporadically since my 20s. Although my interest endured over many years, the long stretches of time in between bursts of enthusiasm indicate that my ability to build a disciplined practice was somewhat less robust – though perhaps understandable given a crazy demanding professional life! I therefore understand from my own experience how challenging it can be to build in a regular yoga routine while managing work and family commitments, regardless of passion, interest or need.
In the mid-90s, I took up mindfulness meditation more actively, participating in several Vipasana weekend retreats that gave me a better foundation to support my home practice. Though my “sitting in stillness” continued to be somewhat sporadic, I came to understand that “mindfulness” wasn’t just something you did on the mat, but something you could bring into your everyday existence, moment to moment.
I began yoga teacher training in 2009 to complement CycleFit classes that I instructed at the University of Toronto Scarborough, then taught brief yoga stretching routines following cycling classes for a few years. During the decade from 2010 to present, I engaged more actively in mindfulness and yoga, both professionally and personally. I supported the creation and delivery of a strengths-based resilience program for young adults that incorporates mindfulness. I also completed through the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto a 6-course Certificate in Foundations of Applied Mindfulness Meditation. I’m currently working on the next level of this certification program. For the last 2 years since taking early retirement from the university, I’ve had an active yoga practice. I’m also nearing the end of a 200-hour classical yoga teacher training certification.
Professionally, I have many years’ experience in business consulting as well as teaching and coaching university aged students on their education and career decisions.
Among other educational pursuits, I completed a Master of Education (2012) at the University of Toronto to improve my ability to counsel and coach clients as well as develop quality educational programming. As a result, the strengths I bring to my yoga teaching are first and foremost from the perspective of an educator and coach. This means that I take my lead from clients who set personal learning goals and clarify their unique coaching needs. I then work with them in partnership to achieve their goals and meet their needs.
- 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Classical Yoga (completed November 2020) through MOVE by Tracey McDonald
- Certificate in Foundations of Applied Mindfulness Meditation, School of Social Work/Continuing Education, University of Toronto
- 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