Career Choices – Expanding Your Horizons

As a student at Mount Royal College completing the last year of my Psychology degree at Athabasca University, I recently attended an AU workshop called “Career as a Process and Not an Event.” Organized by Anita Spence, our Academic Advisor, and facilitated by Shannon Yates, a tutor in AU’s Centre for Psychology, this workshop left me feeling inspired and positive.

One of the things we learned was to look at the future differently and to approach certain questions in a different manner. The question shouldn’t be “What can I do with a BA in . . . ?”, but “What questions would I like my education to answer?” Jobs are created to solve problems. Keeping this in mind opens up your options and doesn’t limit you to one or two career choices. We need to be flexible and understand that there is not one perfect job for us, but many jobs.

When answering the second question, we have to look at ourselves not only from an education point of view but also to look at our own personal skills, our values, beliefs, interests, and background and see how that whole package can suit a specific career choice.

Life is all about making decisions and when an opportunity comes up, perhaps in a career choice, how do we deal with that? Five skills that I found very beneficial to recognizing, creating, and using “chance opportunities” (according to our facilitator) were:

1) Curiosity–exploring new learning

2) Persistence–exerting effort despite setbacks

3) Flexibility–changing attitudes and circumstances

4) Optimism–believing anything is possible

5) Risk-taking–taking action in the face of uncertainty

A great exercise that we did at the workshop was this: in a group of people, each person took a turn and spoke about an experience. While the person was speaking, other group members wrote down qualities about that person, such as
“patient” or “spiritual.” After the person finished speaking about his or her experience, members in the group read out the qualities or characteristics they felt or thought this person had.

I recommend this exercise; it can help the speaker to see themselves in a different light or to reassure themselves about certain qualities they possess and what they are good at. An understanding of these personal qualities can help a person decide what kind of career path they would like to pursue. After listening to what my group members had to say, I realized even more which kind of career path I should take.

I’m glad I attended this workshop, and recommend it for future or present students. It’s always better to approach a question from a positive point of view and to avoid limiting yourself in career options–or in anything, really. This workshop was very personal for me and helped me see who I really am. By first understanding who you are, and then combining that knowledge with your education, the variety of possibilities in a career is endless.