If there is someone who I admire for having the courage to change his career path it is Simu Liu, a young man who studied finance and accounting at the University of Western Ontario but who had the balls to follow his dream to turn to acting. First starring in the tv show Kim’s Convenience, Liu is making his mark by joining the Marvel Universe as its first Asian super hero Shang-Chi.
But Liu is not the first in my list of actors to make a transition from one profession to another. Actor Pam Grier (Coffy, Jackie Brown) was another super woman who before doing action films was doing pre-med in college.
I am going to preface this post with this – I did not understand everything Malcolm Gladwell said.
But the one thing that came to my mind is this: when it comes to choosing a career, I would argue that many of my generation were impoverished. You either were expected to go to university (college was for chumps) or you expected to work as a foreman for your dad once you finished high schools (if you were a boy, that is. Girls from immigrant homes were supposed to get married and have babies).
If you did humanities in university, as I did, there really was no direction as to what you were going to do next. Teaching or academics were the common path, followed by writing. But I finished university during the Harris era were options were few. You took a job and that was it. And there was no guidance as to job options, hence the preponderance of “artsies” taking office jobs.
I waited until I was 51 to take a different path. I do understand one thing Malcolm was saying: I’m going to have to put in many hours of study if I came going to succeed.
I have to remind myself that it is Covid in 2021 and not 1989 ( when I a 1st year at the University of Toronto). And I recognize the need to build one’s network. Still I relieved when I was able to figure out how to turn off the the chat PING and focus on the presentations to be had.
I am determined not to make the mistake I made in my university days: ignoring the resources that my ancillary fees were paying for, especially dental! Beyond that is the reminder that the faculty and the staff are there to help me get through the program in the first place!
That being said I know that I will make mistakes whilst in the midst of my studies. Still I look forward to the journey.
I must admit, I don’t read all my emails but occasionally I get a supposed junk email that catches my eye.
YouTube Creator sent me one that made me say “Hmm”. It was an interview: Building Community on YouTube | Amplify Voices featuring Tiffany Rothe (TiffanyRotheWorkouts). That it was focused on a Black female YouTube Creator was important as we don’t get to see Black women as entrepreneurs as I would like. And we particularly don’t get to see Black women getting instruction on the media tools that are out there (of course, we could learn from Black Creators who are taking TikTok to task.)
Fitness instructor Tiffany Rothe has a clear approach to success: having a goal, a purpose and a plan. You all know my current goal to be a Career Development Practitioner/Consultant. I purpose is to provide career direction to those who are feeling lost in this Covid era. In truth, I was feeling lost myself which is why I took to this path.
My plan? Well there is the completion of my CDP program at George Brown College. After that? I have some ideas – who knows?
Isaac Serwanga directed his Ted Talk to young students but this mature student took what he said to heart.
Of the three bone of Networking that Serwange speaks of – wish bone, jaw bone and backbone – it was backbone that stuck with me the most. By backbone, he means persistence.
Yesterday, my friend Rob took me to a party. I had a lovely time as I had not seen some of the people in years. But I realised something – I had this huge network that I really did not know. I knew them in the context of the club we were a part of but not personally. This is something that I mean to change.
When I told them that I was going back to school to do a certificate in career development, I got support, mainly because I was able to articulate the wish bone. That is, I was able to tell my friends what I planned to do. Finally I was able to use my jaw bone* show competency and humility – I knew what I wanted to do with my new career and how I was going to help others.
But again my backbone will be everything. I will persist in my networking, particularly with those people who are right in front of me on my Facebook and LinkedIn friends who may be more supportive of me.
*I must admit, I am not as clear on the jaw bone analogy.
There was a time when young women wanted to be the next Oprah Winfrey creating their own media empire. I am sure that there are women – and men – who still do. But I have come to admire someone else: Janelle Monáe.
Afro-futurist singer, performer, lead of Wondaland Productions and actor, Monáe never ceases to impress me. She is a talent and a brand that has remained consistent. As I develop my networks and my own brand, Monáe will continue to be a guide for me.
Hidden Figures is a favourite film of mine. I am not computer savvy in that I can’t code but I can “talk code” to a programmer when I need to. When it comes to databases, I can usually figure out where the bug is at.
Once thing that bothers me is that it so hard to access certain programs (Raiser’s Edge, Salesforce) without learning it on the job – and you have to have the job first. Still, thank goodness for YouTube. I have picked up many skills from the myriad of videos.
There are other ways to access computer skills for free. In Toronto, there is Times Change where women can learn MS Office skills and SAGE (for accounting) amongst other things. There are other job programs where one can garner skills like YES (for youth) and WESP (for those with disabilities).
While my course at George Brown College does not start until September, I am taking charge of my learning now.
Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper are career development consultants who founded Amazing If. Their take is that careers should not go up a ladder – that is too limiting. Instead they opt for what they call a “squiggly” approach.
I would argue that my career so far has been neither up a ladder or “squiggly”. Instead it has been flatlined – my day jobs have long been administrative and safe, working for libraries, government and schools. They never reflected my real life, be they consulting, public speaking, media presenting, and facilitating workshops – all opportunities to teach and reach people.
Who knows? Eventually Tupper and Ellis may have a place for me. Or better yet, I will create a place for myself.
Friends of mine know that I have been searching for permanent j-o-b. Covid has been an issue, of course, but the truth of the matter is that I have been looking for work in an area that I have never been passionate about.
I investigated film and television but after some months I realized that was not the way I wanted to go. Journalism has also been a dead end for me. My time in admissions (15 years!) was only palatable because much of it was spent working with families helping them meet the needs of their children. That part I LOVED. Years earlier, when I worked in libraries (12 years!) , I was able to help the public find the information they needed. Helping people help themselves is where I want to go. (and yes, I investigated social work or community work but that is not my path).
So come this fall I am heading back to George Brown College to get my certificate as a Career Development Practitioner. For me, this is an opportunity to help people – my goal is help young people and middle aged people find work, particularly those who have been forced out of the arts. Further, I want a career where I have autonomy and have my own clients.
So like my career path, my blog – and my website – is going to change in focus. I will no longer be posting on Black history. I have other friends who are doing that. Instead, I will continue to post on issues around the BIPOC communities, women, LGBTQ2S+ but I want to focus career and business options (as well as scholarships and co-op opportunities).
I will also post videos of interest to me. Here is a Ted Talk that caught my eye: