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my career exploration story 2

After confirming my extern placement, I made my first informational interview with the instructor (Liz) who is in charge of the “Extern Job Shadowing” program. I just wanted to get some information and suggestions for my own exploration, and did not know many skills to do such interviews. (I did not even know what “informational interview” means before the orientation event!) The reason why I wanted to do such interview with her is that I happened to know she was also a graduate student doing her M.Ed. in OISE two years ago, so I thought she might give me more helpful advice on my career exploration. “She must know some great career directions in education area”, I thought. I sent her an email asking if she would like to do the informational interview with me. A couple days later, she said yes to it and we decided to meet up in the following week.

Liz has very colorful work and study experience which is very different from many other professionals. Liz worked in a research lab for a couple of months after finishing her undergraduate study. Then, tired of research job, she moved to France and taught English there, which left a great influence on her career choice in the future. Two years later, she changed her role from the teaching to management, and decided to move back to Canada to do the HR job in a language school. At the same time, she entered a college to learn some professional knowledge in HR field. This time, Liz did not changed her job quickly; instead, she stayed in the company for years, and became a HR manager later. “You know, the money was pretty great”, She said. However, the decent pay did not give Liz great satisfaction years later, and she started to recall the happy memories of teaching and working with students. She realized that she wanted, and still want to work with students. But she hesitated for a long time. “It is hard to just give up a stable and high-paid job like this easily”. Anyway, Liz quitted her job finally, and began to study in OISE as a graduate student. After deliberate consideration, she chose the higher education area and decided to work in the university after graduation. “Then, I started to build my networking on-campus, doing informational interviews here and there.” She indicated that the informational interviews are not only for building the career network, but also for matching herself to the right part of the university. “UT is a huge university, you know. I have to find the right place that suit me the best.” Finally, Liz landed herself to the job in the student service.

When asked what things she thought are important in career exploration, she emphasized the importance of early preparation. “Start as early as you can! Start informational interviews as early as you can! Start networking as early as you can! And start job hunting as early as you can!” She pointed out that it is a misunderstanding that you should focus your academic stuff only and should not start the exploration until the last year of your study. “Career exploration usually takes more time than you expect.” She also recommended informational interview database of the university to me, which widened my thoughts in career choice later.

This interview means a lot to me, because it provided me a new direction which I had never thought about before: non-academic jobs in the higher education field. Since then, I started my exploration in this brand new field. Besides, I started to realize that it is almost impossible to land to the ideal job at once. On the contrary, finding the answer to the question of “what job do you really want” is not a one-time effort. The answer might be different along with changes in our minds; it might become blurred again after working in a position that we are not satisfied with. Perhaps, a real career exploration is a life-long journey.
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