I GOTTA BE ME  …..               

green Post-it note with "who are you?" in big black permanent marker

One of the best pieces of career advice I received as a young woman was from my very first boss. He said, “Peggy, whatever you decide to do in your career, make sure you are having fun”. These words really resonated with me because:

  1. It was the only piece of career advice I had ever received.
  2. I had never ever thought of what a career would look like before that.

I was 18 at the time and was a newly minted CEGEP grad.  I was looking for a job but didn’t quite know what that would look like.   I did, however, have two absolutes. There was no way I wanted a job where I had to wear a uniform so that discounted jobs like: waitress, theatre usher, or amusement ride ticket person!! The other imperative was that I needed a job in which I could be me…….even though I had no clue who ‘me’ was at that age.

Growing up, I remember my Dad as being miserable with his work. In fact, I don’t think I knew anyone who really loved their job….at least in my neck of the woods. Work was always seen as something you did for money. The idea that one could get satisfaction from a job never occurred to me until my boss, who probably wasn’t that much older than me at the time, imparted his sage advice.

As luck would have it – or maybe it wasn’t luck but that’s another blog topic altogether – I landed a job working as a front line person in the Student Services Department of Dawson College in Montreal. That job literally changed my life. For the first time I saw what it looked like to enjoy your work and to meet really interesting people all day long. I was surrounded by people who served as role models. They were people who taught me about different ways of “being” in the world. Plus, I could wear jeans!

Having fun at work became my mantra throughout my career.   It was something I valued. Fun to me meant being authentic, helping people in some meaningful way, and working at a job where there was no dress code…I still hate uniforms! Those career deal breakers led me from a job in human resources, to working at a community college, to a 5 year stint as a chase producer in a television news room, to documentary filmmaking, and now, here I am today, working as a career counselor at UTM. Yup, I’m back to helping students.   When I look back at my career journey, I can connect the dots that make up the theme of my career so far. And I do mean so far. Who knows what’s next?

People often ask me, how did someone who produced documentaries become a career counselor?
It’s really easy: as a producer my job was to establish immediate rapport with on-air guests. I got people to share their stories by making them feel safe, listening to their concerns and asking questions. These were skills that could be easily transferred to Career Counseling except now I don’t have to bother with TV lights and cameras!

Tell me about the connecting dots or themes and patterns in your life.   What are you good at? Who are you?

Peggy Shkuda

Career Counsellor