We are excited to welcome back our guest blogger, Esther Gerstel. A former JVS Toronto client who is now training as an Employment and Career Counsellor, Esther already told us, in her first blog post, about beginning her journey back into the workforce, after being at home for 32 years. In this post, she discusses how she began the process of making a new career decision.
Welcome back! If you recall, last time I left off with an invitation to join me on my journey to employment, by sitting down and making a list of everything you know how to do. By now, your list should be about a mile long. When you become a ‘professional’ job seeker, we’ll divide the list into what we call hard and soft skills, but for now I’ll just continue the story of my journey.
So now that I know that I have skills that employers are looking for, what’s next? This is the BIG question: what kind of work can I do? Where do my talents lie? What kind of work do I want to do? Do I follow my passions or should I be practical? Do I need to go back to school? Plus a million other questions — I’m sure you could add a few of your own, as well.
As a mother, I call these “What should I be when I grow up?” questions. As a Career and Work Counsellor student, I call them “Who am I?” questions. If I really want to sound professional (snobby – as if I know what I’m talking about), I call it Career Exploration.
Since JVS has actually posted my article on their blog, right now I’m feeling snobby, so I will call my next step – Career Exploration. This step answers the questions of – Who am I? What’s out there? How do I get there? I’m lucky (remind me to talk about “planned happenstance” one day) because I found an amazing career exploration workshop right here at JVS Toronto. The facilitator helped us to explore and discover our skills, personality types, temperaments, passions, and interests – and how to apply this knowledge to choose suitable occupations or careers.
Although nothing beats a JVS Career Exploration workshop (OK, so I’m biased…), there are many other tools you can use for career exploration; books, the internet, self-evaluation tests, private career counselling, and so forth. But the most important step, the key, is thinking through “WHO AM I?” in other words, KNOW THYSELF.
Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. It is far easier to build on your strengths than to compensate for your weaknesses. It’s a lot more pleasant to get up in the morning when you like (love?) your job and it fills one of your core needs – be it social, organizational, educational, etc. – than it is to face going to a job you dread day after day.
So fasten your seat belt for this part of the journey because you will travel deep inside yourself to discover the answers to the question “Who am I?” But take my word for it – it will be well worth the effort!
Esther Gerstel is a full-time student in the George Brown Career and Work Counsellor Program, currently doing her placement at JVS Toronto. She describes herself as having “officially have been unemployed for the last 32 years having stayed at home to raise a family of 7 children and one husband (no dogs!)”, though “unofficially”, she says she has volunteered, helped her husband start, run, and market a family business, networked, counselled and “altogether worn many different hats”. Having completed the Career Exploration workshop at JVS Toronto, she chose to pursue training as a Career and Work Counsellor. We have asked her to contribute her perspective to our blog, as a former client and current student.