Friday, August 27, 2010

Can You Choose the Perfect Career?

Many high school and even college students feel the pressure of deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. They may have dreams of a six figure salary and a job they absolutely love, but how do they get there from here?

Once a decision is made many people will find life getting in the way of their career goals; many people start their careers with high aspirations and find that financial or family obligations result in a shift in career focus. Lots of current career development theories (e.g., Happenstance, Chaos) acknowledge the impact of unexpected life events.

I have learned over time, and by trial and error, that circumstances have often dictated my career options. Another career theorist, Linda Gottfredson, acknowledged limits on career opportunities (she called this “circumscription”) and the compromises that people make as they juggle work with their other life roles. My folks believed that if I wanted a university education I would have to fund it myself. As a single mom I found myself having to support a family on very little income. Have I made poor career choices over the years? Absolutely! However I have also had some wonderful career opportunities.

In my musings about my meandering career path I’ve come to understand that it wasn’t reasonable for me to expect the perfect job. It has been about deciding on the most important things in my life and working from that point. For much of my working life my family has been the centre of my life and my jobs had to fit. In fact, my education was completed at a community college in alternating years with having children. I then I ran a home-based business when my children were very young.

Years later, as an Executive Director, I interviewed scores of applicants for a variety of positions. I met a few young people with clear career goals and enough enthusiasm and drive to ensure career success; however, most were like me...doing what it takes to get the job done, whatever that job may be for that particular person. That sounds an awful lot like career success to me! Life Strategies can help you navigate your career path. Call 604-856-2386 for more information.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Building Cultural Competency...Right in Your Own Neighbourhood

Managing diverse workplaces is a hot topic these days. To address skill shortages, we’re increasingly dependent on immigrant workers – and, for the first time ever, we have four distinct generations working within many organizations. Much money and time has been invested in helping organizations to recruit and retain diverse workers – the SEED toolkit that we developed last year is one example of a comprehensive project with that focus. The toolkit is freely available at:
However, a big challenge with embracing diversity is simply that we don’t know what we don’t know. In the Cultural Diversity Yearbook, part of the SEED toolkit, is full of ideas for embracing diversity at work.
The picture I’ve inserted here looks like it might be from one of our trips to Asia, doesn’t it? A beautiful Jade Buddha is being admired by visitors, some of whom have travelled quite a distance to see it. If you could hear the sounds, the major languages are Chinese and Vietnamese – no English. You’d smell incense mingled with Pho, a Vietnamese soup. Many visitors are drinking bubble tea. There are only 4 Caucasian visitors out of several hundred in the plaza – Gerry and I, and two men with their Asian wives and families.

What may surprise you is that this photo is from the corner of our quiet street in the village of Aldergrove, in the middle of farm country just an hour outside of Vancouver. A Buddhist monastery purchased the United Church building and property and, within just one month, converted it to a temple. The
Jade Buddha for Universal Peace is only temporarily on display – if you can get to Aldergrove before Sunday, August 15th, it’s well worth a look!

As I sat at my desk earlier today and looked out my office window, a South Asian woman was standing on her front lawn bowing to the East in the early morning light (different culture and different faith from the Buddhists on the corner). Last weekend, about 8,000 Christian youth attended “Rock the River” just a few kilometres west of here. We took our grand-daughters to the Chilliwack agricultural fair last Friday, too!

Without straying far from home this summer, what cultural events can you attend? Once you’ve explored a bit, consider celebrating the diversity within your own workplace – a cultural potluck can be a wonderful start! The
Cultural Diversity Yearbook, part of the SEED toolkit, is full of ideas for embracing diversity at work.

Interested in learning more about the SEED toolkit and other workplace diversity resources? Join us online for one week beginning September 22 for our Managing Diversity e-course!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is Face-to-Face Learning As Good As Online?

Some of our Life Strategies Ltd. staff recently attended a webinar titled Online Effectiveness: Making Your Case. In this session panellist presented on how to structure and market online programs, with a lot of the discussion centred around getting students and faculty to buy-in to the value of online learning. It seems that providers of online education, such as us, constantly have to make a case for the quality and rigor of online programs.

One of the panellists suggested that we may need to reverse our thinking about online learning to consider if face-to-face is as good as online? It’s not fair to assume that just because a course is online, it’s of lesser quality. Students need to look at the format of the program (e.g., is it facilitated online learning, independent study, webinars, blogs), the content and depth of the program, and who the instructor/developer is. Also, consider how grades are allotted (e.g., assignments, discussions, exams, or are they provided at all). All these factors play a role in the quality and rigor of online programs.

In addition, students need to do their homework and figure out if online learning is an appropriate fit. Life Strategies Ltd. has an online readiness quiz ( Take a look and see if you’re ready for online learning.

Lastly, reflect on what type of student you are. If you learn better in a traditional classroom setting then try mixed-mode courses which incorporate the best of both worlds. Learning works best when you’re engaged in the discussion and activities, whether it’s online or face-to-face.