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My Career Action Plan, unveiled

My Career Action Plan has emerged after a week of tests, quizzes, self-exploration and labour market research.

Here’s what the various tests said about me:

According to the Strong Interest Inventory, my dominant themes are Investigative, Artistic and Social. My five favourite Strong occupations are Writer, Registered Nurse, Editor, Psychologist and Medical Technologist.

My Final Career Cruising suggested occupations are Criminologist, Writer, Addictions Counselor, Researcher and Social Service Worker.

My three top SkillScan categories are Mental/Analytic, Humanitarian and Communication.

My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceptive). The basic description of that type is “Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing change. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible and accepting, unless a value is threatened.”

Two occupations related to my Personality Type: Writer and Addictions Counselor.

My colours are equally blue and green. Blue is primarily communication/people skills, and green is rational/analytical.

My Work Values, which were determined by a deck of cards, were a bit embarrassing: work-life balance, help society, moral fulfillment, fun and humour, and earnings. It makes it sound like I just want to go to work, have fun, collect my paycheque and go home. Oh yeah, and maybe help society a bit, so I can feel morally fulfilled. (I’m not saying there’s no truth in this…just that it sounds a bit lame.)

Okay. So now we get down to the Career Action Plan. This is based on all of the above, plus my past experience, my transferable skills, the job market, some brainstorming among a small group of career coaches, plus a one-on-one session between me and a career coach.

My realistic career options:
Social Service Worker*
Writer/Editor (either freelance or as a communications officer)
Technical Writer

Next Steps (some of these depend on the outcome of others – for example, if I qualify for Second Career funding, I might not have to pursue some of the other steps.)

1. Return to Northern Lights to obtain referrals to the Y Employment Counseling Centre to discuss Second Career funding for the intensive 39-week Social Service Worker program at Algonquin.

2. Get a referral to Action 2000 for help transforming my resume into a functional style, which will highlight my transferable skills. (This is important because I’m switching careers and also because a chronological resume emphasizes age, which at my age is detrimental to employment.)

3. Get a referral to either the VPI Job Finding Club or Experience in Motion for help with interviews.

4. Speak to the Program Coordinator of the Social Service Worker program at Algonquin College to gather more information about the program and related certificates, as well as Prior Learning Credits. (My criminology degree should finally come in handy here, as well as being an asset to me in a career as a social service worker.)

5. Develop a portfolio of writing samples, and consider creating a website to showcase them to prospective employers.

6. Continue to investigate careers within social services through online research and information interviews. Connect with organizations like United Way, Salvation Army, John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, Canadian Forces and Corrections Canada.

7. Continue to explore volunteer opportunities in social service work.

8. Look at evening/part-time courses at Algonquin related to social service work, to strengthen resume.

9. Investigate working up North as a social service worker, to build experience.

This approach would have me pursuing both writing and social service work at the same time, and then looking for ways to weave them together down the road.

Whadya think?

*From the Algonquin College website: “Graduates [of the Social Service Worker program] may be employed as front-line workers in provincial, municipal, and private social service agencies including social service departments, long-term care facilities, addiction, and mental health services, schools and programs for youth, community health centres, shelters, and residential treatment programs.
Graduates support vulnerable people who are impacted by issues such as loss and separation, family stress, poverty, violence, homelessness, addiction, disability, unemployment, gender identity, immigration, and culture.

13 comments to My Career Action Plan, unveiled

  • XUP

    I think if anyone has ever been made to be a social service worker, it was you. And it looks like a very comprehensive plan. And you have several connections in the field. I would think though that your age would be a benefit in this type of work. Who wants to be counselled by a 22-year-old fresh out of social service school? How could anyone possibly relate to clients in the social services field when they have almost no life experiences of their own to draw from – just book learning? So – Surgite! – (my university seems to fit)

  • “My colours are equally blue and green. Blue is primarily communication/people skills, and green is rational/analytical.”

    I am interested in exactly what part of green is “rational/ analytical.

    As for the rest though I dn’t know you your writing seems to suggest social service work to me also.

  • How do you feel about the whole process? Whom did you do this through? Did it cost money? Was it valuable? This seems like something many people would be interested in.

    When I was reading your original ideas about this Social Worker seemed the most likely to me, so it looks like it did work out in the end. If school is daunting, there could be peer counselling programs that are looking for volunteers, or places like help lines and women’s centres who could give you something to do in the mean time while you sort things out. Good luck!

  • Nancy

    I think those two career choices are an excellent match for you, Zoom.
    Your writing — which I’ve long admired — just keeps getting better and better, so writer seems like a good career for you. But it’s probably a tough slog to gain much recognition or earn a living as a writer, is it?
    Good thing earnings was the last on that list of values, which I liked, by the way. I thought it made you sound like a compassionate, fun, well-balanced kind of person. Which you obviously are.

    And you have always shown above-average interest, enthusiasm and understanding for human frailties, so I think you’d make a fantastic social worker! You’d be great at it — open, non-judgemental, encouraging, supportive.
    And as XUP said, the fact that you have lots (& lots) of real life experience only adds to your skill set.

    I couldn’t quite see you as an RN, but writer and social worker sound right to me. What about you?

  • oh zoom! I’m so happy to see you want to go to Algonquin for social work. Honestly, please give some thought to working with youth and harm reduction — there are so many wonderful and fufilling ways to help out, and it’s such an interesting job. Plus this field is still being shaped, so you’d have a chance to have a lasting impact on what is soon to be one of the most important aspects of society. And we need people like you to help make that difference! I want to personally invite you to explore your options at YSB or an organization like ACO, where you can be an activist while still doing practical outreach or counselling work. Or a place like Operation Come Home, where you can do so much amazing work with youth. If you do get the funding please keep this as a realistic and very open option for you! I can totally hook you up with people who can assist you in finding a spot in the movement.

    Also, your blog is now nominated in the Ecology & Social Justice category on the CWAs… and it honestly wasn’t me!


  • Lucy

    I was reading your post and thinking the exact same things that others have already said: that you would make a good social worker – ditto what XUP said about life experience – or a writer. I also think you would be a good teacher, in particular, high school teacher! To teach effectively at that level I think one would have to have the skills of a good social worker, as well as life skills and experience, combined with the ability to explain things clearly and get ideas across and the enthusiasm to try new interesting projects, all of which are skills that you seem to excel at. The only thing is that becoming a teacher involves spending time in teacher’s college which is something you probably don’t have time for right now.

  • Deb

    Zoom also found that teaching high school involved wearing what she likes to call “grown up shoes”. She supplied at a Hull high school a few times…so a bit of experience there.

  • Meghan

    Hi there! Love your blog!

    I have also looked into a career change recently-into the same fields!

    There is a huge difference between a social worker and a social service worker. Main difference is pay and a Master’s degree. I looked into the social service worker program and decided not to enroll since I hope to make more than $25,000 a year.

    I also looked into technical writing and there is a huge demand and the pay is fantastic-$60 / hour.

  • have you checked the job ads on Charity Village? There’s some good stuff in there. I wonder whether you would even need the retraining for some things, between your criminology degree and other experience…

  • If you ask me, the masters in social work is really what you should be looking at. BUT if you can get funding going to the college program, get a job out of that, you can take the masters classes at night and online etc afterwards. There are lots of frontline workers with masters so if you’re looking at advancement I think you’d need that extra piece of paper.

  • It sounds daunting, but so exciting too. Good luck with your decision making, and I’m sure you will choose the best thing for you.

    I wish we could have all gone through this process at the end of high school. It is so much more in depth than those aptitude tests we did.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Career, job, future. Man, all this gives me a friggin’ headache.

    Of course, XUP has hit the nail on the head. Push on.

  • XUP, thank you. I tend to agree about the age thing.

    Dave, the blue/green comes from something called True Colors, which is a whole test. The colours each symbolize a group of characteristics that are used to typify your personality and strengths. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with the colours themselves. (Blue was feeling and social, Green was rational and analytical, Orange was adventurous and risk-taking, and Gold was conventional and organized.)

    Nancy, thank you. This means a lot to me, especially considering we worked together for 18 years. I still miss having you in the next cubicle, sharing your grapes with me.

    Lucy, everybody’s saying social worker, but it’s actually a social service worker. Similar. But quite different in terms of credentials and career prospects. Interesting you should mention teaching – I did do occasional supply teaching in a high school for a year or two. It was okay except for the public speaking!

    Reyl, good questions. The program is offered by the Canadian Career Academy, but you get a referral through Northern Lights, which does all the employment-related referrals. The government pays for it. You get about $2500 worth of assessments for free, as well as access to resources and career experts. It was definitely worth the investment of a week of my time.

    Deb, yeah, plus I had to wear panty hose and my skirt stuck to them. I had to keep peeling my skirt off my legs.

    Meghan, thank you. Yes, I know, the pay for a social service worker is a little discouraging. It’s the only major strike against that path for me. As for technical writing, I could do it, but I don’t think it would feel much like real writing. Also, my research showed that it paid less than the average wage (more than social service worker though, that’s for sure). I appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Miss Vicky, thank you. In my last job, one of my responsibilities was putting job ads on Charity Village. So, I’m familiar with the site from a job advertiser’s perspective. I haven’t been checking it often enough as a job-seeker.

    Mudmama, I’d love to get a masters, but it just isn’t practical right now. I can’t spare the time or the money to go that route. (Also, I only have a 3-year BSocSc.)

    Finola, it’s interesting you should mention aptitude tests, because that was the one kind of assessment missing from the COPE program.

    Tom, I know, the present is more than enough for me. Why do I have to figure out the future on top of everything else?