Education is the key that unlocks our success, and I do not believe a person should be denied access to success because of a disability. - Shakira Rouse
Through some unwritten rule it is expected that by eighteen we are to act and behave like an adult. We are to be critical in our thinking, make importance decisions about our education, career, relationships, finances etc. While in other cultures there may be a right of passage that prepares young men and women for adulthood, for me, it was marked by a “walking the plank from high school and being pushed into the deep blue see of life” mentality.
Living and learning with a learning disability
When I was in grade two I was diagnosed with a learning disability (LD). For most of my life I had a vague understanding of what that meant, based on an example my mother told me when I was a child. Before going back to school in the fall one year, my mom explained to me why I would not be returning to French Immersion due to my learning challenges. It went like this: if one week I learned about a dog, and the following week I learned about a cat, in the third week, if I were to have to address the topic of the dog, I could not. It was like I completely forgot what I had learned only two weeks before. My mom explained to me this was a result of a weak working memory. Try explaining that to an eight year old. Like most students I just accepted that I was not great at certain subjects like math and some forms of writing. However, despite being taken out of French Immersion I still embraced one of my strengths: languages.
Making the transition from high school to university was not as easy as some may make it seem. In 2007 I started my post-secondary education at Glendon College, York University’s bilingual campus. Yeah, the little eight year old girl that was removed from French Immersion because of her LD decided to do a double major in French and Spanish. Excited and eager like all the other guppies to start university and embark on a new chapter of my life, I had no idea what challenging waves were coming my way. While most of my academic life my LD had a minimal impact on my marks, it became a huge and evident problem in university.
First year came and went. Although I passed, there were areas where I could have improved. Second year, I began to work harder in an attempt to improve my marks and GPA. Despite how hard I worked it seemed like I was not able to improve my marks. My moment of ‘lying face down in the arena’ happened when a French professor questioned if I was in the right program. French was always the one subject I had confidence in, and this comment shattered my self-assurance. In my third year of university I was exhausted, helpless, and frustrated. I felt trapped within myself and began doubting my own abilities and questioning if I had made the right choice to study French. It did not make sense that the universe would allow me to get so far in life and then say “Shakira, French is not for you.”
Finding support for my learning challenges
One day I was talking to my friend about these concerns. She also has a LD and informed me that I could get help from the university. After three years of studying on my own, this information can as an utter shock to me. Immediately I connected with the right individuals on campus to help me. By my final year of university I was able to receive the support and accommodations I was entitled to and finally graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies.
I was happy with my accomplishments with my first degree but not satisfied. Two years after graduating, I returned back to school to finish my second degree in French and started a minor in Inclusive Education (Special Education). It was at this time that I was able to put together the missing puzzle pieces of my life. I was finally able to truly understand my learning disability. It came back to the explanation my mother gave to me as a child. I have a weak working memory, which means it takes me longer to recall information previously learned. Math was also a challenge for me because I have weak visual spatial memory too - the part of the brain that is used to understand various math concepts. Having a better understanding of these aspects of my learning disability also helped me to discover and pinpoint solutions to address these learning challenges. I could focus on various mediums like art, apps, and different kinds of technology. By investigating and using these different techniques, I had agency in enhancing my learning, and putting an end to my frustration.
Coming to terms: utilizing my personal relationship with my LD
I realized that most of my difficulties dealing with my LD was due to the fact that I was unaware and uninformed of my rights, and therefore unable to advocate for myself. Many students with special needs are unaware of the accommodations and resources available to them such as: extra time for test or exams, writing finals in private rooms, hiring scribes or note takers, and receiving funding for private tutors, special software programs, and technologies like a laptop. When you do not know, you do not know. Another factor I realized was that because I did not understand my learning disability, I did not know what I needed to help me succeed. When we do not understand the problem, we cannot find the solution.
From that moment I decided no other student should relive my experience and was inspired in 2015 to start my own business called Special Compass. Special Compass is an educational resource centre for students and parents with special needs. Through various programs I educate both parents and students, giving them the necessary tools needed to achieve success academically and personally. Special Compass offers various programs and services: workshops that assist students in making the transition from high school to post-secondary, tutoring, workshops for parents on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP – ensures a child who has a disability receives specialized instruction and related services), advocating for children with a LD and a mentorship program. Education is the key that unlocks our success, and I do not believe a person should be denied access to success because of a disability.
Life does not always make sense. As Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress”. Making any kind of transition in life is progress. During that transition expect failure and fear. As much as we always want to hear the happy stories in life, our stories of fear and failure have value and influence our success. The wall of fear will always stand before something great that is meant to happen. In order to discover what is on the other side of that wall we must be willing to be vulnerable and fail. I did not always understand my transition and progress but it has helped to define and transform me into the person I am today. I had to fail to discover my purpose and passion in life, which is to help others excel with theirs.
Shakira Rouse is the founder of Special Compass, where she makes a difference in the lives of those with learning disabilities.
I've come to realize that each moment in my life has led me to the next. This might seem an obvious thought, but it's a hard one to keep in mind when you're in the thick of it. - Trevor Pearse
I originally began writing this article trying to establish a timeline of significant change. A period of months or years, perhaps book-ended by significant events. I found that for every significant transition in my life there was always one that came before. Even as I write this I think (and hope) that I will soon be facing more. This has helped me to realize that my life has been one continuous transition: each major event seems to pull me along in its wake to the next one.
As I experience transitions, I still find some major changes to be frightening; albeit in an exciting sort of way. They can bring with them pain, frustration, guilt and anger. I sometimes want to rail against the unfairness of it all. But I also realize that change brings happiness, relief, joy and perhaps a little bit of knowledge or wisdom to help guide my future. I also believe I needed the bad along with the good to give me perspective in developing, both as a person and as a professional.
A late bloomer?
I believe that, rightly or wrongly, our society has conditioned us to achieve specific milestones in order to consider ourselves successful. Chief among these milestones are: our mates (culminating in children and grandchildren) and a career (culminating in houses, cottages, gadgets, etc.). The problem I faced as a young man was feeling as though I needed to make these decisions quickly, at a time when I couldn't even figure out what I wanted to do on a weekend (let alone the rest of my life!).
So I did what a lot of young people do: I tried to figure out what I enjoyed doing in my spare time and how I could get a job doing that. In retrospect, this wasn't a great decision. If you ask most 19 year old young men what they like doing, you'll probably get a lot of similar answers, very few of which are appropriate for this article. For me, it was movies, science fiction, video games, and the usual mishmash of time vampires shared by teenagers across North America.
I figured that the best way to apply my interests was to become a high paid and well respected digital artist. I enrolled in McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, for their Multimedia program (with a dash of Philosophy on the side). I followed this up with half a year at Seneca College in their Art Fundamentals program. At the end of it all I realized that I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and wasn't at all sure how I could make a living on it.
Ruts and epiphanies
So I became a graphic designer. For all the theoretical knowledge I gained from my undergrad, the only practical skill I walked away with was how to use Photoshop. At first the career was interesting. Mostly because I was one of the few among my peers who could actually say I was working in something at least slightly related to my education, even on a tertiary level. Yet, somewhere along the way, and rather quickly, I realized I was in a rut. I found my job creatively unfulfilling, stagnant, and (perhaps worst of all) boring.
My epiphany came one day, generated from a curiosity I had not yet explored. As my company's only graphic designer, every advertisement we created was produced by me. One of my projects was to make a magazine ad using representations of Canadian dollar bills. I spent the next few hours (with the help of Google) looking into federal and provincial laws and regulations on using Canadian money in print advertisement. Those few hours were the most interesting I'd spent on the job in the previous 5 years. Best of all, my research led to tangible and usable results.
5,595 km later...
Fast forward ten months, and I found myself in England going to law school. It was, at the time, the biggest leap I'd ever taken. I was on the path to becoming a lawyer. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't. I had significant hurdles to overcome. Under ideal circumstances, a Canadian student studying locally can be a long and difficult journey. As an international student, I had the additional burdens of accrediting upon my return to Canada, as well as overcoming the stigma associated with going to a non-Canadian law school.
I reminded myself that these were fleeting concerns: once licensed and established no one would care how I got to where I was. I just needed to get there. Unlike my graphic design career, I went into law with eyes fully open, expecting and understanding that I would face many difficult hurdles, and that many of my peers and fellow law students would falter or fail. I believe now that it was this transition, from graphic designer to law student, that galvanized me and helped me face my challenges with determination and persistence. The process of becoming a lawyer wouldn't defeat me, simply because I would not let it.
The past 36 months
I was twenty eight when I began my career transition. Now I'm thirty three and I'm still transitioning. But I've realized that life is one continuous transition highlighted by milestones of change along the way. The last three years have seen many such milestones touch my life.
On the career front, I began working immediately in a law-related field (procurement) after graduating in 2012. This position became available to me through a network contact established when walking my dogs in the same neighborhood as my eventual employer. During this phase I focused on bolstering my resume, while studying for and writing my legal accreditation exams on weekends. I was accredited in spring 2013 and began licensing with the Law Society of Upper Canada. I began articling with a small family law firm, and in June of 2014 I wrote and passed the bar.
I was called as a lawyer in January 2015 and can now proudly call myself 'Barrister and Solicitor.' I even transitioned within my new found career, switching from family law to general practice, with a focus on real estate law, corporate commercial and civil litigation.
On a personal front, in summer of 2013 my son was born. Shortly after that, my marriage ended. For the first time in over 10 years I found myself single. I had felt as though I was finally on the career path I wanted to be on, just as my personal life went off the rails.
What my transitions teach me
I've come to realize that each moment in my life has led me to the next. This might seem an obvious thought, but it's a hard one to keep in mind when you're in the thick of it. My undergraduate degree and career as a graphic designer felt like such a waste of time and potential while I was going through it. Now, as I look back, I realize that they were invaluable to me.
The philosophy courses I took at McMaster inform the way I think, and I use that way of thinking as a lawyer every day. My time as a graphic designer educated me on how to work as part of a team, how to manage deadlines, and what to expect of myself in order to continuously improve.
This ongoing process of transition teaches me to appreciate the good moments and learn from the bad. By doing so I'm able to steer my life more in the direction I want it to go. I recently entered into a new relationship with a woman who excites me, teaches me, and motivates me to succeed. And I find myself again on the cusp of transition. I can see avenues of opportunity, both professional and personal, slowly but surely opening up ahead of me. For the first time in my adult life I can confidently say I'm excited to see where they lead.
It only took me 33 years to get here.
Trevor Pearse transitioned from corporate commercial and real estate law to providing legal advice in house to a privately owned software development firm in 2015. He still makes time for his interest in science fiction and movies.
In many ways, it was the pursuit of those non-career-related interests that helped me develop some of the skills that became important as I navigated graduate school and a career. - Katie Felton
Stop the world...I want to get off
It is hard to believe it has been over 10 years since I left college to transition into what everyone calls “the real world”. This expression has always bothered me; the world I was living in was my real world, even if that didn’t include a 9-5 job or a pile of bills. I don’t think the real world is somewhere we finally arrive. It is the things we do every day, the little pieces of life that make up our existence. To try to separate our world into different compartments takes away from development of our whole character.
One of the most frustrating parts of the transition from college was the realization that every job I wanted to apply for required experience and skills that I did not have as a new graduate. I also struggled with being able to articulate the skills that I did have that were not directly related to my previous employment. I had helped out in the kitchen of a summer camp for two summers, but somehow I didn’t think “superb meatloaf maker” belonged on my resume. As I set out to get an entry-level position to develop skills employers would value, I also made the decision to begin to pursue some of the hobbies and interests I did not have time for during my college years. In many ways, it was the pursuit of those non-career-related interests that helped me develop some of the skills that became important as I navigated graduate school and a career.
There’s No People Like Show People
Throughout middle school and high school I had been fascinated with theater. I joined a local community theater company and got involved with my high school productions. I attended productions whenever I could, taking in everything from opera to Othello. Post-college, I decided getting reacquainted with my local theater company would help keep my mind off of the fact that I didn’t have a job. I auditioned for a show and before I knew it, I was back on stage. I jumped right in, getting involved behind the scenes during shows in which I did not perform, developing skills that would benefit me in the long run, and building relationships with a group of people I never would have had the chance to meet had it not been for our shared love of the stage.
Eventually I did get a full-time job, but I could not give up theater. I managed to stay involved throughout my 20’s and became part of a community that is still an important part of my life today.
When I first got involved, I thought it would just be a good way to pass the time until I could get my foot in the door of the real world. But looking back over the past ten years, I realize that being part of this community helped me develop some real world skills:
Being on stage requires a great deal of discipline. In addition to showing up for rehearsal, you often spend countless hours memorizing scripts or music or blocking. Much of this work is done on your own, in your spare time, away from the spotlight. The fruits of that labor can be seen during rehearsals and performances, so it becomes obvious if you are not carrying your own weight. Learning the skill of discipline helped me when I returned to graduate school ten years after my initial college experience. Trying to work and go to school full time meant I needed to know how to balance my schedule and set aside time for studying when I would rather be relaxing. Discipline continues to be an important skill in my career. When there are deadlines to be met, I know how to focus and complete my tasks while managing other daily responsibilities. If I am not disciplined, I let down not only myself, but those on my team.
This skill is one that many new employees claim to have, but they have trouble finding real-life examples when asked about it during an interview. I would argue that acting is not the most important skill you need to be successful on stage – teamwork is. When you step onto that stage, you are trusting that your fellow actors have had the discipline to learn their lines and will support you during your shared scenes. If even one actor decides that they don’t need their team on stage, things can go terribly wrong. Lines are dropped, plots are missed, and all the hard work of the team becomes a waste. Teamwork is more than just the ability to work with others. It’s about supporting your team and understanding that the show cannot go on without each individual member.
Acquisition of Knowledge – the Ability to Learn
Being part of a community offers a unique aspect that is sometimes lost during college; the opportunity to interact with people at different stages of life. As I worked on productions, I was surprised to discover that some of the closest friends I met were old enough to be my parents. They came from different walks of life; some had grown up in my town, some were new to the area. There were teachers, doctors, secretaries, priests. It was a melting pot of people drawn together by a common interest. These differences offered a chance to hear the stories of others and to learn from them. As folks of all ages came together, the older generation demonstrated discipline and teamwork while the younger generation taught them about smart phones and mobile apps. This exchange of ideas and thoughts in a community is exactly what happens every day in most workplaces. Those who have developed the ability to listen and learn from others are more likely to thrive.
The Show Must Go On
If you find yourself in a position of trying to build your skills in order to achieve your career goals, take a look outside the “real world”. Explore hobbies and interests you enjoy and take note of skills you might be gaining without even realizing it along the way. The real world can be whatever you want it to be; for me, I gained many skills on stage and behind the scenes. When it came time to interview for my current position, I felt confident in my ability to speak in public, contribute to my team and learn from those around me. Don’t get discouraged if you are not able to get the specific job you need in order to develop your skills. As we say in the theater, the show must go on!
Katie Felton is a Consultant, Student Success, at Campus Labs. Campus Labs provides assessment and planning tools for professionals in higher education, unifying university campuses in new and innovative ways.
I want more than what I have set myself up for. I want to feel fearlessly forward-moving. But right now, I don't. - Kaitlyn Kochany
When I was a kid, I didn't really have an answer to that classic kid question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" For a while, I had a variety of disingenuous fake comebacks like political analyst, but to be honest, I didn't know what a political analyst did when I was ten, and I still don't really know now.
The reality of university learning
When I went to university (which I did because literally every adult in my life told me university would be a pre-requisite for any success in the workforce), I had some limited self-knowledge. I knew that I liked reading, and that I had received good feedback on writing assignments in high school. I signed up for English courses, mostly, and did okay, mostly. In the years when I was depressed and uninspired, I tended to skip classes in favour of eating hot chocolate mix directly out of the jar, which didn't really do much for my GPA (or my mental health) (or my blood sugar), and when I failed or nearly failed those courses, I began to feel like even English literature was no longer a place where I could thrive.
While I was still chipping away at my interminable degree, I joined the board of the housing co-op where I lived. Those meetings were both some of the dullest, most bureaucracy-heaven hours of my life, but they were also a training ground for me. I learned a lot, including skills in long-term planning, communication, managing and working with people (which, for a 24-year-old idiot, is pretty valuable), and just dealing with dull bureaucracy as a function of work. I felt like I was working on things that mattered in a way that, when I was reading Daisy Miller, did not really come up.
In any case, when I graduated, I took my co-op experience and my degree and began to gravitate towards administrative jobs in the non-profit sector. I worked for a non-profit condo developer, for a housing co-op, for a social justice documentary maker, for a food-security charity. On paper, these jobs sound more prestigious and amazing than they really were: a lot of my roles were secretarial or PA-based. I continued to write, I continued to read. I sometimes joined the co-op board as an alumni member, and sometimes I didn't.
What is my calling? How do I get there?
And all the while, I floated on. I knew that, at some point, I was going to have to get serious about what I wanted to do with my life. But I still hear no calling, and I still have the same job title at 31 as I did at 25. I took vague stabs at figuring it all out—maybe I would be a therapist! Maybe I would be a HR whiz! Maybe I would be a writer!—but I never followed through. The reasons are complicated: university sucked up thousands of dollars and left me gun-shy about investing any more money in post-secondary education; I am risk-averse and not particularly pro-active, so launching myself into new and unproven work or school territory is legitimately scary; without a serious call to action, I feel like a fraud when I investigate other types of work.
Ironically, I write an interview column called I Want Your Job. Most of the people I talk to have one of two things in common: they love the work they do, or they love the people they work with. The word "community" comes up a lot in those conversations. So does the word "passion." Over the last couple years, I've transcribed interviews in tears because I felt like I didn't have either.
Also ironically, I have great role models in my own life. My parents weren't great at this, to be honest: my mom didn't work outside the home, and my dad's job was an impenetrable mash of long hours and esoteric job function (I was 30 before I knew—like, really knew—what a project manager actually does). But my friends; oh, my friends! I know no fewer than five people who went back to school after their undergrad to refine and further their professional selves. From public policy to nursing, from teaching to graphic design, from photography to pottery classes, from library sciences to a PhD in political science. It's an amazing gamut of education, made possible by self-knowledge and drive.
But it feels like there's something lacking in me. I have a vague sense of what I like, but they're often conflicting checkboxes, not the final answer. For example: I like working alone, and with a peer group. I tend to chafe under authority, and I tend to like clear direction from higher-ups. I like creativity (writing, cooking, working with my hands), and I like problem-solving. I'm smart, but probably not as I smart as I think I am. I want time with my friends and family. I get bored easily, and that is accelerated if I don't feel like my work makes a difference. I think the reason I've stuck it out in low-level admin jobs is because working for non-profits let me think my work matters...but I'm actually not sure that that part of the equation carries as much weight as it used to.
(And before someone says, "But you're a writer!" let me say this: I love writing. I do not currently make my living at it. Becoming a full-time, paying-my-bills-at-it writer would probably mean becoming a journalist; if you refer back to the paragraph about being risk-averse and not pro-active, you might see that making a living by chasing stories and putting myself out there might not be so appealing, although to my credit, I am getting better.)
Discovering moments of career passion
Okay, so anyway, what does this long rambling history and half-assed therapy session have to do with anything? Basically, I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling like I'm in a rut. I'm tired of not knowing who I am, what my destiny is. Many, many people never feel "a calling" or "a vocation," but most of those people don't suffer angst for it. It's normal to work a job, have no strong feelings about it, and enjoy the other parts of your life enough that those 9-5 hours aren't what define you. But I'm chafing in my little box, and I don't know how to upgrade to a better, roomier, more Kaitlyn-ish box. Or to get out of the box altogether.
I feel like I should know, like I want to know. I want more than what I have set myself up for. I want to feel fearlessly forward-moving. But right now, I don't.
So I'm at a loss as to what to do. In the next year, three years, five years, I want to be doing something different. I want more challenges, and bigger payoffs. I want mentors, and a community. And I know that putting it out there doesn't magically make it happen, but I certainly know that I'm not alone in this. All those friends who went back to school must have had a come-to-Jesus moment where they said "That could be my life." And I want to start talking about how those moments are shaped, how they happen. They could even happen to me one day, if I let them.
I remained open to volunteer opportunities, job offers, and further education, which slowly carved a path for me - Aniko Zaha
A career theorist named Krumboltz developed the theory of planned happenstance. He believed it's not possible to create a linear, perfect career path in this ever changing world. Instead, we can act on events that come into our lives, unplanned, and transform them into personal opportunities that we feel are worth pursuing. I think up to this point, my career pathway has been a complete series of planned happenstance. If you asked me five years ago where I was going to be in my career today, I certainly wouldn't have told you I'd end up here!
Discovering my career interests in university - at home and abroad
When I chose to pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology, I was following a curiosity about people. I didn't know what I'd do with the degree, but like many others in my class, I felt university was the direct next step after high school, and I imagined I'd figure out what I wanted to do with my life eventually. By chance, one of my undergraduate friends mentioned that the psychology student association needed volunteers, so I signed up to get involved on campus and learn a bit more about my major.
And boy, did I learn. Here, other members introduced me to the types of courses offered in upper years, different kinds of graduate degrees, and career options. There were options I'd never even thought of. I had no idea there was a whole world of possibilities that I could explore, without needing to pursue graduate studies, since I never really wanted to study more than what was required to complete my degree. My interest in careers and in psychology grew. As I participated more in the student association, I began to assist other psychology students in figuring out how their favourite course(s) could translate to a career, a post graduate degree, or just a dream worth fulfilling.
One of my own dreams I wanted to fulfill was studying abroad, so I spent my 3rd year of university living in Spain and learning psychology through a new perspective. Amazingly, while there, a student from back home curiously inquired why I wasn't working in the psychology office anymore, and asked for help. Since I had that afternoon off school, I offered to help through webcam and chat. After two to three hours of the most energized, exciting, thorough conversation discussing this student's career options and pathways, I finished the conversation feeling invigorated.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that although I knew nothing about my own career path, I'd been helping others find theirs for over a year, and I loved it. It was then that I realized I should be able to do this for a living. A student reaching out to me had inspired the pursuit of my own career.
Building my own career pathway
Now it was time to focus on how I could make this happen. Luckily, one of the few career counselling diploma programs in Canada was just one city over from my home, in Toronto. I immediately applied, was accepted, and thrived. The program offered the perfect link between counselling and helping, finding career resources, and understanding career theory. Finally, I'd found a path of my own.
As part of my program, I had to do an internship. I applied to a whole bunch of places, and interviewed as best as I could, until I was hired by a non-for-profit employment agency. I eagerly took on the challenge. Unexpectedly, I realized it wasn't quite the right fit. I did not feel I was making the difference I wanted to, or connecting with clients in the same way I had with students. I began to question my career choice. Where did I go wrong?
I tried to focus on removing this doubt that I felt. I reminded myself of why I chose career counselling in the first place, and I soon remembered all the students I'd helped during my undergrad. I loved working with students who were excited about picking courses, felt ready to do more school if necessary, and were full of dreams and aspirations. The more I remembered this educational environment and its students, the more I felt re-invigorated. Maybe all I needed was a different population to engage with. If I hadn't worked a practicum in the non-for-profit sector, I might have never figured out that post secondary was where I really wanted to be.
My program required one more internship, which could be waived if I found a paid job in the industry instead. Determined, I met with student advisors and counsellors for informational interviews and joined professional associations in an effort to gather more ideas. I followed my interest in education, and was working hard to find opportunities.
Finding success along the way
By coincidence, I received an email from my undergraduate alumni association reminding me I still had access to their career posting website for one more year. I had forgotten all about that website! In there, I found a part-time position open to alumni, to work for a pilot project that was creating a co-op program. Incredulously, I got the job. It was a part time contract position, but it was my foot in the door. In this position I learned more than I ever could have imagined. Not only about educational administration, but how to connect and relate to students as an advisor and counsellor. I worked with deans, associate deans, professors, advisors, counsellors, administrators, and a whole world of people who helped me develop some amazing skills, and made me feel I could really thrive in education. Had I turned the position down because it was part-time, who knows when I would have learned and been exposed to all of these opportunities.
It was made clear to me, however, that in order to get the positions I wanted in the future, I would require a master's degree. I'd never planned on going to graduate school, and there was a time in my life when I was adamantly opposed to it, but suddenly it seemed like a perfect idea. The problem was that I finally had a job in the industry that I loved, yet the master's program I liked the most was out of province. I spent months deciding if I should even apply for the program, and when I did, I spent months deciding what I would do if I got in! Then, unexpectedly, the decision was made for me. Funding was pulled for the co-op pilot program, and I was out of a job. Looks like I was meant to do that master's degree after all.
I moved to Quebec, began my degree in educational psychology (focusing on the science of learning and connecting workplace learning), and was hired as a career counsellor assistant at my university. I've just completed one full year of my two year degree, and I'm loving it more than ever.
Reflecting on planned happenstance
When I look back on all the decisions I've made, so many of them have been a result of me taking the reigns of an unplanned situation. I followed my interests and curiosities in psychology, careers, and education; I focused on "how can I get there?"; I took action on unexpected chance opportunities. Looking back, the path I took seems linear. Every job and educational opportunity I took part in seems to have been leading me to be a career counsellor for students. Yet, when any opportunity came my way, I took it in stride, and learned everything I could about it. I remained open to volunteer opportunities, job offers, and further education, which slowly carved a path for me. Even the jobs and opportunities that didn't work out in the end taught me something valuable, and I encourage you to allow the things you both like and dislike about jobs you work or experiences you have to guide you.
When we engage in planned happenstance we are following our interests, we expect the unexpected, and we take action on chance events. We never know the power of each experience in what it can teach us, or which experience will be the one that inspires the rest of our lives. It's all about having an open mind, and being ready to learn when opportunity knocks.
After becoming a career counsellor, Aniko Zaha is completing her master's degree in educational psychology.
If we pay attention to the changes in our lives, and how they affect us, we can find some kind of beauty in it all - Rebecca Dirnfeld
A moment of reflection
Last March I started this website in an effort to give those dealing with transition, and in particular, career transition, some kind of support. I wasn't sure exactly how the website would unfold, or what the response would be. I just wanted to share transition stories and have a space where others could read them and feel less alone in what they were going through.
My most recent experiences with transition - The good, the bad, the ugly
This year has marked a lot of changes in my own life - both professionally and personally. You know that saying "when it rains, it pours"? That's been my life for the past year. I started a new job in September 2014 at Ryerson University, working with undergraduate students to assist in their career development and transition after graduation. This past 6 months has provided me with so many opportunities to grow as a career educator. I've given presentations, facilitated workshops, run events, provided 1:1 appointments, and attended conferences. This May I will give my first presentation to other career educators at a professional development conference. When it rains good, it pours good.
While all this was going on, life outside of work continued to throw me curve balls, as it always does. My 3 1/2 year relationship ended, my brother was diagnosed with ALS and fell very ill, very quickly, and I turned 30. Now let me clarify, because I don't want you to roll your eyes at the "turning 30" piece. I think there is something to be said about a new phase of life starting at 30. Yet, it dawned on me that at 30, my career path was developing at an accelerated rate while my personal life was breaking apart. Why does this happen in life? I don't have the answer, but when it rains bad, it can also pour bad and ugly.
How to deal
I wasn't sure how I wanted to deal with the good and bad transitions I was experiencing. While I wanted to put all my energy in the good - and my career certainly demands a lot of attention and energy - I knew in my heart I had to pay equal attention to the bad - coming to terms with my brother's illness and the end of my relationship.
What I now realize is that it's not even possible to focus your energy on only one kind of transition because it makes you feel better. If this was the case, I would only try to feel happy, content, fulfilled, excited, motivated, and ambitious; all the things I feel when I think about and engage with my job. While I do feel these emotions daily, I also feel those other emotions. My brother's illness elicits feelings of immense sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and sometimes hopelessness. These feelings are just as legitimate as the good ones, and I need to continue to acknowledge them. If not, they get buried away, and eventually burn me out.
I've drawn strength and support from a number of resources to help with all of this. My family members, and especially my brother who is ill, have truly amazed me with their ability to calm and reassure. There is so much uncertainty with illness. Yet since being diagnosed with ALS, my brother can still be positive. Can you even imagine there being good feelings in what he is going through? He continues to laugh, love, and smile. My friends, both near and far, have shared their love in all sorts of ways. What has been most comforting to me are those who have reached out unexpectedly, such as old family friends showing up to our front door, or baseball coaches from when we were kids regularly visiting my brother in the hospital.
I don't know. No matter how much I'd like to plan my future, whether it be my career or otherwise, there will always be unexpected curve balls along the way. What I do know is that I can handle them. Having gone through both good and bad transitions at the same time, I realize I CAN DEAL. That means more to me than not knowing what's next. It's incredibly reassuring.
If we pay attention to the changes in our lives, and how they effect us, we can find some kind of beauty in it all. My brother's ALS is not a beautiful thing. It never can be. But feeling his strength and courage while he deals with it is beautiful. Acknowledging I can achieve some semblance of peace of mind during all of this is also beautiful. Feeling the empathy, love, understanding, and support from family, friends, colleagues, and strangers is incredibly beautiful. Knowing that getting to 30 means I survived my twenties might be the most beautiful thing of all!
This has been one year of my life. With so many more to face, I raise a glass to all the contributors and readers of Graduates In Transition who are facing the good, the bad, and the ugly, each and every day. Try to find beauty in it all.
Rebecca is the creator of Graduates In Transition and a Career Consultant at Ryerson University, in Toronto. To get in touch with Rebecca about being a guest blogger or other career advising needs, click here.
Be sure to make clear decisions, never sit on the fence and always know you will land on your feet. - Rebecca Brianceau
I was always a bit of a rebel and felt the need for adventure. I loved growing up in the countryside. We had no real rules or authority aside from our parents. Because it wasn’t easy to get out and venture without public transit, you really had to make the best out of it and get creative. Which we all did! From an early age, I also loved urban music. As a teenager, that genre wasn't popular enough to hear on radio or at events so I started coordinating small music events with friends in my hometown of Erin, Ontario, with a population of 3,000. When I was 19, I rented out a bar in Guelph (Boo Radley’s) and brought in my own urban DJ’s that I scouted from Guelph, London, and Toronto to perform. I promoted this event with my all-female street team, B-Girl Productions, and it sold out. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just happy people came. My friends suggested I start taking it seriously and it all started to take off from there. I put on events all over Ontario during my college days to help pay the bills and had a blast doing it.
Keeping an eye on my other interest – visual arts and fashion design
While pursuing my love of music, I went to Fanshawe College in London, Ontario to learn about fashion design. The program had a lot of visual marketing and display elements involved in the learning, so we were always building and creating big projects in class. I went on to design a motorcycle retail store and worked at the Hudson's Bay Company doing visual artist presentation for the furniture department. While living in Toronto, I was working as a visual artist during the day and running music events at night. I realized these where my two loves.
Becoming a citizen of the world
My intention was to live in Toronto after finishing college. While in Toronto, I worked with Maxamus entertainment coordinating celebrity music events. After living there for three years I felt it was time to explore further, so like my father I became a citizen of the world! The experience of traveling was priceless. I had a few different career related roles abroad, including working for Universal Records as a Music Marketing Manager for the Middle East and North Africa as the International Music Manager for the soul music band ABRI, based out of Dubai. Both positions allowed me to learn a lot about cultural differences in music, business relationships, industries, and behaviors. I had the skill set to do well in these positions but felt I also needed to learn a lot about Dubai, as I wanted to be respectful of the band members’ culture, especially as the lead singer is an Emirati (born and raised in Dubai). I wanted to represent the United Arab Emirates as best I could. It’s a whole other world over there. After also living in Zurich and London, my view on people, culture, the world, and life is completely different. I have changed so much and learned so much. I am a better person for doing so.
From music to a career in furniture creation and design
When I started traveling and working abroad in the music industry, I was always taking photos of beautiful settings. For example, living rooms in Jordan, amazing markets in France, beautiful old homes in London, nature in India, Bangladesh, Maldives…the list goes on. Now, when I look back on my photos, it’s pretty interesting that the photos I had taken of the band I was managing and of beautiful things are what inspire me to create my artistic pieces, and this can be seen in the pieces I design.
The circumstances around starting my own business were unpredictable. I had moved back to Toronto after my work abroad, still managing ABRI. My goal was to continue managing them remotely and establish their musical connection in the western world. Shortly after moving home, my circumstances suddenly changed. In the winter of 2012, while playing soccer with friends, I blew out my knee and wasn’t able to walk for months. During my recovery my parents brought me art supplies and beautiful wood pieces from their forest to tinker with. I was still managing ABRI but it was slowly coming to an end and I knew I was losing interest in management and falling back in love with the arts. There were several challenges in resigning. It was a difficult decision as I loved what I did with ABRI, I loved what I had accomplished, and I knew I had so much to offer. I had already put fifteen years of hard work into the music industry and thought I’d be in it for life.
But hey! Change is good! After resigning I established Brianceau Couture. In beginning my career in furniture design, I had to build up my name and find new clients in a brand new industry that didn’t know of me. However, because of my earlier career in the music industry in Toronto, I found my name was recognized. For example, some of my clients are the same people that used to attend my events.
Most of my materials come from my parent’s forest, as they live in a small nature oasis. My pieces are named after artists I have worked with or that have moved me in some way. As well, my art is deeply Canadian, earthy, and rustic, with a relaxing touch for a home space. Much like my upbringing in the countryside.
My hope for the future is to keep creating, traveling, and eventually opening a small retail store permanently (right now I have a pop up shop) to showcase all of my finds and creations. I would like to use my talents to contribute to our community in a meaningful way, and continue to stay grounded and open to new opportunities. I will be forever changing throughout my life, as that’s how I learn more about myself.
How I’ve maintained my motivation along the way
What has helped me face my challenges is to face them head on and not run from them. I keep a positive outlook and know that everything happens for a reason. I embrace the unknown and the grey areas of life even when nothing seems to be lining up. I maintain a grateful attitude. As well, I try to deal with my challenges as calmly as possible. I make better decisions when I’m calm and relaxed. Another big one for me is not to drink much alcohol (I’m not a big drinker to begin with) when I am going through a lot of change and challenges. I prefer staying in a clear and sober mindset when dealing with challenges and making healthier decisions.
I encourage you to follow your gut feeling and never question it. Nothing in life will line up 100%. I go by an 80% / 20% feeling. If I am 80% sure I will do it. Make a plan, set a goal date, and just do it. Don’t tell too many people about your plans, as there are a lot of dream crushers out there. Be sure to make clear decisions, never sit on the fence and always know you will land on your feet. Life is all about embracing changes, learning lessons, and being happy.
I do believe that your life is the result of your level of self-awareness, and if you are conscious enough you can feel when you are, or are not on a path that feels right for you. - Jalynn Bosley
We All Have a Series of Possibilities
I wanted to be a classroom teacher. After some time in the “job waiting game” that many of you are all too familiar with, I was hired as a Phys. Ed. Teacher for the Toronto District School Board. After time spent in the classroom, I experienced the shocking realization that the job that I set out for did not feel right. It’s a humbling and uncomfortable feeling when you realize that you are not where you are meant to be. As well, there is a real sense of vulnerability when you don’t know what the next steps are to get you to where you are meant to go. I certainly do not believe that there is only one path for each of us to follow. No doubt, we all have a series of possibilities. I do believe that your life is the result of your level of self-awareness, and if you are conscious enough you can feel when you are, or are not on a path that feels right for you.
I think some people are satisfied by living a life where they go to work, make whatever money they feel they need to sustain their life, and at the end of the day, see it as a means to an end. Then there are other people, like me, who have an inability to ignore that inner gnawing that demands meaning, purpose and a need to do something that is congruent with their own deeply rooted values. It was impossible for me to ignore what felt like a higher calling. I was working towards the slow realization that I was meant to be a teacher, but I was not meant to be in a traditional classroom with four walls and roof. I was unhappy and craved more freedom.
Unhappiness Can Be Fuelling
Unhappiness has a funny way of propelling us to look for more. In my experience this feeling was profound enough for me to quit my job without a plan. At the time I was full of fear, sadness and lived with a constant, aggravating feeling of being “lost.” Looking back, I think those of us that have some challenges earlier in life with regards to vocation are blessed. My sense is that it’s easier to tread the waters of transition when you are younger, rather than later on. Having said that, transition will forever be an ongoing part of all of our lives.
I did not quit my job with careless abandon. It was a very difficult decision for me, yet I felt compelled to see what other possibilities I could create. I was blessed to be young and naïve enough to dive into the unknown. Not everybody has the privilege to experience this vast void, which can be full of beautiful surprises if you take the risk and travel there.
Go With Your Gut
It was on a road trip across Canada and USA where I began to look for answers. I intently watched road signs hoping for some kind of hidden message. I peered over the edge of the Grand Canyon thinking the answers were there. I stayed in hostels and camped my way through many stunning National Parks. Somewhere around Mt. Rainier, I was offered another teaching job over email. I still had not hatched a plan, and decided that maybe I should go back to the classroom. Doubts, fear of judgment from others and no money were creeping into my being and so I quietly decided that I would go back and try it again. I got to Vancouver, with the intention of driving back across Canada in a week to start a new job. I was flipping through a random magazine at a friend’s house and I stumbled upon an article called, “Go With Your Gut.” There was quote in there that said, “More times than not, when I made the right decision it was instinctive– it came from my heart. And more times than not, when I took a faulty step, it was because I made a decision based on what seemed right intellectually or looked right to other people. After years of learning to trust myself, I have come to understand the phrase; what you think of me is none of my business.” I don’t know what the magazine was called and I don’t know the author, but that article literally changed the course of my life. I read it at the absolute perfect time. The only reason I know the quote is because I sent it home to my parents in an email on October 13th, 2000, with the subject heading: Job decision. My Mum only recently sent it back to me. It was pretty incredible to read my thoughts from 15 years ago, right in the thick of my very personal journey through the unknown.
Adventure * Leadership * Individuality * Values * Empowerment
Through reflection, it became increasingly clear that some of my life’s greatest lessons stemmed from my time at camp and from the daily rhythm of long canoe trips. I was most happy and fulfilled while immersed in nature dipping my paddle, sleeping under the stars and lying on rocks warmed by the sun. Even the rainy days with a head wind and minimal distance traveled stood out to me as some of my greatest teachers. It became increasingly obvious that I wanted to be part of helping create those experiences for others. I decided to pursue teaching in the outdoor classroom and thus, ALIVE Outdoors was born. ALIVE Outdoors Inc., (www.aliveoutdoors.com) a company focused on outdoor education was registered in December 2000.
I had zero business background and not for a second did I think about all the intricacies involved with owning a business. It would take me pages and pages to explain all the mistakes that have been made along the way. There have been triumphs as well, and I am only just now starting to take a step back from time to time to appreciate what has come from the seed that was planted 15 years ago. ALIVE has been a real gift, not only to me, but also to many people along the way.
I once read “passion releases all the energy that you possess.” I feel that is true. With passion comes beauty, stubbornness, weaknesses, laughter, commitment, fear, pain, hunger, care, love, insecurity, hope and the list could on. Passion brings up everything. It has been the fuel driving ALIVE Outdoors for all these years. Many incredible, passionate people are responsible for the beauty of the ALIVE community.
In your own times of transition, I encourage you to breathe deeply. Go for long walks. Get outside into nature. Keep a journal. Write honestly from your heart. Read inspiring words from others. Do anything that you feel will bring you closer to deepening your own sense of awareness. Keep moving through it. Don’t stay still for too long. If you are discouraged or unhappy, let that be fuel to propel you forward. Do your work. Dream big, even if you don’t have the skills or knowledge to back up those dreams. Trial and error is an amazing thing. What I have found is that if you ask people for help, support, guidance, or just a loving ear most of the time they will be there for you. Not everyone has a passion that screams loudly. Sometimes you have to create quiet and be alone to listen to where you are meant to go. Like I said, I believe we all have a series of possibilities. I wish you the very best of luck finding a path that feels right for you.
Happy Trails. Safe Journeys,
Jalynn Bosley is the Owner and Director of ALIVE Outdoors, an outdoor education company specializing in experiential learning through delivery of customized programs to organizations and schools, and inspiring personal growth, self-reliance, courage, cooperation, leadership, and self-esteem in participants. For more information, please visit http://www.aliveoutdoors.com/.
I took a pause, and reconnected with myself. - Monica Gutierrez
I would like to start telling you a little bit about myself. I'm an Environmental Engineer from Colombia that just recently moved to Toronto to start a new life. I chose engineering 9-years ago instead of journalism or biology (my other two options) mainly because I thought I would have better job prospects and a more comfortable lifestyle. Currently, I am settling down in Canada, doing a volunteer job and looking for the perfect career opportunity. The path I have chosen is challenging and I'm still working hard on figuring it out. But since I like challenges, I'm enjoying every second of it, and that's why I decided to share it with you.
Have you heard your family telling you that it is important to work at a multinational corporation or some recognized company? Well, I heard that back at home a couple of times until I convinced myself of that idea. I remember my parents telling me that it was better to work at that kind of organizations as it was going to enhance my resumé and with that, I would have a better job and salary.
The fact is that my parents were right. I ended up working for those companies and had financial stability, met interesting people, learned about how business is done and did good networking. I even got a leave of absence to visit my boyfriend (who later became my husband) and came to study here in Canada, which was a very uncommon reward given to employees at the company I was working for at that time. However, when I went back to Colombia, I wasn’t happy and didn’t feel professionally satisfied. I was working over 40 hours a week, doing the same type of things I did before I came to study project management at Ryerson University, and wasn't seeing tangible benefits and impacts resulting from my work. It didn’t feel rewarding.
Fortunately, I found a parallel job during weekends. I started to give horseback riding classes at an academy for kids and it was there that I felt again happy and satisfied. It simply didn’t feel like a job. I didn’t care waking up on a Saturday morning and not partying on Fridays because I knew I was doing something good for someone else and for me. By that time, the contract with the company I was working for was terminated, and so I decided to come back to Canada and look up for new opportunities. I knew this was the perfect moment to start a new life and seek the perfect job I was after. I was sad because I was leaving home and family, as well as the horses, but at the same time I saw a great professional opportunity here, and needed very badly to be with my husband. I knew that here I would find a broad variety of job positions that you can’t find in Colombia and could find an opportunity to redefine my career path. But before I started my job “research” and apply to as many jobs as I could, I took a pause, and reconnected with myself.
Reconnecting with myself
I wrote down all my characteristics, my passions, my fears, my hobbies, and my skills and visualized how I pictured myself in a couple of years. I thought about what kind of lifestyle I wanted and how I would like to spend my free time and savings. After reconnecting with myself, I heard that “inner me” wanting to do social work, communicating things of social interest and wanting to develop and exploit my creativity.
Once I was conscious of who I was and where I wanted to go, I started my job “research”. I researched on job portals to see what was on the market, what type of jobs were available and what qualifications I needed to have in order to successfully apply. From that exercise, I realized that as an immigrant I need “Canadian experience” and so, in that catch-22 situation I looked for volunteer opportunities. I found a very interesting one and the next day I arrived here, I had the interview and started.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m currently volunteering for a conservation non-profit organization, attending to sustainability and environmental events and doing as much networking as I can. I think I'm still in the path of a professional and personal transition as I'm in a new country, with different traditions and culture. But the important aspect is that I'm happy. I listened to my internal voice and I'm determined to find a suitable and fulfilling job for me.
I strongly believe that self-awareness, strength, perseverance and patience is all that is needed to successfully transition careers. For those who are on the same page, I wish you good luck!
Monica Gutierrez is an Environmental Engineer specializing in project management, with work experience in environmental management and Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the oil & gas, mining, manufacturing, and food & beverage sectors. She is presently exploring opportunities in environmental sustainability and volunteering for a conservation non-profit organization.
Keep an open mind, be prepared to take risks, take time to step back from your situation and ask yourself - is this really what I want to be doing? Am I happy? - Sean Magee
When I finished University, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do with my career. In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted a career in the traditional sense of the word. Money wasn’t my main focus and neither was stability. I graduated from Simon Fraser University with a bachelor degree in environmental science, with a focus in biology. I was debt free, because I worked my way leading up to and through school. The world was my oyster as they say.
My university experience left me wanting to do something significant with my life. To be more specific, I was seriously concerned about climate change and issues related to social and environmental justice. To be honest, I was drawn to these topics before University, but it was while working as a field technician during my summers that truly set me off on my current career adventure.
Learning from Environmental Awareness
I had first experienced working in one of the last intact temperate rainforests on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Colombia. I stood next to1000 year old tree stumps with a silent gaze, looking into timeless forests that were standing majestically and helplessly, waiting to be cut down to feed the world’s desire for paper and lumber. The next summer, I was part of a research team that was modeling the nutrient cycling in the Mackenzie River Delta, which is located far above the Arctic Circle, and far away from almost all civilization. It was there that I witnessed the reach of our modern industrial machine from a helicopter. There were scars left from oil and gas exploration everywhere. It was there, while hovering in the air, that I learned that there is no such thing as pristine wilderness any more. Humans have left our physical and chemical signature on virtually every corner of the Earth. These experiences confirmed that something needed to change and it had to happen quickly. But more importantly, I realized that science moves slowly, very, very slowly. Clearly, a career as a scientist wasn’t a good match for me. I didn’t want to spend my life doing research that would be irrelevant by the time it became known to the public-if it ever would at all.
A Passion for Education in Environmental Sustainability
This led me to shift gears to education. I had worked as an outdoor educator and canoe/kayak instructor for about a decade. I knew I loved to teach, but I wasn’t convinced a classroom was the right place for me. Luckily, and I mean it was like serendipity, I found a job working for a small NGO in Vancouver that focused on social and environmental justice education. I coordinated a program that supported high school and elementary students in their efforts to make their schools more sustainable.
Like any other job, I learned a lot of hard and soft skills, but what made me attractive to my next employer was that it gave me credibility as an advocate for the environment, as well as someone that could communicate environmental issues in a simple way.
I left Vancouver to take a job as the spokesperson for a new provincial recycling program that was recently launched in Ontario. Again, I was lucky. I had a connection. I was close with someone that ran a marketing and advertising firm that was tasked with launching this new program, and he thought I was the right fit for the job. I packed my 7 years of life into my friend’s pick-up truck, and in a matter of two weeks I was living in Toronto.
The value of Networking
Working in the marketing and advertising world was a shock to my system. I worked insane hours for several years. At times I would work for nearly 48 hours straight! But it paid very well, I was learning a lot, and I was helping to institute a way to eliminate waste; I think the exhaustion was worth it. I also further built my network, and was constantly reminded that Toronto is one of the best places in Canada to start a career because of the people you meet. This was definitely true for me. After only 7 months, I was an entrepreneur and had my own business. I was doing very well for myself; however, I was working myself into oblivion. I didn’t know what a weekend was for over a year. I’ve heard that this is pretty typical for people that are self employed. It wasn’t the life for me. My career went on hold and I went back to school to become a teacher.
I did my bachelor of education at the Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. I was fully dedicated to becoming a teacher. When I applied I was fully aware of the abysmal job market for teachers, but I didn’t care. I was prepared to move to South Korea, Bhutan, or northern Canada to get my start in teaching. And maybe I wouldn’t come back. Ultimately, I felt like I had found my calling. Even though being a teacher wasn’t going to fulfill my desire to change the world quickly, I was going to be part of cultivating the next generation of amazing people that would be capable of solving the challenges they faced.
Then, bam! There was another surprise. Through one of my colleagues in the advertising world, I received a job offer, right in the middle of my teaching degree. This wasn’t any job offer; it seemed like the perfect job for me. I thought that I was pursuing my dreams in becoming a teacher; that I had finally found my calling at 28 years old. Yet, every time I thought about this new offer, I found it hard to resist. It fit all my criteria: focused on climate change, solutions oriented, quick results, working with people, education, etc.
Before I had graduated from teachers college I had accepted the job offer to become the National Director of New Renewable Energy Projects for Bullfrog Power. I’ve been working with Bullfrog Power for just over a year-and-a-half now, and I love it! However, I’m still only 30 years old, and my career path is long from over.
I realize that my career path was made easier because of many of the privileges that I was born with. I grew up with a stable family, I’m white, straight, able bodied, middle-class, male, etc. I mention this because I can’t take full credit for my success. Although I know I worked very hard to be where I am today, luck has also helped me, and I am a product of the rules of the game, and those rules were definitely written in my favour. This isn’t meant to be discouraging, but just a statement of the facts. I don’t want to take credit where it isn’t due, and this is my attempt to do so.
The most important things that I’ve learned so far are: to always keep an open mind, be prepared to take risks, take time to step back from your situation and ask yourself - is this really what I want to be doing? Am I happy? Maintain your networks, listen to your heart, and don’t let your ego run the show.
I sincerely hope that my story helps anyone that reads it.
Sean Magee is the Director of Bullfrog Builds - Renewable Accellerator. Sean works with local communities across Canada to bring new renewable energy projects online. He is a recipient of the Dr. David Suzuki Fellowship Award for Natural Curiosity (2013). To learn more about Sean and his work at Bullfrog Power, follow him on Twitter -@SS_Magee.