Freelance Writer and Journalist: Michael-Oliver’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Michael-Oliver Harding is a freelance journalist who writes for both print and online culture magazines and newspapers. His client roster includes publications such as the Montreal Metro, Exclaim, Elle Canada, Noisy, and Nylon Magazine to name a few. Michael writes about culture and the arts. He is most interested in “the intersection between culture and politics”. Working mostly from home, Michael says that there is a lot of freedom and flexibility in his schedule, which helps stimulate his creativity. Even though he is passionate about writing, he especially enjoys interacting with the people he interviews at events, via Skype, or on the phone.

As a freelance writer, it is necessary to be on one’s toes to initiate leads and to find one’s next employer. Michael says that his ambition and constant reading help him be a successful freelance journalist. Usually, Michael does cold pitches to the magazines that he avidly reads. He explained that cold pitches are when he reaches out to the editor of a magazine, without any connections or ties, with an idea for an article that he believes is going to be tailor-made for the publication. He not only sells his idea, but he sells himself as the best person to write this story. He emphasized that these ideas have to be timely and relevant to the readership of the publication.

While completing a BA specialization in Communication Studies, with a Minor in Spanish at Concordia University, Michael was focused on documentary production and producing short films. Even though he had always been passionate about culture and the media, he had never seen himself as having a career in Journalism. However, in his fourth year of his studies, he decided to write film reviews for one of the school newspapers. He found himself particularly enjoying interviewing filmmakers and musicians. To his surprise, he loved the writing component of this position. Unlike essays --  reviewed by person for a grade -- the articles Michael wrote allowed him to freely express himself. For the first time, his writing had a readership!  He soon became the editor of the school paper, and from there he started to pitch ideas to other publications.

After years of success in the journalism field, Michael is now pursuing an MA in Visual and Media Anthropology – in Germany! This program, he said, will bring him back to his original passion of documentary production. After years of writing about film, Michael says that he now wants to understand the interworking of the medium in a more in-depth way.

Michael’s closing words of wisdom for those heading into the world of journalism?

Write about what matters to you and take your cues from those who inspire you.

It’s good to write about everything, but it’s better to write about a few topics that you’re passionate about and that you know extremely well.

Read a lot. Stay updated in what’s going on in the field of journalism.

Follow the writers and journalists who inspire you. Stay up to date with what they write.

Getting a degree in Journalism is not mandatory! It is helpful to have a well rounded education in other disciplines.

Birth of (tuba) cool

In the waning hours of Tuesday, December 1, Jarrett McCourt sent out a Tweet that, perhaps, no Canadian tubist has ever written:

When you play a world premiere for a party of VIPs including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ... #miamibeachparties.

But don’t let the guy playing for VIPs downplay his own ‘very important’ status among up-and-coming tuba players.

Currently, McCourt, BMus’13, is a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Fla. He is the first Canadian tuba player to earn a seat with the group and the only tubist on the current roster.

Earlier in the year, McCourt also became the first tuba player to win the Montreal Symphony’s Standard Life Competition, Brass Category, in the 75-year history of the program.

A lesser publication might say those are accomplishments to ‘blow your horn’ about – but not us.

We’ll just say that McCourt is racking up the accomplishments - quickly.

Over his young career, he has performed with several ensembles, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Flint Symphony Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Motor City Brass Quintet and University of Michigan Symphony Band.

McCourt has either won or advanced at eight competitions in the past three years, including the Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Competition and concerto competitions in Ontario, Quebec and Michigan. If McCourt keeps up at this pace, one day, we suspect, Brangelina will be tweeting about being at a party of VIPS, including Jarrett McCourt. #tubalife.

This article appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission

Digital Marketing at Ellipsis Digital: Rachel’s Multi-Faceted Story

By Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Besides being a tri-athlete, a yogi, a traveler, a writer, and a gamer, Rachel Berdan is also the Chief Marketing Officer of rTraction Canada, Inc.  Rachel got into sales and marketing relatively slowly and somewhat by accident and today she is also  VP of Sales for Ellipsis Digital, a division of rTraction Canada, Inc. located in London, Ontario. She loves working within an organization that encourages creativity, openness, entrepreneurial thinking, and attracts people who value those things. “I have fun, I am challenged, and I get to bring new ideas to life pretty regularly.”

Rachel attended the University of Toronto, where she earned her Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Semiotics & Communication Theory and Equity Studies in 2005.

Working at Ellipsis Digital inspires Rachel every day. “As a bonus, we were just certified as a B Corp, which was an initiative that I led within the organization and was happy to see finally reach a happy conclusion. It’s a big commitment on the part of our company to look out for the needs of our employees, our clients, our community, and the environment. It’s an initiative and a movement that I’m very proud to be part of.”

Rachel definitely did not always know this was what she wanted to do. Sort of.  She always wanted to be a writer. “I also wanted to be a lawyer and a psychologist and a forensic accountant, but writing was always in the back of my mind. I don’t write novels and poetry for a living, but every part of my job revolves around communication in one way or another, so in a way…I suppose I did end up where I always wanted to.”

The long-term goal for Ellipsis Digital is to be the agency that the arts and culture world looks to when they need help telling their stories. “That goes for our other two verticals, as well: mental health and community engagers (creative cities, specific community engagement initiatives, etc.)”

When asked if she had any volunteer experiences that helped her become successful, Rachel answered “Probably. If you pay attention as you go, you can always look for ways that your experiences connect and create a richer story of your value.”

“When I was in university, I interned at CHUM television (Bravo!, Space: The Imagination Station, and Drive-In Classics). I also worked part-time with a woman who ran her own business, and my job was basically to keep the business running while she travelled and did her thing. I learned all of the moving parts that a business owner has to consider, which set me up for success in the business world.”

A common day at Ellipsis Digital is rare. “I wear quite a few hats, so I don’t know that there’s such a thing as a common day. Some days are heavier in sales, some are more about creating our marketing messaging or sorting out our tactics, some are more about creating good process and improving client engagement. Every day begins with a 10-minute standing meeting with our whole team to hear what everyone’s working on and adapt priorities if needed.”

To be successful in the field, Rachel says empathy is an important quality. “The ability to understand where people are coming from is critical in any communications role, but also in any environment where you have to work with other humans (i.e., all of them). Empathy helps me understand what our clients need. It also helps me understand what my team needs to know to serve those clients. It helps me to understand what the people who reports to me need in order to do their best work and grow to their full potential.

Curiosity and an open mind are also valued. “I do not know everything and never will. Asking questions even when I think I know the answer opens me up to new ideas, and those new ideas create new connections that help me do my best work.”

Last but not least, dedication. “I have a lot of flexibility in my work. People listen to me. I can work in a way that works for me. All of those things are great, but they’ve been earned, because I also demonstrate that when things get tough, I get into the weeds and do what’s needed to make things better. I do it because I care about the people I work with and I care about the collective success of our business, but there are perks.”

When asked what she loves about her work... “I love that I get my brain working every day. I love that I get to try new things. I love that I work with incredible people who care about making a positive difference in the world. I love that I actually feel like I’m part of something bigger than me. I was inspired by the people I get to work with and the culture we have. I wanted to be a part of the group, and didn’t really care what I did (within reason). I ended up landing in work that suits my strengths, and I love being a part of building our messaging and connecting with people who can be a part of our community (as clients, employees, partners, etc.). I cannot imagine doing what I do anywhere else. I do love coaching people to find their best selves, so if I were ever do anything different, it would be along those lines.”

Outside of work?  “I adore my family, so time with them (my husband, our son, and our extended family) is my favourite extracurricular.”

For those about to enter the workforce, Rachel shares some valuable insights….

 “Knowing what you want is great, but even greater is paying attention to what you enjoy. I have met many people who felt they knew what they wanted and were shaken when they started doing it and didn’t feel like it was working. I know many people (myself included) who didn’t know for sure, but instead started building experiences that felt good and found a way to pull the pieces together into a vision. In either case, paying attention to what was working and what wasn’t made a huge difference in building a career.  Start with what feels good (whether that’s job security, good pay, the mail room at your dream company, or a service job that lets you create what you want) and pay attention to whether it actually feels good while you’re there, what doesn’t feel good, and what’s missing. Keep filling in what’s missing, and letting go of what’s not working. Trust that the puzzle comes together.”

Meet Misha and Dave: From Forest and Field

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

“From Forest and Field” (FFAF) is described by one of its co-founders, Misha Radojkovic as “a very long term musical collaboration between Dave Beverly-Foster and I”. Performing together since they were teenagers, From Forest and Field is the culmination of several years of practice, performances and friendship between Misha and Dave. As Misha explained it, “We're both music writers, and over the years [we] seem to have developed a method of mixing and sharing our music…. It's very easy to get together to make or discuss music. Back in high school, it was common to randomly break into percussive jams and I don't think that's changed much”.

More recently, Misha and Dave began to branch out from the comfort zone of their regular jam sessions and are now playing in public with more frequency. Currently they are looking forward to their Earth Day performance-- April 22, 2016 --  at The Garafraxa Café in Durham, ON which will celebrate the café’s one year anniversary.

In addition to performing, both musicians are also very passionate about the environment. While attending the University of Waterloo for Environmental Studies in April 2014, Dave embarked on a 12-day journey home near Chesley, ON. Usually this trip would take a few hours by car, but Dave camped and walked the entire way by himself! “I left on a Monday morning and I arrived the Friday after the next.  In those twelve days I traversed 200km.  It was quite a journey. Sleeping in whatever forest cover I could find (usually cedar swamp), I lived through every element that Southern Ontario could cook up: floods, rains, snows, winds, extreme heat, and bugs. I walked over rail, trail, and hard road.  Through forest, field and town, I got to know the land and the people like never before.” Dave has written a travelogue of his adventures which is currently being edited. The hope is that one day it will be a book!

Misha has been working away at seasonal jobs repairing barns in the warmer months and repairing instruments in the winter. He picked up this skill in Tugaske, Saskatchewan where he took “a course on constructing flat top guitars”.

Whether they are performing together or with others, Dave and Misha are always musically tied together. “We have a weekly jam with about ten neighbours, and the music we play there is very fun and interesting” Dave explained.  “There tend to be more traditional songs there, and the older average age of the group definitely reflects in the repertoire.  FFAF is different in that we've played different music in different groups, but the two of us have been the one constant that entire time, for about a decade now. Our musical styles have grown in complement to one another.”

“FFAF has always been my focus” Misha added. “I spent the last few winters out in BC and found some folks to jam with and performed the odd show, but that time was also used to write songs I intended to record with Dave.”

“Personally, I have never quite taken the plunge of using music as my single method of making money, but what is amazing about getting paid for music is that we would be making music either way” Misha continued. “…. Fair wages for musicians are very important. Some people have the idea that musicians should volunteer and getting paid is a bonus, but that's just not fair.” 

In addition to unfair wages, other challenges can sometimes include a lack of inspiration and a lack of listeners. “Sometimes the music isn't just meant to be. In some situations, people will try to force it to happen and it just doesn't come out good.  There's been a fair number of occasions where [we] have met up to jam but … we just end up shooting the breeze, and it's okay!” said Dave. In the times where spectators seem to be disengaged, Dave takes the opportunity to talk to the audience as well. “It seems to have become my role to do some loud fast-talking to help the audience hear the more important details, like where they can buy our album.” (You can do so by contacting them on Facebook.)

When asked for advice, Misha noted that making music with others is the most important while Dave actually recommended for others to not follow in his footsteps. Then he added, “But if I can't convince you otherwise, busking is key.  It helps you develop the careless abandon required to make yourself publicly vulnerable, and it gives you long stretches of practice to improve your musical stamina.  And, to emphasize what Misha said, play with others.  There's a certain type of rhythmic synergy you can only develop by playing with others, and learning to hear others is essential to becoming a better musician.”

If you can, please support these local musicians by attending their Earth Day show in Durham or at a future event near you!

Media Maven, Aicha Cisse

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

alicha.jpg

Aicha Cisse is the Web Editor of MSN Canada, in charge of the Entertainment and Sports pages. Aicha is also responsible for the marketing of the Microsoft online store on MSN. She decides which Microsoft electronics or merchandise the site will promote and how it will be promoted. She likens her job to that of an Editor of an online magazine.

On a regular day, Aicha prioritizes any advertising campaigns that are running on the site. She works directly with advertisers on campaigns in order to generate a certain amount of clicks. If a campaign isn’t running, she focusses on keeping the site up to date with content, especially for the Entertainment and Sports pages. She sorts through the latest news stories from content providers like TMZ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue feeds and decides which source and content to feature on the site.

At Concordia University, Aicha originally majored in Biology. She soon discovered that the sciences were not the best fit for her; so she decided to seek assistance from her university’s career centre. The councillor gave Aicha a personality test, which revealed that she was well-suited to a career in Communications.  With this information in hand, Aicha transferred into the Communications program at Concordia University. After her program change, she found her passion for media and journalism. Beginning to work in newsrooms, Aicha learned that her niches were magazines and television.

Aicha started out as a writer for a start-up magazine, in the entertainment and lifestyle section. There she was able to build her portfolio and gain experience in the field. Due to the harsh competitive market, the magazine folded after the publication’s first issue. Being the go-getter that she is, Aicha pushed forward and found an internship at the CTV as a reporter for E-talk. Since this internship was unpaid, she searched online for work and stumbled across a positing for a Community Manager at Yahoo Canada.  Her responsibilities for this job were to moderate, screen spam comments, and to report abusive language that she found on the Yahoo Answer website. She developed an interest in further responsibilities whilst she was learning from her senior management team at Yahoo.  As people eventually left the company, Aicha was able to apply for an opening as a News Editor. From here, she gained a deeper interest in online news, social media, and  new technology.  She eventually got laid off from Yahoo, but through her strong networking abilities and experience in the flied, Aicha was soon hired at her position at Microsoft.

Aicha stresses that the industry she is in is extremely competitive. Her advice?  Work hard and hustle.  Be persistent. Develop impeccable writing and communication skills.  And above all else, know how to sell yourself! 

Building Relationships at Ellipsis Digital

By  Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Brett McKenzie is the Relationship Manager at Ellipsis Digital, located in London, Ontario. This job title encompasses various aspects such as sales, post-project support, technical support but mainly client relations and project management.

Ellipsis Digital is a growing agency and is constantly trying to figure out in which direction to grow.  When asked what about working at Ellipsis Digital inspires Brett he said “The people. This is a really great team and they’re all very interesting and smart people. We work on projects that excite us and interest us as well. Our clients are interesting as well. People in the mental health or addictions field, people in the arts, people in the non-profit sector. and so on. But it’s the people we work with and our clients that excite us. They all care about this community and each other, they care about the families. They care and that’s really inspiring to be around.”

Brett didn’t even realize this job existed previously and he doesn’t expect to be doing it forever either. “That’s not the way things are anymore.” He earned his Honors degree in English from Huron College in 1999 as well as his Bachelor of Education after that. He was originally planning on being an English and Social Studies teacher. “I taught for about five years, but there are a lot more teachers than there are jobs right now. So after struggling with it for a long time, I gave up on it for a while and started working in the non-profit sector. I was doing campaign, office and project management in that I was planning events, although I didn’t think of myself as a project manager at the time. I worked for the Liver Foundation and after he moved to the Arts Project, which is a small art gallery and theatre downtown. I loved that job, I was working with writers, poets, actors, directors and other people who were passionate about the arts. But the money wasn’t there and I had a family at the time so it was time to move on.”

When Brett was in the non-profit sector, he spent a long time looking for jobs and new work. After 3 years at the Arts Project he found a job he worked as a letter carrier. “With a job like that though, once you learn the route, the job never gets any easier or harder, it only gets more tedious.” But after a few years, Brett found an opening at Ellipsis Digital and he knew it was an interesting job.

Brett has been working at Ellipsis Digital for over a year and a half now and a common day at Ellipsis Digital begins bright and early for him. “I’m usually one of the first ones here. They tend to start a little late, we’re pretty flexible. We have a meeting at 9:30 a.m. and then I go through my inbox and deal with client requests. I make sure everyone has everything they need, and talking to clients to make sure we have approval on prototypes and decisions.”

During his downtime, Brett reads a lot and consumes a lot of pop culture (movies, Netflix). He also enjoys working out, running and doing karate. He’s constantly checking social media and reading. “When I look at Facebook it’s because people share articles. I pay attention to economics, psychology and other sociology aspects”.

Staying engaged and paying attention are two things Brett considers important to be successful in your field of work. “We build websites and applications, but for us those are tools to help people engage with other people. If we build a website for a theatre, it’s to encourage ticket sales. But we want to encourage ticket sales because we want people to experience live theatre and stay engaged. We deal with pixels all day, but we’re moving those pixels around to help people find people.”

When asked about advice for entering the workforce, Brett says “keep your eyes open. It used to be work hard, study hard. I’ve come to believe people aren’t lazy, they’re just disengaged. I say this as a teacher, when I had a student who didn’t show up to class it wasn’t because they were lazy it was because they weren’t interested in school. School isn’t always for everybody. When you’re passionate about what you do, you become interested. Know there is a lot more out there that engages you and appreciate as much as you can. Try new things, work hard and have a good time. Prioritize but don’t discard something. Also, listen to other advice, but evaluate it. And there are some things you won’t be able to do. There are books you won’t be able to read, people you won’t be able to meet, and you just have to accept it.”

Dynamix Fitness: Lisa’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Lisa Bergart owns her own personal training company called Dynamix Fitness. Her business provides professional in-home training for customers in the greater Toronto region. Saving busy customers a trek to their local gym, Lisa brings the experience to them. With customized workout plans that are tailored to each client’s fitness level and goals, Lisa is dedicated to helping her clients attain the results they desire. Lisa says that there is nothing better than seeing her clients reach their fitness goals and be who they have always wanted to be. Having over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry, Lisa says she loves her job!

Typically, Lisa starts her day at the bright and early time of 6 AM in order  to meet her first clients. After her morning sessions, Lisa responds to email leads and client text messages. She also takes this time to post to the company website and social media pages. Throughout the rest of the day, she drives around the city and holds training sessions. Lisa says that each day is completely difference and depends on her clients’ schedules.

Lisa received her undergraduate degree at York University in Health and Social Science. She says her degree had provided her with a strong foundation in the health profession. In addition to her undergraduate education, Lisa also received a diploma at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, becoming a registered holistic nutritionist. She also went on to attain her certification as a post-rehabilitation specialist. This allows her to offer conditioning programs for over 30 medical conditions. In addition, she is also certified as a post and pre natal exercise specialist. On top of all this, Lisa took Seneca College’s Social Media program, which helped enhance her marketing and promotion skills.

Why start her own business?  Lisa had worked at several different gyms across Toronto; the last one being a private training studio. There, she gained the knowledge to create safe and effective customized training, which she needed to start her own business. Lisa was given extra motivation when two of the gymnastic teams she had been coaching received bronze medals overseas, at the Maccabiah Games in the summer of 2013. In addition to being this thrilled by this, it gave her that much more confidence in her ability to train people to reach their fitness goals. 

Lisa says that the success of her business is due to her strong social media presence, as well as her strong community connections through and events with various organizations.  Lisa’s business was featured at the Toronto Women's Expo, Feel Good Women's Expo, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, and The Thornhill, Vaughan, and Aurora Festivals. Although her success has been on an upward incline, Lisa says one of the biggest challenges with owning her own business is staying up-to-date with all the current health and fitness trends.

Lisa’s advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses? Create a business plan and have monthly goals that excite you. Specifically for those in the health and fitness field, Lisa stresses the importance of staying current with health and fitness trends on social media. Her closing words?  Follow your passions and priorities!

An Apple a Day?

Interesting entrepreneurial combination…an apple researcher who is allergic to apples, a sommelier & wine-maker, a chemistry PhD, a food & drink industry expert --- and the fabulous orchards of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley!   

Read more about Annapolis Cider Company ….and if you are in Wolfville, check out the cidery and tasting bar on Main Street!

 

Finding Herself in the Photography World: Krysta’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Krysta Myles is a portrait photographer with a passion for children and babies. Krysta began her journey into the photography world as a new mom. Her hobby eventually turned into her own business, Krysta Myles Photography. “I started getting into photography when I had my first child in 2010. She gave me a new perspective on how precious life really is, and how quickly time passes us by.” Krysta had always enjoyed taking photos, but when she saw how rapidly her daughter was growing, she said it made her “yearn to capture as much from her childhood” as possible.

“I became fascinated with snapping images of her and trying to figure out how to capture nice images wherever we were. While she was napping you could usually find me with my nose in a photography guide, or with a hot cup of tea at my laptop on photography websites. After posting what was mostly likely the 500,000th photo of my daughter on Facebook, a friend asked if I would be interested in taking some photos for them. I did, and I loved it, so I offered to take photos for friends and family until I eventually saved up enough to upgrade my equipment. I then launched my website and started taking in regular clients and I haven't looked back since!” she continued.

Krysta asked, “What’s not to love?” when referring to her job. “I have the opportunity to meet awesome new families, hold their precious new bundles of joy, and give my client's memories they will cherish, and call it ‘work’. The most rewarding part of my job is definitely seeing the look on my client's faces when they see their final images.  It is such a joy to be able to capture images that bring back memories of these fleeting moments in my client's lives.”

There are also a lot of challenges that come with Krysta’s profession that happen “behind the scenes” so people may not realize this is not an “easy job”. “The most challenging part of my job has been balancing work and family life. I work from home, so keeping up with my active children (5, 2, and 4 months), as well as working on my business, keeps me busy day and night. Settling into a good routine and carving out specific times each day for me to work has been essential for balancing it all.”

In addition to having clients in her own home, Krysta travels all over Bruce and Grey counties to do photo sessions. Afterwards, she edits and prepares the images into a personalized photo gallery for each client using her computer.  Her job also includes marketing, ordering products and blogging, all of which “require a lot more time than shooting sessions”.

Despite the challenges, Krysta loves interacting with her clients and making sure they are comfortable. “The biggest thing I want people to know before coming to a session is to relax. I strive to keep my sessions as laid back as possible, especially when there are children involved (they really pick up on stress). My favourite images from my sessions are always the ones taken during candid moments between loved ones. So I like to tell my clients to pretend there isn't a strange lady with a camera following them around, and to just be themselves.”

 Like her clients, Krysta Myles advises other photographers to be themselves as well. “…Find out who you are in the big photography world. Focus on finding your style and resist the temptation to compare yourself to other photographers. You have something unique to offer. Your individuality is what will set you apart from others and make your work stand out.”

To book an appointment with Krysta, you can email her at krystamylesphoto@gmail.com or visit her website.

Noah, Students “Go-to Guy” for Tech Support

By Craig Leonard, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University 

Noah Giunta is a Library Services Support Technician at Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology. As a support technician Noah’s responsibility is to facilitate student learning, either through one-on-one assistance or various online resources.

Prior to becoming involved in technical support Noah was working in a fiberglass factory to pay for his training as a tattoo artist apprentice. After completing his apprenticeship, Noah started working as a tattoo artist in a shop in Toronto. Noah had always wanted to be a tattoo artist, and was happy with his job when one day he was involved in an accident that injured his hip, rendering him unable to continue practicing tattoo artistry. Noah was now forced to consider new directions in which to to take his career.

Having always been a technologically inclined individual, Noah began looking into fields related to computers and technology. Knowing full-well that technology is the way of the future, Noah set his sights on the Network Systems Technician program, a two-year program offered at Mohawk College. Noah enrolled in the program unsure of which area of technology he wished to pursue. A requirement of the program was to complete a co-op position. This would provide Noah with some insight and an idea of the field of technology he was interested in. He was given the opportunity to complete a four-month co-op position within the Mohawk Library. There he performed tier one technical support, involving basic computer setup and trouble-shooting, Wi-Fi and networking assistance, and other technology-related help. Upon completion of the co-op contract, Noah applied to a second co-op position at the library and went back to fulfill his second co-op component. 

Noah is thankful for his time as a co-op student at the library because it revealed to him his passion for working with students and for helping people. If you were to ask Noah if he had ever considered himself working in a college library providing technical support, he would have laughed. Noah had wanted to do tattoos for as long as he could remember, but after 3 months of his co-op he quickly realized that he had a passion for working in an academic setting and interacting with people. While earning his diploma, coincidentally a full-time position opened up at the library.

Noah’s average day consists of many of the same activities performed during his time as a co-op student, and also includes working on some of the online resources available at the college and holding workshops for students. In these workshops students are given the opportunity to learn about various online resources, such as Microsoft Suite, ePortfolios, and learning management systems. Noah especially enjoys holding the workshops, as it gives him an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with students and interact with them. He says that, “in many jobs you are not given the opportunity to teach people things in a casual and fun manner, and this is one part of my job that I always look forward to”.

According to Noah, skills in communication, thinking on your feet, troubleshooting, and research are crucial to be successful as a Library Support Technician. “There are times when you might not be sure about the answer to a question, at which point you have to do your own research or communicate with other members of the library to find a suitable solution”.  Noah’s advice to others? “Reach for job opportunities and put yourself out there! The technology industry is booming right now and there are lots of job opportunities, but there are also a lot of people who are looking for jobs.” He also tells people to “think of information technology as more than just a person typing away on a computer keyboard, there is a whole other aspect of it that involves human interaction and interpersonal skills”. 

Carla Watson, Museum Manager

By Mariana Hernández-Hernández, WorkStory Ambassador at Memorial University

Have you ever imagined working in a museum?  Ever considered the possibility of working alone in a museum? If so, read Carla’s work story! You’ll learn about the steps she took to reach her goal, and the advice she gives to students seeking a career in museums.

Carla holds the only full-time position at the Admiralty House in Newfoundland, and that’s why her job is to do everything at the museum. This includes exhibitions, drop-in activities, public programming, grant writing, Human Resources work, writing reports to the Board of Directors, etcetera, etcetera.  She’s the Museum Manager.

How did Carla get this position?  Surprisingly, very quickly…and almost immediately after she graduated from a one-year master’s program in Public History from Western University. That’s a huge accomplishment, considering not only how young Carla is, but, especially, how challenging it can be to find a position in a museum.

“But how did she get to be the manager of a whole museum so quickly?” you might be wondering. Here’s how, step-by-step…

When Carla was an undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in History and minoring in Anthropology, she learned from a classmate that she could volunteer at the Museum of Antiquities in Saskatoon. She thought it would be a great opportunity to learn what about museum work, so she decided to get involved.

The before and after of a display created by Carla at Admiralty House.

The before and after of a display created by Carla at Admiralty House.

As a volunteer, Carla assisted with the organization of camps for children.  What she loved about this experience was its educational aspect– and that she could inspire and teach others without being a teacher.  This volunteer experience became a full-time position as an Education Coordinator at the museum so, in the last year of her undergraduate studies, Carla managed to work full-time and study full-time!

During that year, Carla had the opportunity to take a credit course at the museum and to create her own exhibition.  By then, Carla was sure that she wanted to work in a museum.   One of her professors told her about the master’s program in Public History at Western University.  Unlike some two-year programs that focussed only on museums, this compact one-year program covered a wide breadth of topics that could be applied to multiple fields.  Carla applied and was accepted.

As part of Western’s program, Carla had to do a four-month internship.  A professor referred her to an opportunity at The Rooms, the largest museum in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Carla decided to take it. The internship was mainly research based, and was focused on the First World War exhibit, slated to open on July 1, 2016. Through this internship, Carla gained insight into the workings of large institutions with multiple employees who undertook very specific jobs -- and saw what years of experience could lead to.  However, she soon realized that she did not want to only do research and was anxious to find a job, post-internship, that allowed more latitude in her duties and responsibilities.

While doing her internship in St. John’s, Carla had the opportunity to network and become friends with many local people.  Thanks to one of these friends she learned about her current position.   Carla has now been working at the Admiralty House, the only museum in Mount Pearl, for over a year.   What she enjoys the most about her job is developing exhibitions, writing grant proposals, and “public programming” – in other words, getting the community involved in the museum.

Carla’s advice for others interested in a museum career?

“It is difficult to find a job in museums because museums are short-staffed and under-funded. If your ambition is to get into museums, get your foot in as early as you can. How? Join a Board of Directors or volunteer in a museum. Volunteering shows that you really care about an institution and that you want to be there even if you are not paid.

You can build up your resume in many ways. You just need to think outside the box in how to do it. Look for fun opportunities. Don’t assume that the marks are everything. Volunteer and study, and learn to manage your time.

Have a LinkedIn profile and update it regularly just as you would your CV or résumé. Never say ‘no’ to opportunities. For example, if someone offers you a three-month job contract only, don’t get discouraged – take it thinking of the experience and connections that you’re going to get through that job.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk about job opportunities. Sometimes you have to go where the job is.

Finally, remember, you don’t have to wait for the job to come to you. You can be ambitious and ask people about how you can do a job at their institution and pitch positions to potential employers.”

To learn more about what Carla does, visit the Admiralty House website. 

Making Connections in the Music Industry

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Tim Fraser has been the Events and Activities Programmer for the Fanshawe College Student Union for the last three years, taking over the role previously occupied by Pat Maloney. Tim mentioned that he is still referred to as “The New Pat” all these years later, however he has been successfully making the position his own by booking big name acts for the college such as Dallas Smith and Fred Penner. Tim has often been a guest lecturer for the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe (where he was once a student) and more recently he has also helped Sheridan College book performers for their events.

In addition to his work as the Events and Activities Programmer, Tim is the owner and Creative Director of Murdoch Music Management, a company he runs with his wife, Tanya Chopp-Fraser.  “We are an artist management and music industry consulting business. I kind of started it myself, as I come from the music industry.” Tim jokingly added that he made Tanya join him as a business partner. However, her marketing skills proved to be a real asset to Murdoch Music. “My wife is very, very smart. [Tanya] works in marketing…. She came up with the name of the company and the logo… so really, I kind of think it’s her company and I help her with it. That’s probably how it should be, but yeah, it’s just the two of us”, he explained. Together they have interviewed artists such as Frank Turner and Northcote for their Murdoch Music podcast, available on iTunes.  

Not one to be star-struck very often, Fraser said that his most memorable guest on the show so far was children’s entertainer, Fred Penner. Penner did a show at Fanshawe in 2015, and much to Tim’s surprise, he also agreed to an interview.  “I [got] an email from Fred