Finding Her Voice: Rachael Courtemanche’s WorkStory

By Erica Pulling, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University & Rachael Courtemanche


Rachael Courtemanche is the Communications Coordinator at the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). LEDC is the lead economic development agency for the city of London, Canada. Rachael’s role focuses on content creation for the LEDC and local small-to-medium businesses to help tell their stories, as well as implementing communications, marketing, and social media strategies.

With a strong desire to help others, Rachael completed the Social Service Worker (SSW) program at Fanshawe College (2011-13). During the program, however, she realized the hands-on, high stress environment an SSW can face was not the right fit for her. Rachael was up for a challenge, but felt this wasn’t the kind she was looking for. It wasn’t until Rachael took a step back and re-evaluated exactly what she wanted to study and what she felt she could excel at that she realized what her calling was: writing.

At the time, Western University was one of the only nearby educational institutions that offered degrees in Creative Writing. With a love for living in London, it was a clear choice for Rachael. From 2013 until graduation in 2016, she studied English Language and Literature and Creative Writing at Western. While at first Rachael  didn’t know exactly where the program would take her career-wise, she knew pursuing her passion for writing was worthwhile.

During her time at Western, Rachael took part in the work-study program where she worked as a Copywriter for the Faculty of Science. In this role, she interviewed faculty, alumni, and current students and created articles about their research and initiatives. With no science background, it was a true test for Rachael to take complex, scientific information, and boil it down to what mattered most: why what they were doing is so important.

It was this opportunity that opened her eyes to the field of Communications and Marketing, which to her was the perfect fit for leveraging her writing talents and helping others better share their stories. It’s where she found her voice and discovered how it could be used to help others.

Following her work-study role, Rachael began her current role as Communications Coordinator at the LEDC during the summer of 2015. The role was a summer student position and Rachael had one final year of school left, so she knew her job search wasn’t over yet. However, the skills gained from her work and educational experiences proved valuable to the corporation, and they wanted to keep her on the team. Rachael continued her role in a part-time capacity during the school year which evolved into full-time upon graduation.

Just over two years later, Rachael continues leveraging her writing, editing, communications, and creative skills every day at the LEDC. A typical day for Rachael starts with a media scan for interesting stories about local businesses in London to share and promote.  She also spends her mornings focusing on any big, on-going projects or high priority items. Her day changes often, which keeps things interesting and keeps Rachael on her toes. 

One of Rachael’s favourite parts of the job is that she has learned so much about London, the businesses here, and can help many different companies share their stories within and beyond London. It has reignited her love for the city in which she lives and makes her appreciate the innovations grown right here in London.

Rachael’s advice for current students is to start thinking about what you want to do as soon as you can!  Once you know, you can start gaining relevant experience in the field you are interested in pursuing, which will help you find a job after graduation. Whether it be through work or volunteer experience, Rachael recommends getting involved through school programs and faculties.

“Seek volunteer, work-study, or committee experiences that will build your resume and give you hands-on skills you may not gain in your program. And of course, study what you love and love what you study – and let that approach spill over into your career choices too” said Rachael.

Associate Account Manager: Tanner Fryfogel’s WorkStory

By Erica Pulling, WorkStory Ambassador  at Western University

Tanner Fryfogel.jpg

Tanner Fryfogel is an associate account manager in commercial banking at RBC.  He is responsible for maintaining positive relationships with business owners, and introducing them to other bank employees to help with their specific needs.  In addition to working with existing customers, he also tries to meet new clients and bring them over to RBC. 

Tanner completed a two-year diploma at Fanshawe College in Business, followed by an advanced diploma in leadership and management.  During his time at Fanshawe, he realised that getting a university degree would open more doors in the field he was interested in, so he decided to use the credits he had already earned towards a degree at Nipissing University.  With those, he studied another one year and a semester to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

While completing his last semester of university, Tanner learned about The RBC Career LaunchTM Program offered through RBC.  Each year, this program hires 100 recent graduates from around Canada for a one-year contract.  Because of his interest in commercial banking, Tanner felt this program would be a good fit for him.  Initially, he applied for the program online.  He was then contacted for a phone interview, followed by a Skype interview.  After successfully completing the first three steps, Tanner was brought to Guelph for a panel interview with other applicants from the area.  During the interview, applicants were put through a variety of tasks designed to test how well they could think on their feet.  After successfully completing this interview, Tanner was accepted into the program. 

In late January, Tanner and the other new employees in the program were brought to Toronto for a three-day conference.  During these three days they were given the opportunity to hear a number of speakers and get to know the other members of the program.  After the conference, Tanner returned to London, where he completed the program.  The first six months of the program were spent working in a branch.  During this time, he spent four days a week working as a bank teller, helping clients, and doing tasks around the branch.  The fifth day was spent on training and personal development, where he was able to develop skills like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. 

Next, Tanner spent three months working at Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU). YOU is a not-for-profit organization located in London, Ontario dedicated to helping youth in the community by providing them with the skills, confidence, and independence they need to succeed.  During these three months, Tanner was responsible for helping with business development.  This involved taking care of marketing activities, selling products created by young people in the program, creating and pricing gift baskets, and helping in any other way he could. 

After his time at YOU, Tanner spent the remaining three months working at a regional branch in commercial banking services. He was put in charge of a special project investigating how best the branch could open up communications and get better wealth management referrals.  RBC noticed that clients who used RBC for their business banking often used a different bank for their personal investments, and Tanner was responsible for investigating why this disconnect existed, and how they might be able to solve the problem.  According to Tanner, this was a great opportunity to learn more about commercial banking, as well as to network and meet people who he may not have otherwise met. 

At the end of the 12 months, Tanner and the other employees were brought back to Toronto for a final conference that signalled the end of the program.  Shortly thereafter, Tanner was called back in for his current position as an associate account manager.  

Tanner’s favourite part of the job is working with a variety of people, and getting to know clients.  Since every business owner is different, he enjoys figuring people out and getting to learn about people. 

When asked his opinion regarding how current students could be successful in finding a job after graduation, Tanner stresses the importance of networking.  He recommends taking the opportunity to get out and meet new people, and to keep in touch with them.  He believes the Career Launch Program was very useful because it allowed him to meet so many people in his field of interest.  According to Tanner, knowing people makes it that much easier to find a job! 

Broadcasting All-Star Lands Sports Fan’s Dream Job

By Kyle Rooks

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

In 2012, Caroline Cameron graduated from Fanshawe’s Broadcast Journalism program on a Friday and started her career at Sportsnet in Toronto the following Monday. It was the start of a meteoric rise that saw her spend two years in Vancouver hosting Sportsnet’s national morning
show and, in 2014, be recognized with a Fanshawe Distinguished Alumni Award. In April 2016, she returned to her hometown (Toronto) to co-anchor the late night/early morning version of Sportsnet Central.

What does your job entail?

On a typical day, I arrive for work at 8:30 p.m., check in with my producer and discuss the show’s rundown alongside my co-anchor. I write my scripts, keep my eye on as many games as possible, spend some time in makeup and wardrobe and prepare to go live at 1 a.m. On a busy night, we do a post-game show out of a live event which is always fun! It keeps me on my toes! I do all my prep at home during the day. That consists of watching TV (tough life, I know), and doing a lot of reading.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is I get to sit and watch sports for a living! It’s really fun working with other sports fans. We watch the games justike one would at home, or out with friends. We cheer, debate and laugh along the way. The only difference is we’re doing it for work. It’s pretty cool!

 Is it safe to say this is your dream job?

 Absolutely! If you had told 13-year-old me, that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have believed you. I first set my sights on being a sports broadcaster early in high school. I loved playing and watching all kinds of sports, but I also grew up in a family that consumed news; putting the two together seemed like the perfect match. Now that I’ve gotten to where I am, I can’t help but think: what’s next? But your guess is as good as mine. We don’t know what TV will look like in 5 – 10 years, just like we didn’t know what it would look like 5 – 10 years ago. I’m just along for the ride!

What's your favourite sport?

Despite having two older brothers, I was the jock of the family growing up. As the little sister, I was always trying to catch up with them – whether it was playing catch in the backyard, kicking a ball around, or shooting hoops on the driveway. I played basketball and softball in high school, but, the sport I gravitated to the most was tennis. From a young age I played with my Dad. At 15, I volunteered to be a ball kid during the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Being on the court with some of the greatest players in the world grew my love of the game even more. I’ve met some of my best friends through the sport and still play a couple times a week.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Tough to say. I consider a highlight to be any moment I catch myself thinking “the little kid in me would be freaking out if she knew what’s happening right now!” I remember the first time I was in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre - that was pretty surreal. Most recently, covering Milos Raonic’s run to the finals of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, was a huge honour. As a fan of the sport, it was incredible to see him beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals. It was a great feeling to know that I was covering an important moment in Canadian sports history. Iwanted to do the story justice.

How did Fanshawe prepare you for your career?

 By the time I graduated, I already had the structure and skills to move forward. I knew how to speak to people, conduct interviews and craft a story. When I arrived for my first day at Sportsnet, as a deer caught in headlights – I quickly settled down because the surroundings and what was expected of me didn’t seem foreign. To this day, when I write scripts for the show, I still think back to the writing rules and lessons I learned from Jim Van Horne and other faculty at Fanshawe.

Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved. 

Canadian Cool: Illbury and Goose putting the hip back in the Great White North

by Jason Winders

Everybody has that story – that time at a cottage, that time at the beach, that time where waves lapped at your toes while a bonfire warmed your back. Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips want you to remember those times every time you think of their brand.

 “We want to be a Canadian heritage brand, a lifestyle brand meant for every Canadian,” Kraft said. “People want to be proud to be Canadian, but they don’t want a tacky T-shirt to do it in. We have given them that opportunity to be cool and hip and trendy and socially responsible – all things Canadians are.”

Kraft, BSc’14 (Animal Behaviour), along with Phillips, a Fanshawe College graphic design graduate, are the creators of Illbury and Goose, a Canadian clothing and lifestyle company.

Today, the company is gaining attention not only for its style, but for its commitment to produce clothing, accessories and apothecary items for Canadian in Canada, all toward a mission of taking the definition of Canadian beyond “campfires and dogsleds.”

And it all started a handful of years ago with a couple of T-shirts.

In 2012, a gap in the “cool, unique products for guys” space led Phillips to design their first handful of shirts – one design showing a skull among geometric shapes, another bombers dropping wasps from their bays. They were cool, but perhaps not as deep as some thought.

“People thought we were sending this huge, huge political message,” Phillips laughed. “Honestly, we just thought they looked cool. I really just wanted a shirt with a skeleton on it.”

And so did a lot of other people.

The company – then known as dpms (Dan Phillips Media Studio) – was a face-to-face business from the start. It grew thanks to hustle and chutzpa.

Customers connected with them over a rented table at the Western Fair Farmers and Crafts Market or countless summer festivals across the region. Strangers came by the pair’s apartment to pick up orders. They sold beaded bracelets straight off their wrists in bars around town.

“We pretty much traveled anywhere where we could influence people in short time spurts. It was such a cool thing. We got to test market our product in this really organic way,” Kraft said. “We never forced it; there was no plan. We did something, people liked it and we decided to keep doing that.”

As the company grew in popularity, so did the product line – hats, leather goods, even personal care and apothecary items.

The breakthrough came when they were recruited into Biz Inc. (now Propel), Western’s business accelerator, and opened a popup store in the basement of the University Community Centre in November 2012. “That was the most inspirational, most important thing that ever happened to me at Western,” Kraft said.

The following academic year, she deepened her connection to Biz Inc. She lived there in many ways, using the space to study and work on the business. Today, Kraft credits John Pollock, former Director of Biz Inc., for the company’s biggest push.

“Our business would not be the same without him. He really started pushing us to figure out who we were, what we wanted to do,” she said of the man she still calls “one of my greatest mentors.” “We were forced to write our business plan, create some goals and really figure out our company’s values. We didn’t know any of that going in because it was an experiment until then.

“All of the pieces started connecting together at that point.”

In 2014, Kraft and Phillips won the Seed Your Startup competition and used the prize money to incorporate the business. With incorporation came a name change as the dpms name was shared with an American gun manufacturer.

Enter Illbury and Goose, a name honouring businesses run by their grandparents, Illbury Furs in Woodstock, Ont., and The Country Goose in Strathroy, Ont.

“We feel it is a really, strong Canadian heritage name. I feel like it could be comparable to Abercrombie and Fitch. It sounds so Canadian; the history behind the brand is unbelievable. That has led us to what Illbury and Goose is,” Kraft said.

Today, the company continues to sell via its website,, and now boasts two physical locations, one opened at 884 Dundas Street in London in August 2015, a second on Queen Street West in Toronto in August 2016.

The signature product is its logo, a maple leaf fused to the top of an anchor. Not only is it the top-selling item, but it ‘anchors’ the company’s brand story better than any other single item.

“We get to hear these amazing stories from our customers wearing the brand around the world,” Kraft said. “It is absolutely crazy. We were selling T-shirts in a park and from our house, and four years later, we have all this.”

This article appeared in the Fall2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission.

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! It was just like, ‘Hey Tim, looking forward to the show! I would love to sit down and chat with you!’…. I lost it. I screenshotted it, and posted it, and texted it to my brother and my parents! I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is weird! I can’t believe I’m at that point now where I’m getting an email from Fred Penner!”

In addition to Fred, Tim noted that having done interviews with people like Lindi Ortega, Eric Alper and the President of FACTOR have added credibility to his podcast and so it has become easier for him to interview other people in the industry. All he does is ask, usually via email. Fraser tries to reach out to the publicity contacts listed on an artist’s website, especially if they are on tour in London. “The worst they can say is no, and then you don’t get to interview them.”

On the managing side, Tim acts as the booking agent for singer-songwriter Ken Yates and the two-man circus freak show, “Monsters of Schlock”. Although he couldn’t mention the artists involved, Fraser is excited to expand his roster very soon, because for him, it’s the best part of his job! “I really love the artist management and consulting and helping people write grants. That’s the whole reason I started that company… to help artists with the monotony and the business side, because a lot of really creative people aren’t good at business. It’s a completely different mindset and work ethic, too.”

A life-long musician himself, Tim grew up playing classical violin and was involved in the Suzuki music program. At one time, Tim could be found playing in orchestras but he now only “dabbles” with the violin. He traded it in for the guitar, and later, a saxophone. “…High school hit, hormones started kicking in and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t land a girlfriend playing the violin! This is so nerdy!’ …So I taught myself how to play the guitar. I’m now in my 30s and look back on it, and I see people like Tim Chaisson who plays violin very well, and my wife wishes that I still played the violin.”

Fraser began writing and singing his own punk rock and ska songs in high school and eventually toured Canada as a member of the band, Angry Agency. Now as the person who is responsible for bringing acts to Fanshawe and other venues, Tim has been both the performer and the promoter. He uses his personal experiences to help make better events for everybody involved.  “It helps a lot coming from the performing side of things just because … I’ve been on the other side of it. So it helps with all the hospitality stuff and the planning of it. I know that when I was an artist touring around, what I would’ve wanted to know from the promoter…. I really do pride myself in how I treat artists and performers when they come on campus. I make a concerted effort to make sure they’re comfortable and having a good time…. A lot of people don’t realize [the performers] are actually people and they’re providing a service so you’ve got to treat them well,” Tim explained. Part of making an artist comfortable involves following their rider and using common sense. For example, Tim said that if someone asked him for a Diet Pepsi, he wouldn’t give them a Coke Zero.

Tim Fraser’s advice?  “Take any opportunity that you can get, work your ass off, do a good job and just be nice to people. Treat people with respect and don’t burn your bridges-- the entertainment business is a very, very small world where a lot of people know each other and a lot of people talk.  I’ve seen people lose clients and lose work.”  Tim gave up three well-paying jobs to work as an intern for True North Records six years ago in order to get a foot in the door. He has no regrets because the connections he has made helped him become “a viable member of the Canadian Music Industry”.

For Steffen Marin, Heirloom is a Labour of Love that is Paying Off

By Kyle Rooks

Steffen Marin (Artisanal Culinary Arts ’14, Fanshawe College) didn’t know it at the time, but enduring a bone-chilling winter working as a junior sous-chef at an Italian restaurant in Saskatchewan planted the seed for what is now growing into a successful and rewarding career.

“It was a terrible winter. I’m talking a total accumulation of over 100 centimetres of snow and temperatures as low as -50 degrees with the wind chill,” recalls the 22-year-old native of Mississauga, Ontario. “But it was a great experience because it pushed me to learn more and see beyond frozen boxes of meat ... to appreciate the importance of fresh food.”

It was that simple, yet powerful, recognition about the all-too-frequent lack of fresh food options that led Marin to realize his dream earlier this year of opening Heirloom, a Toronto-based food truck featuring a bold menu of fresh, locally-sourced food. “(Opening the food truck) is something I wanted so bad I could taste it,” says Marin, the sole-owner and chef, who had been working on the project for two years. “In the beginning I kept quiet about it because many people would have thought I was crazy.”

“I refused to let it go,” he says. “I wanted to pursue something that wouldn’t just help me grow as a cook, but also contribute to the field.”

His dream began to take shape when he enrolled in Fanshawe’s Artisanal Culinary Arts program, a unique one-year graduate program focused on a holistic farm-to-table approach to cooking that promotes local, seasonal and sustainable food production.

“When I came to Fanshawe, I didn’t even know how to hold a knife,” says Marin, who had previously graduated from Fanshawe’s two-year Culinary Management program and would later complete the Advanced Baker/Patissier program. He explains how daily field trips to farms around the region, getting his hands dirty working the on-campus vegetable garden and exploring his creativity in the kitchen – including a co-op at Calgary’s CHARCUT Roast House studying under one of Canada’s top chefs – gave him the knowledge, connections and confidence to pursue his passion.

“The faculty are like family to me because they showed me how to succeed,” he says. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without that program.”

Marin grows over 50 organic heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables in four garden plots – including a small plot in the backyard of his mother’s townhouse – and sources his meats, cheeses and other ingredients from local farmers and artisan producers around the Greater Toronto Area.

As a new entrepreneur committed to sustainable food, Marin’s focus is on growing strong relationships with those suppliers. “The most important aspect for me is connecting with local farmers and growing with them as I grow in the business,” he says.

While Marin admits his hands are full – between gardening, preparing the menu, and other day-to-day realities of small business ownership – he recognizes that it’s the quality of his food and the concept it represents that separates his product from traditional food truck fare. “At the end of the day, my customers can tell the difference,” he says. “Even though deep fried fish tacos are really good, there’s a big difference in terms of the quality and sustainability of the food.”

It’s a labour of love that’s paying off.

When he debuted Heirloom at the Field Trip at Fort York music and arts festival in June – serving up homemade chorizo sausages and braised lamb shank sandwiches – it took home the title of best new food truck. Aside from that recognition, Marin says what made the weekend special was seeing children run up to touch the carrots and other vegetables that adorn the side of the truck. “What I’m excited about is how the truck and my food can start a conversation, with people of all ages, about local farms and the importance of promoting sustainability within our environment,” he says. “I want to help further the knowledge of the great things that can be grown in Ontario.”

Heirloom’s early success has caught the attention of some festival organizers. Despite finalizing vendors months in advance, some organizers made last-minute exceptions after Marin sent a photo of the truck and an explanation of what he brings to the table. “They want to offer their customers something different,” he says.

In its inaugural season, Heirloom appeared at 35 events including an eclectic range of concerts and multi-day festivals. This fall, Steffen plans to spend three months backpacking around Europe helping farmers work their land and hopefully bring back ideas to improve his operation. “I still have so much more to learn,” he says.

Next year, he plans to hire his first employee and take Heirloom onto the streets of Toronto. He looks forward to what the future holds. “It can only get better and better,” he says, with a nod to his Fanshawe roots. “When I talk to the customers about my past and how I got here, Fanshawe always comes up first. That’s where this all started. It’s the best decision I’ve made yet.”


Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News.   All rights reserved.

Sarah Burke and the World of Rock Radio

By Nancy Delorey

Sarah Burke is a recent graduate of Fanshawe College’s Broadcasting-Radio Program. She spends her afternoons on London’s Best Rock FM 96 and the occasional weekend on 1021 The Edge in Toronto. She explains the love for her job comes from people – the people she interviews,  the people she connects with, and the people she meets. 


What is your current title? 

FM96 Afternoon Drive Announcer at London’s Best Rock FM96 / Part-time Swing Announcer at 102.1 The Edge Toronto

What exactly do you do for FM96?

I host the FM96 afternoon show weekdays from 2-6pm covering current events, music news, and sports to cater to a male dominant rock audience.  I often interview guests from the community or FM96 bands. For instance, Colin Mochrie from “Whose Line is It Anyway” was on the show before his “Improv All Stars” performance at Centennial Hall this week.  Monster Truck guitarist Jeremy Widerman was on the show, prior to the band playing before the Blue Jays versus Yankees game at the Rogers Centre.  The frontman and guitarist from Finger 11 came on the show live from Mount Brydges Rockin Wheel music festival.  The story is much the same with my content for 102.1 The Edge as I prepare for a role in a larger radio market.  On average I fill-in for one weekend a month in Toronto to help relieve announcer vacations and time-off.


What's it like working in radio?

Radio is kind of like day-camp.  Yes, you have somewhere you have to be everyday and you may need to prepare a lunch, but you always look forward to it.  Radio is really a daily conversation about what the people in your audience are already talking about.  When the Blue Jays are on a winning streak, across the country people are freaking out that their only Canadian baseball team could finally be making the post-season this year.  When 69 year-old Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister announces that he’s switching from Whiskey to Vodka, “for his health”…every guy who grew up on Motorhead is laughing. Everyday I ask myself these three questions: 1) What are people talking about today? 2) What can people relate to that’s going on in my life right now? 3) How can I make someone smile?


What is the best part of your job?

The best part of the gig is talking to people. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the guitarist or the singer of the band.  Sometimes the best part of the gig is talking to a Londoner you’ve never met on the phone, who shares your same love for the Toronto Maple Leafs and calls to tell you how excited he is to have Mike Babcock as the new coach.  Sometimes, it’s a couple of guys starting the night shift in a factory that call to say they have the station blasting at work. Sometimes, you end up hosting a charity event and sometimes, you’re introducing a band on stage at a music festival.  It’s different every day and it’s always exciting.


Name the coolest thing you have been able to do?

I’m going to have to narrow it down to three

     Interviewing Dallas Green of City and Colour

     Watching Neil Young rock Budweiser Gardens from Tie Domi’s suite

    Doing live radio shifts on the radio station I grew up listening to, 102.1 The Edge.


How has your time at Fanshawe impacted your career?

The Fanshawe Broadcast-Radio program has always been noted as one of the best in the country and that’s the reason that radio stations are quick to accept your request to intern or look at your resume before others. They know you already have the necessary skills.  The program basically has you job shadowing as you conduct interviews, learn to edit them and make contacts in the community.


What has your time at FM96 taught you?

My time at FM96 has taught me that broadcasting is not about the host and being in the spotlight. It is always about the listener, your #1 client.  If you’re telling a personal story on-air, a listener MUST be able to relate or it’s not worth telling. If you can keep your listener informed, engaged and entertained, you’re doing it right.

Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved. 

Plans Change, Opportunities Arise: Kerstin’s Story

Facilitated by Devin Gordon, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

My name is Kerstin Newman and I am 27 years old. I am German and spent the first 22 years of my life in Germany. Growing up, I always wanted a job where I could help people…in what way, I didn’t really care at the time. I used to envy people who knew exactly what they wanted to become and what they had to do to get there as I never had any specific plans. I was never confident in my abilities and didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue. I just knew I wanted to work with people my age or kids. So after graduating high school, I went to university to study German and English in the teaching program for German high schools (Grades 5-12).

During those university years, I went on an exchange and spent a year at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, where I completed my Master’s degree in German Studies. While everybody thought it was kind of strange that I left Germany to do an M.A. in German Studies in an English speaking country, I loved the experience of living in a different country, speaking English on a regular basis, but still studying German on the same level I would have back home.

I went back to Germany for 2 years after the exchange and completed my teaching degree at the University of Mannheim.  I knew at the time that I wanted to come back to Canada, especially since I had met my now husband (he is Canadian) in the German program at Waterloo. I knew the teaching job situation in Ontario was not great.  Also, the schools would not recognize my German teaching degree but would make me go back to teacher’s college, so I decided to switch careers while I was still in Germany. I did an internship at a John Deere facility in Mannheim, in the HR department for training and development. While the job was challenging at times (I had not really worked in office environments before), I loved what I did there, being exposed to people from all over the world, working with different people on different projects, being creative in scheduling, training or making materials available for people. My boss at the time was very supportive and connected me with the John Deere office in Brantford, Ontario, to see if they potentially had room for me. Since the office deals with all the finances, this didn’t work out, but the support of my boss encouraged me to pursue a career where I could do similar things to what I did at John Deere.

I decided to go to Fanshawe College for International Business Management to have better chances of finding a job with an international business. The program was only 8 months long and a post-graduate degree. While I was still a student at Fanshawe, they held a job fair in February and I talked to some people that represented businesses in London. One of the people I talked to ended up hiring me as a bilingual customer service advisor for after my graduation in April 2014. I started working in July 2014 and after completing the job training, I answered phones, chats, and emails for German and English speaking customers.

While customer service was never on my radar, I actually really enjoyed working with the team to help customers, talking to tons of different people all day, and learning new things every day. In April 2015, I was promoted to the role of team lead, meaning that I now am part of the leadership team for the customer service department. While I still talk to customers occasionally, I am now more involved in the operational reports, coaching people, and several projects designed to improve systems and processes.

My typical day is hard to describe as there are never two days that are the same. My main responsibility is to do some reporting on the teams’ performance the previous day in the morning, and then just be available for whatever questions the customer service advisors may have throughout the day. These might be process related, content questions, or system related, so most of the time, I function as a subject matter expert on anything regarding customer service. I approve one-off exceptions we might make for customers, I help advisors help customers in the best way possible, I try to help advisors succeed in their roles, and I am a point of contact for other departments that might have questions about customer service.

I love that every day is different. I love working with the people on the team.  I love being able to help people (the advisors and other departments within the company, and customers that buy our products). I love the challenges I encounter every day (figuring out an Excel formula, pulling meaningful statistics out of a mess of data, talking to people about odd customer situations that we need to figure out, etc.). I love being involved in cross-functional projects that will eventually help our customers have a better experience dealing with as a company. I love the support and encouragement I get from my colleagues and superiors, and I love the company in general for its culture and work environment.

While this is not at all the career (or the life – for that matter) that I ever thought I would have, I really enjoy working and living in Canada. When I was starting university at the age of 19, I was sure I would be a teacher for German and English at a high school somewhere in Germany by the age of 25. Instead, I am the team lead of a customer service team at a tech company in Canada at 27. Plans change and opportunities will come up that we never thought we would consider. I am absolutely happy with my career so far and I am sure there will be more planned and unplanned changes in the future.  I have learned to embrace change and unforeseen circumstances and to make the best of any situation not only in regards to my work life, but also as it relates to my personal life. 

Feeling Like a Hero: A Child and Youth Worker’s Perspective

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Chayse Jackson is currently working towards becoming a Child and Youth Worker at Fanshawe College. As part of her placement, Chayse is working with children aged 6-12 at 24-hour crisis centre that supports families in London, Ontario. On a daily basis, she is there to support their needs and to provide a safe and fun environment:

“We try and make their stay the best possible and have it not like a group home, but more like camp -- like a sleepover….We play outside with them. We've done glow in the dark ring toss and science experiments. We play sports in the gym and I eat dinner with them…. I do programming every Tuesday night. [We] make crafts or do games. Then on Wednesdays, we do social skills groups. I've done one where the kids have pretend moustaches and it’s called ‘I Moustache You a Question’. They get questions and go around practicing ice breakers and work on making new friends.”

In addition, Chayse has attended many other events with the children including a rookie tournament game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, a kid-friendly Halloween party put on by Western University and a play at The Grand Theatre. Many of these activities are things that the children might not have the opportunity to experience elsewhere and Chayse is proud to be a part of their lives:

“I love my job because I get to help kids and preserve that spark they have. I get to enjoy their creativity and imaginations. I see the bad and good. I have to see and hear the worst of the worst but I see progress and am able to be their advocate and voice. I get to feel like a hero and that safe person they can talk to. I love seeing them accomplish things they never thought they could or [were] told they couldn't do…. I get to see potential and I love being able to share moments and have the kids do things they may never do outside of the organization, and I like to think I can teach them to be resilient and strong.”

Chayse adds that being in this type of setting lets kids be kids and it alleviates some of the big stressors in their lives such as the impact of their own mental illnesses or how their parents may act towards them. Within the centre, children no longer have to question whether or not they will have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a place to shower and most importantly, they no longer have to wonder if they, along with their siblings, are safe.

“They don't need to worry about big, scary issues. They can let loose, and just be a kid. They can feel relaxed and have weight lifted off their shoulders…. seeing that glow and spark in their eyes -- it’s euphoric. It gives me ‘warm fuzzies’ and makes me feel like I'm on cloud nine.

Like many of the children she has worked with, Chayse has had her own battles with mental illness over the years. Despite the hard times, she has pushed herself to keep moving forward in order to help others.

“I struggled as a kid with mental illness, and still do. I had a rough go with my family and bullying and I see a lot of myself in these kids. In high school I had a counsellor and I saw what she did for me and I want to be there for the kids. I never want anyone to feel alone like I did.” For anyone else who feels the same way and would like to be a Child and Youth Worker, Chayse offers the following advice:

“Be able to think on your feet because every kid is different. They think differently, they act differently and they test your limits to see how much it takes you to crack. They're used to people leaving and giving up on them, so be resilient and show them you're there for the long run. You have to be stable emotionally. You're going to see and hear a lot of tough things but remember, at the end of the day, any progress is something and you may be all they have. You're like a firefighter. People count on you. You're strong and smart and brave and you’re a hero to these kids. They look up to you. You need to be able to be optimistic and be able to see potential in the good and bad.”  And, for those the Grey-Bruce area, or elsewhere, Chayse and the author strongly recommend Wes for Youth Online -- a counselling service.

Although Chayse may not always work with the same organization after graduation, she would love to volunteer and then apply to it in the future. She would also like to work with those who have been impacted by eating disorders. An avid animal lover as well, Chayse says she is “really interested in doing therapeutic [horse] riding with troubled and disabled kids.” Wherever Chayse Jackson’s path takes her, her positive impact is sure to be felt by everyone she meets along the way.

In memory of Justin Hammond

The Girl with a Passion for Fashion: Nicole Snobelen

By Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University


When Nicole Snobelen was 8 years old, her Nanny gave her a designer game where she could draw and color outfits. Nicole knew right then and there that this was something she wanted to do with the rest of her life and she made her dream a reality!  Nicole Snobelen is the owner and designer of Evelynn by Nicole Snobelen and the Founder of the Abby Girl Fund. She studied Fashion Design at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario during the years of 2009 – 2012.

Evelynn is a Canadian fashion line based in London. The collection is targeted towards young women who love to stand out in a crowd! Nicole also founded The Abby Girl Fund, a fundraiser that started in 2015 to help lift the spirits of girls suffering from illness. Volunteers with the Abby Girl Fund visit girls in the hospital and work with them to design and colour their dream dress. In the days that follow, they secretly fabricate the identical design and make the young girl’s dream dress come to life. A few days later, they surprise each girl with her very own custom dress!

Prior to seeing her dreams come to fruition, Nicole indulged herself in many different experiences that really gave her a better sense of the fashion world and helped her get to where she is today. She was the marketing captain at The London Tap house, where she was put in charge of customer relations, marketing the business, running Friday nights, planning events and getting people involved with the company. She also trained new employees – both servers and members of the marketing team. 

Nicole also assisted fashion designers at Toronto Fashion Week, where she furthered her knowledge in the fashion industry. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, Nicole put together over 23 fashion shows to raise money for charity organizations like The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes, Lupus Canada, Cystic Fibrosis, and MS Research.

So what does a day in the life of Nicole Snobelen look like? “Being an entrepreneur, I typically start working when I open my eyes and, until I close them, I am never really not working—I am my business. I start my day off by checking and replying to emails, followed by updating social media outlets. This usually includes updating my website, prepping orders to be sent out and mailing them. I try to get in 3 to 5 hours of sewing—new inventory or custom work. Some days I schedule trips to the fabric stores. I like to set aside an hour a day to spend time on the Abby Girl Fund submissions—whether that would be patterns, making the design they came up with or actually putting it into production to sew”.

Nicole says that four things are very important when working in this field. “Passion is so important. If you’re going to run your own business, you need to love and be passionate about what you are doing”. She stresses that patience is also key because you cannot expect to be successful right away—things take time to grow. Dedication is also important. “It not only takes a lot of work to create a job where there wasn’t one, but to actually wear every “hat“ (run and control every part) in your business from the start can take a lot out of you. I have sacrificed a lot of things in my journey, like having a fixed income. When I first started Evelynn, I was living dress to dress in order to get where I am today”. Last, but not least, creativity. The fashion industry is very competitive and you need to be able to find inspiration easily.

The reason Nicole is involved with fashion design is because her favourite thing to do is brighten people’s days or bring them out of their situation. “I am very passionate about what I am doing and who I have become in the process. I wanted to use my talents to help people, which is why I started the Abby Girl Fund. I use my gift to brighten the days of little children going through a hard time. To not only see, but be a part of putting a smile on the children’s face, it fills me with so much joy. I can honestly say I have the best job I could ever imagine. I get to wake up every day and live my dream, choose the people I want to work with and be a part of something amazing that I created”.

Nicole has some great advice for people who are relatively new in the workforce. “Don’t give up on your dream! Things will get tough and you will feel discouraged but if this is your dream, fight for it! Listen to people; you can learn something from everyone you meet. Be a good person and help people when you can”.

To see some of Nicole’s fantastic work from Evelynn, visit her Facebook page:

To get more information on the Abby Girl Fund, visit:


Making His Own Mold: Dwayne Fischer Jr.’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Dwayne Fischer Jr. is an “Inventory Control Specialist” at a Walmart location in Toronto. On a nightly basis, Dwayne manages both the merchandise and the backroom associates. Part of his job includes organizing the stock, pulling it from the bins it came in, and “putting it away afterwards”. Dwayne also delegates duties to others.

What Dwayne loves most about his job is the actual opportunity to be working. After hitting a rough patch, Dwayne was able to create a better life for himself with the help of Walmart and is now thriving in his workplace: “I love my job because they gave me the opportunity when I didn't think I had any. I was unemployed for a year because I chose to step away from a previous career due to various reasons. I'm not going to say anything bad about my former employers but I made the choice to move on. I was getting fairly depressed and I couldn't find any work and finally Walmart gave me a shot. I am grateful for that.”

Dwayne began working at the Hanover store, not far from where he lived in Chesley, Ontario. Dwayne’s hard work and determination led to the position he has now as well as to a new home in Toronto: “I have worked my way through the company on nightshift. I started with stock, moved to fresh and frozen and maintenance then transferred to Toronto after one year.” Dwayne’s work ethic was noticed right away and after one month of being employed in the city, he was promoted to “Instock Supervisor”, which served as training for his Inventory Control Specialist position.

At an early age, Dwayne discovered that he was gifted and participated in the TRAIL (To Realize Advanced and Independent Learning) program in public school. This program helped him to realize that he is a very creative and intelligent individual. He describes himself as “a guy of all trades”.

“I can do a bit of everything, get along with everyone and learn anything almost instantly…” Dwayne explained. At times however, he has felt as though he is “too creative”. Since he is capable of so many things, it has been hard for him to choose a career and he has “never fully known” what he would like to do with his life. Because of this, Dwayne’s work path has been fairly diverse so far.

After high school, Dwayne enrolled in the Electrical Engineering – Accelerated program at Fanshawe College: “I liked the small computer electronics and was good at it, but it was accelerated and too quick.” (He now uses the electrical skills he learned as a hobby.) Dwayne then transferred into the General Arts and Science program. For three years, he worked in the television and film industries where he “got to experience a bunch of different areas on set, on lots of different projects”. 

Although working at Walmart was not something he intended to do, Dwayne says that he plans to keep advancing himself within the company: “It was never my mainstay plan, but it seems to work out for me very well.”

Coming from Bruce County, Toronto is a big change for Dwayne Fischer Jr., but it’s worth it! He doesn’t want others to miss out on similar opportunities if they have the chance: “I would say don't be afraid to shake things up, even if it is a little intimidating. Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take’. My main advice is to work hard and show your loyalty. Don't try and fit anyone else's mold, make your own.”

Caitlin Schultz’s Journey to a New Area of Healthcare

By Emma Kushnir, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Caitlin Schultz’s career has progressed into something even more exciting than she had originally pictured. She attended Fanshawe College from 2007 to 2010 and studied Respiratory Therapy. This is a three-year program – and the last year is all clinical work. Her placements were at University Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Stratford General Hospital. After her placements ended, Caitlin secured a position as a Respiratory Therapist at University Hospital, and worked there for five years. She also worked at Stratford Hospital and Alexandra Marine & General Hospital, in Goderich, as a Charge Respiratory Therapist. 

Then Caitlin’s journey took a new direction – to a newly created position at London Health Sciences Centre: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Patient Navigator.  COPD is a disease that is 80%-90% caused from smoking and doesn’t typically onset before age 40. As a chronic condition, it can be managed, but not cured. So, patient care is based on disease management and patients need help with that.

Caitlin’s job is to work with COPD patients under the Respirology Service. A big part of her job is teaching patients.  She does patient consultations that involve education about COPD, self-management skills, community resources and discharge readiness.  After patients are discharged from hospital, she continues to follow up with them by phone to ensure smooth transitions.  Since the job is fairly new, and she is the first one to step into the role at London Health Sciences Centre, another big part involves developing projects and new initiatives.  These include things like a connecting-to-home initiative, standardizing education for COPD patients, and creating a clinical pathway for patients to follow. Caitlin is a certified respiratory educator in both asthma and COPD.  In addition to this ­– and her respiratory therapy training – she sees the special skills required for her job are patience and a genuine desire to help people improve their own lives.

Many events and people inspired Caitlin on her journey to this career. When she learned that her younger brother had asthma, and he had to get pulmonary function testing, that is when she learned about respiratory therapy. In Grade 12, she was interested in health care, but didn’t want to become a nurse.  She did some research and got her first glimpse of respiratory therapy. A neighbor worked as a respiratory therapist at Goderich Hospital, and so –  pro tip! – Caitlin job-shadowed him. This proved helpful in choosing to study Respirator Therapy in college and she felt confident and happy in the choice.

After college, the connections and experiences from University Hospital, Goderich Hospital and Stratford General Hospital, helped Caitlin decide exactly what she wanted to do.  In those organizations, she had broad experiences –  everything from acute to chronic disorders, and inpatient to outpatient settings.  When she heard about the job opportunity as a COPD Navigator, she was already doing some COPD education in Stratford – and she realized patient education interested most. It just made sense!

When asked what she loves about the job, Caitlin says that it’s “the change made with the patients, when from start to finish there is visible improvement, and satisfaction from it. It is very rewarding being able to improve patients’  experiences, and engage them in their care, especially when you can see how much more comfortable they are about going home and being at home. You really get to know some of the patients and it is so rewarding being a constant person for them in the hospital. Patients need continuity of care and integration of care.”  She also explains she loves seeing the changes in the hospital, as initiatives start to happen, and witnessing the hospital become more patient focused.

Deciding to drop everything and commit to an environment that was outside of her comfort zone was the biggest challenge in getting to where she is now. Having to give up her other jobs was hard.  Taking a jump in the hope that it would work out was huge. Caitlin had never worked at Victoria Hospital before, and it was a big decision to commute over an hour to work every day.  Further, many things that she is doing now would have intimidated her a while ago – such as all the presentations and public speaking. She worked her way into it slowly, each presentation getting a little bit bigger.

Caitlin’s advice for those interested in healthcare?  “Think outside the box when it comes to health care jobs!  There is a lot more in health care than just the front-line stuff you typically see and hear about – such specialty jobs…Definitely job shadow! You can do research, but it’s hard to know until you get into the action. So any chance you get at seeing things firsthand – take it!” 

Feeling at Home at HomeSense

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

If you have been seeking out the perfect item for your home and you need a friendly face to help you find it, Ashley Bryan is the sales associate for you! Ashley began working at the new HomeSense location on Fairview Drive in Brantford, Ontario in July2015. After graduating as a Medical Administrative Assistant, Ashley was unable to find a job in her field, so she used her previous work experience and her love of HomeSense to her advantage.

Prior to going to Fanshawe College, Ashley was employed at the African Lion Safari. Although Medical Administration, tourism and working in retail are all different, they have one thing in common: working with the public. Ashley has always looked for jobs where she “could interact with people”. She explained that the Safari taught her about working with cash as well as “how to work effectively and quickly in a busy environment” while working “in close quarters to other people”.

After finishing post-secondary school, Ashley began the daunting task of looking for work:”I was looking for some positions and nowhere was hiring. I saw the HomeSense store was opening and I knew how much I loved the store, so I figured I would try my luck and see if I could get a job!” Luckily, everything worked out and she secured the position!

Ashley is very enthusiastic about everything she does and has high praise for her customers, co-workers, and the store itself.  As she puts it “I love interacting with the customers and seeing how happy they are when they find a piece they've been searching for. The support given by management is fantastic and it is a very supportive and nurturing environment”.

For Ashley, “seeing all of the cool stuff first” is one of the best things about working in a store that she already enjoyed as a customer. She often thinks about where she would put the items in her own home if she were to buy them. “I also love hearing what people are going to do with the things they get. I love that you never know what you're going to find in there, so it's like Christmas every day.

Ashley’s bubbly and upbeat personality is well suited for her job at HomeSense and people are noticing: “I've had a few customers tell me that I am ‘an excellent person to be doing this job’ because I am very friendly and make all my customers feel welcome. And another asked me, ‘are you always this happy, or do you have to be to work here?’ It was just nice to hear”, she recalled. With her kind and helpful nature, she is sure to hear many more compliments in the future.

If others are looking to apply at HomeSense or a similar position in retail, Ashley Bryan recommends wearing a good pair of shoes and a smile: “Some advice I would give is to make sure you have very comfortable shoes! HomeSense is a fantastic place to work if you enjoy dealing with the public. Having a bright smile is something that is a must because it makes your customers happy and they will be more likely to remember you and how nice of a store they are in.”

For more information about HomeSense, click here.

Karli Steen Comes Full Circle as a Freelance Writer

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Not everyone’s first job involves something that they are passionate about, but Karli Steen is one of the lucky ones! Karli is a freelance writer for, a website based out of London, ON. At the beginning of each month, Karli is assigned a wide range of topics to research and then she compiles list-based articles that are then edited and published on her Diply profile.

Karli’s position as a freelance writer allows her to work at her own pace from the comfort of her own home and her pajamas, which is enough incentive for Karli to go above and beyond her monthly submission requirements:

“The best part about working from home is that I can spend the day in my pajamas if I feel so inclined (99.9% of the time). I spend a good portion of my day on Pinterest, looking up the latest recipes, home decor ideas, and any other subject they need a piece on. My favorite pieces to do are the recipe ones, because although they make me hungry, a lot of them inspire me to actually make the food. When I am finished an article I put the link in my section of a Google spreadsheet and mark it green to let my boss know it can be edited and then published. If I've got extra time before the end-of-the month deadline, I try to put forth some of my own ideas.”

Initially Karli applied for a full-time job with Diply that would have required her to work in a downtown office, but she admitted that she “wasn’t exactly qualified”. Despite this, Karli’s passion for writing shone through in her interview which landed her the job she has now. “I was lucky because they saw my love for writing, and gave me the freelance position as an opportunity to grow and gain more experience”, Steen explained.

Prior to her work with Diply, Karli had been writing her own blog for some time, which now has over 7000 views! She also volunteered as a “WorkStory Ambassador” and wrote for this website, interviewing people who loved their jobs. Now things have come full-circle for Karli as she has found a job she loves as well. Karli relates her own WorkStory to the old saying, “no path is ever straight and narrow” and believes that “nothing could be more true” about her path:

“I had taken on an English degree at Kings University College, with the intent of going forward into a Masters of Journalism. After two attempts to get in the masters program, I knew I needed more experience. I started working alongside LEADS Employment Services to try and find work with the qualifications I already had.” Through LEADS, Karli came into contact with Dr. Natalie Allen, one of the co-creators of While working on her Masters application, Karli also wrote an autobiography and posted it on her blog which explains more about her path here.

Steen says that she is grateful for the opportunities that her previous writing outlets have provided her: “Both WorkStory and my blog were useful to me because I was able to show I was passionate about writing; in sharing my story, as well as others'.... My time with WorkStory still gives me encouragement, as a lot of the stories I wrote seemed to point out that one path often led to another that you might not have necessarily seen yourself going down before. I can't wait to see where mine goes.” Currently, Karli’s path continues at Fanshawe College where she is studying to teach English as a second language, but Karli Steen will always be a writer no matter where her path takes her.

“If I could give new writers some advice,” said Steen, “I would stress the importance of starting a blog about something that shows your passion. If you're not much of a blogger, you might even try poetry-- just something where others can see what makes you tick. Also, even if you feel like you might not be the best fit for a certain position, don't be afraid to apply, because it could lead to another great opportunity!”

To keep up with Karli, you can follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page.

Vincent Gauthier Granted a Second Chance to Help Others

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Vincent Gauthier works as a Residential Counselor for Sudbury Developmental Services. During the school year, he is also a Child and Youth Worker as well as an Educational Assistant. In his own childhood, Vincent had many struggles which he overcame with the guidance of others, and now he strives to offer the same assistance to those who need it:

“I understand what it means to be challenged by the environment you grow up in and how [difficult] it can be;” says Gauthier. For him, there were certain people who saw past “the darker parts” of who he was, and they helped him to see who he could be. Without their support, Vincent believes that he never would have “made it this far” and he feels as though he was given this opportunity to help others in return: “Because I was granted a second chance, I chose to dedicate my career to those who need others to believe they can succeed and achieve their goals as well.”

Vincent began his post-secondary education at Fanshawe College in London which he thoroughly enjoyed: “I had a fantastic experience in learning from some of the best and most passionate professors....”

“I am currently going into my third year of a Bachelor's in social work (in French) at Laurentian University in Sudbury. This was done because I learned that in the field of Human Services, the more pieces of paper you have from post-secondary institutions, the better it will be to further your career.” Gauthier also feels that a post-secondary education can help lead to a bigger impact that one can have “on a macro scale” in terms of helping those in need.

Whether he is working at Sudbury Developmental Services or within the educational system, Vincent is most excited about the people he works with and that he is able to make a difference in their lives: “I love many aspects of my job. I love the people I support and get to meet. I love the fact that I get to positively impact the lives of those who are often faced with struggle. The best part of my job, however, is knowing that I get to contribute [to] making a difference in my community... and the world.”

Although Vincent Gauthier was driven to work in the field of Human Services, it has not been a simple task. He advises others that it will be a challenge for them as well, should they choose a career path similar to his:

“It's a hard job, don't think for a second that it will be easy—and for that reason—make sure you find a healthy way to deal with the stressors of the job.”

Gauthier also advises that working in this field requires the ability to adapt to change, even if the changes happen at a slower pace: “Don't forget that change does not occur over night, either in behavioral intervention or advocating, or any aspects of the field you decide to go in. Change takes time, and for that be patient. Never give up, because at the end of the day there's a lot more at stake than your own sense of pride. Lastly, never hold a grudge against those you are working with or supporting.”  All great advice! 

Making a Career Change for the Better

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Ashlyn Joyce works as a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in a Long-Term Care Facility, which is a job she loves because “it is never dull or boring”, especially since she primarily works in the “locked dementia unit”. There are a wide variety of behaviours that are exhibited by the residents and because they  are battling an unpredictable disease, they can also become unpredictable themselves. It is important to realize that they cannot help the way they are and it takes a special person like Ashlyn to take care of them.

Being a Registered Practical Nurse can be very rewarding, but also incredibly sad, so Ashlyn advises others to “laugh every day”.  Unfortunately, she acknowledges that “you'll have hard days when your favourite resident will pass away, but you need to be able to get through the hard times.... I find that laughing is one of the best ways to get through those rough times.”

One of Ashlyn’s most rewarding moments came when a resident told her that she was good at her job and that she “will go far in life”, thanks to her kind and caring nature. Ashlyn finds that by taking a few minutes out of her day to talk with her residents, it helps build a “therapeutic connection” while getting to know them “on a personal level”.

Throughout her academic career, Ashlyn realized that healthcare was her “destined field”, but not before she went down a different path in hopes of becoming a teacher. Initially her studies began at Brock University: “I started out gearing my life towards teaching math and French, but after I finished my first year of that, I knew it wasn't for me. So, on a whim... I signed up for the Personal Support Worker (PSW) course and loved it.” Ashlyn graduated as a PSW from Niagara College. She then took a year off to work and save enough money in order to continue her studies as an RPN at Fanshawe College and “hasn’t regretted a day since”.

When teaching didn’t work out as planned for Ashlyn, she feared that her parents may never speak to her again. She was very open with her parents about needing to make a change, and they knew how she felt: “...when I dropped out of university I was terrified my parents would disown me” she said. So, this fear motivated Ashlyn to come up with a back-up plan geared towards nursing in order to stay in school. “[I] ended up loving my decision to change programs” and, as she puts it, “you'll never know what you enjoy doing if you're living in fear of pleasing others.”

Ashlyn hopes that if others can relate to her situation, that they do what makes them happy in terms of living their own life. Today, she and her parents have a more positive relationship, now that they’ve seen Ashlyn pursue something that she loves: “They're proud of me” she remarked, “and [they] said I'm good at what I do and I obviously enjoy doing it. So as long as I'm happy, they are too.”

  Ashlyn made the most of attending various schools and encourages others to “take every opportunity they can to keep learning and expanding their knowledge base” wherever they are. She advised that “You never know what lies ahead, so keep asking questions and taking everything in, because one day it will all come to use.”

Although Ashlyn’s career path didn’t lead her to a classroom, her residents are much like students. They require the adequate attention and emotional support she provides: “It always keeps me on my toes because anything could happen” she explained. Whether the residents are going through a medical or emotional issue, she has to be there, “to assess them quickly and provide the necessary support to them.”

Also like many teachers, Ashlyn loves that she is able to make a difference in people’s lives, “no matter how small that difference is”. Every day, whether it is through helping others, getting to know someone, or taking the time to laugh, Ashlyn Joyce finds validation that she has made a career change for the better.