While they may not realize it or could be astonished at what I have taken forward, my parents have each taught me valuable career planning lessons, which I believe still hold true despite that current generations face distinct challenges when it comes to making choices about work and career.
It isn’t the handy model I use in presentations for EK Employment (know yourself, explore your options, get ready, take action). It is that your career is simply the sum total of all your work, learning, and life roles. The words need not knock your knees and should not feel irrelevant. It is that I should not ignore any one part of this formula because it is otherwise ill-serving. It is that choice is necessary and ideally made by an active participant who decides when and how to be bold or conservative. It is that my career will develop over my lifetime and be unique to me. Opportunities can connect in the strangest of ways. It will be exciting at times and may not at others. It is that nothing is final.
My father was the one who always knew what he wanted to be, what he wanted to do for work. His career path could be described as quite linear, but on closer examination you would see bends and a building toward something. I remember distinctly when I was about ten years old and my parents made a decision about his work. It was a bold choice for them that to the outside world may not have necessarily made sense, but to us it did because the choice aligned with his learning, life roles, and work strengths.
I’m not sure if my mother always knew what she wanted to be. I probably don’t know because I watched my mum with fascination do so many amazing things. She knew herself. She didn’t limit her options and was willing to explore. By no means was this easy. I remember when she struggled to return to her line of paid work after the youngest was tucked away in school. I also remember her getting a lay-off notice. I remember the stress and not knowing how to help.
Me, I have always struggled with the question “what do you want to be,” from my first days playing make-believe to many years later after graduate studies in a town I loved and wanting to find work that worked. This struggle is not uncommon. Making career choices can feel daunting. It can feel like there are a million choices while having only a few. It can come with intense pressure to get it “right”… and then things can change faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind.
We will all be challenged to make many career choices throughout our lives. Where will you take yourself?
Name: Leah Wilkie
Business: Decoro Portraits
What was your first job in the Valley?
I started as an on-call Teacher in School District #5, and then got a job as the Community Literacy Coordinator for the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy.
Why is Fernie a great place to work?
The pace in Fernie is so different from other places I've lived and worked. People here work really hard, but there is so much more focus on work/life balance. There is a real sense that work is not an end unto itself, but a piece of a larger picture.
What is it about your job that you love?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to spend a large chunk of time with clients, and because of that I can really get acquainted with them. I love having real conversations with people, and getting the chance to help them recognize their own value and beauty.
If you could relay one piece of advice to someone working toward their "dream" job, what would that be?
My biggest asset in this process has been my husband and business partner, Kevan. He and I have very different, but complementary strengths and ways of looking at the world. Having a person in your life that can help level the ups and downs is invaluable. And as Kevan always reminds me, being an entrepreneur is about innovation and hustle, so never stop moving!