Feeling the need to go back to school can happen for a lot of different reasons from a new understanding of who you are, to workplace pressure, injury, or financial demand. For example, the decline of an industry can force your hand or a significant change within your household can mean the stability or security you once had no longer feels so strong.
If getting a job requires skills you do not already have, you can get the required skills through schooling, through work, or through a combination of both. The route you choose will depend on both personal factors as well as those related to the occupation you desire.
Before I get too far along, I must implore you to think twice and with a strong backbone. That is my way of saying – be positive. You have something to offer. You may already have the required skills. Perhaps you need only one course and not a whole program. As well, some occupations care more about what you have done and can offer, meaning they want and need to see your work history. In these scenarios, refreshing your resume with the help of a new set of eyes or gaining skills through a work setting (e.g. volunteering or wage subsidy placement) can be excellent options.
Going back to school is a big decision that does not need to be intimidating. There are three big areas to explore and the very first is you. A little (well a lot) of both introspection and practical planning are required. What occupation fits with you? How much can you afford? How will you balance schooling with the rest of your life? Are you prepared for a lifestyle change? What will happen if you struggle to find a job after school? Some of these questions can be answered through various assessments and tools. Others can only be answered by you and it will be important to get input from the people who are part of your life.
Second, and what most people seem to avoid, is labour market information. You want to make sure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits. Is the industry you are training for in demand or decline? What are the mandatory requirements for entry or promotion? What are the wages? Are there job openings where you are willing to be located? Will these job openings be there after you finish school? To begin answering these questions talk to people in the field, your local employment centre, and research job markets (e.g. through work search engines or government websites).
Finally, you will need to explore your education options. Education options have expanded over the years from content, to delivery methods and pacing. Find the option that works for you. Colleges have education advisors who can help you examine entry requirements and assist you in determining your strengths. They can walk you through the various courses available and make recommendations based on your history and goals. A good starting point is often your local college.
Retraining as an adult is a difficult decision and, like most other things related to finding a job, can be a scary process that challenges your confidence and decision making skills. This is normal and, for even the most brazen, it will push you outside of your comfort zone at some point. Be realistic, creative, and committed.
Name: Carolyn Doyle
Business: Big Bang Bagels
What was your first job in the Valley? I served for Claude and Lillis at the Corner Pocket when it was downtown at the old Central building. Very close to the same time I started coaching for FAST.
Why is Fernie a great place to work? No traffic!
What is it about your job that you love? Of course it's the people. I love, love, love the people I work with and the people who come into my shop. I am so lucky to be surrounded by great people.
If you could relay one piece of advice to someone working toward their "dream" job, what would that be? Start small and grow. This eliminates financial burden and more importantly you learn so much this way about what people want from your business.