By Alexandria Palazzo
Stoney Creek News (May 25, 2016)
Are you a senior in high school? Think back to the transition from elementary to secondary school and most students will remember some fun and informative event that included meeting real live high school students.
Think forward to postsecondary and or graduate schools and it becomes clear that the same useful network of “mentors” doesn’t really exist. Even amongst the wealth of information on websites and books, there may not be that personal connection with someone who has actually walked the path you are about to start. Last fall, in a casual conversation with Marisa Mariella, Head of Student Services at Bishop Ryan CSS, I decided to change this.
Last month, over 200 senior students were invited to hear a panel presentation that featured 9 young adults at various stages in their career pathway plan. Considering the theme “What I know now that I wish I knew then”, the presenters shared their experiences from high school to post secondary to post graduate to employment.
During the formal presentation, each presenter shared the ups and downs during the journey. More importantly, they conveyed how they established career goals, modified plans, revised strategies, and accessed help when it was needed. Above all, they each reflected their passion for their career choice.
“Today’s presentation is a way of reminding you that, to some degree, everyone struggles with their career pathway planning. Any yet, we believe that God has a plan for you,” explained Mariella as she introduced the panel to the students in the audience. “Discovering this plan starts with knowing yourself.”
After school, the group met with students in a more comfortable and relaxed environment. Young and experienced, the speakers interacted with the students in a way to inspire them to pursue learning.
“The university talk was very helpful and no one can imagine how confident I am after listening to all those real life heroes,” responded grade 12 student Ubaid Ur Rehman, who recently moved to Canada. “They made me feel comfortable, strong and confident about myself by explaining their precious personal thoughts and experiences,” added Rehman who is interested in pursuing engineering.
According to the Individual Pathway Plan as outlined by the Ministry of Education, students need to first learn about their strengths and weaknesses, work ethic and learning styles, values and dreams. Then, there is a need to look at the opportunities available every step of the way. Opportunities in co-op, SHSM or dual credits and co-curricular activities all offer rich experiences. Eventually, goals and decisions need to be identified. Accessing help and reviewing and updating the plan help to paint a clearer picture about career pathways.
“This was the first time that we have done something like this at school. Next year, we will look at all pathways and invite more young adult speakers to address a broader interest including college and apprenticeships,” explained Mariella. “While all these speakers graduated from Cardinal Newman CSS, next year we will add graduates from BR.”
“They did an amazing job and I just want to thank them for taking the time to meet with us,” commented Rehman.
Tips for Success
Interested in some of their tips for success? Take note as you may soon need them as you transition from high school to postsecondary and beyond.
1. Try not to operate with blinders on. Even if you know exactly what you want to do in life, it is important to gain experiences from many different areas to make yourself marketable when applying to jobs after university, or to an admissions committee if you decide to apply to graduate schools. After all, you might change your mind.
Alexandria Palazzo, B.A. (Hons), J.D. Candidate at University of Windsor, Faculty of Law
2. Manage your time well. You are about to enter a time where you won’t have as many people making sure your work is complete or if you are on track. Relaxing and having downtime is crucial, but only if it is balanced with hard work. Your future will be determined by how much you dedicate to it, and the only person who can determine that is you.
Christopher Mariella, B.Sc. (Hons), O.D. Candidate, New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA
3. Successful students are motivated by aiming their goals towards career aspirations and skills. Ask yourself these questions: What am I learning here? How can I maximize this opportunity? Where are the next milestones I need to hit? Don't sit in the back, don't cram for exams, and don't pull all-nighters unless you have to. Do keep organized notes. Do share workloads with group mates and friends, and treat your time in post-secondary as a full-time scheduled job.
Roberto Bozzo, B.Eng Materials Sci. from McMaster University, Presently employed as a Manufacturing and Materials Engineer, Cymat Technologies Ltd., Mississauga, ON
4. Ask questions! If you are confused about a concept or failed to understand the discussion you must ask for clarification. Although intimidating to ask the professor, you are probably helping someone else as well by asking. Even if you ask your peers after class, clarification are key because every topic typically builds on each other.
Jessica Finan, B.Acc. from Brock University, CPA, CA Candidate
5. Don't fall into the trap of looking too far ahead for a career path. Instead, it is essential to understand your passion and what makes you happy and pursue courses that relate to that topic. Opportunities will create themselves, the rest will fall in place one step at a time.
Joseph Vitucci, B.Tech Process Automation McMaster University, Presently employed as Site Controls Lead at PepsiCo Foods Canada - Frito Lay, Cambridge, ON
6. Find excuses to keep going, and not to stop. The easier option, almost always leads to a gratification that is short term and only lasts for that specific moment. The long-term gratification is the one that takes perseverance, determination and hard work. Anyone can achieve the long-term gratification, they just need to find their specific reasons to why they should keep going!
Christian DeAngelis, B.Sc (Hons), B.Ed (Hons), M.Sc. at Brock University, Presently employed as a Part Time Professor at Niagara College
7. Understand the type of learner you are and research your program to make sure it suits your learning needs.
Sabrina Cerminara, B.Sc.N. at McMaster University, Presently employed as a registered nurse at a local hospital
8. First, follow your passion. Second, don’t be discouraged by failure as that is where you grow the most.
Marcel Cerminara, B.Comm. (Hons),MBA Candidate at McMaster University, CFA and CFP Candidate, Presently working full time at the City of Hamilton as an Investment Analyst in Financial Planning and Policy
9. My tip to anyone entering into university or college is to surround yourself with a few friends, either people you already know or new people you meet in your first year, that share the same goals and aspirations. Having these people around you will help you get through university as you can bounce ideas off of one another, help with learning and offer support during tough times.
Paolo Di Tullio, B.Eng., M.A.Sc. (McMaster University), P.Eng. Candidate, Presently employed in the Town of Oakville as a Civil Engineer Inspector