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Gathering The Courage To Pursue Career Goals



Maria has a different story, she says so herself. Pursuing her career goals has been a bumpy, start-and-stop journey spanning three countries and nearly ten years.


After a decade’s worth of hard work and resilience, Maria finally has her hard-won university degree. When she met Jim though, other things were lacking: namely work experience, confidence… and faith that everything would work out. 


Maria was born and raised outside of Canada. Like others, she sought out a university education when she was younger. Unlike most others, the path took her the better part of a decade. Maria was in her first year of university when she got married. Her husband lived in another country so she transferred her credits, boarded a plane and moved. She continued earning her degree and had her first daughter. Two years later, she had twins and was forced to put her education on hold. After living in this new place for four years, Maria and her husband decided to move to Canada. Again, she looked to transfer her credits. She wasn’t successful. She lost almost all of them and had to start over—this time while mothering three young children, and later, a fourth. 


When Maria recounts those years, she says they involved multi-tasking, juggling, missing family time to study, carving out time to sleep… the list goes on. But she persisted. Finally, in 2018, she graduated completed her degree and graduated. It took her almost ten years. Her oldest child is now 16.


Not many people would have the grit to restart and earn a university degree while navigating life in a new country and being the primary caretaker for four kids.


Maria’s peers may have started their careers years ago but she’s a recent grad. Employers list her lack of work experience as a reason not to hire her. They say her resume is lacking. Those rejections took a toll. When Maria met Jim, she was lost and feeling heaps of self doubt. She wondered if she’d ever work outside the home. She questioned whether or not she had what it took to build a career. She stressed about her lack of professional experience. Jim didn’t think the resume mattered.


Not many people would have the grit to restart and earn a university degree while navigating life in a new country and being the primary caretaker for four kids. He thought that tale of determination and resilience should be enough. He saw Maria as someone who sets goals and does what it takes to see them through. He helped her to see her story from his perspective and better communicate that to others. He taught her to not put so much stock in the rejections. He gave her a piece of advice that she regularly repeats to herself: “Be yourself and that should be good enough.” 


Together, they built a customized plan of action to give Maria the courage to pursue the career that she envisioned for herself all those years ago. Against Jim’s advice, she briefly took a job that was a wrong fit. When it didn’t work out, Jim helped her understand that other people’s poor management skills aren’t her fault. She learned to stop blaming herself and to put herself first for a change.  


In reflecting, Maria describes the performance coaching as accepting and non-judgmental. Sometimes you just need a person to believe in you, to lift you up when the world is pulling you down, she says. Jim was that person. Finally, she uses an analogy appropriate for someone who has raised four kids. The program felt like being a toddler and holding someone’s hand while learning to crawl and then, eventually, to walk.


*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the clients

Article by Sinead Mulhern


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