Most people have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they decide to dive into a career path. For me, my deepest understanding of journalism was based on a mild-mannered reporter who has three crucial things: Big glasses that successfully preserve his secret identity, a severe allergy to the substance known as Kryptonite and a heroic desire to save people and right injustices.
So far, I think I have come pretty close to achieving Clark Kent’s professional traits. I have an extremely large pair of glasses — imagine my glasses as something a really hip grandpa in the 80s would wear. Fortunately, I don’t think I’m allergic to Kryptonite so my severe gluten allergy will have to be close enough, and I have a strong desire to help those around me.
Many people say to follow your passion, but how do you know what you are passionate about and are you invested in it enough to turn it into a career? Before launching into the world of journalism, the other half of my deep journalistic inspiration came from Clark’s counterpart, Lois Lane. People often deride Lois as lacking in investigative skills for not being able to tell that, spoiler alert: Clark Kent is Superman. They see her as silly, frivolous and annoying. But I have always seen Lois as tenacious, a little outspoken and passionately searching to tell a story that no one else is telling. I think she is the spunky brunette who is successfully working in a man’s world.
I remember being asked in high school what my plans were for after graduation, I felt a panicked and desperate need to have my life planned. The question of, ‘What are you going to do after you graduate?’ was asked so many times that eventually, I came up with an answer that I could tell anyone who asked. I was going to become a pastry chef.
It’s a little ironic wanting to go into a profession that involves baking when I am severely allergic to flour, but at least I had a plan I could tell people. I thought that because I liked baking in my free time and I could probably squeeze by with two years of education instead of four, it would be good enough for me.
Career development practitioner Lise Stransky says that the concept of finding your passion can be difficult. She says, “My philosophy is, ‘work should be meaningful.’ What is meaningful for me, might be different than what is meaningful for you.”
Stransky explains that when you shift your focus from finding your passion to finding something that is meaningful to you, it can relieve some of the pressure to find a job.
“The definition of career is not work,” she says. “It’s a recipe of knowing your interests, your values, your skills, skills you need to develop, your wants, your needs and having a good self awareness of those things.”
After I graduated, I chose to take some time off from academia to consider what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that becoming a pastry chef was something that I didn’t want to do and wasn’t actually suited for, but then what? The fall after I graduated, I applied for a temporary seasonal job in the retail industry. Well, my ‘temporary’ job turned into almost two years of employment and I loved working in customer service.
Just like you can fall in love quickly, you can fall out of love just as fast. For me, it was like breaking a pencil in half, where you hear that satisfying ‘SNAP’ and know its time is done. It was a shattering realization for me that I was done with customer service, and had to face the same question I had so expertly avoided, ‘what are you going to do?’ It had never really left, it was still annoyingly nestled in the back of my mind.
Kristen Keibel is no stranger to the difficulties of trying to find a fulfilling career. Her career journey began when she decided to pursue her degree in behavioural sciences at Ambrose University.
“At that point in my life it just sounded […] interesting, so I thought I would see if I liked it,” she says.
But after a while she realized that something was missing. “Talking to the other people in the same program as me you could tell that they were more passionate.”
After finishing a year in the program, Keibel decided to transfer to The King’s University. She completed her bachelor’s degree in social sciences with the hope of becoming a high school math teacher.
“I got to the end of my degree and was like, ‘wait a second, is this something I want to do, do I want to be working in a classroom for long periods of time?’” Shortly after graduating, she got a job in the finance department at Calaway Park. It was here that her path to accounting started and eventually she received her accounting certificate from Bow Valley College. Keibel is currently working as an accountant and is excited to learn new skills.
Although Keibel says that teaching is still a possibility, she loves accounting and plans to stick with it. “I think the right and fulfilling career is something that you enjoy and you feel like it has a purpose.”
When I was 12, a woman came to stay at our house who was an amature photographer. I was in awe of her chic camera and amazed by her photography. It was around this time that I began dreaming of becoming a photographer and received my first digital Canon camera.
Coincidentally, at about the same age I wrote a ‘Letter to the Editor’ that was published in our local newspaper. Although writing the letter was initially for a school assignment, writing it developed a desire in me that the letter would spark change in my city.
As I knew my time in customer service was coming to an end, I started looking at university programs. Eventually, I stumbled upon Mount Royal University’s bachelor of communication in journalism program. It’s difficult to say how a few generic paragraphs describing a four year university program drew my attention, but like a little fish in an ocean of opportunity, somehow I was hooked.
This was my “ah-ha” moment, I had found the program I was looking for. I had no idea that my childhood dream of being a photographer, or the published musings of a 13-year-old demanding change in her city, would accumulate into a career that so fully encapsulated my interests.
Stransky says that the majority of people will change jobs eight to 12 times in their careers, some will make a major occupation change and others will change jobs within the realm of their current profession.
In the article, Super’s Career Stages and the Decision to Change Careers, they examine the relationship between people who have successfully changed careers and those that have remained in a single career.
“Participants who had fully completed the change into a second career were just as satisfied with their overall process of career development as stable single careerists is in keeping with Super’s (1990) view that recycling into a new career is a normal developmental outcome with no adverse long-term implications for personal happiness or vocational maturity.”
Currently, I am finishing my third year in the journalism program. When I think about Stransky’s ideology of ‘finding work that is meaningful to you,’ I can’t help but see the wisdom in this concept. I’ve seen firsthand the time and dedication that journalists put into researching articles. I’ve seen the creativity and curiosity that propels a journalist to discover new things and try to make the world a better place.
It’s difficult to say what this career path holds for me, considering I haven’t actually graduated to become a professional journalist. This choice of profession is meaningful to me, but I also wonder if it will continue to be so for the next 40 years. For now, although my idea of the profession of journalism has changed a bit from my initial understanding, the main concept of my Superman ideology remains the same: I will strive to help others like Clark Kent and be tenacious like Lois Lane.