“I guess my main value is ‘community-mindedness’. I like to be out in the community, making connections and pooling resources to bring the best possible services to at-risk youth. Making a difference where it counts really matters to me. I’ve moved around a bit but this work is where my heart is.”
Meet Ken. Ken lives in Prince George and has worked in the non-profit sector for over ten years. Ken has had an interesting career journey. He started in the non-profit sector, decided to move to the business sector, and then transitioned back to where his passion is—working with youth in the non-profit sector.
When Ken graduated from high school, he was unsure of what he would do next but he knew he needed to work full-time. A friend referred him to a contract position as an Administrative Assistant at an employment centre. The job required greeting clients, scheduling appointments, maintaining a database, and creating reports. During his time there, he realized that he had some skills in working with different types of people and they all seemed to like interacting with him.
When Ken’s contract ended, he connected with the Prince George Child and Family Services and worked with at-risk youth. He started in administrative support and then began to develop the skills needed for working with youth. Through on the job training, he gained more skills and was promoted to a Youth Worker role. He continued to enhance his skills and experience by working at a lock-down facility for at-risk youth who were suicidal.
After six years, Ken wanted more career growth and he went to the Boys and Girls Club to work as a Community Supervisor. In this role, he monitored young offenders with court-ordered curfews in the community. He became skilled at conflict resolution in his work with young offenders. His communication and relationship-building skills were crucial in this role. It was difficult work and Ken noticed that, after a year of giving his all, he was heading down the path towards burnout.
Ken decided to take his career in his own hands and do some self-exploration. He looked at his interests, skills and values through online assessments and talked to professionals in different fields through informational interviews to learn more about different options. Ken realized that he loved training people, coordinating and organizing programs, and connecting with new people. Ken did some labour market research and narrowed his focus to Human Resources. Ken took a Human Resources Management Certificate and worked as a Filing Clerk at a local recruitment agency. Ken’s positive attitude and excellent work ethic lead to his promotion as a Recruiting Assistant. He was soon promoted again to Communication and Marketing Lead. As much as Ken enjoyed working with a collaborative team and meeting new people, the job didn’t inspire him. He did not like working 9 to 5, and he missed being outdoors. More than anything, he missed working with youth.
One of Ken’s friends, upon hearing of his work frustrations, connected him with the Human Resources Manager for an organization called Forest Youth Services. It is a youth adventure-based program that supports and empowers young people through connections with nature. Ken interviewed for the position of Community Development Coordinator. Ken highlighted his experience with at-risk youth involved in “the system”, along with his flexibility (personality and schedule) and openness to new experiences. Within a few weeks, Ken was hired and leading his first group of youth on a two-day outdoor wilderness adventure.
Ken’s career ladder has taken various directions. In the beginning, he accepted a front-line administrative role and then laterally moved into working with at-risk youth. Because of his interpersonal skills and on-the-job learning Ken was able to step into supervisory position. After leaving the non-profit sector, he returned and made a career change that connected with his values. He believes that, for now, he is in the right place.