Julie is a Disabilities Counsellor at the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University in Ottawa. Previously, she worked in the Career Services Department at Carleton, and at the University of Guelph’s Centre for Students with Disabilities. Julie’s educational background includes a Master’s in Education from the University of Ottawa, specializing in Educational Counselling, as well as a B.A. from the University of Guelph, with majors in psychology and French.
Career Plans with Purpose: “Love What You Do”
Julie Ouellette, Disabilities Counsellor, Carleton University
Julie Ouellette spoke about making career plans with an emphasis on self-knowledge. The first step is self-exploration, she said. “What matters most is how you see yourself.”
The focus should be on knowing oneself rather than on the challenges. Inventory your values, interests, personality, and skills, she said, listing some sample prompt questions: “What am I good at?” “What am I curious about?” “What do I struggle with?” “What is my family context and how does that inform my career choices?”
Ouellette then introduced some standard psychometric tests that can help with self-exploration for the purpose of career planning and development. The Personality Dimensions, the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator, the Nightmare–Fantasy Continuum, and the Values Inventory are all useful for this exploration.
Ouellette also recommended using a variety of approaches and not relying on just one tool. She further suggested making use of search engines on the Internet. For example, by searching with phrases such as “teaching children in Honduras” or “working with animals in France,” people can use Google to find many sources of ideas and information.
Among Ouellette’s favourite Web sites are www.personalitypathways.com, which is based on the Myers–Briggs theory, and www.youthpath.ca, a government Web site that lists career profiles and related government positions.
Another important resource is the National Occupation Classification 2001 web site. It can be reached by typing “NOC” and “2001” into the Google search box. Ouellette encouraged those who are interested in a more than one profession to use that site to uncover more information. For example, for people interested in teaching, the site will list all related options and professions. The main duties and employment requirements of various professions are also clearly indicated. Based on this information, job seekers can determine the accommodations that might be required.
Other self-knowledge that Ouellette suggested students with disabilities cultivate includes the answers to these questions:
Key challenges for students with disabilities include maintaining motivation; accepting career decision-making as an ongoing, lifelong process; making connections between academic subjects and career goals; comprehending changes in the labour market; and overcoming indifference because of lack of preparation or a feeling of being overwhelmed. Ouellette noted that looking for a job is overwhelming for everyone, but that educational organization and planning from the start will help.
Ouellette then listed the top qualities that employers typically look for:
And she recommended a number of Web resources:
In closing, Ouellette remarked that “you’re hired for what you can do, not what you can’t do.” She encouraged the students to find a position where they can and want to do their best, and she expressed hope that they will be able to do what they actually love.