The road to full-time employment takes unexpected turns for some Millennials

Community Feb 28, 2017 by Brenda Jefferies InsideToronto.com

At 27, Chelsea Wigood isn’t where she thought she would be in life. And that’s just fine with her.

The Waterdown area native lives with her parents in St. George. She has a steady boyfriend and a job she loves. She owns her own car and has no student debt.

But her original plan was quite different, and the road she took to get to this point had a few unexpected twists and turns.

“I thought I wanted to be a restaurateur,” she recalled in a recent interview. 

She enrolled in the University of Guelph’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, and worked at the local East Side Marios until it closed, then did a stint at Montfort, along with summer gigs at a Copetown golf course.

Then came the first wrinkle in the blue print.

“After second year, I figured, I don’t want to do this,” she said. “I continued to work at restaurants — I just thought, ‘Don’t want to do this. Not my thing.’”

On the advice of a program adviser at the university, Wigood changed tack. While she stuck with the program and fulfilled the required classes, she focused instead on business-related courses such as accounting and financial management to earn a more general Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The switch, she admits, led to some angst. 

“The program advisers at the university, they said, ‘Don’t worry about it; this happens to a lot of people — get on the course of taking all these extra business courses and then see what you want to do after that.’”

• • •

Susan McKechnie, whose firm Fresh Careers offers professional career coaching and youth career development services in the Greater Toronto Area, notes that it’s not uncommon for post-secondary students to switch their major.

“Seventy-five per cent of first year students change direction in their first year,” she said, citing another surprising statistic. “Fifty per cent of first-year university and college students never attain their degree or diploma.”

When students face undergrad, post grad and possibly additional certification after that, education costs can easily tally $100,000 — any misstep is an expensive one.

To help families develop a clear path, McKechnie first has the student take a range of tests to establish their personality type, their career values, what motivates them and what they want life to look like when they are older.

“You have to get to who they are at the core,” she said of the process. “You have kids who are problem solvers, you have kids who like to fix things, you have kids that want to help people, you have kids that want to help society as a whole.

“So you have to dig down and find out who their true self is. And if you can do something that’s in line with your true self, you can be happy.”

McKechnie also teaches her clients the difference between working to survive, working for success and working for significance.

“People who are working for significance are happier,” she said. “And so if I can get kids to see that — what’ going to make you happy, what’s in line with your true self — then we’re off to the races. It’s not an easy process, but that’s what we do.”

• • •

Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Wigood landed a job quickly through Workopolis, at an Oakville chemical distribution company that had recently merged with an American firm and expected a surge in business. But things remained slow; without much to do, she didn’t see a future there. 

“I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ So my mom and I have a conversation, she said, ‘You’re not happy there, get out.’ “

While she sent out resume after resume, she took a job at Walmart before becoming the caregiver for her niece during the fall and winter months, supplementing that with work at the golf course during the summers (her sister is a teacher). This routine lasted for two years. Still, she continued to search for a full-time position that would allow her to use her Bachelor of Commerce degree. While she loved the time she spent with her niece, by the fall of 2015 she was ready to get on the road to a meaningful career.

“Nothing was coming up for me and it was dragging that, I don’t want to work at the golf course for the rest of my life,” she noted.

That’s when her mother, a retired principal with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and co-founder of Healthy Community-Healthy Youth Flamborough, suggested she meet with McKechnie. 

Wigood underwent the testing process, and was surprised by McKechnie’s response. First, she suggested Wigood enrol in George Brown College’s Supply Chain Management course. (Wigood earned her certificate in September 2016.)

And McKechnie got her a job interview

“She said, ‘I’ve got this job at an A/V company’ and I said, ‘No thank you. I know nothing about that. I don’t want to know anything about that.’ A/V is just so overwhelming to me. I don’t know how to hook up a TV.” 

But she went to the interview — and was offered a job on the spot.

McKechnie says she is hearing from employers that there is a skills gap between what post-secondary institutions provide and the needs of the current job market. 

“What you find is, they’re not even actually working with the software that they’ll be using in the workplace,” she explained. “It’s very theoretical, but how does that help an employer? I think employers are frustrated, and students are frustrated.”

She stresses that Canadian students today face a level of competition for jobs that their parents didn’t have to contend with. 

“Your undergrad degree is table stakes now, because your competition is not the kid sitting next to you at Waterdown High School; your competition are the global students that are coming into Canada,” she said. “We’re fast-tracking immigrants right now in places like architects and engineers and computer software engineers, because they’re coming in with PhDs and they’re willing to work crazy hours and they’re coming from a global place where the opportunities here are amazing.

“And so your competition is the kid sitting in Vietnam or in India or China.”

McKechnie says even young people who excel academically have another hurdle to conquer to get noticed by potential employers.

“Employers will tell you that they’re lacking soft skills when they’re coming out of universities. They don’t know how to network, they don’t know how to collaborate, they don’t know how to work as a team, they don’t have the work ethic.”

She’s empathetic to their situation, however, and wonders if that storied Millennial sense of entitlement might be something else.

“So your parents have been successful … they’ve bought a house and their house has tripled in price or whatever. And you get out of university, you have $28,000 in debt. You were told this is the right degree and you can’t find a job to save yourself and people are saying when are you going to get married and how are you going to buy a house and you’re saying to yourself, ‘I can’t even pay off my student debt with the two part-time jobs I have.’

“I don’t know if it’s a sense of entitlement or a sense of feeling gypped.”

Her advice: develop those soft skills, along with a love of learning.

“I think that (our generation) never had the pressure to continuously learn, but I think that students now have to be on a continual learning curve.”

As well, they need to develop a realistic picture of the job market, which by 2025 will have huge holes to fill as the Baby Boomers finally move to retirement.

“Demographics are starting to work in our favour,” said McKechnie. 

However, she remains frustrated that job market trends continue to be ignored. “We’re going to need a million cybersecurity professionals in the next 15 years,” she explained. “We look at the trends coming in, but we’re only graduating 45,000 software developers every year. You can’t fill those holes. Do you not think it’s crazy that our kids aren’t learning how to code and we’re going to have a million open software (jobs)?”

• • •

Wigood was overwhelmed in her position at H2 Systems Inc. at first, as she became immersed in smart home technology. But she soon adjusted to her role, which continues to expand. As office manager she has assumed a range of responsibilities, from scheduling technicians and keeping timelines to dealing with contractors and quoting on jobs. Thanks to mentorship from the company owner, she’s even learning to design the systems.

“I’m very familiar with what products do now, so that kind of helps,” said Wigood. “He can give me things and I can do what I can do, then he’ll look at it and he’ll be like, ‘You forgot this’ or ‘You forgot that,’ and it’s a great learning experience.” 

Wigood is animated when describing her job and her plans for the future, which include further courses in supply chain management, choosing one sector of the broader category to specialize in, possibly logistics.

Wigood, who says she was an apathetic student through elementary and high school, is passionate about continuing education.

“I could be a lifelong student,” she said. “I could be happy with that. Now I love to learn.”

She also doesn’t shy away from being dropped into entry-level positions, because that’s how you learn something new. “I don’t want to be thrown in (and told), ‘You’re doing this, and that’s what you’re doing.’ It’s OK, but what else can I learn from this?”

Wigood has heard the stereotypes, and doesn’t have much time for terms like “Millennial.” She thinks it’s more about personal values and upbringing. 

“It doesn’t really have to do with what era you were born in or what age you are,” she said. “I’ve seen people that are not Millennials, that are older and they’ve got that “Millennial” attitude. You’re not a Millennial but you act like that.

“It’s definitely the person and their whole way of life.”

With her career falling into place, Wigood says she’s almost ready for next steps in her personal life.

“Probably by the time I’m 30, say, married and moved out. Kids, I’m not really too sure about yet, what the timeline is on that. I like having nieces right now,” she explained. “I was overwhelmed with all my friends getting engaged and having full-time jobs when I working at the golf course and thought, ‘Where am I going?’ 

“But I’m here — I’m still young.”

The road to full-time employment takes unexpected turns for some Millennials

Community Feb 28, 2017 by Brenda Jefferies InsideToronto.com

At 27, Chelsea Wigood isn’t where she thought she would be in life. And that’s just fine with her.

The Waterdown area native lives with her parents in St. George. She has a steady boyfriend and a job she loves. She owns her own car and has no student debt.

But her original plan was quite different, and the road she took to get to this point had a few unexpected twists and turns.

“I thought I wanted to be a restaurateur,” she recalled in a recent interview. 

She enrolled in the University of Guelph’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, and worked at the local East Side Marios until it closed, then did a stint at Montfort, along with summer gigs at a Copetown golf course.

Then came the first wrinkle in the blue print.

“After second year, I figured, I don’t want to do this,” she said. “I continued to work at restaurants — I just thought, ‘Don’t want to do this. Not my thing.’”

On the advice of a program adviser at the university, Wigood changed tack. While she stuck with the program and fulfilled the required classes, she focused instead on business-related courses such as accounting and financial management to earn a more general Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The switch, she admits, led to some angst. 

“The program advisers at the university, they said, ‘Don’t worry about it; this happens to a lot of people — get on the course of taking all these extra business courses and then see what you want to do after that.’”

• • •

Susan McKechnie, whose firm Fresh Careers offers professional career coaching and youth career development services in the Greater Toronto Area, notes that it’s not uncommon for post-secondary students to switch their major.

“Seventy-five per cent of first year students change direction in their first year,” she said, citing another surprising statistic. “Fifty per cent of first-year university and college students never attain their degree or diploma.”

When students face undergrad, post grad and possibly additional certification after that, education costs can easily tally $100,000 — any misstep is an expensive one.

To help families develop a clear path, McKechnie first has the student take a range of tests to establish their personality type, their career values, what motivates them and what they want life to look like when they are older.

“You have to get to who they are at the core,” she said of the process. “You have kids who are problem solvers, you have kids who like to fix things, you have kids that want to help people, you have kids that want to help society as a whole.

“So you have to dig down and find out who their true self is. And if you can do something that’s in line with your true self, you can be happy.”

McKechnie also teaches her clients the difference between working to survive, working for success and working for significance.

“People who are working for significance are happier,” she said. “And so if I can get kids to see that — what’ going to make you happy, what’s in line with your true self — then we’re off to the races. It’s not an easy process, but that’s what we do.”

• • •

Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Wigood landed a job quickly through Workopolis, at an Oakville chemical distribution company that had recently merged with an American firm and expected a surge in business. But things remained slow; without much to do, she didn’t see a future there. 

“I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ So my mom and I have a conversation, she said, ‘You’re not happy there, get out.’ “

While she sent out resume after resume, she took a job at Walmart before becoming the caregiver for her niece during the fall and winter months, supplementing that with work at the golf course during the summers (her sister is a teacher). This routine lasted for two years. Still, she continued to search for a full-time position that would allow her to use her Bachelor of Commerce degree. While she loved the time she spent with her niece, by the fall of 2015 she was ready to get on the road to a meaningful career.

“Nothing was coming up for me and it was dragging that, I don’t want to work at the golf course for the rest of my life,” she noted.

That’s when her mother, a retired principal with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and co-founder of Healthy Community-Healthy Youth Flamborough, suggested she meet with McKechnie. 

Wigood underwent the testing process, and was surprised by McKechnie’s response. First, she suggested Wigood enrol in George Brown College’s Supply Chain Management course. (Wigood earned her certificate in September 2016.)

And McKechnie got her a job interview

“She said, ‘I’ve got this job at an A/V company’ and I said, ‘No thank you. I know nothing about that. I don’t want to know anything about that.’ A/V is just so overwhelming to me. I don’t know how to hook up a TV.” 

But she went to the interview — and was offered a job on the spot.

McKechnie says she is hearing from employers that there is a skills gap between what post-secondary institutions provide and the needs of the current job market. 

“What you find is, they’re not even actually working with the software that they’ll be using in the workplace,” she explained. “It’s very theoretical, but how does that help an employer? I think employers are frustrated, and students are frustrated.”

She stresses that Canadian students today face a level of competition for jobs that their parents didn’t have to contend with. 

“Your undergrad degree is table stakes now, because your competition is not the kid sitting next to you at Waterdown High School; your competition are the global students that are coming into Canada,” she said. “We’re fast-tracking immigrants right now in places like architects and engineers and computer software engineers, because they’re coming in with PhDs and they’re willing to work crazy hours and they’re coming from a global place where the opportunities here are amazing.

“And so your competition is the kid sitting in Vietnam or in India or China.”

McKechnie says even young people who excel academically have another hurdle to conquer to get noticed by potential employers.

“Employers will tell you that they’re lacking soft skills when they’re coming out of universities. They don’t know how to network, they don’t know how to collaborate, they don’t know how to work as a team, they don’t have the work ethic.”

She’s empathetic to their situation, however, and wonders if that storied Millennial sense of entitlement might be something else.

“So your parents have been successful … they’ve bought a house and their house has tripled in price or whatever. And you get out of university, you have $28,000 in debt. You were told this is the right degree and you can’t find a job to save yourself and people are saying when are you going to get married and how are you going to buy a house and you’re saying to yourself, ‘I can’t even pay off my student debt with the two part-time jobs I have.’

“I don’t know if it’s a sense of entitlement or a sense of feeling gypped.”

Her advice: develop those soft skills, along with a love of learning.

“I think that (our generation) never had the pressure to continuously learn, but I think that students now have to be on a continual learning curve.”

As well, they need to develop a realistic picture of the job market, which by 2025 will have huge holes to fill as the Baby Boomers finally move to retirement.

“Demographics are starting to work in our favour,” said McKechnie. 

However, she remains frustrated that job market trends continue to be ignored. “We’re going to need a million cybersecurity professionals in the next 15 years,” she explained. “We look at the trends coming in, but we’re only graduating 45,000 software developers every year. You can’t fill those holes. Do you not think it’s crazy that our kids aren’t learning how to code and we’re going to have a million open software (jobs)?”

• • •

Wigood was overwhelmed in her position at H2 Systems Inc. at first, as she became immersed in smart home technology. But she soon adjusted to her role, which continues to expand. As office manager she has assumed a range of responsibilities, from scheduling technicians and keeping timelines to dealing with contractors and quoting on jobs. Thanks to mentorship from the company owner, she’s even learning to design the systems.

“I’m very familiar with what products do now, so that kind of helps,” said Wigood. “He can give me things and I can do what I can do, then he’ll look at it and he’ll be like, ‘You forgot this’ or ‘You forgot that,’ and it’s a great learning experience.” 

Wigood is animated when describing her job and her plans for the future, which include further courses in supply chain management, choosing one sector of the broader category to specialize in, possibly logistics.

Wigood, who says she was an apathetic student through elementary and high school, is passionate about continuing education.

“I could be a lifelong student,” she said. “I could be happy with that. Now I love to learn.”

She also doesn’t shy away from being dropped into entry-level positions, because that’s how you learn something new. “I don’t want to be thrown in (and told), ‘You’re doing this, and that’s what you’re doing.’ It’s OK, but what else can I learn from this?”

Wigood has heard the stereotypes, and doesn’t have much time for terms like “Millennial.” She thinks it’s more about personal values and upbringing. 

“It doesn’t really have to do with what era you were born in or what age you are,” she said. “I’ve seen people that are not Millennials, that are older and they’ve got that “Millennial” attitude. You’re not a Millennial but you act like that.

“It’s definitely the person and their whole way of life.”

With her career falling into place, Wigood says she’s almost ready for next steps in her personal life.

“Probably by the time I’m 30, say, married and moved out. Kids, I’m not really too sure about yet, what the timeline is on that. I like having nieces right now,” she explained. “I was overwhelmed with all my friends getting engaged and having full-time jobs when I working at the golf course and thought, ‘Where am I going?’ 

“But I’m here — I’m still young.”

The road to full-time employment takes unexpected turns for some Millennials

Community Feb 28, 2017 by Brenda Jefferies InsideToronto.com

At 27, Chelsea Wigood isn’t where she thought she would be in life. And that’s just fine with her.

The Waterdown area native lives with her parents in St. George. She has a steady boyfriend and a job she loves. She owns her own car and has no student debt.

But her original plan was quite different, and the road she took to get to this point had a few unexpected twists and turns.

“I thought I wanted to be a restaurateur,” she recalled in a recent interview. 

She enrolled in the University of Guelph’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, and worked at the local East Side Marios until it closed, then did a stint at Montfort, along with summer gigs at a Copetown golf course.

Then came the first wrinkle in the blue print.

“After second year, I figured, I don’t want to do this,” she said. “I continued to work at restaurants — I just thought, ‘Don’t want to do this. Not my thing.’”

On the advice of a program adviser at the university, Wigood changed tack. While she stuck with the program and fulfilled the required classes, she focused instead on business-related courses such as accounting and financial management to earn a more general Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The switch, she admits, led to some angst. 

“The program advisers at the university, they said, ‘Don’t worry about it; this happens to a lot of people — get on the course of taking all these extra business courses and then see what you want to do after that.’”

• • •

Susan McKechnie, whose firm Fresh Careers offers professional career coaching and youth career development services in the Greater Toronto Area, notes that it’s not uncommon for post-secondary students to switch their major.

“Seventy-five per cent of first year students change direction in their first year,” she said, citing another surprising statistic. “Fifty per cent of first-year university and college students never attain their degree or diploma.”

When students face undergrad, post grad and possibly additional certification after that, education costs can easily tally $100,000 — any misstep is an expensive one.

To help families develop a clear path, McKechnie first has the student take a range of tests to establish their personality type, their career values, what motivates them and what they want life to look like when they are older.

“You have to get to who they are at the core,” she said of the process. “You have kids who are problem solvers, you have kids who like to fix things, you have kids that want to help people, you have kids that want to help society as a whole.

“So you have to dig down and find out who their true self is. And if you can do something that’s in line with your true self, you can be happy.”

McKechnie also teaches her clients the difference between working to survive, working for success and working for significance.

“People who are working for significance are happier,” she said. “And so if I can get kids to see that — what’ going to make you happy, what’s in line with your true self — then we’re off to the races. It’s not an easy process, but that’s what we do.”

• • •

Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Wigood landed a job quickly through Workopolis, at an Oakville chemical distribution company that had recently merged with an American firm and expected a surge in business. But things remained slow; without much to do, she didn’t see a future there. 

“I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ So my mom and I have a conversation, she said, ‘You’re not happy there, get out.’ “

While she sent out resume after resume, she took a job at Walmart before becoming the caregiver for her niece during the fall and winter months, supplementing that with work at the golf course during the summers (her sister is a teacher). This routine lasted for two years. Still, she continued to search for a full-time position that would allow her to use her Bachelor of Commerce degree. While she loved the time she spent with her niece, by the fall of 2015 she was ready to get on the road to a meaningful career.

“Nothing was coming up for me and it was dragging that, I don’t want to work at the golf course for the rest of my life,” she noted.

That’s when her mother, a retired principal with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and co-founder of Healthy Community-Healthy Youth Flamborough, suggested she meet with McKechnie. 

Wigood underwent the testing process, and was surprised by McKechnie’s response. First, she suggested Wigood enrol in George Brown College’s Supply Chain Management course. (Wigood earned her certificate in September 2016.)

And McKechnie got her a job interview

“She said, ‘I’ve got this job at an A/V company’ and I said, ‘No thank you. I know nothing about that. I don’t want to know anything about that.’ A/V is just so overwhelming to me. I don’t know how to hook up a TV.” 

But she went to the interview — and was offered a job on the spot.

McKechnie says she is hearing from employers that there is a skills gap between what post-secondary institutions provide and the needs of the current job market. 

“What you find is, they’re not even actually working with the software that they’ll be using in the workplace,” she explained. “It’s very theoretical, but how does that help an employer? I think employers are frustrated, and students are frustrated.”

She stresses that Canadian students today face a level of competition for jobs that their parents didn’t have to contend with. 

“Your undergrad degree is table stakes now, because your competition is not the kid sitting next to you at Waterdown High School; your competition are the global students that are coming into Canada,” she said. “We’re fast-tracking immigrants right now in places like architects and engineers and computer software engineers, because they’re coming in with PhDs and they’re willing to work crazy hours and they’re coming from a global place where the opportunities here are amazing.

“And so your competition is the kid sitting in Vietnam or in India or China.”

McKechnie says even young people who excel academically have another hurdle to conquer to get noticed by potential employers.

“Employers will tell you that they’re lacking soft skills when they’re coming out of universities. They don’t know how to network, they don’t know how to collaborate, they don’t know how to work as a team, they don’t have the work ethic.”

She’s empathetic to their situation, however, and wonders if that storied Millennial sense of entitlement might be something else.

“So your parents have been successful … they’ve bought a house and their house has tripled in price or whatever. And you get out of university, you have $28,000 in debt. You were told this is the right degree and you can’t find a job to save yourself and people are saying when are you going to get married and how are you going to buy a house and you’re saying to yourself, ‘I can’t even pay off my student debt with the two part-time jobs I have.’

“I don’t know if it’s a sense of entitlement or a sense of feeling gypped.”

Her advice: develop those soft skills, along with a love of learning.

“I think that (our generation) never had the pressure to continuously learn, but I think that students now have to be on a continual learning curve.”

As well, they need to develop a realistic picture of the job market, which by 2025 will have huge holes to fill as the Baby Boomers finally move to retirement.

“Demographics are starting to work in our favour,” said McKechnie. 

However, she remains frustrated that job market trends continue to be ignored. “We’re going to need a million cybersecurity professionals in the next 15 years,” she explained. “We look at the trends coming in, but we’re only graduating 45,000 software developers every year. You can’t fill those holes. Do you not think it’s crazy that our kids aren’t learning how to code and we’re going to have a million open software (jobs)?”

• • •

Wigood was overwhelmed in her position at H2 Systems Inc. at first, as she became immersed in smart home technology. But she soon adjusted to her role, which continues to expand. As office manager she has assumed a range of responsibilities, from scheduling technicians and keeping timelines to dealing with contractors and quoting on jobs. Thanks to mentorship from the company owner, she’s even learning to design the systems.

“I’m very familiar with what products do now, so that kind of helps,” said Wigood. “He can give me things and I can do what I can do, then he’ll look at it and he’ll be like, ‘You forgot this’ or ‘You forgot that,’ and it’s a great learning experience.” 

Wigood is animated when describing her job and her plans for the future, which include further courses in supply chain management, choosing one sector of the broader category to specialize in, possibly logistics.

Wigood, who says she was an apathetic student through elementary and high school, is passionate about continuing education.

“I could be a lifelong student,” she said. “I could be happy with that. Now I love to learn.”

She also doesn’t shy away from being dropped into entry-level positions, because that’s how you learn something new. “I don’t want to be thrown in (and told), ‘You’re doing this, and that’s what you’re doing.’ It’s OK, but what else can I learn from this?”

Wigood has heard the stereotypes, and doesn’t have much time for terms like “Millennial.” She thinks it’s more about personal values and upbringing. 

“It doesn’t really have to do with what era you were born in or what age you are,” she said. “I’ve seen people that are not Millennials, that are older and they’ve got that “Millennial” attitude. You’re not a Millennial but you act like that.

“It’s definitely the person and their whole way of life.”

With her career falling into place, Wigood says she’s almost ready for next steps in her personal life.

“Probably by the time I’m 30, say, married and moved out. Kids, I’m not really too sure about yet, what the timeline is on that. I like having nieces right now,” she explained. “I was overwhelmed with all my friends getting engaged and having full-time jobs when I working at the golf course and thought, ‘Where am I going?’ 

“But I’m here — I’m still young.”