Can you be my career counsellor?
November 28, 2016 10:43 AM   Subscribe

[Asking for a friend] I need a new career, but I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what my options are, and what direction to take given my random work history. Looking for suggestions for potential careers or thoughts on services that help to navigate the options.

Educational background:
I obtained a BSC in Biology (very generalized) from a university in England about 10 years ago, and since then I’ve been living in Canada. After going through the whole immigration process and being unable to work I decided to get some more specialized, Canadian-specific qualifications and ended up doing a distance learning Certificate in Environmental Practice. However, I still haven’t been able to find any work in this sector.

Work History:
My work history has been a bit all over the place, mainly just doing whatever I could to get by. I’ve done some basic admin work, spent 3 years working in landscaping, worked in a hospital scanning and unloading medical supplies and then got a promotion to a Supervisor in a similar department which I’ve been doing for about 3 years now.

I haven’t loved any of these jobs and am really ready to find something else, but I have no idea what jobs exist, what I’m qualified for or what I want to do with my life! I’m open to going back to school, as long it would definitely lead to job afterwards. I’d probably only be interested in/able to commit to a one or two year program at this point in my life. There is a pretty good college in my city and 2 universities so I have definitely have some options. My partner and I are not really interested in moving anywhere else for the foreseeable future. One issue is that I’m not bilingual and that really limits the jobs that are available to me. However, learning French isn’t a realistic option as I’m terrible at learning languages!

Things that I'm good at and enjoy:
• Extremely organized
• Good at problem-solving
• Good customer service skills (I like figuring out ways to make things run more smoothly for other people)
• Good under pressure and managing a lot of things at once
• Comfortable with technology
• Good at 'behind the scenes' kind of work
• Clear communicator
• Open to working a flexible schedule (but not overnights!)
• Being active/outdoors
• Dispatching

Things I'm not good at or don't like:
• I really don't like supervising people, especially anything involving discipline
• Any kind of public speaking, even to small groups
• I would really prefer not having to sit at a computer all day
• I'm an introvert and so highly public-facing jobs are probably not for me
• Too much bureaucracy

Things I’ve considered so far (and that have courses that are offered in my city):

• Supply Chain Management (the organizational side of things really appeals to me, but I’m not sure if it’d be too much computer work)

• Medical imaging (I like the idea of getting to use a bit of my science background, but I know people that do this job and it seems very repetitive. I’m also not sure if I have the people skills necessary for reassuring patients and not being bilingual may limit my opportunities)

• Outdoor education (I would enjoy helping children learn about the environment, but I’m scared that my shyness would really hinder me)

• Environmental technician (seems like the easiest way to get into the environmental sector, but the course isn’t offered in the city that I live in and I’m not sure if there is work available year round due to the winters here)

• Environmental management and assessment (similar to the course I’ve done before, but this course seems to have a lot more hands-on work which might give me more practical experience to put on my resume)

• Bed Management (these jobs exist where I work, and the problem-solving side of things seems very interesting, but you have to be a union member to get these jobs and I lost my union seniority when I switched to Management. I’m also not sure what qualifications would be needed for this kind of work)

So, after all that, I have 2 big questions:
1. Are there people whose job it is to know all about the kinds of jobs that exist, and help you to figure out which ones are right for you? I'd be happy to pay for this service if it helped me to figure out my next steps. I’ve seen a career counselor and that was good for helping identify some of my strengths, but not great at pinpointing career options.

2. Do you have any thoughts of careers to pursue? Or do you work in one of the areas that I’m interested in and have any advice?
posted by sabotagerabbit to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're in e.g. Montreal and not intending to move, I think the language issue is really going to be limiting. I almost think it doesn't matter if you get even the most relevant and sought-after qualification if the French piece isn't there - unless you exclusively focus on the English universities, or English companies (i.e. global ones). 327 results on Indeed for "english speaking" jobs within 100 km of Montreal; 160 on workopolis. (MTLblog suggested these ideas for Anglos [list includes "newspaper carrier", for an indication]. Not sure if you're actually in Montreal, but that's the best case scenario.) I think it's going to be really difficult if you don't get to some level of proficiency...

That aside, there's a link to some career help in that MTLblog link - for career exploration, you can also check out , which isn't super far away from other, validated career interest tests, or . I think Quebec usually keeps good (relatively fleshed out and updated) labour market data, too.

Emergency/disaster response? Some of the more outdoorsy jobs in utilities? A friend of mine has similar interests and skills and really enjoyed working as a project manager in construction, fwiw.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:26 AM on November 28, 2016

(That's to say, if the French is just not ever going to happen and there's no move on the immediate horizon, I'd constrain career exploration to ground covered by companies and institutions that demonstrably hire monolingual Anglos.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by mareli at 12:27 PM on November 28, 2016

I'm not 100% sure, but suspect that Bed Management jobs likely require a nursing qualification. I think that clinical judgements about patient needs are involved, and I have only seen this job being done by nurses / nursing management.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2016

Health informatics or Bioinformatics?

These would both be heavily technology-oriented and would leverage your science background, though there would be a lot of computer time.
posted by duoshao at 2:11 PM on November 28, 2016

Thanks for the suggestions so far.
She's in Ottawa, not Montreal, so the lack of French is not nearly as limiting; it just means that some jobs aren't an option.
posted by sabotagerabbit at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

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