Robert Shewchuk was 17 when curiosity found him in his guidance counsellor’s office, asking what all the suits in downtown Winnipeg office towers did for a living.
"She couldn’t answer the question," recalls Shewchuk, a North End resident.
"I thought ‘wait a minute… this is a serious question. How am I supposed to find that out?’"
That moment eventually shaped Shewchuk’s career, 15 years of working as a counsellor and career consultant across the Calgary school system, Alberta government and a number of public and private universities.
It also serves as the foundation for his new, self-published book Careers For Kids!, which launches at McNally Robinson (1120 Grant Ave.) on Wed., Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. It’s a brisk 152-page read stuffed with anecdotes, analysis and assessments dishing out career and educational advice for high school students, young adults, and even parents.
As the 2013 school season approaches, Shewchuk says he wants the book to help combat a lack of career education in schools. Stretched resources mean many guidance counsellors aren’t able to give hundreds of students the proper time to have them reflecting on their life goals. Instead, students are often left to sort through school brochures and course catalogues and figure it out on their own.
"As a student, you’re living within an umbrella of a very nicely set up world," Shewchuk said.
"You’re chugging along, everything is set up and structured for you. You just show up and it’s there. Then all of a sudden when you’re 18, what happens?"
Doing the proper research means students can avoid coming out of school with degrees that won’t land them with a job or which they’ll even lose interest in, Shewchuk said. It’s why he didn’t become a newspaper reporter, he jokes.
"This is where it becomes important to say ‘OK, how do I research the labour market to figure out what’s in need in Canada, and what do I want to do, and how can I match it?" said Shewchuk.
Shewchuk calls it "career mooching" — latching onto industries on the rise by finding a niche that matches whatever skill sets a person may have. He tells the story of a friend who walked into the oil and gas industry with a bank teller background and a high school education. In four years, he was a financial advisor, and in six years, he was making a six-figure salary, Shewchuk said.
"You don’t have to be an accountant to work in an accounting firm," he said, noting Manitoba is currently enjoying a transportation and electrical trade boom.
For more, visit www.startsmartcareers.com