An Online Publication written by Robert Kirwan

Education Development & Career Entrance 
Strategies For Students of All Ages

by Robert Kirwan, O.C.T., B.A.(Math), M.A.(Education)
Professional Learning Coach & Director of
The Learning Clinic Education Centre

The Key To Your Future Could Be Right Before Your Eyes!

YOUR CAREER PLANNER  is one of a series of online publications that are being made available through The Learning Clinic Education Centre. 

Without a doubt, putting together Your Career Planner as an educational resource  is perhaps one of the most satisfying things I have done in my life-long career as a professional educator. As a member of the Ontario College of Teachers, I belong to an association of over 250,000 people who are committed to the highest of ethical and moral responsibilities to the young people of this province. Your Career Planner is my personal provide an online publication that you can turn to when you need guidance and advice, or just time for quiet reflection with respect to your own or a loved one's education or career development.

If you fall into one of the categories below, this publication has been designed specifically for you:

  • current students in elementary and secondary school;

  • current students in post-secondary education institutions;

  • recent graduates of secondary and post-secondary institutions;

  • people who would like to change careers - regardless of your age;

  • people who are not happy with the career they are in right now;

  • people who are unemployed;

  • people who are underemployed;

  • retirees looking for a new career;

  • people who did not complete high school;

  • anyone else interested in a better future!

In other words, Your Career Planner has been created for every single person who is interested in either beginning a new career or who is seeking self-improvement regardless of what is going on in your life right now!

From the day we take our first breath on this earth until we breathe our last, we are continually evolving as individuals. This continuous evolution means that our interests, our goals and our needs are constantly changing. Our careers and our activities are also continuously changing in response to our individual evolution.

It is my hope that Your Career Planner will help you develop a strategic plan of action that should help you get started in a satisfying and rewarding career that is appropriate to whatever stage of life at which you find your self today - and tomorrow!

As you explore the following sections, you will discover the importance of doing thorough research about your academic and employment future. For students in elementary and secondary school settings right now, the choices you are about to make in the next several years can be made with confidence if you take the opportunity to carefully weigh all of the options.

Your Career Planner contains many elements that you will find extremely valuable when the time comes to make those serious choices about your post-secondary education and subsequent career paths. With over 70% of all jobs available today requiring some sort of post-secondary training, it is imperative that everyone have a clear plan of action which will allow them to achieve their personal career goals.

I certainly hope you find the information contained in this publication will be useful and thought provoking. You won't find all of the answers in Your Career Planner. As a matter of fact, I actually hope you leave Your Career Planner with more questions than when you arrived. As long as you are searching for answers and asking yourself questions, I know you will succeed in your chosen career.

I also welcome parents who wish to take the time to look through this publication. You will soon discover an underlying philosophy in just about everything you read here. It is my firm belief that we are all students of life and that we can all benefit from a career plan, no matter what stage of life in which we may find ourselves. Even people in their mid-sixties are getting qualified and trained to begin new and exciting careers. The advice you find in this publication can be useful for everyone.

Good luck!


There are three main questions that this publication should help you answer.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAREER is one of the hardest challenges a young person will ever face. After all, how can you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are still in high school? And yet, it is extremely important that you establish your career goals and targets as soon as possible so that you can make take the proper steps to get started in your chosen career.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCHOOL is a matter of doing all of the proper research in advance so that your final choice will have the best chance of getting you started in your chosen career. Once you decide on a career goal, you will be in a better position to select your school. 
Once you have made a decision about the career goals and you have chosen the post-secondary school which will train and qualify you for that career, the most important thing left for you to do is develop THE RIGHT PLAN so that you have the best chance of getting started in your career after you graduate. Many people focus entirely on the first two tasks, thereby coming up with a great career goal and enrolling in a wonderful school. Once they graduate they soon discover that if they haven't been following a carefully crafted plan which includes the right networking, volunteering and communication strategies, they are left out in the cold with a diploma and nowhere to go. 

This entire publication is devoted to helping you answer the three questions. If you don't already know the answers, then I hope you have a better understanding of your own unique answers by the time you finish reading.

As you are going through YOUR CAREER PLANNER, I want you to keep in mind that the questions must be answered in order. In other words, you must determine the kind of career that is best for you in order to determine the kind of education that is right for you.

It is the third question, however, that excites me the most as a Professional Education & Career Coach. Coming up with the RIGHT PLAN is what it is all about. This is where the game begins for me. And interestingly enough, you must start working on the answer the minute you decide on a career goal.

Before we get into YOUR CAREER PLANNER, I want to point out briefly, four trends that I think must be taken into consideration when developing an "entrance strategy" for any career today. These trends are just coming of age and will be huge in the decades that follow.


My examination of recent trends in the education sector has provided me with significant evidence that the four major influences in education and career development over the next decade and beyond will be:

  • Employment Agencies  

  • Private Career Colleges  

  • Distance Education  

Let me explain why I feel this way.


First of all, employment agencies will take on much more of a role in career development in the future simply because of the fact that upwards of 80% of all job openings are no longer advertised to the general public. It is a well-known fact that most job openings have now become part of this “hidden job market”. 

Employers have discovered that if is far more cost-effective to hire employment agencies to find suitable candidates to fill vacancies in their workplaces. They no longer want to spend hundreds of man-hours sifting through hundreds of job applications and resumes to narrow down the candidates to about a dozen or so for interviews. Then they have to make arrangements to listen to the interviews and make a guess as to who will fill the positions.

Employment agencies take care of the work for you. Whenever you need to fill a vacancy, you contact one or more of the over 600 employment agencies in the Province of Ontario and tell them what you are looking for in a candidate. The agency then sends you several people to interview. These people are on the agency data base and have all had their resumes checked for authenticity. Once the interviews are finished and you select the person for the job, you pay a fee to the agency and you have your vacancy filled. You don't need to tie up your staff with resumes and interviews. You don't need to spend hundreds or thousands on advertising to find people who are interested in your position. Furthermore, if the person you hire doesn't turn out, the agency guarantee will mean that you can hire one of the other candidates you interviewed at no additional cost to your company.

Employment agencies are in the business of matching the needs of employers with people who are looking for employment. Agencies can fill the needs of a company on a short-term temporary basis, or on a long-term contract. Agencies are also in the recruitment business which means that they will search for the best candidates for permanent positions. In the fast-paced world in which we live today, it makes perfect sense for companies to use the services of an employment agency for their recruitment needs. This is "outsourcing" that pays for itself many times over.

The implications for job-seekers, is that unless you are registered with a number of different employment agencies, you are going to be missing out on 80% of the job openings that come up. This is why I recommend that young people register with an employment agency as they leave high school. Get your name on the registry early and keep updating your information so that when you graduate with your diploma or degree, the agencies will be looking to find that first entry level position in your chosen career. It doesn't cost anything to register and it is the company that hires you that pays the fee to the agency.

Employment agencies are also very useful for people who are looking for another career or to move to another community in the same career. By registering with a number of agencies, you will have a chance to be considered for vacancies that come up that may be of interest to you. It is just like having your "own agent" searching out the best companies willing to pay for your services. Many people have been able to move up the ladder within their own career field by having agencies find new positions in different companies and then making the switch. In most cases, you wouldn't even have found out the opportunity existed if you were to try looking on your own.

Many people who are retiring today are also looking for new positions that might utilize the skills they have developed over the years. Employment agencies make sense for them as well. Registering with an employment agency means that your name will come up if a company is looking for someone with your experience to fill one of their vacant positions.

More will be said about employment agencies later, but for now, I think you see how these companies will continue to be utilized by people of all ages who are seeking employment in the future.


Distance education is becoming increasingly necessary as students at the secondary and post-secondary levels discover that they need credits in subjects that are much more easily obtained through correspondence rather than through the local university or college institutions. 

Distance education courses allow a student to “fill in the gaps” with respect to courses that must be obtained as prerequisites for post-secondary programs. These courses are easy to register in and have flexible start times. 

Distance Education is almost like attending a “virtual” private career college in that you can take a course when you need it, accommodating your current work or school schedule while you are taking the courses.  


Of the four most influential trends that will shape the next decade in the field of education and career development, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that nothing will have more of an impact than private career colleges. This is because the structure of private career colleges is conducive to the needs of students of all ages today, including adults and retirees. It is also because the traditional public institutions, namely universities and community colleges, are unwilling or unable to facilitate changes in time to adjust to the needs of the new generation of students. Public schools are still run as they always have been and have not adapted to the changing demands of today’s students. The fact that private career colleges can adapt to changes much faster will allow them to become more attractive to students than will be the traditional systems.  

We will provide much more in-depth coverage of private career colleges in the rest of the publication, but for now consider some of the main attractions of private career colleges:

  1. Short length of time to complete programs: Many students graduate from secondary school with an intense desire to get right into their chosen career field. These students do not want to spend another three or four years going to school to get a diploma with up to 50% of all courses taken actually unrelated to their concentration or specialty. They like the fact you can get a diploma from a private career college in less than a year. They also like the fact that you don’t waste any time taking subjects that are not going to help you in your career. Since career life-spans have contracted significantly in the past couple of decades, with many people expecting to change careers every seven or fewer years, students will not want to spend three years getting qualified for a seven year career. Private career colleges are an attractive alternative, but at the present time very few secondary school graduates are aware that this option even exists.
  2. Flexibility in scheduling classes: Students who attend private career colleges like the fact that you can attend class in the morning or afternoon, and often during the evenings in some cases. This gives students plenty of time to take on part-time jobs in order to support themselves while going to school. They also like the fact that they come to school, attend their classes, and then go home. There is no time wasted waiting in between classes. School is run like a business and students like this approach. It is much different from traditional publicly funded institutions.
  3. Less expensive than traditional colleges and/or universities: Once they compare the overall cost of attending school, they find that private career colleges are much less expensive than traditional post-secondary institutions. They see that the cost of tuition is pretty well the same, but they actually save a great deal of money for living expenses because they only need one year to get their diploma instead of three. As well, they begin earning a full salary up to two full years before their peers who go the traditional route and attend a community college.
  4. Instruction is more efficient with focus on what you need to learn: Students appreciate the fact that private career colleges have eliminated the frills that are not needed as part of the program. What you are taught in your course is relevant to your upcoming career. There is very little to distract you and you don’t find yourself wasting valuable time studying and doing assignments for elective courses that will mean nothing in terms of preparing you for your career. They also like the fact that you take one subject at a time, therefore you can focus your attention on one course instead of up to five or six at a time. This “immersion” approach is much more effective and students find that they learn and retain concepts much faster and better.
  5. Diploma is recognized by all employers: Students are also becoming more aware of the fact that diplomas from registered private career colleges are recognized by the Ministries. Therefore, they are questioning why they should spend three years at a community college when they can get the same diploma in one year at a private career college. The more that private career colleges like CTS can raise their community profile and image, the more likely students will accept that it is the diploma that counts, not the school. Students today are very much time conscious. They cherish their time and do not want to waste it. Once they find out that they can save two years of study, and thereby having two more years of earning income by attending a private career college, there is virtually no question as to what they prefer.


There are over 600 licensed/registered private career colleges operating in the Province of Ontario with a total annual enrolment of over 30,000 students. Traditionally, these private career colleges served students mainly from the following groups:

  1. Unemployed or injured adults seeking re-training for new employment opportunities
  2. Disabled adults seeking qualifications for employment
  3. Older adults seeking re-entry to the workplace
  4. Adults on welfare or social assistance who are trying to qualify for meaningful employment
  5. HRDC and Social Service funded clients

During the past decade or so, the average age of students attending private career colleges has been dropping rapidly due mainly to the fact that in addition to the traditional sources of students, private career colleges are beginning to draw students from several other areas, notably:

  1. Older adults who wish to change careers, but who do not want to spend three years at a community college;
  2. University and College students who have dropped out of their original program after 1 or 2 years;
  3. Young adults who went directly to work after high school and who now want to get into a meaningful career;
  4. Graduates right out of secondary school who want to get their diploma in one year instead of three;
  5. University graduates who are seeking a specific diploma to qualify for an entry level position in a company.

It has become evident that there are new market segments turning to private career colleges as a means to satisfy their career goals and objectives. These are quite different markets than private career colleges have been accustomed to, and some changes are going to have to be made in how the organizations operate in the future with respect to recruitment and marketing. Change is inevitable and the private career colleges which are going to survive in the future must take steps to prepare themselves for the demands of a whole new cohort of students.  


Despite the fact that there are so many private career colleges in the Province of Ontario, very few people in the major demographic market segments described above know much about these institutions. And there is no evidence to suggest that this situation is going to change much unless private career colleges completely revise their recruitment, marketing, and public relations policies. I do not intend to address all of the barriers and obstacles that are preventing the growth and expansion of private career colleges, however, I will include what I feel are some of the major ones.

  1. Lack of awareness among new target market demographic groups:
    Few people know about Private Career Colleges, therefore most of the potential students in the target market groups described above will not even consider this an option when selecting which school to attend in order to obtain their career qualifications. Very little information is presented at high school about private career colleges, mainly because the classroom teachers, all products of university, know very little about private career colleges. What little they do know is from the “old days” when private career colleges were considered institutions for “older adults” who couldn’t handle the pressures of a “normal” community college. There is so much misinformation in the community and the schools about private career colleges that potential students are not even considering attending a private career college until they are desperate and referred by someone from social services. The general public perception is that private career colleges are only a “last ditch” option if you can’t get into any other institution. That is why such a high percentage of students at private career colleges are being funded by social services. They are being “forced” to attend a private career college because it is a quick way to get people off of the social service roles. This in itself has tarnished the image of private career colleges which many feel are for people who are on welfare or unemployed. I once taught a marketing module to a business class at a local private career college and during our first session while we were going through introductions, one of the students said, “Welcome to the class of losers.”
  2. Lack of credibility as a post-secondary training option among secondary school students:
    Most secondary school students have been convinced that a 3-year community college program is better than a 52 week private career college program because the community college program is seen as producing a more “rounded” student. As a result, many potential students are never given a chance to find out how the program at a PCC contains about the same amount of instruction time as a community college or that the programs also contain the same required core curriculum that one will receive in a community college. Students have been lead to believe that the shorter length of program means less quality of instruction when in actual fact, the additional length of a program at a community college is only because of the “extra curriculum subjects” that are included as fillers to make the program last longer. The core material is the same, otherwise, the Ministry would not recognize the diplomas issued by private career colleges. This message must be delivered in order to improve the credibility of private career colleges. In my own case, for example, it took me three years to get a math degree from Laurentian. During that time I took only five math courses. All of the others were electives that were not necessarily even related to math. I could have completed my degree in one year, taking one course at a time, one after the other. This is how a private career college operates.
  3. Competition with public sector colleges and universities that have ties to public sector secondary schools:
    The public sector feeds the public sector, hence, publicly funded high schools promote publicly funded community colleges and universities. There is nothing unusual about this, but it certainly places private career colleges at a disadvantage. The community colleges and universities also get preferred status when it comes to presentations and recruitment sessions. Private career colleges, on the other hand, are depicted as business enterprises that are interested only in making profit, and not as interested as public institutions in the quality of education. This couldn’t be any further from the truth; however, that is the perception among the public school system and in particular among the public school teachers. Private career college representatives must therefore work much harder at getting into the schools for presentations and recruitment sessions. When I represented a private career college as a secondary school liaison I found I was accepted by the teachers because I was ‘one of them’ in that I taught for 28 years and was still a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. I passed the credibility test with the secondary schools so they allowed me to make my presentations.
  4. Unregistered PCC’s generate a lot of bad publicity:
    Each year there are far too many horror stories about students who have been treated poorly by unlicensed private career colleges. The general public does not know the difference between registered and unregistered private career colleges, so they tend to paint all private career colleges with the same brush. The classroom teachers and guidance counselors in secondary schools do not know much about the local private career colleges, so they tend to recommend the publicly funded universities and community colleges that they have full knowledge of from years of experience. There are not as many spectacular stories in the media about community colleges and universities being charged with fraud or operating illegally. You will seldom find teachers or counselors recommending a private career college for this very reason. They would rather avoid any chance of giving students bad advice so they stick to the public sector institutions instead. It is very much a choice between the “devil you know or the devil you don’t know”. Teachers will always recommend the “devil they know”.

It is my opinion that once private career colleges can address some of the above challenges you will see a tremendous boom in enrolment in this type of educational institutions. They just make so much sense.

I now invite you to read and reflect upon the content that follows. YOUR CAREER PLANNER is a framework for the future that you can count on to help you achieve your goals and objectives for as long as you live.

The Learning Clinic  Presents...

Deciding On The Right Career

Choosing The Right School

The Right Plan

After High School

Private Career Colleges

Making Choices






What kind of career do you want to enter after you are finished your formal education?



What kind of career do you want to enter after you are finished your formal education?

This is definitely the starting point. 

Once you have a pretty good idea of the kind of career you would like to enter once you are ready to work, you can focus all of your strategic planning on getting yourself in a position where you will be able to start in that career when you are ready. This is called the establishment of an "entrance strategy" and will be discussed later on in the publication. It includes things like networking, volunteering, exploring the hidden job market, etc. All of the things that you need to do, on top of getting a proper education, in order to be successful in finding that all important job in the career of your choice.

However, unless you choose a specific career type, or a ‘general career cluster’, you have nothing at which to aim and will simply find yourself in a constant state of confusion. It will be like trying to hit a target while in a darkened room or while you are blindfolded.

Therefore, in order for you to get the most out of the strategic planning suggestions contained in this online publication, we would first of all like to discuss how you can go about successfully selecting a career that is just right for you RIGHT NOW! 

It doesn't matter where you are in your life at this time: whether you are in elementary school, secondary school, post-secondary school or even if you are an adult and are not satisfied with your current situation. You must take this first step in the career planning process in order to begin the challenging road that lies between where you are now and where you want to end up.

Always keep in mind, that until you have decided upon your personal career goals, it is basically a waste of time to even consider choosing an education path. 

Let me repeat this critical point...until you have decided upon your personal career goals, it is basically a waste of time to even consider choosing your education path.

At this stage of your life, you are about to set out on a journey. You must know where you want to end up at the end of your journey so that you can begin your new career. There is no point in selecting your education unless you are certain that the education path you choose is going to get you into the career you desire.

There is a lot of hard work to be done, but it is definitely worth the effort.


It's Time To Prepare For The Trip Of Your Life! It's Time To Get On The Bus!

I think you would agree that it would be rather silly for anyone to begin a trip without knowing where he or she is going. For example, if you want to go on a vacation, you don’t just one morning pack up your car, back out of your driveway and then begin driving. You first of all decide where you want to go and then make some decisions on the things you will have to do to successfully get to your destination point and then you have to decide on what you will do once you are there. Otherwise you may be driving in the wrong direction without knowing it and waste a lot of time and money.

And yet, I come across so many people who are going through life in precisely the same manner. Especially students who are going through secondary and post-secondary school with absolutely no idea of where they want to go.

As a professional career planner, I want to make it perfectly clear that when it comes to career planning, you are the DRIVER OF YOUR OWN BUS. I can help you create a road map, and I can help you develop a plan, but when all is said and done, you are the driver and you are responsible for the condition of your vehicle.

The reason so many people - young and old - find themselves in such a mess today with respect to their jobs and their careers is that most people have not been clear about where they wanted to go in the first place. They do not have a VISION of where they want to end up. They do not have a BIG GOAL. 

Many students I speak to during their graduating year, whether that be from secondary school or from post-secondary school, admit that they have very little idea of what they want after graduation. They have been driving themselves all over the place going nowhere because they do not know where they are going. Some are so confused that they delay going into any form of post-secondary institution, choosing instead to take on a meaningless job at minimum wage in order to take time to decide. Five years later, many still find themselves in these dead-end jobs with no clear vision or personal goals. 

In order to prevent this from happening, it is critical that you get "IN TOUCH" with yourself as soon as possible. The advice that I am giving you in this web site is appropriate no matter where you are in your current life journey. Even if you have been out of school for ten, twenty or thirty years, there is still time to get in touch with your true feelings and begin the journey towards a satisfying career that is just right for you!

This section is the most important parts of the publication. It is where you are going to decide where it is that you want to go. Without this step, you will find yourself driving your bus all over the map, wasting a lot of time and energy, as well as a lot of money driving to an unknown destination. You wouldn't dare do this when you are going on a vacation, so please do not do this when you are training for a career - your whole life depends on the decisions you are about to make right now!


Just before we get on with the rest of what I have to say, I want to share a story from a book I once read written by Eileen Shapiro and Howard Stevenson. The name of the book was “Make Your Own Luck”. 

What amazed me most about this book was the way the authors were able to explain how easy it is for us to gain control of our life simply by becoming more focused on the “big goals” instead of all of the smaller ones. We can dramatically improve our odds of achieving our desired results and therefore go from depending on dumb luck to actually taking more control over our own destinies.

This message really hit home in one of the early chapters when the authors were relating an experience they had one day while conducting a job interview for the position of manager of one of their companies. A man named Dean Kamen was one of the candidates for the position and he was asked a number of questions during the course of the interview. One of the questions was, “Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island. If you could choose one person to be stranded with you, who would it be?”

The authors expected Mr. Kamen to give one of the typical answers that people usually give to this question, such as, “your spouse, a great philosopher, an athlete, a famous religious figure, a sexy movie star, a story teller or a close friend or family member.” 

What would your answer be?

Mr. Kamen surprised the authors with his answer. 

He thought for a moment and then said, “The world’s best boat builder.”

Mr. Kamen realized that his ‘big goal” was to get off the island. He could have selected a companion who would make life much easier for himself while he was stranded on the island waiting to be saved. Instead, he selected a companion who would be able to help him get off the island and thus control his own destiny.
Needless to say, Mr. Kamen got the job.
I want you to remember this little story as you read the remainder YOUR CAREER PLANNER. 

The message for all of us is that as long as we keep our big goals in mind and take actions that will help us move towards those big goals, we will increase the odds of achieving our desired outcomes. 

This means that as long as you have a clear understanding of the "type of career" you would like when you get out of school; as long as you know which career would allow you to use your natural talents and which would be in line with what you love to do, then you will have something to aim at and will be able to make sure that all of your decisions will move you in the right direction. 

You are going to meet a lot of "boat builders" along the way. These are people who are going to help you get "off your island" and on your way to your destination. Let these "boat builders" help you. Listen closely to them. Make wise and informed choices that are constantly moving you towards your "big goal" and you will eventually find success.

Now, let's get on with the rest of YOUR CAREER PLANNER. 

Enjoy the trip!


What is your "passion in life". 
What is it that "turns you on"? 
What are you "really good at"?


One of the best ways for you to choose your career is to take a good hard look at what you do best already. 

What do you excel at? 

What is your passion in life? 

What is that one thing that your friends consider to be your area of expertise?

Yes, you do excel at something! Everyone does!

If you are the type of person who likes to write, then examine all of the careers that involve writing. There are many careers that on the surface may not seem as if they would provide you with an opportunity to use your writing talents and follow your innate passion, but you would be surprised when you "really examine" some of the careers in that particular cluster.

If you love competitive sports, then examine all of the careers that involve sports. And when you examine something like sports, remember that it does not mean that you must become a professional athlete. There are many careers that spin off from sports or involve a supportive role. For example, if you want to be involved in hockey, but you are not talented enough to be a player, you can still work in the front office in the marketing department, or with public relations, or even with equipment management. It will still allow you to keep close to the sport you love and make a career out of it.

If you love to work with children, then examine all of the careers that will allow you to work with children or for children. You don't just have to be a teacher. There are many careers out there that will keep you working close to children.

Regardless of everything else, always keep the following key message in your mind:

No matter what you have done as a student;

No matter what your marks have been in school;

No matter if you feel you are not as talented as some of the other people you know;

Everyone is gifted in something......

Identify your gift - your passion for life - and you will have found your career!


Just about everyone today is familiar with the ever popular "Top 10" lists. TSN has the top ten sports stories of the week. Letterman has his top ten list every night.

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER, I want you to make up a "Top 10" list of your own.

I want you to take a sheet of paper and write down a personal inventory of the things in life for which you have a special passion or interest. What are the things you love to do and are pretty good at as well? 

Regardless of what you feel about yourself - you do have special gifts and talents that make you different. Those abilities and personality traits create excitement about life that define you as a person. These can be character traits (e.g. that you’re honest, persistent, generous) or abilities that you possess (e.g., you’re a good cook, adept at fixing things, an excellent tennis player, etc.). 

I am not asking you to rank each item in any specific order. All I want you to do is write them down as they come to you on a sheet of paper that looks like the following:

My Personal Passion List

1. _____________________________________________________

2. _____________________________________________________

3. _____________________________________________________

4. _____________________________________________________

5. _____________________________________________________

6. _____________________________________________________

7. _____________________________________________________

8. _____________________________________________________

9. _____________________________________________________

10. _____________________________________________________

It is extremely important that you finish off the entire list. Make sure that you have come up with ten positive character traits or abilities that you possess and that you feel good about.  If you have to, ask a close friend to help you - just make sure you come up with ten.

Take a good look at the list.

What you have in front of you should be the things that you enjoy most. 

These are the things that you love doing and are already good at. 

The career in which you will find the most success and satisfaction with will involve at least one of the things on your list. 

I cannot emphasize this point enough!

If you try to pursue a career that is not within that "personal passion circle", you will have a hard time remaining in that career for very long, or at best, you will simply go to work for the money and not receive the kind of satisfaction that a career should bring.


First of all, make sure you have the full list of ten filled out.

Don't go any further until you have completed the list above for your personal passion list. Everyone can find ten things that they are either good at or really like a lot. These are your positive character traits and abilities. 

Now take another sheet of paper and set it up similar to the example below. 

Take a few minutes to complete this next exercise. 

Write down a list of the careers that you are most interested in right now. It doesn't matter whether or not you come up with the proper name for the specific occupation. Just describe the career if you do not know what it is called. The important thing is for you to come up with a list of ten careers that you feel would be your first choices if you had the opportunity to select any career you desire. That's right! What are the careers you would like to put yourself into right now if you could?

Remember, some of the careers on your list will be very broad while others will be very specific. It is simply important that you come up with a list of ten careers that you feel you would like at this particular time of your life. 

Above all, make sure that the occupations you have on your list are those in which you would actually be interested. Don't just put down careers that sound good. Make sure that you feel you would love to be in those careers if you could.

My Personal Career Interests

1. _____________________________________________________

2. _____________________________________________________

3. _____________________________________________________

4. _____________________________________________________

5. _____________________________________________________

6. _____________________________________________________

7. _____________________________________________________

8. _____________________________________________________

9. _____________________________________________________

10. _____________________________________________________


Now, look carefully at your CAREER INTEREST LIST and compare them to your PERSONAL PASSION LIST.

See if there are any careers on the list that are related to your personal passion list or to your natural abilities. Without a doubt, there will be a number of careers on your list that are directly connected to what you already like or to what you are already good at.

For example, if you have a real talent for writing, you may have listed "Novel Writer" on your career list.

Therefore, once you have compared your two lists and identified some careers that are connected in some way to what you already do well or in which you are already interested, you are ready for the next step, which may well be the longest and most important part of this process.

For each career that is connected in some way to your PERSONAL PASSION LIST, make a sub-list of related careers and jobs. For example, your ultimate dream may be to write a novel. But, as you research the types of careers where you can use your writing skills, you will find that those careers include things like working for newspapers, magazines, printing companies, television stations, writing copy for news broadcasts, writing children’s books, editing for a publisher, writing training manuals, writing speeches for politicians, and the list goes on and on. 

As you break down the broader career and personal skills you have identified, you will begin to notice that there are a whole "cluster" of related careers in which you might achieve satisfaction. Use the internet; use your public library; use your school guidance office; use whatever you have available to develop as large a sub-list of related careers as possible.

When you have completed the exercise and have expanded upon each of your selected career choices, compare them with your PERSONAL PASSION LIST. 

You should quickly discover that you can eliminate some of the career clusters on your list as simply not being as interesting to you as others.  You should be left with one large career cluster that is clearly a "natural fit" for you!  These are careers for which you already have the basic skills and motivation to succeed. These are the careers you should be aiming for. 

This exercise is a critical step in helping you determine the type of education and training that you should pursue in obtaining the necessary qualifications to enter a career that will be just right for you. 

This is also an exercise that may take a while to complete. Do not be in a hurry! It is important that the career you are aiming for matches your passions and your skills. It is also important for you to know the related careers within the career cluster so that you are aware of how broad a target you are aiming for.

For example, a person who loves hockey and is a very talented player, may want a career in hockey. This doesn't just mean that he has to be a professional hockey player. He can be a coach; own a retail store; be a sports writer; be a physical therapist; a trainer; and a host of other related occupations. He will still be living his dream of having a "hockey" career.



Once you have identified the best career cluster match for you personally, you will have set your sights on a clear and distinct target. 

Most of the careers in your cluster will utilize the particular skills or passions that drive you as an individual. These are the things things for which you already have a natural talent or ability. All you have to do is continue to refine and improve upon them during the coming years.

NEVER EVER FORGET...Everyone has a gift. 

Everyone has something that they do as well as or better than anyone else. You too have a gift and it will give you great satisfaction to use that gift to make a difference in the lives of others as you take your place in society!

Now you must go about the task of selecting the best education path that will enhance and sharpen those skills even more, so that when you graduate from your post-secondary studies, you will be the best you can possibly be and will thrive in whichever career you enter within your cluster.

Remember one very important point, however. 

You must identify your career target and then you plan your education. 

Don’t do it in reverse. 

Don’t plan your education, hoping that you will find a career afterwards or you may be cooking up a recipe for disaster.



At this time, I must take a moment to once again caution you to avoid trying to be something that you are not. In this world of high tech and instant communication, you are constantly being bombarded with images of people in glamorous careers.

It is very easy to play the "I wish" game. 

"I wish I could have that life". 

"I wish I could do that". 

The big danger is that you can easily find  a post-secondary education path that can bring you on the road to that glamorous "wishful" life you are seeing on television, in movies and in magazines. All you have to do is look and you will find one of the hundreds of courses offered by public institutions and you will find the training for that glamorous career.

Unfortunately, that is how a lot of young people get trapped.

The next time you find yourself saying, "I wish" about a career that falls outside of your "passion range", think about the story that follows. It is simply called "Animal School" and is written by an unknown author.  The story delivers a powerful message to all students.

Before you read the story, let me give you a bit of an introduction.

"Animal School" is a real lesson about life itself. Each and every one of us possesses certain traits and abilities which help define us as individuals. You are gifted in certain areas and if you develop those skills, you will be surprised at how happy you will be with the rest of your life. If you try to do things for which you are not suited nor are not interested, you will be heading for disaster. 

See if you get the message from the following story.



Author Unknown

"Once upon a time the animals in the forest decided they must do something to meet the problems of a new world. So they organized a school.

They adopted the activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying and, to make it easier to administer, all the animals were required to take all of the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming – better in fact than his instructor – and made passing grades in flying, but he was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running he had to stay after school and also drop swimming to practice running. This was kept up until his web feet were so badly worn, he was now only average in swimming.

The rabbit started off at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much overwork trying to compete in the swimming area.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the tree-top down.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, the animals decided to close the school. The duck went back to swimming all day; the rabbit ran through the forest; the squirrel flew from tree top to tree top; and the eagle soared in the blue sky."

As you give consideration to a career, don't let the same thing happen to you that happened to the animals in the story, Animal School. If you try a career for which you are just not suited, then you will eventually be disillusioned and frustrated, and you will at some point end up going back to your passion for life for a new career. You can do it the first time if you stick to what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. 


Develop your strongest skills. Take a course of study that will make you even better at what you do well already. When you graduate from post-secondary school and you are ready to begin a career within your cluster, not only will you be extremely good at your work, you will enjoy it because you have always enjoyed it.

athletes,boys,children,competitions,games,hockey,hockey players,hockey pucks,hockey sticks,leisure,males,men,people,persons,recreation,skaters,sports,teenagers,teensWhen I was a hockey coach I was often criticized for my practices. I would have the players go through the regular routines so that the worked on all of their skills such as passing, skating, shooting, etc. However, I would take the kids who had a really good slap shot, and I would have them practice their slap shot over and over again. They may not have had a good wrist shot or a good back hand, but I felt that if they had a natural talent for taking slap shots, I wanted to build up that skill even more. As a result they became superior slap shot artists. Their wrist shots were good enough to get by, but when they wound up for a slap shot, everyone got out of the way.

I could have told them that since they already had a good slap shot, I was going to have them work all practice on their wrist shots. They would have improved their wrist shots but they would have hated their practices and their slap shots would not have improved. During games, neither their slap shot nor their wrist shot would result in goals. 

The best thing about this approach to coaching is that as my player's slap shot got even better, so did his wrist shot. For some unknown reason, as your strong skills become stronger, your weaker skills naturally improve. This is something that we should always keep in mind.

Develop your natural talents, and you will find that your other skills will improve naturally.

Do what you do best and success will find you.



Once you have identified a number of desired careers within your cluster, and you have selected an appropriate education path, you must then keep a constant eye on the target.

It is vitally important that you be aware of the many things happening in the world today that have a direct impact on your career. What seems like a good career today may not be so good in a very few years. You must constantly be evaluating your career goals and adjusting your "aim".

The benefit of having a large number of possible occupations in your career cluster is that you can eliminate some of them along the way and still have several excellent options open to you when you graduate - all of them still within your passion circle.

The key to happiness, therefore, is learning how to adopt the "Moving Target Principle" in tracking the individual careers in your cluster.

The "Moving Target Principle" is quite simple, and if you have ever played dodge-the-ball you already know how hard it is to hit a moving target.

The secret to hitting any moving target, even if that target is another person in a game of dodge ball, is that you must anticipate where the target is going to move and then aim for a spot to where you think he will be moving.  

If you aim "at" the target and then shoot, by the time the ball gets there the target will have moved and you will miss. Also, if you aim too far to the left or right, you may still miss the intended target. 

So the "skill" you must develop to be successful in a game of dodge ball is to learn how to figure out where your target is heading and then aim the ball so that it strikes the target while it is moving.  If the speed of the "target" is constant,  it is not that difficult to hit the target. 

However, there are times when the target will unexpectedly change directions or speed, making it even more difficult to hit. You may have planned everything perfectly and then the target changes unexpectedly and your shot misses. 

You are also aware that in a game of dodge ball, if you are shooting at a large number of targets (i.e. people), there is a better chance that your ball will hit one of them. If you are shooting at only one target, then it is more difficult to hit unless you are very close to the target.


The "Moving Target Principle" is at work when you are aiming for your career goals as well. 

You must carefully study the characteristics of each career in your cluster.

Then try to determine what things in the world today are working to change the career and see if you can estimate how much that career will change by the time you are out of school and ready to work. 

You may still have done all of the proper research and planning and just when you are ready to enter the career, something unexpected happens that changes things so drastically that it is no longer a career in which you will find happiness and satisfaction. Many people begin a career that they have been longing for since they were young, only to find out that it really isn't what they expected. Soon they are looking for other work, and often they must go back to some form of retraining program.

That is why I constantly advise that the more occupations you have in your career cluster, the better. If you have more targets to shoot at, you are bound to hit one that works for you. If you only have one target to shoot for - if you put all of your eggs in one basket - you will have to hit it "dead on" the very first time or face disaster.


Ever hear the phrase...

"Keep your eye on the ball!"

If you play baseball, golf, tennis or any other sport that requires you to catch or hit a ball, you are quite familiar with that bit of advice.

"Keep your eye on your career!" is the new slogan that you must adopt while you engage in one of the biggest games of your life – training for a career.

Once you have selected a career cluster that is appropriate for you, it is imperative that you begin the most important project of your life. For the next several years while you are preparing yourself for a new career make sure that you get into the habit of doing as much reading and research as you can on all of the occupations in your career cluster. Check the business section of the newspapers in addition to the comic section. Instead of the latest movie or sports magazines, pick up magazines that specialize in your career. 

The more you know about what is happening in your career fields, the better prepared you will be when it comes time for you to "catch the ball". If you take your eye off the ball, it may hit you where it hurts or you may miss it all together.


If you have done your research properly you will come up with several occupations in your career cluster that are within your passion range; 

If you continuously follow the occupations within your career cluster as you are going through the appropriate education path; 

If you are willing to adapt to changes within those careers;

Then you are heading for a very successful, rewarding and happy life.




Making career and education choices has never been easy, especially in today’s marketplace where well over 70 percent of all job openings require some form of post-secondary education. 

Not only will you have to invest in education and training immediately after high school, but as adults you will be required to upgrade your skills and education over the entire course of your working life to take advantage of opportunities in the ever-changing job market.

Whether you are in secondary school, or already well established in a chosen career, the accelerated pace of technological development will demand that you be prepared to learn and acquire new skills readily and continually in order to adapt to the changing workplace.

Your Career Planner is a publication that deals with the four main post-secondary education options, namely: university, community college, apprenticeships, and private career colleges. 

At the same time, we recognize that up to 50% of all secondary school students will decide to go directly into the workplace - some for a short period of time, but some for the rest of their life. We will deal with this matter elsewhere in this publication.

For now, let's examine the four main post-secondary education options.


Universities offer various levels of degree programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree (the three or four year undergraduate degree), a Master’s degree, or a Doctorate program. Students find that these degrees, for the most part, are general and broad in nature, designed to help them become good critical thinkers, develop their writing and communication skills and provide them with knowledge in a particular area of study. In Canada we are fortunate to have many world-class universities involved in virtually every type of research. University graduates can go in a multitude of directions with this type of education.

There are approximately 20 publicly funded universities in the Province of Ontario.
  • A university can provide you with a general, broad education background. When you enroll in a specific program, you select a "concentration" in one or more subject areas and then take electives from a variety of other disciplines.

    For example, when I took my B.A. degree, I majored in Math. This meant that a total of five (5) of my fifteen (15) courses had to be in math. The other ten could be taken from anywhere else as long as I had the prerequisite courses from high school.
  • An undergraduate degree is required in order to enter a professional school to become a teacher, doctor, lawyer, etc.
    For example, after I had my B.A. degree, I was required to attend Teachers' College in order to become qualified to teach in Ontario. I was then required to teach for two years before I could apply for my permanent Teaching Certificate.
  • A degree can be obtained in three or four years, but most students are entering four-year degree programs today;
  • A normal week at university includes approximately 15 hours of classroom instruction. There are several programs that require a few more hours, but most are in the three-hour per course range and you are usually expected to carry five (5) courses at a time.
  • A normal school year covers approximately 6 to 7 months, beginning in September and ending around the end of March or beginning of April. In that time there is a three week break at Christmas and two one week study breaks with one coming in the fall and the other in the winter. 
  • Most programs of study begin in September. You may be able to find some programs that begin in January, but those are usually only half-credit courses.
    Several courses are now available in the Spring Session or during the Summer months, but those are usually specialty courses that are required for upgrading purposes for professionals such as teachers.
  • Tuition amounts vary, but they are in the $6000 per year range. This is for tuition only. The cost of books, accommodation and food is over and above this figure.


Community colleges provide students with the opportunity to develop the skills that can lead to rewarding careers in business, applied arts, technology, and health sciences. Community colleges offer a variety of full and part-time career-oriented programs for secondary school graduates and for mature students who may not have completed secondary school.

Most community college programs are either diploma programs, (which may be either two or three years in length), or certificate programs (which run one year or less). Some courses of study lead to official certification in skilled trades that are regulated by professional associations. Every Canadian province has its own system of government-run community colleges.

There are approximately 24 government-run Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology in the Province of Ontario:
  • They are often referred to as Community Colleges:
  • They offer certificate or diploma programs that qualify you for entry into specific careers. The biggest difference between a Community College and a University is in the nature of the courses that you are required to take.
    For example, if you enroll at a University in the Business and Commerce Program, you will spend four (4) years and be required to take 20 different courses. Only 10 to 12 of those courses will have to be from the Commerce Department. The rest can be taken from any other department.
    When you enroll in a Business Administration Program at a Community College, you will be required to take 18 full-time equivalent courses over a three year period. However, all of those courses will be business-related.
    Many employers today are placing a great deal of value on the diploma programs offered by Community Colleges because of the fact that those graduates are more able to integrate directly into the company operation than a university graduate who often requires some direct hand-on training.
  • Each diploma program takes approximately 2 or 3 years. Due to the nature of the diploma requirements, you may even find some programs that can be obtained in less than one year, however, for the most part, a Community College prefers to cover the necessary skills in at least two years.
  • Some certificate programs take less than one year to complete;
  • A normal school week consists of approximately 15 to 20 hours in the classroom:
  • A normal school year consists of approximately 7 months or generally the same length of time as a university school year.
  • Most programs begin in September, however you will find some specific courses starting in January. 
  • Tuition fees are approximately $3000 per year. This is for the cost of tuition only. Books, accommodation and food are over and above this amount.
  • Many universities are accepting Community College courses for credit towards university degrees. For example, if you obtain a three-year business diploma from a Community College, most universities will give you credit for the first year or two of a Business and Commerce degree.
    Because each situation is judged on its own merits, you are strongly advised to do your research if you plan on following this path.


Apprenticeship programs are also becoming more and more popular as the demand increases for workers within the skilled trades. With an apprenticeship a student must find a company that is willing to allow him or her to work while learning a trade. Some classroom instruction is necessary but, for the most part, the student is able to earn some income while learning a skilled trade. After a pre-determined number of apprenticeship years the student is able to qualify for certification within the chosen trade. Today, in Canada, there are many skilled trades suffering from a shortage of qualified workers. Thus apprenticeships can lead to many rewarding careers.

Many students are deciding that they would prefer to pursue a career in a specific trade such as mechanic, plumber, carpenter, electrician, mill worker, etc.

To be employed in certain skilled trades, workers must have a Certificate of Qualification. This certificate states that they have passed the provincial qualification exam that assesses their knowledge of their skilled trade.

To write the provincial qualification exam, applicants must prove they have experience in the trade. Examples of proof include completion of an apprenticeship contract, documentation showing that training time meets at least minimum industry standards, or proof of sufficient relevant experience as a skilled worker.

Training consultants at ministry apprenticeship offices can guide applicants on how to gather the documents they need to prove they have the skills to write the exam. Consultants also evaluate the evidence in these documents to determine whether applicants are eligible to write the exam.

Many employers also want skilled workers to have a Certificate of Apprenticeship. This certificate is awarded as proof that the worker has completed apprenticeship training, including the provincial exam where required, and meets the standards of competency set by industry.

Basically, if you are interested in a apprenticeship program there are special initiatives that may be available at your school. Ask your guidance counselors about them.


Private career colleges offer students an alternative to the traditional post-secondary school options described above. These colleges provide diplomas equivalent to community colleges, but they still tend to be used more by older mature students, even though they are available to secondary school graduates, and are starting to become more of a "preferred choice" for this age group. 

What you will find is that the private career college has become the "back up" choice for many students who may not have made very wise choices as they left high school.

Private career colleges are also becoming a preferred option for graduates of traditional post-secondary universities and colleges who are looking for an "entry strategy" for their chosen career.

We have devoted an entire chapter to Private Career Colleges so we will explore this in more detail at that time.

Selecting The Education That Will Qualify You For Entry Into Your Career
Once you have established your career goals, your next step is to select an education path that will get you qualified for entry into your chosen career. This is where your guidance counsellors become very important. You must make sure that you select the proper courses in secondary school so that you have the credits needed to qualify for entry into a post-secondary school program.

Then, you must do your research to make a list of all of the institutions that offer the diploma programs that you require.

Once you have a complete listing of all of the schools which offer your program, then comes the task of choosing the school you wish to attend. For high school students who establish their career goals by Grade 10 or 11, there is plenty of time to do proper research. In fact, I would suggest that once you narrow your choices down to three or four, you spend time during vacations to visit each campus and have a good look around. Talk to current students to get their feedback on the institution. After all, you may be spending up to four or more years going to school there, to say nothing about spending tens of thousands of dollars to obtain your diploma or degree. It would be nice take a tour of the facility and get a first hand look at the campus before you send in your application.

The selection of  a post-secondary school is a very personal thing. The final decision will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which will be financial.

In any event, the selection of which school to attend will likely be the easiest part of the career planning process. Do your research; visit the campus; talk to current students; take a good look at your financial situation; and you should narrow your choices down to three possible options. It is always advisable to have three options in case your first or second preferred choices are not available.

At the end of this stage, you will have your career goals in place and you will have a good idea of the college or university where you would like to receive your training and education.




Once you have finally chosen a career cluster that you would like to enter, and you have a clear idea of what type of education will qualify you for occupations within that career, you then must do everything you possibly can to get yourself into a position where you will be able to successfully get started in the career when you are ready. This is where you start to think about developing an "entrance strategy".

A lot of people do a good job with the first two steps and then take for granted that they will automatically be given the final key to success. This is a FATAL mistake!

The world as we know it today, and the world into which you are about to enter, will only reward people who have a definite strategic plan and who also have one or more back-up plans just in case things go wrong in the first place. 

To put things into perspective, you wouldn't dream of going on a winter vacation to Florida without reserving a hotel room ahead of time so that you have a place to stay while you are on vacation. You plan for the vacation and then you purchase the airplane tickets so that you can travel to Florida. This is similar to deciding on a career and then attending a college or university to get qualified. In the case of a trip to Florida, the final step to ensuring you will have an enjoyable vacation is to reserve a room so that you have a place to stay while you are there. 

So why would you do anything different with something as important as a career?

You choose a career, and then you decide on an education path to get you qualified for the career. It is critically important for you to make sure you have a position ready and waiting for you when you graduate. And yet this is something that so many people take for granted. Most people seem to think that the employers will be waiting with open arms when you graduate. Nothing could be further from the truth!

This section of the Your Career Planner is dedicated to helping you develop a personal strategic plan which should help you get started in that career when you complete your training.





  • As you are doing research into various career options that appear to be of interest to you and which fall within your career cluster choices, you will come across names of certain companies that are leaders in their field. 
  • These are the companies that will offer you the most opportunity once you decide to pursue a particular career.
  • Select five (5) different companies with which you would like to begin your career. It is better if those companies are close to your home town, but that is not necessary.


  • Prepare a file folder for each of the companies on your list and also begin to store a folder of information and links on your computer for each of the companies.
  • Find out everything you can about each company. Store information in the appropriate file folder.
  • When you are gathering information, use the internet; send for brochures by mail; visit the company in person to speak to secretarial staff and get a visual perspective about the company. In other words, leave no stone unturned and be complete in your research.


  • Carefully follow the progress of each company and make note of any accomplishments and achievements. You can track the company by reading newspapers, industry periodicals, company reports on their web site, etc.
  • It is always a good idea to keep track of how these companies are performing and be aware of the directions they seem to be heading with respect to expansion and development. 
  • By keeping an on-going diary of the progress of each company, you will also be able to demonstrate that you have been keeping up with the trends of that industry. 
  • When you are ready to apply for a job with some of these companies, the ability to discuss events and accomplishments that took place over the previous several years will definitely be something that will impress your prospective employers.


  • Send regular correspondence to key people in management positions within the company. The higher the better. 
  • It is a good idea to send this correspondence in the form of written letters. People tend to keep letters in files whereas they will often delete emails.
  • Always find a purpose for each letter. I cannot stress this enough. Always find a purpose for each letter. For example, you can ask specific questions about the company or the industry; offer congratulations on achievements and accomplishments; demonstrate your interest in a career with their company in the future; ask for advice; etc. Look for reasons to send a letter and make sure that you keep this correspondence up regularly (at least once every three or four months).


  • Once you have developed a relationship with one of the key people in the company, arrange to visit and meet with this person for the express purpose of finding out more about the company. Often people in positions of responsibility will be extremely busy, but if you allow them to select the day and time of the visit, most will agree to meet with you, or will designate someone else to meet with you instead. Always graciously accept to meet the subordinate if that is the best you can do.
  • Be very open with the person and indicate that you are interested in a career with the company and would like to get some advice on what to do in order to prepare for such a career. 
  • Show genuine interest and your contact person will usually bend over backwards to help you out.


  • Find out what charitable organizations and/or causes are supported by the company. Every company has one or more major charities that they support, so this should not be difficult.
  • Ask if you could volunteer to help out with one of their charitable events. Make every attempt to become involved in activities which will include representatives of the company.
  • Try to become directly involved in a similar volunteer manner at least once or twice a year with each of your target companies. 
  • Make sure the people in the company get to know you and get to know that you are interested in working for them when you graduate. Take every opportunity to shake hands and introduce yourself to people from the company when you are volunteering. Keep personal business cards with you so that you can give one to people you meet.
  • Always send some kind of follow-up letter to your key contact person and perhaps to the Chief Executive Officer. Thank them for allowing you to become involved and make sure you tell them how much you enjoyed the experience. Indicate your willingness to help out in the future in any way the person deems useful.


  • After a couple of years, ask your contact person(s) if they might be able to help you get a summer or part-time job with the company. 
  • Make sure they understand that you want to gain some experience which will help you make the transition into a career once you have finished with your schooling.


  • Make sure you let your contact people know when you will be available for work. 
  • Begin sending them letters to this regard a full year and a half ahead of your graduation. 
  • Let them know the kind of position in the company in which you would like to start out, even if there are no vacancies when you send the letter. 
  • Send your application letter to the highest ranking person in the company that you know and ask them if they would mind forwarding your application to the proper person.
  • Make sure you find a way to mention something in the cover letter that would help your contact person remember you from previous contacts.


  • Every two or three months, try to find some reason to update your resume. This can be a new experience that you have gained through a volunteer initiative; final marks in school programs; new work experience; change of address; etc.
  • Send a new cover letter outlining the addition to the same contact person you have been dealing with and attach an updated resume.
  • Always include some personal information or initiate a personal exchange with the person to whom you are contacting. This person should look forward to receiving your letters and may even respond.
When you graduate, one of the companies you have been dealing with will be more than happy to give you a job. I can almost guarantee it!

The investment of time to keep up with the research may sound a bit like schoolwork, but rest assured that the pay-off will be worth the effort if your knowledge helps you land that sought-after position. 

The key to this plan is to nurture a long-term relationship with one or more high ranking officials in the company for at least a year or two prior to the time you will be in a position to begin your new career.

Follow this plan with all five companies on your original list and you may find yourself with the pleasant dilemma of having to choose from two or more offers.

If you think this may be too much work, just think of how disappointed you will be if after spending four years in university or college, you graduate with no job prospects. It will be just like landing in Florida with no place to stay.



Before we go on, I would like to remind you that there are five principles that you should keep in mind as you are going on your journey. These are what is sometimes referred to as the Five Pillars of Life. I think you will agree that they are important considerations for anyone who is interested in finding happiness, not only in their occupation and career choice, but in everything you do.


You are living at at time when both you and your world, as well as your dreams and goals, are constantly changing. No longer do you have to pick one occupation and stick to it for the rest of your working life. As a matter of fact, many jobs of the 21st century have yet to be invented, so the most important skill you have is your ability to adapt to change - both inside the workplace and out. Therefore, even if you feel you have decided upon a career that you really and truly want to pursue, always continue to do research and studying to keep up to date with changes that may affect your career. Your life will evolve over the next several years and your interests may change. Always keep your eyes on the target.


Life is a journey - not a destination. As you evolve, and as life evolves around you, the destinations you once set your eyes upon may not seem as attractive as they once were. Many times you will decide to take a different direction or attempt a new path that you haven’t yet considered at this point in your life. Remember that every step you take towards your destination is the beginning of a new journey. Keep you eyes on the big goal, but focus on the journey. Make every step count.


You will continue to grow mentally and emotionally all life long. The same is true about learning. After you finish school, as long as there are opportunities for learning and growth around you, you will continue to learn. Learning comes in many different ways, but no matter how it appears, learning is forever and will be a part of your future.


Your family, friends, mentors or new acquaintances - people who you respect and trust - cannot be with you all of the time, but they can provide the support and assistance when you need it the most. Never be too proud to ask for their help - and never be too busy to offer them help when they reach out to you. Nobody can go through this life alone. When you team up with others, you will be that much closer to your own dreams and aspirations.


Find out what you want - what’s really important to you - and go after it. Let your dreams shape your goals. Use the energy your dreams give you to help you acquire the skills and take the risks you need to make those dreams—or any part of them—a reality. Nothing in this world was ever accomplished without a dream. Nothing is impossible. Reach for the stars.



When you are ready to search for a place to begin your new career, you will find that all employers will be understandably interested in the quality of your formal education and training in order to be assured that you are qualified and/or certified to do the work for which you were hired. In many cases, this is necessary for insurance purposes and to comply with industry standards.

However, once you prove that you have the necessary training and qualifications, most employers will readily admit that there are other even more important "employability skills" that mean all the difference in the world when it comes to landing that job.

These are the skills that help you not only to get the best jobs, but also to keep them and progress to higher levels of responsibility within your chosen career as you develop more experience.

It has been said that just about anybody can go to school and come out with a degree or a diploma. So the best way for an employer to be sure that he has hired the right person is to closely examine the "other skills" that form the character of an individual.

Some of those skills will be addressed briefly in this section.


The Ability to Communicate:

[ to be able to listen in a variety of situations and circumstances for a better understanding and to learn how to perform your responsibilities at a higher level; 

[ to be able to read in order to understand and also to be able to use written materials appropriate for the business you are in. You must be able to read and understand instructions and directions in today's business community in order to succeed;

[ to be able to write effectively, both to communicate internally to fellow workers and also to outside contacts. Whether by internet or by snail-mail, the art of writing is still very important in today's society;

[ to be able to speak clearly and effectively in order to present yourself and your company in both small and large group settings. Marketing and public relations are so very important today. You must be able to communicate orally in order to be of any use to your company.

The Ability to Think:

[ to be able to think critically and to act in a logical manner to evaluate situations, solve problems and make necessary decisions. Each day on the job brings with it new challenges and problems. It is crucial that employees be able to work their way these challenges and make decisions which are in the best interests of the company;

[ to be able to use technology effectively in problem-solving situations. We live in a hi-tech society. The world of instant communication contains very useful tools that will give you the competitive edge if used effectively;

The Ability to Learn:

[ the willingness and ability to continue to learn and adapt to changes in the workplace. All employers look for people who are "coachable". Employers want people working for them who will become an extension of themselves. They also want people who can adapt to the constant changing landscape in which businesses find themselves today;

[ the desire to upgrade your skills through formal training and professional reading. When you enter a new career, you will soon discover how difficult it is to "keep up" with changes and new technological advances. Always demonstrate your desire to go for upgrading and search for professional reading. Employers will gladly pay for your upgrading if they feel you are worth the investment.



If you are interested in management positions with your company, then these are the skills, attitudes and behaviours that will demonstrate that you are management material. 

Positive Attitudes and Behaviours

[ having a positive attitude toward your work, your employer and the other people in your workplace is becoming increasingly important in today's society. Negativism is destructive and can impact on the bottom line. Also, if you have a positive attitude it helps you find solutions to problems and challenges that come with the job;

[ demonstrating self-esteem and confidence through your words and actions on the job. It is one thing to "talk" and yet another thing to "walk the talk". Show that you are sure of yourself and have confidence in your abilities if you want others to feel the same way about you;

[ placing a high value on honesty, integrity and personal ethics. Don't sell yourself out. Your reputation is the one thing that no one can take away from you and will always follow you wherever you go. Make sure it is the kind of reputation of which you can be proud;

[ showing that you have a positive attitude towards your personal mental and physical health. Develop your mind and keep yourself in good physical condition. Don't be putting yourself down if you are not build like a movie star or if certain things are difficult to comprehend. Have a positive attitude and make the most of your "strengths".

[ demonstrating initiative, a high energy level and the persistence needed to get the job done under difficult conditions. Follow a healthy lifestyle so that you can keep up to the physical and mental demands of the job. Employers love employees who have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.


[ the ability to set goals and priorities in both work and personal life and the desire to achieve your targets. All managers must have this to succeed in a leadership position.

[ the ability to manage all resources, especially time, to achieve the goals and objectives of the company. You must be the kind of person who always comes in on time with projects and is always on time for meetings and deadlines. Show that you can get the most out of your time and you will become a very valuable asset to any company;

[ the ability to accept responsibility willingly and be accountable for your actions. Always accept new challenges and positions of responsibility. Show that you are someone who can be counted on. Also, when things go wrong, accept the consequences of your actions without excuse. ;

[ being able to adapt to changing job conditions and new situations. Don't allow change in the workplace to defeat you. Seek out opportunities to effect change in order to improve the situation instead of always reacting to changes after they occur.



Very few careers today allow a person to work by themselves in a cubicle with no contact with fellow employees. Team work is quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception for just about all industries. Two people working together can do far more work than two individuals working separately. This is a known fact. Therefore, all employers are looking for skills that are needed by employees if they are to work with others on a job or project to achieve the company goals and objectives. 

Working with Others

[ the ability to work with people with different backgrounds and mind-sets to accomplish goals and objectives of the company is crucial in today's workplaces;

[ the ability to plan and make decisions with others and support the outcomes is also very important. Once group and team decisions are made, it is up to each member of the team to work as a unit to implement the policies to the best of their ability. This is a very important skill in the workplace today;

[ work without clear job descriptions. "It's not my job" is a phrase that is quickly disappearing from most companies. Multi-tasking is the key word today. Employers are impressed with employees who show initiative and can work in the best interests of the company without needing constant direction;

[ respect the thoughts and opinions of others. The only way for companies to generate new ideas today is for everyone to feel comfortable about sharing their ideas with others. You may not agree with what a person has to say, but you can at least respect his opinion and defend his right to express his opinion and thoughts.;

[ accept leadership roles when appropriate. If an employer asks you to take on more of a leadership role in the company, accept it as a compliment in your abilities. He wouldn't have asked if he thought you were not capable of handling the added responsibilities.


Your entire future will likely be determined by the people you are about to meet during the next few years. It is extremely important that you take steps immediately to make networking a way of life and that you go out of your way to meet as many different people as possible from all walks of life. This is something that cannot be stressed enough to young people and even older adults who are searching for an entry career position.


If you haven’t already discovered this, you soon will. As a matter of fact, it has often been stated that who you know matters at least as much as what you know! Perhaps even more!

I am sure you can easily find many examples in your own life where you have received some kind of special consideration because of a "connection" you had or because of "whom you knew".

In most situations, it is not a very big deal. 

  • For example, it may have been something as simple as being allowed to take an extra turn on a midway ride because you knew the owner. 

  • Or it might have been getting a free ticket to a concert or a hockey game because you knew the organizer. 

  • You may even have been given your current part-time job or your summer job because you or your parents knew the employer.

But when it comes to getting your first big break in the career of your choice – it is a really big deal! And getting that big break may be easier than you think - if you know the right people. To know the right people means you have to be willing to get out and meet them.

The more people you meet, the better your chances of success!


It is also imperative – and this cannot be stressed too much - that you make an excellent first impression with every individual you meet.

Remember, you get only one chance to make a ‘Good First Impression’. 

Remember also that ‘First Impressions’ last the longest. 

People will always ‘forgive’ you if they had a good first impression of you. But if you start out on the wrong foot, it will take a long time to erase the memory of that poor first impression.


When you come across a person who you wish to add to your personal network list, make sure that you record all of the pertinent information immediately. 

Every time you initiate contact with a person on your network list, review your notes and see if you can incorporate some of the information you have recorded into the communication.

For example, if you know that a person was planning on going on vacation to France during the winter, the next time you write or speak to that person, ask how he/she enjoyed their trip to France. You will be amazed at how impressed the person will be that you remembered.

After a while, you will find that you are recalling many things about your contact people and it will be second nature to bring up information when communicating. This will definitely solidify the relationship.

In addition, you may find that some of the information will give you a purpose for your communication. Keeping in touch with your network is important.


The first thing you must do to develop your network list is to aggressively search out the networking groups and associations that are going to do you the most good. 

You have only a limited amount of time. 

At this point in your life you have to use that time wisely in order to get yourself into a position which may help you get your career "break". 

Always keep in mind that you are attempting to become known among the people who will be able to provide you with opportunities in your chosen career field. 

Keep your eyes open for special events that involve that segment of the community. Read the newspapers and listen to the local news. When an opportunity presents itself – be there!


When you meet new people at networking functions, make sure that you demonstrate your strong qualities to them. 

Smile a lot and show that you have a sense of humour. 

Be sincere and ask questions that show you’re interested. 

This is your big chance to make that good first impression at a time when everyone is generally in a pleasant, informal mood. Everyone knows it is much easier to make a good impression at a community event than when you are sitting in a cold office during a job interview.

Give people something positive to remember - something that will be significant enough that when you meet again they will remember you.


Good communication is invaluable in any situation, but even more so when you are networking and trying to make a good impression. 

Be articulate, concise, enthusiastic, honest and open. 

Use language with which you are comfortable but make sure it is powerful.

Don’t forget the other side of communicating - listening. This is even more important than speaking. Don’t make the same mistake that so many others have. Rather than listening, they spend their time thinking of the next thing they are going to say, thus learning virtually nothing new at all.


It is a good idea to have a small note pad with you when you attend networking functions. This does not have to be a large, bulky pad but one that simply fits in your pocket. When you commit to something, or if there is something you want to remember, step to the side at the first chance you have and write it down. If not, you are sure to forget by the time you get back home because you will have met so many people and discussed so many different topics.

This is another reason why during networking opportunities you must listen even more carefully than when you speak. Listen to what key people are saying and doing at the networking sessions. There are plenty of things being said and listening well will give you an opportunity for a follow-up afterwards.

Another interesting tip is that when you get a business card from someone, write a little reminder note right on the back of the card. 

Everyone you meet becomes an acquaintance. They do not have to be "friends" to be of help to you in your career. They just have to be acquaintances. So the more you know about these acquaintances, the better.

There is nothing complicated about networking. When it comes to finding jobs or getting your foot in the door, the more people you know, the better.

And as a final note, people you only meet or send letters to once or twice a year are just as important to your network as people with whom you communicate on a regular basis. The most important bit of advice is that you should always "keep in touch" with your acquaintances. Even if it is a simple email message, or a card, or a short letter congratulating the person on an accomplishment. Every time you make contact, you are renewing the ties you have to that person and you are strengthening your network. When it comes time for you to apply for a job, you will be surprised at just how important the "little things" become.


If you say you will call a person or will send a person some information, don’t forget to follow through. 

Networking sessions are often very busy and hectic. People are always saying things without much sincerity. If you develop a reputation for meeting your commitments and following through on things you have promised, you will definitely be remembered and respected by those you meet. You will stand out from the crowd in this respect.

When you get home from the event, take time to check your note pad and go over the business cards you have collected. 

Check out the web sites that are listed on the business cards. 

Then spend some time writing short letters or emails, making positive comments about your meeting, or something else you may have seen or heard at the event. 

Make sure it is something that will make the person to whom you are writing feel good or proud – but be sincere – don’t try to "butter it up". 

If an employer is sponsoring a charity car wash, thank him for what he is doing to make the community a better place in which to live. Employers love to be thanked for their charity work. They keep those comments and it encourages them to do more. Offer to help out the next time he does one of his events. You will be surprised at the response.

Also, look for opportunities to follow through a second or third time during the future months. When you do this, try to make reference to the previous times you contacted the person. You will be surprised at how a person will remember you if you "prompt his memory" with something like, "I was the one who held the ladder for you while you fixed the sign at your booth." Always try to give a reference to a previous contact and your relationship will grow over time.


The more often you do this the better it is. 

Just think about it. 

When you write the cover letter for your application for a job, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to start off with "I was the one who held the ladder for you while you fixed the sign at your booth during the exhibition last July. I just completed my diploma in Business Administration and I am applying for the job you advertised in The Star." 

Many careers have been started because the applicant did something as simple as "holding the ladder" at the right time. But in order to have the opportunity to "hold the ladder", you have to "be there" when the person needs help with the ladder.. 

That is what networking is all about – being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people.


It is also recommended that you use your computer skills to create your own business cards. 

Another alternative is to have a couple of hundred simple cards made up by a local printer. 

Carry some with you at all times so that you can give your card to the people you meet. 

You will be surprised at how many people actually save business cards. You will also be surprised at how impressed people are with simple cards. Many cards today are colourful and fancy with all kinds of graphics and attention grabbers. 

Today the simple business card, which contains just the important personal contact information such as name, address, phone, etc., is actually making a very effective statement. It is saying that you are a person and that you don’t need to dress up a piece of paper to impress anyone.

Business cards that are blank on the back are the most popular. They allow people to write important information on the back, such as the day and time of the next meeting; the name of a restaurant; a phone number; etc.

If you can afford it, try to get a good, up-to-date colour photo on your business card. It helps a person remember you.

Finally, a business card that is a normal size is recommended. People keep all business cards in a special place. If your business card doesn't fit, it will be noticed, but it may also be discarded.







Make no mistake - everyone in your life is part of your network! And it’s probably a bigger group than you realize. 

Everyone who comes in and out of your life can help you, and you can even help them. 

Learn what you can about each individual. Identify their skills, experiences, talents and needs. 

The people you know are "warm" leads. It’s much easier to build on that warmth by expanding your knowledge of these people than it is to pursue "cold" leads.


Look at each of your family members as a well-rounded individual with specific skills and unique backgrounds. 

You can tap into their knowledge and, more importantly, their networks. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your family members for advice and help. Uncles and aunts will be thrilled when given the opportunity to help you begin your career, or open a door for you with a person they know.

Some young people feel uncomfortable about asking a relative for a job or a reference. But when you think about it carefully, you are actually doing them a favour by indicating that you would like to work for them or would like to use their influence to give you a better chance of being noticed. 

If you were an employer and you needed an employee, wouldn’t you rather have a relative working for you who you knew and trusted rather than a complete stranger? That’s what family is for. 

Remember – it’s who you know that counts! 

And who do you know better than your family?


Your friends have skills you may not be aware of. Ask. 

They have their own networks. Ask to be introduced. 

Also, let your friends know what it is that you are interested in. 

You will be surprised at how many connections you and your friends have when you put all of your networks together. The next time you and four or five of your friends are looking for something to do, plan on sitting down for a few hours and simply record all of the people and businesses that your group knows. 

It will probably amaze you when you find who your friends and their family and friends know on a personal basis. Some of their acquaintances may very well be people who could give you a break in your career. All you need is for your friend’s mother to put in a good word for you so that you can get that initial interview, or that voluntary placement so that you can go to work and make a good first impression. 

Try the exercise noted above. You will be absolutely shocked at just how many key people in the community you and your friends have access to through each other’s existing network – no matter how small you think it may be

Your physical proximity to people living around you gives you a unique chance to develop closer ties. 

Find out who your neighbors are. 

You know you already have one thing in common - your choice of where you live. 

Talk to them whenever you can. Offer to help them when they are doing difficult tasks around the house. Yes, you will be giving up some of your valuable time playing computer games or talking on the phone with your friends, but it will give you a chance to let them know about your career plans and about what you want in the future.

Once again, you will be surprised at how many people your neighbours know. 

You will also be surprised at how eager your neighbours will be to thank you by helping give you your big chance. They will go out of their way to open doors or put in a good word for you, or even let you know about things of which you may never have been aware. 

There is no such thing as a ‘wasted favour’. 

You may be pleasantly shocked when you find out how much the people who live in your neighbourhood can help you in your search for a meaningful career.

If you are involved with any community or professional associations or activities, you have a ready-made network. 

Most people join these groups to meet others. The door is already open. 

You just have to be careful to budget your time wisely. For example, it is not necessary for you to be the leader of these groups, but if you simply become a responsible member and then keep your eyes and ears open, you will be surprised at the opportunities. 

You will also find that most community groups are simply thrilled when a young person shows interest in their organization. They will bend over backwards to show their appreciation and you may also find it even a bit embarrassing. 

Remember, all of that positive attention is beneficial. 

People are noticing you. 

And when you send in your cover letter, it will be nice to say, "I’m the youth representative of the playground association for which you are the president." Guess whose resume will go to the top of the pile?

One of the most prevalent reasons people volunteer is to meet others and to feel a part of something good. 

Get to know your fellow volunteers better. 

You will find that volunteers come from all walks of life. 

It is not surprising to find a bank manager cooking hot dogs on a Saturday afternoon during a charity barbecue. 

When you talk to these people and let them know what you are planning to do with your life, they will open up and do whatever they can to help out. 

You have already made a positive impression – you are volunteering your time for the benefit of others.




This may very well be one of the most important sections of this whole publication. 

As you begin establishing your network of acquaintances, it is very important that you come up with a well organized method of keeping track of the information about these people for future reference. 

Find yourself a book or folder where you can keep track of the names, important details and how to contact some of the key people who may be able to help you get into the career of your choice over the next several years of your life. 

You may also find it useful to keep this information on a data base on your computer. There are excellent software programs on the market for this type of exercise.

Be very careful to spell the person’s full name correctly. Print neatly and in ink. Just think how you feel when people spell or pronounce your name incorrectly. Others feel the same. If the person’s name is difficult to pronounce, then place some kind of phonetic spelling alongside the name so that you remember how to pronounce the name in the future.

Include specific details about who the person is, where you met, why you want to remember this person, as well as information about future involvement you would like to initiate with that person. In the future, if you know you are going to meet this person again, review your notes so that you can bring up points from your first meeting. When you talk about something important about a person, it is very impressive and shows that you cared enough about that person to remember. Try to record the name of the person who introduced you to the acquaintance.

Contact Information:
Include their phone number, fax number, email address, complete mailing address, etc. so that you have everything you need to make follow-up contact. If you can get your hands on a business card, all of the information you need will be there. It is perfectly fine to keep the card in a separate place but it is advised that you also write out the information in this handbook so that you have easy access to it. Also, record each time that you make contact and how the contact was made (phone, mail, postcard, etc.).





  • One of the most effective and satisfying methods of developing your personal network of contacts is by volunteering your time for charitable causes. 

  • It is a well-known fact that most businesses regularly become involved in activities and events that are of benefit to various community groups. 

  • This is an important element of any corporate public relations program and it is somewhat expected of businesses by local residents.


  • As a secondary school student, you will find that there are numerous opportunities throughout the year for you to become involved in these community events. 

  • By doing so, you will find that you often come in contact with a number of very influential leaders of both the private and public sectors.  

  • These people will recognize your efforts to make the community better and will definitely form a positive impression of you as an individual. 

  • You will also be introducing yourself to these leaders in a very positive "feel-good" atmosphere to begin with, which makes your first impression even more memorable.


  • If there are one or more career fields that you are considering, simply make a few phone calls to the receptionists of some of your target businesses to find out when the company will be holding or sponsoring charitable events during the year. 

  • Then contact the organizations that the business will be sponsoring and volunteer your time. 

  • You will find out that most groups will welcome your offer to help out and will go to great lengths to show their appreciation.

  • When you write letters to the head of the business, make sure you mention your involvement with the charitable organizations that they support.

  • Remember that there is no such thing as a wasted favour. Donate your time in the right places, for good causes, for sincere reasons and you will be pleasantly surprised at the return on your investment of time.



Secondary school students today are very fortunate to live in an era where they are constantly reminded about paying attention to small details. 

For example, everyone knows how important a simple "period" or "comma" can be in a computer program or internet address. Forget a minor detail like that and you get nowhere.

Your grandparents and great grandparents didn’t know much about computers, but they too learned how important it was to pay attention to small details - especially when it came to dealing with people.

A machine is not very relevant in the whole scheme of your life. But people are - and the people you are about to meet in your quest for a career position will be paying attention to minor details that you may not realize are important.


Let us show you what is meant by telling you a little story. Joe used to visit a local drug store every Saturday to pick up a copy of the weekend paper. While he was there, he always picked up other merchandise and usually spent at least $30 or $40. One Saturday, when he returned home, he discovered that a section of the paper was missing. The same thing happened the following week. The next Saturday he brought the problem to the attention of the store manager who replied that the kid who puts the sections together was in a hurry and sometimes these things happen. The store manager treated Joe’s concern as a minor inconvenience. Yet it wasn’t minor at all. You see, after that little incident, Joe no longer stopped at that drug store. He went to another store a little bit out of his way, but where the manager and staff took more care about the little details. Not only did the drug store lose Joe’s business with respect to the weekly paper, but Joe no longer purchased any other supplies from that store and his friends were reluctant to support the store as well. The store lost all of that business because they didn’t pay attention to details.


We live in a world where anyone can get a degree or diploma. 

Therefore, when trying to determine who to hire, employers often look for the "little things". 

It could be as simple as a smile; opening the door for a stranger; the clothes you are wearing; or paying a compliment about something in the office.

The poem that follows may give you some motivation and food for thought that could be the difference for you down the road.

The Key To Success Is As Simple As Knowing Your A, B, C’s
Avoid working for just power & money

Be honest & reliable in everything you do

Choose your friends carefully...and be a good friend

Don’t be afraid to take risks

Establish goals and work towards them...step by step!

Free rides don’t prepared to pay a price

Get it done..and do it right the first time

Have confidence that you can make a difference

Invite constructive criticism...then listen and learn

Just doing enough to get by won’t get it done

Keep from making excuses..accept responsibility

Listen, learn and always work to improve your mind

Mean what you say and say what you mean

Never, ever give up on your dreams

Only one person can control you...and that’s you!

Play is just as important as work - have fun

Quality not quantity is what everyone really wants

Respect’s the first step in respecting others

Sometimes...just slow down and smell the roses

Treat others with respect and they’ll respect you
Use your assets wisely and for good causes

Voice your opinions but be aware of the feelings of others

Work as hard and as smart as possible

Xpect obstacles...accept challenges and go for it

You are in charge of your own actions

Zero in on obstacles while you reach for the stars



Even after you have completed your post-secondary education and are ready to enter your career, you may be shocked to find out that up to 85% of all job vacancies are never publicly advertised. 

That’s right! Up to 85% of all job openings are never advertised by employers. 

This is often referred to as the Hidden Job Market.


Employers today are relying more and more on 

  • referrals from employees and friends, 

  • unsolicited applications from job seekers, and 

  • private employment agencies.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the most likely is that when a want ad is placed in a newspaper or on some other electronic job site, employers receive hundreds, if not thousands of applications. It then takes an enormous amount of time for staff to sort through the applications, check the references and conduct interviews.

Moreover, there is now such a high turnover of staff in most companies that employers are no longer willing to invest the time and effort to find employees who may leave them a short time after they are hired. They want to find someone who already has the necessary training who can simply step in and begin to do the job. This way, if the person decides to leave after a short time with the company, the employer has not wasted much of an investment in training.


This is one of the most effective methods of finding people to fill vacancies. 

After all, if an employer hires a person based on the referral of an existing employee, he knows that the person must have the necessary qualities for the job. A current employee wouldn’t risk his own job by referring a non-qualified person.

Therefore, if you are interested in working for a particular company, it becomes very important for you to get to know the employees of that company. You may not be able to develop a relationship with the employer, but it should certainly be possible for you to volunteer to work with the company during charitable events, or to take part in sporting and recreational activities in the community of which some of the employees are involved.

When you discover that some of your acquaintances are actually working for a company with which you would like to seek employment, make sure that they are aware of your interest. 

Also, when you send a resume or application, make sure you use existing employees as a reference. It is much easier for an employer to walk down the hallway to seek a reference from a current employee than to make a phone call to a perfect stranger.

Depending on the nature of the relationship you establish with the employee of the desired company, you may also be able to ask the employee to bring in your application for you and deliver it in person. Remember, when you are trying to get started in your new career, it is no time to be shy. Use whatever tools you have.


It never hurts to send in an unsolicited resume to a company along with a well-worded cover letter. 

Employers have more time to read unsolicited resumes which come across their desk because of the fact that there are so few of them. 

Usually they have to go through hundreds of resumes at once and are in a hurry. If they only have one resume, they will take their time and look at it more carefully.

When you do this, however, make sure that the cover letter makes reference to some recent accomplishment of the company, or points out something about which the employer will feel especially proud. When an employer sees that you are sincerely interested enough about his company that you are paying attention to what the company is actually doing, he/she will take notice. 

There may not be a vacancy at the time, but if you send updated resumes with appropriate cover letters on a regular basis, the employer will be more likely to pull up your file when a vacancy occurs. You just have to make sure that you keep this strategy up and pay particular notice to the newspapers and business journals.


Private Employment Agencies - often referred to as "Headhunters" - have become extremely popular in recent years. All an employer has to do is send a request to an employment agency, specifying the kind of person and the qualifications needed, and the agency takes care of the rest. The fee is well worth the service provided to find a person to fill an important position in the company.

Therefore, as a person seeking an entry-level position in a chosen career field, it becomes increasingly difficult to find openings. This means that you should consider registering with as many employment agencies as you can. It also means that you have to update those records frequently as you do more volunteer work and gain other work experience through interim jobs.

When a "headhunter" searches through his data-base, he simply puts in key words. The more of those "key words" that are contained in your record, the better. You may have to be prepared to move to an out-of-the way location to begin your career, but if you leave your resume with the employment agencies, they will continue to search out better positions with other companies and eventually you may be able to find a job back home.

It makes as much sense to have an employment agent as it does to have a real estate agent, an insurance agent or a travel agent. 

When you need a new job, let a professional do the work for you.




When you complete your secondary school diploma, and you leave high school for good, you will have five, and only five options from which to choose.
UNIVERSITY This is one of the preferred options for about 25% of all secondary school graduates.
This is one of the preferred options for about 25% of all secondary school graduates.
This is one of the least known options among students at the time they graduate from  secondary school, so it is not one that is preferred by many students immediately after Grade 12. 
APPRENTICESHIP This option is becoming more and more popular among secondary school graduates, but it is still not one of the preferred choices.
WORK Almost 50% of the students graduating from secondary school go directly into some kind of employment situation. Some do not wait to complete all of their credits, choosing instead to enter the workforce even earlier.



Once you have selected the path you wish to follow after graduation from secondary school, your dream is to find yourself in one of the following situations. If so, you will have embarked on a journey which should make you a very happy person. 
UNIVERSITY If your choice after high school was to attend university.....
You will have successfully completed your degree program and find yourself  employed in a position that allows you to use the training you received from your university education to further your career. You are definitely happy with your situation.
If your choice after high school was to attend Community College...
You will have successfully completed your diploma program and have found employment where you are using the skills you developed at college to further your career. You are definitely happy with your situation.
If your choice after high school was to attend a private career college like CTS Canadian Career Colleges...
You will have successfully completed your diploma or certificate program and have found employment where you are using the skills you developed at college to further your career development.  This is a less used "path" for most secondary school students, but in recent years those numbers are steadily increasing because most graduates of private career colleges are definitely happy with their resulting situation.
APPRENTICESHIP If your choice after high school was to enter into an Apprenticeship program...
You will have successfully completed your apprenticeship program and passed your industry certification. This is becoming more and more popular as secondary school students become aware of the tremendous need for skilled trades workers in the marketplace today. 
WORK If your choice after high school was to enter into an Apprenticeship program...
You are employed on a full-time basis. While this is not usually noted as one of the recommended paths, since over 70% of all jobs on the market today require some form of post-secondary training, a relatively large percentage of students do go directly to work after they finish high school. In your case you will have found a job that is perfect for you, pays you well and has plenty of opportunity for advancement. You are very satisfied with your results.




Once you have selected the path you wish to follow after graduation from secondary school, you may find that your dreams of a satisfactory career have turned into a nightmare. 

It is at this point that strategic career planning becomes even more important because you may have consumed a great deal of time and money in an unsuccessful attempt in the hopes of arriving at a satisfactory career. 

The plans and goals you made while you were in high school just didn’t seem to come true for any number of reasons. Regardless of why you are not satisfied, the fact of the matter remains that you must do something to get out of this state as soon as possible and get your life back on track.

Remember that no matter how hard you try, sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. That not only applies to your education, but also to all other areas of life. Get used to it. Life doesn’t always seem fair.

The road to a satisfying career is not generally paved and smooth. It can be very bumpy with a lot of curves and detours. When you select a path to take you from high school to a career, you may find yourself in a situation which is not to your liking or satisfaction. 

If you are not satisfied with your outcome, chances are you will be in one of the following situations:

  • Situation #1 You may have graduated from University with a degree or from Community College with a diploma, but have trouble finding meaningful employment in your field.
  • Situation #2 You may have graduated from University with a general B.A. degree and now you want to obtain a college diploma in a specific area in order to start in your chosen career.
  • Situation #3 You may have begun a particular degree or diploma program at a College or University and discovered that you wish either to change programs or to drop out of school all together.
  • Situation #4 You may decide to take the first two years of a general university degree and then switch to a college or apprenticeship program.
  • Situation #5 You may decide that you want to go to work immediately after you graduate from Grade 12.
  • Situation #6 You may decide that you want to work at a part-time job while going to school to earn your diploma.
  • Situation #7 You may be working in a career for seven or eight years and decide that is has changed so much you no longer like what you are doing.



Before we get into the specifics of the strategic planning for getting you back on track if your dreams do not come true, let's for a moment look at why the preferred paths change once you find that your first choice didn't work out for you. For example, when a Grade 12 graduate is considering a post-secondary education path, the preferred options are usually university or community college. However, if you are trying to get out of one of the seven situations we will be examining below, you will discover that the preferred option is a private career college like CTS Canadian Career Colleges. To help you understand why this is the case, you need only examine the fire escape plan for any of the classrooms in your school. I call this the "Fire Escape Route Principle".


When the fire alarm goes off in your school you have a fire escape exit that is the first, or "preferred" choice for the classroom in which you happen to be at the moment. It is usually the exit that is the closest and most convenient for leaving the building. 

You also have an "alternate" exit just in case the first exit is blocked.

It is important that you know where both exits are located. 

It is also important that you know how to get to the "alternate" exit from the location of your primary or "preferred" exit. Because if you ever find yourself in a life and death situation and your first exit is blocked, you won’t have time to waste. You will have to proceed quickly and directly to the alternate exit in order to escape the danger. 

Admittedly, the chances of both exits being blocked at the same time are slim since your alternate exit is usually in a much different location in the building. This too is important, for if your alternate exit happens to be blocked, you are in very serious trouble since you seldom have a second alternate exit.

And so it is with your post-secondary education path. 

If the preferred path to a satisfactory career (comparable to the preferred fire escape exit at your school) doesn’t work, then you will be forced to take another alternate path (comparable to the alternate fire escape exit). You should know what that path is before you have to use it, because if you fail to find satisfaction the first time around, you will likely be in a desperate state of mind and blindly try to find your way out of a bad situation.

As we go through the next section you will begin to understand why the private career colleges have become the "preferred option" when your first "preferred path" doesn’t give you the desired outcome you were looking for.


You may graduate from University with a degree but have trouble finding meaningful employment in your field.

Many university graduates are having a hard time finding meaningful employment. They bounce around from job to job – often only being able to find part-time minimum wage jobs – trying to land a position that is suited to their level of education.

They are referred to as "underemployed graduates".

There are many possible reasons for being in this situation. For example, perhaps they had decided early in life that they wanted a university degree. That became their primary focus. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of degree they obtained, as long as they got a degree.

As a result, many of them ended up successfully achieving their goal of getting a degree, but then found themselves with nowhere to go with the education. They don’t regret the time spent getting the degree, but are finding that employers are looking for people with specific skills that will fill specialized needs within the company.


If you find yourself in the above situation, you do have several options.  

  • You can return to university and take a different degree program. 

  • You can also return to community college and take a diploma program for training in a specific skill that will at least get you a job. 

  • You can also look into taking an apprenticeship program for the next four or five years to become certified in a trade.



The preferred strategy for people who find themselves in this situation is to attend a private career college in a diploma program that will have the best chance of getting them into a chosen career in business, technology, justice or health care. 

  • The program will usually take less than a year to complete and therefore is the option that will produce the desired results in the least amount of time. 
  • It will also allow them to gain an entry-level position that will then permit them to use their university degree or their first diploma to accelerate their advancement within the company or industry. 
  • You will find that your university degree or diploma, regardless of in which discipline it was earned, will help you in your career once you have begun. The trick is to get into the job in the first place.


You may graduate from University with a general B.A. degree and now want to take a college diploma in a specific area in order to start a career.

Many students go to university to get a general B.A. degree in order to enjoy the experience of a higher academic education. 

Upon graduation with a degree, they then select a career that they would like to enter and need a specific diploma program that will help them get started in their chosen field. 

They realize from their research that, unless they have a diploma to show that they have the necessary skills training, they will be wasting their time applying for positions of substance.


  • One of their options is to enroll in a community college diploma program, but that may mean two or three more years of post-secondary education. 

  • They might also consider taking an apprenticeship.


If you find yourself in the above situation, you may realize that since private career college programs can be completed in a year or less, and, since you will have already spent three or four years in a post-secondary institution, this can be a significantly better option than spending another two or three years in a community college. 

Therefore, if you can find an appropriate diploma program being offered by a private career college, you will likely select this option in order to gain a diploma that will get you into your chosen career in the least amount of time. 

Since time is the most expensive element of your education, this is by far the best option.



You may begin a particular degree or diploma program and then discover that you wish either to change programs or to drop out all together.
Estimates vary somewhat across the country, but education experts are in general agreement that too great a percentage of the students who enroll at a university or community college fail to finish their original program of studies. 

Many students either drop out completely or change their courses to another major. 

Each way generally results in a loss of some credits or at the very least an extension of the time it will take to complete a degree or diploma program. 

The high dropout rate being experienced in both university and college is a clear indicator that many young people are having an extremely difficult time planning or deciding upon a satisfactory career path and it is therefore resulting in a large number of them taking the wrong education path as well.


If you find yourself in a situation such as this, you will have many options from which to select.   

  • You can simply change over to another degree or diploma program. That might, however, result in a full or partial loss of credit for your previous courses or starting all over again in a completely different program. 

  • Whatever you have invested in time and money may have been wasted, at least partially. 

  • You may also decide to go into an apprenticeship program, or;

  • You may simply find a minimum wage job and go to work.


It is at this point that 'time' becomes one of the most important reasons why private career colleges have become the "preferred choice" of many young students. 

After spending one or two years traveling up the wrong educational road and possibly digging themselves deep into debt with very little potential return, students begin to realize that they must find some sort of meaningful occupation as soon as possible or face dire financial consequences.

Your quickest path to a satisfying career may very well begin with a visit to the private career college such as the CTS Canadian Career College in your community to discuss a diploma program that is suited to your abilities and interests.



You may decide to take the first two years of a general university degree and then switch to a college or apprenticeship program.

Some students are taking two years of a general university degree and then deciding to interrupt that level of their education so that they can take a diploma program or enter an apprenticeship.


Students in this situation have decided that it will be of benefit to get a diploma and begin a career before completing the university degree. They know full well the value of a university degree with respect to advancement and promotion, so they do not intend to abandon this level of education. Once they get a job, they plan on taking one or two university courses each year until they complete their degree or original diploma. This will leave them with a diploma and five or more years of practical experience, thus becoming eligible for rapid advancement within their career field.

One option open to these students is to enroll in a community college program and complete their training in two or three years. This is not the preferred option since it means starting out all over again and looking forward to another long period of time before graduation.


If you find yourself in this type of situation, you may find it beneficial to see if there is a program being offered by a private career college where you can get a diploma that will help you land that entry level position in less than a year. 

This means that you will actually be out working at about the same time as you would have if you had completed your original degree. If you have taken most of your difficult core degree programs during the first couple of years, the ones left to take as extension or correspondence courses will be relatively easy.

This is becoming a popular option for a growing number of students. 

It allows them to experience the excitement of post-secondary life at university while they are still in their late teen years. Yet it also results in them finding employment in their career ahead of their age group. 

Since all employers prefer experienced employees, it means that students who choose this path can accept their first position with a small company or in a location that may not be entirely to their liking. 

Once the degree is completed and four or five years of experience have been gained in the first job position, it means that the student will become a very desirable commodity in the field because of the education and on-the-job skill development. You can then put your name out to employment agencies and find a more desirable position.



You may graduate from the community college with a diploma but have trouble finding meaningful employment in your field.

Many community college graduates are having a hard time finding meaningful employment. They bounce around from job to job – often only being able to find part-time minimum wage jobs – trying to land a position that is suited to their level of education.

They are referred to as "underemployed graduates".

Even if you did all of your proper research and took a diploma in a specific area, you may find that the qualifications you earned are no longer needed in the marketplace after graduation. The courses you took may have seemed interesting and you may have enjoyed the program, but if you didn’t do your research in advance, you may now have a diploma which was fun to take, but which will not get you into a meaningful career.


If you find yourself in the above situation, you do have several options.  

  • You can return to university and take a degree program. 

  • You can also return to community college and take a different diploma program;. 

  • You can also look into taking an apprenticeship program for the next four or five years to become certified in a trade.



The preferred strategy for people who find themselves in this situation is to attend a private career college in a diploma program that will have the best chance of getting them into a chosen career in business, technology, justice or health care. 

  • The program will usually take less than a year to complete and therefore is the option that will produce the desired results in the least amount of time. 
  • It will also allow them to gain an entry-level position that will then permit them to use their university degree or their first diploma to accelerate their advancement within the company or industry. 
  • You will find that your university degree or diploma, regardless of in which discipline it was earned, will help you in your career once you have begun. The trick is to get into the job in the first place.


You may find yourself 'trapped' in a dead-end, meaningless job.

Many secondary school graduates are deciding to go directly to work right after high school. With over 70 percent of all jobs requiring some form of post-secondary education, these students quickly find that their opportunities are extremely limited. 

They also find that employers are taking advantage of their lack of job mobility by offering them wages that are just high enough to retain them as employees, but too low for them ever to be satisfied with the quality of life such low income jobs can provide.

Secondary school students must be made aware of how easy it is to fall into this trap, because once caught in that trap, it is difficult to escape. 

Let us look at a perfect example of this as we examine the situation that a young lady by the name of Karen, from Sudbury, found herself in when she decided to go to work right after high school.


The Story of Karen

A Typical Graduate From Sudbury


Let us consider the case of Karen, a Grade 12 high school student from Sudbury. Karen had a part-time job at a local record store. One day she told and her employer that she was thinking of working for a year after graduation in order to save enough money to go to university. She told him that she didn’t want to have a big debt when she finished school. So the employer told her that he would gladly give her a full-time job and pay her $8 per hour – well above the minimum wage at the time.

After a full year, Karen found that she hadn’t really saved much money, so while discussing her situation with her employer, he gave her a raise to $9 per hour and she thought this would help a lot. She decided to stay at her current job for another year and this time she would definitely save money for school.

Near the end of the second year with his company, her employer, fearing losing a valuable, experienced employee, told Karen that he wanted to help her out so he was going to give her a raise to $10 per hour and promote her to the position of Assistant Manager, in charge of the night shift at his store.  This management position was too good for Karen to give up, so she decided to put off her education for just one more year.

After her third year was coming to an end, the employer told Karen that he was planning to open up another store on the other end of the city. He offered her the position of Store Manager and  increased her wages to the equivalent of $12 per hour to coincide with her added responsibilities.

Karen found herself trapped! 

There was absolutely no future with this store because it was a single owner company. She had stayed out of school for almost four years. She was virtually at the top of her salary level with this size of store. Even with her experience, as she sent out applications for positions in larger department stores, she found out that they wanted people with some kind of post-secondary education. Her experience in management was impressive, but they said she needed more than just a Grade 12 diploma to get a management position with the larger companies.

Eventually, many people like Karen wake up one morning and decide to "break away" from this employment trap.


Students like Karen have several choices.   

  • They can enroll in a university and begin working towards a degree. However, that would involve three to four years of study and a huge expense for tuition and living expenses. 
  • It is possible that the person could look for an apprenticeship if he/she has some sort of raw skill and likes to work at this type of work. 
  • Another option that is more likely is that the student will select some sort of career that will require a diploma. He/she can then enroll in a two or three year program at a community college. This, however, may prove to be almost as expensive as a university education. It will at least take almost as long to complete.


If you find yourself in a situation like the Karen’s, the option that is preferred by most students involves enrolling in a diploma program offered by a private career college. 

The main reason for this is the fact that, while tuition costs are approximately the same, it will take much less time to get the diploma and be back to work earning a much better income in a much more satisfying career. 

You may also be able to continue working while taking the program.



You may have difficulty planning your work schedule around your school schedule.

Some secondary school graduates decide that they want to go to school while they work. In this case, they intend to work as many hours as possible around their school schedule in the hopes of getting an education without ending up with a significant debt.


If you decide to follow this path, you have several options from which to select.  

  • You can go to university for a degree. However, this means that you will be working part-time and going to school for up to four years. This is a very heavy schedule to maintain. 

  • If you have to live away from home to attend university, you will still end up with a large debt. 

  • If you go to community college, you will end up pretty much the same way since most diploma programs last about three years. 

  • An apprenticeship program would make sense if you have some particular skill that you can offer.


It is quite likely that your preferred choice may be to attend a private career college. 

You will find that private career college programs tend to be offered at very convenient times of the day. Programs are offered in the morning, the afternoon and in the evening. 

You will also find that there are many private career colleges from which to select that are close enough for you to live at home and commute. 

This means that you can easily balance work and school, thereby earning a post secondary diploma without having the accompanying debt load upon graduation.



You may be working in a career for seven or eight years and decide that is has changed so much you no longer like what you are doing.

One of the main challenges facing young people today is that in order to cope with the rapidly changing pace of the work environment, they must be prepared to change careers as often as five or six times during their lifetime. 

This can be seen as a challenge, or it can be seen as an opportunity that will enhance their quality of life and enable them to experience a great deal more than people from previous generations.

It is also why we spent so much time in other sections of this web site helping you discover your most appropriate "career cluster" so that when you decide you want to "change your occupation" you can still remain in the same type of career where you will use your personal skills and abilities as well as your past experience.


When you decide that you want to change to another career, you will likely find that you will need to obtain some kind of diploma or certificate in order to qualify for a position in your new field.  

  • You may wish to attend university, but that will mean another three or four years of education. 

  • Alternatively, you can get a diploma from a community college but that too will mean about three years of school. This will not be very appealing after being out of school for up to ten years working for a living. 

  • You may also take an apprenticeship program, but that might mean a significant cut in pay and will take about four or five years before you are certified.


When you find yourself in this situation (notice that we wrote "when" and not "if") your preferred path will most likely be through a private career college. 

Once you have identified an appropriate diploma program that is available from a local private career college, you can obtain your training in less than a year and make the quick and smooth transition from one career to the next. 

Since you may be doing this every ten years or less, this option makes much more sense than going to school for three or more years every time you decide to change careers.



Secondary school students are very familiar with University, Community Colleges and Apprenticeships, but most people know very little about Private Career Colleges. That is why we will be devoting a significant amount of space on this web site to help you understand more about how most private career colleges operate.
  • There are over 450 registered Private Career Colleges in Ontario. Some of the colleges are small, with fewer than 50 students, while others have over 1000 students enrolled at any given time. 
  • All Private Career Colleges offer diploma and/or certificate programs that, for the most part, can also be obtained through Community Colleges;
  • All diploma programs have been approved by the Ministry of  Education and are closely monitored for compliance;
  • Private Career Colleges do not offer as many diploma programs as Community Colleges, but the ones they do offer are recognized by all employers as providing training that is at least as good as one would obtain through a community college
  • The main reason for the small number of different programs offered by private career colleges is that when people turn to a private career college for guidance and assistance, they are searching for a way to get into a desired career. Therefore, the private career colleges try to offer the courses which will have the best chance of accomplishing that primary goal of the students;
  • The difference between Private Career Colleges and Community Colleges is not so much in the content of the program, but rather in the method of delivery.


Private Career Colleges have been around for decades, but they have kept a pretty low profile, especially among secondary school students.

Originally, private career colleges appealed to certain specific segments of the population, such as:

  • People who were unemployed due to downsizing, companies cutting back on staff, layoffs, etc. Once a person found him or herself unemployed, especially if the person had worked for a fairly long time in one position, he/she found it difficult to find another meaningful job with the same level of pay without first of all taking some kind of retraining.
  • People who were working in a company, but in order to qualify for an advancement or promotion, needed to take some additional training.
  • People who were looking to begin a new career. It has been said that secondary school graduates today can expect to work in as many as five or six different careers during their lifetime. Each time you change careers you may have to take some specific training to become qualified.
  • People wishing to enter the workforce for the first time. These would include women who had decided to raise their family, and then once all of the children are in school, want to begin a career of their own.
  • People who have become disabled in their current employment often need to be retrained in order to qualify for other employment. 
  • People who are on welfare or some other kind of social assistance often turn to private career colleges for training in order to improve their quality of life.


Most of the people who turned to private career colleges were generally in their 30's and 40's, and some were into their 50's and 60's. Few students in private career colleges were in their 20's.

Therefore, the system had to be designed to meet the needs of older adults with respect to the method of delivery of the programs. 

  • A person receiving a diploma or certificate from a private career college had to be just as qualified and trained as one receiving a similar program from a community college, therefore, all of the programs in a private career college are approved and regulated by the Ministry of Education. Whether your diploma is from a private career college or a publicly-funded community college, the diploma is equal in the eyes of the corporate world.
  • Because the programs are all government regulated, students going to a private career college are eligible for OSAP loans in order to help obtain their post-secondary education.
  • Generally, an older adult in his 30's or 40's cannot afford to put the rest of his life on hold for two or three years in order to become trained for another career. Therefore, private career colleges are structured so that for most programs you can receive the necessary hours of instruction in less than a single year. This is done by going to school five hours a day, five days a week, continuously from beginning to end with no long holidays. After all, students who enroll in a private career college program want to get qualified for a new career. They don't want holidays; they want to begin work as soon as possible; so they are willing to get the studies over as quickly as they can.
  • Many of the students who attend a private career college have not received formal education for over 10 or 20 years. Since it may be difficult for them to learn how to be a student again, the programs at a private career college are given one course at a time. For example, instead of taking four or five different courses each semester, thus requiring a person to concentrate on four or five different topics, each with its own homework and assignment demands, you only have to worry about one course at a time at a private career college. You take that one subject five hours a day, every day for about two weeks until you have accumulated the hours necessary in order to cover the curriculum content. This is the most efficient method of learning. You only have to deal with one subject. You have a couple of hours of homework in one subject only. And you take your exam within two weeks so everything is fresh in your mind.
  • Many people enrolling at a private career college appreciate the fact that the courses are offered either from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day. This allows them to continue to work at a part-time job in order to earn money to pay for normal everyday expenses. Don't forget that many people in their 30's and 40's have a family to support and need to earn a certain level of income in order to survive.
  • Private career college programs also begin at different times of the year. For example, it may be possible to enroll in the Business Administration program of a private career college every month. This is an important element of private career colleges since when a person needs to be trained for a new career, he cannot always wait for nine or ten months for the beginning of the school year in September. If you get laid off in February, you want to begin your training in March at the latest. Because private career colleges deliver one course at a time, a person only has to wait for the beginning of the next course to begin the program.
  • Private career colleges also had to offer their programs at a cost that would be less than the traditional publicly funded institutions. Since it was almost impossible to reduce the tuition costs (instruction at a public institution is about the same as at a private institution on an hourly basis), the reduction had to be in Opportunity Cost and Cost of Living.

    For example, if you can get your diploma in one year instead of three, it means that you save two years of living costs for room and board. It also means that you can be in your career and earning money up to two years sooner if you enroll in a private career college.


In recent years, private career colleges have been noticing a number of significant trends in their enrolment patterns. Where the average age of a private career college student was expected to be around 35 or 40, the number of young people enrolling in programs has resulted in the average dropping to around 25 years of age. This means that there are a large number of people in their early 20's sitting in private career college classrooms.

A careful analysis of the young enrolments has resulted in the following findings:

  • Many of the younger students are what we call "underemployed graduates". These are people who obtained a university degree or college diploma but have been unable to find positions that are appropriate for their level of education. There are a lot of underemployed university graduates working at McDonalds, call centers, or at minimum wage retail jobs. These people expected more from their education and now want to receive training in a specific area in order to enter into a satisfying career.
  • Many of the younger students are "post-secondary school drop-outs". These are students who completed one or two years of a university or college program and then decided to quit for any one of a variety of reasons. Instead of starting all over again, they have turned to a private career college for help.
  • Many of the younger students are Grade 12 graduates who decided to go directly to work right after high school in minimum wage jobs for a couple of years. Once they realize that they need additional training and qualifications they look to private career colleges since they can get their training in a short period of time. 
  • Some of the younger students are actually coming right out of high school. These are students who know what they want in terms of their career plans and don't want to spend three years in a publicly funded community college getting a diploma that they can get in less than a single year in a private career college. They want to fast-track their way into their chosen career.
  • Some of the younger students are actually including a private career college diploma in their overall career plan. They plan on getting their university degree and then go to a private career college to get a diploma or certificate that will help them get started in their chosen career.
Private Career Colleges have one objective, and that is to bring their students, in the shortest possible time, to the level of a beginning practitioner in their chosen career. 
  • Most programs you will find at a private career college are one year or less in duration;
  • The Business Administration Program, for example, may only cover a period of approximately 32 to 40 weeks at a private career college, whereas a similar program at Community College might take three years;
  • Private career college students cover the same minimum requirements as a community college and their programs are approved by the Ministry, but many students are done and ready to graduate in less than 9 months;
  • Private career colleges can deliver their programs in a short period of time because students spend more hours in the classroom; go to school every day of the week; complete several hours of homework each day; and do not take holidays;  
  • Private career colleges also cut out all of the unnecessary material and focus directly on what must be learned in order to be prepared for a career in business, while at the same time adhering to the Ministry guidelines;
In order to understand how this shortening of the diploma program works, think about a common pizza. 

Private Career Colleges offer their diploma programs over a much shorter period of time than Community Colleges. In order to understand why they can do this, we like to demonstrate by using the common pizza.

Just about everyone likes pizza. 

However, it is important to remember that in order for you to have a pizza, you need a few basic ingredients. 

Those basic ingredients are dough, cheese and sauce.

If you have those three ingredients, you have a pizza. Those are the three basic ingredients. 

However, some people like to add toppings. 

So you can take your basic pizza and add all kinds of toppings. You can add pepperoni, olives, green peppers, onions, bacon – the list goes on. You can add on whatever you feel will make you better enjoy your pizza.

The more toppings you add, the more flavour you get. 

But not everyone likes all of the toppings. So you get to put only the toppings on that you like. 

However, in order to like pizza in the first place, you must enjoy the basic ingredients of the pizza, namely dough, cheese and sauce. 

So when you think of Private Career Colleges, think about the basic pizza. The Private Career College offers the dough, cheese and sauce. 

When you think about university or community college, think about the pizza with the toppings. 

You still get to enjoy the pizza you wanted in the first place, but now there are all kinds of other things added to give it more flavour.

What the Ministry of Education has said is that in order for an institution - any institution - to provide diplomas or certificates, you must have a specific number of basic ingredients. 

This means that whether a person gets a diploma as a pharmacy technician from a community college or from a private career college, there are certain skills and knowledge that are required in order for a person to be qualified to become a pharmacy technician, and employers must be assured that the diploma is proof that the person has received this minimum amount of training.

It is really just like ordering a pizza. 

You can have all kinds of other things added to your program, but in the end, all that matters is that you at least have the standards that the Ministry of Education has set out as the minimum.

This is one of the reasons why the Private Career Colleges can offer their diploma courses in such a short period of time compared to the community colleges. 

They don’t add any unnecessary toppings. 

They just give you what you really want – the training to become qualified in your chosen field. 

f you want some of the other toppings – in other words, if you want extra things added, then you can go to the community colleges, but it will take you longer to get your diploma.

Today, many students just want to get started in a career as soon as possible. That is why private career colleges are becoming more and more popular every year. You can get the same diploma or certificate in a much shorter period of time and thus begin your career sooner than if you go to a community college. It is completely up to you.

Private Career College programs are generally taught in modules (which resemble courses) of one or two weeks in length. 
  • Many private career colleges have adopted the modular approach to instruction for a number of very practical reasons. 
  • For example, if you take a program like the Business Administration Program, you will find that there are about 16 different courses that must be taken to graduate. Instead of teaching many of the courses at once, and requiring students to divide their focus, a private career college will teach one course at a time.
  • A course that takes 50 hours to complete will be taught five hours a day for ten days in a row. This means that the student is able to concentrate on one subject at a time. It also reduces the amount of wasted time from moving from one class to another.
  • Each module is evaluated separately. Once you complete the required content and write the exam, you go on to the next one until you have completed all 16 courses.
  • This means that Private Career Colleges can usually enroll students at any time of the year. For example, it doesn’t matter in which order you take most of the modules, as long as you get them all. So you don’t have to wait until September to enroll in a programs. You can start when you are ready and graduate when you complete all of the modules.
To understand how this works, think about how you would go about describing an elephant. 


Most private career colleges use a modular system of training and learning.

In this system, you are taught only one module or subject at a time. By comparison, in a college or university, you would be taking 4 or 5 different subjects taught throughout the week by different teachers. This is the same process you find in secondary schools where students take four different courses during each semester.

Each module contains skills that are specific to the topics of the module/course and are therefore treated as separate components of the diploma program with its own exam. As well, modules are usually self-contained and students can learn the material without necessarily having to master the curriculum taught in previous modules.


If I ask six different people to describe an elephant, each one of them might start by describing a different part. 

  • By the time they all finish, they will each have described the legs, the trunk, the ears, the tail, the tusks, and the sides. 

  • They won’t all go in the same order, but they will have to include all of the parts. 

  • When you put all of the parts together you get the same end result. You have a picture of an elephant.

  • Therefore, the order doesn’t matter.


The modular system allows students to enroll in a Private Career College at virtually any time throughout the year. For example, a diploma program that is 34 weeks in length might contain as many as 17 or more modules. Once the 17th module is completed, a new diploma program is begun immediately with module #1 being taught. If a student enrolls at the beginning of the 6th module, he/she simply continues until the end of Module #5 and receives the diploma.

This is a very popular feature of private career colleges. It allows a student to begin working towards a career when he/she is ready, especially in light of the fact that most people who attend private career colleges find themselves in a situation from which they are trying to escape and would like to do so as quickly as possible.

This modular approach is becoming very attractive to students who have decided to drop out of university or community college programs and do not want to wait until the next starting time in September for a new program. Students who have made the wrong choice, or who have changed their mind, can simply begin another program almost immediately at a private career college that is offering the program they are seeking.


Students who attend a private career college that utilizes the modular approach attend class five hours a day in one subject only and their homework is on just that one subject area. 

When they have finished that subject another one is begun. 

Students are learning one thing at one time. Since all of the program material is practical and specific to the career for which they are training, students generally find this to be a much more effective method of learning. It allows them to focus in on the subject material.

Don't get me wrong...private career college programs are not any easier than the ones in community college or university. They are simply more focused and can be completed in a shorter period of time because, secondly, we take out all the "extras" (pizza example) and concentrate on what you absolutely require to get you started in your new career. 

This immersion approach to training allows a private career college to complete the maximum number of hours in as short a period of time as possible, simply by cutting out "down-time". After all, students who turn to a private career college are not interested in holidays or shorter instruction days. They are anxious to get their diploma program completed in order to start their new career.

Private Career College programs appeal to students who need practical skills to enter the work force as quickly as possible. 
  • Some students of Private Career Colleges have been affected by companies which have downsized or have gone out of business; 
  • These students are forced to find other employment that provides them with the same level of pay that they were getting in their former job in order to support their family;
  • They take one of the private career college programs so that they can get back into a new career as quickly as possible and begin earning income;
  • Students in this situation are not interested in all of the "frills". All they want is the basic training to get started in a new career.
Private Career College students may not be particularly interested more academic studies at this point in their life. 
  • Many of the people who turn to a private career college are former secondary school graduates who have been working for a period time and want something more in terms of a career. They do not want an "education" - they want a career.
  • Others are students who have been in school for a long period of time and just want to get out as soon as possible. They don’t want to go to school for another two or three or four years. They simply want to get in and get out and learn what they need to learn in order to qualify for another job or career.
  • It has been said that young people graduating from secondary school today will have four or five different careers in their lifetime. This is a prospect that quite frankly frightens some students. The last thing they want to hear is that they will be going to school four or five more times during their working life.
  • When it comes time to change careers, many people will likely want to turn to a Private Career College for training because you can get qualified in a short period of time instead of having to go back to school for several years with students who are generally much younger than you.
Private career colleges are also starting to get a lot of students who may have actually completed a University degree program, but who are now looking for specific practical skills in order to get into a career. 
  • Many young people do not really know what they want to do with their life by the time they graduate from high school. As a result, they enter a university program that gives them a general education but does not give them the practical skills that employers are looking for today. 
  • A lot of students who are now enrolling at private career colleges have taken one or two years of University and then decide that it is not for them. They then take one of the private career college programs in order to get some meaningful employment in a chosen career.
  • Many of the students who have partially completed university degrees will return to university and take one course per year to complete their degree while they are working in their new career. These students have the best of both worlds. As they are building up experience in their new career, they are completing their degree so that after five or more years they will have the experience and the education to advance in the career of their choice.
Secondary School students in Grades 10 through 12 are beginning to ask questions about Private Career Colleges because of the success of the new guidance curriculum. 
  • Private Career Colleges are getting a lot of inquiries from secondary school students who have already decided what they want to do as far as a career is concerned. 
  • Many of these students are much more mature than 17 and 18 year olds were twenty or thirty years ago. 
  • They are ready, know what they want out of life, and do not see the need to waste three or four years living the life of a student in a university or college.. 
  • These students want to begin their career as soon as possible. 
  • That is why some private career colleges have decided to sponsor special seminars designed to reinforce what is being taught at secondary schools in the guidance and business programs. 
  • The Grade 10 Career Studies Program, found in the Secondary School Curriculum in Ontario schools, helps students become more aware of all of their options. One of those options which is gaining in popularity is the Private Career College, of which very little is known. This web site has been designed to make you more acquainted and familiar with the private career college option.





It doesn't matter what situation in which you find yourself, the secret to making the best choice out of all your options is simply to have the proper information "before" you are in a position where you have to make the choice.

If there is one statement that captures the main message of what I have to tell you on this entire web site, that is the one! That statement is what Your Career Planner is really all about. 

The information you obtain from this site should help you arrive at a position where the choices you make about your career and education will be the best possible choices for you, based on having all the right information you can find at your fingertips before you have to make the final choice about what school to attend for post-secondary training.

It all boils down to the following:
From the time you get up in the morning until the time you go back to bed in the evening, your day is a series of choices.

Life may seem complicated at times, but in reality, it is nothing more than a series of choices. As I mentioned above, each one of us makes hundreds of choices every single day. 

Some of our choices are good and some of our choices are not so good. 

Sometimes the difference between making a good choice and a bad choice is simply a matter of luck.

Most of the time however, making a good choice is a matter of having the proper information "before" you are in a position where you have to make that choice

Regardless of the impact of the choices we make (the choice of which kind of cereal to eat in the morning is definitely not as crucial to your life as the choices you make about where you will live or what kind of job you will take) – each choice will always be based on the knowledge you have at the time you make the choice.

REMEMBER THIS: Each decision you make in life is based on the knowledge you have at the time you make it. The moment of "absolute certainty" will never arrive so you may as well make the best decision you can, based on the information you have, then move forward until the time comes to make the next decision.



Each choice will always be based

on the knowledge you have

at the time you make the choice.

Let’s look at how we make choices. 

To do this, we will use an example that many of us experience on a regular basis. It will demonstrate how our minds are already programmed with the decision-making process. All we have to do now is apply this skill to the very important choices we have to make with respect to career & education planning.




 The process you use to make decisions is pretty much the same, regardless of the impact of those decisions. To demonstrate, let us consider what you go through when you are faced with choosing which cereal to eat in the morning. 

Suppose you open your cupboard and see the following three boxes of cereal. You now have to make an important decision. You decided that you wanted cereal, now you must decide which cereal to eat this morning.



Your decision will be based on a number of important factors.




First of all, it will depend on your past experience.


Did you try it before?


Did you like it?



  • It will also be based on how many other options you have.

  • Is there only one kind of cereal in the cupboard?

  • If so, you have an easy decision to make.

  • If there are several kinds of cereal in the cupboard, your choice will be much more difficult.

  • In this case, there are three different cereals in the cupboard, so you have to make a decision.



  • You may like all of the options. If not, you can eliminate those that you do not like.

  • Finally, it will boil down to what your personal preference is at the time and make your decision.


The greater the number of options

The harder the choice!


Your choice is made much easier if there is only one kind of cereal from which to choose. Then you don’t have any choice. If that one choice happens to be a cereal you like, then that’s great. However, if it is something that you don’t really care for, then it’s not going to be an enjoyable breakfast.

The more kinds of cereal there are in the cupboard, the more your options and the more difficult it will be to make the choice because you will have to process more information before you make your decision.

What you do after high school is a much more important decision than what kind of cereal you had this morning, but the way you make the choice is exactly the same. The more information you have before you make your choice, the better. That goes for every aspect of your life. That is why we say that life is a lot like eating cereal.

The number of career options available to high school graduates today has never been greater. You can be anything you want. And new careers are being created every year as a result of research and technological advances.

On the surface, this may seem like a good thing for young people. 

Unfortunately the large number of options is causing a tremendous amount of stress for secondary school students as they attempt to make a choice about their future. 

With change occurring so rapidly, it is no wonder that young people are confused about what decision to make. 

It is exactly as the "cereal" example would suggest - the more options you have, the harder it is going to be to make a choice - but choices must be made eventually.



The choices you make in the present will impact your future, and your vision for tomorrow will guide you in making the right choices today!

The Learning Clinic is The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
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