From an early age, Melissa wanted to be a teacher. She’d done a co-op placement in high school in an elementary classroom, and loved it.
During her undergrad in Sociology and Psychology, she developed an interest in counselling and working in community services. Instead of pursuing teacher’s college, she decided to pursue post-grad studies in social services at the college level.
Like many adults, her career path was not what she’d first planned and she made some side steps along the way. Today she is working in education, not as a teacher, but as a career educator – someone who helps students and young professionals find their preferred career path.
In many ways, she is walking her talk. She is not doing what she set out to do, but instead has followed her passion and been able to dovetail the two, having worked for the past 18 years in education, with a focus on helping students achieve academic and career success.
While still working full-time in education, in 2016 she embarked on the entrepreneurial journey. As someone who likes to plan, she is the first to admit that she didn’t just leap into this new venture.
She started Be You! Careers because she was seeing more and more students and people who were anxious about their career options, full of uncertainty and scared to make the wrong decision. “I wanted to change the conversations people are having about career choices.” she advised.
As well as working with students and young professionals, at Be You! Careers, Melissa also counsels people wanting to make a career change. With experience working in both university and college settings, Melissa also provides guidance on further education options from all pathways.
She’s observed that there is still pressure from parents to pursue university, rather than college or skilled trades, for example. Parents are often unaware of the career beliefs and expectations they are handing down to their children who sometimes end up pursuing education options and careers to please them.
Through career assessment tools her clients learn more about themselves. “Much of my work is helping people gain more self-awareness and knowledge of the opportunities available to them. “Afterwards they are better informed about possibilities and able to begin defining career success on their own terms.” she adds.
As a brand-new business owner, she’s been amazed at all the work involved. “I’m it. If something needs to be done, I have to do it.” Keeping all the balls in the air has been a challenge – full time job, business, family with two children. Life is busy for Melissa. But she loves that she is helping people navigate their career paths and empowering them.
Much of her first year in business has been spent networking, an activity she’d strongly recommend to anyone starting out. “It’s not just what you learn, but getting together with other business owners, makes you feel less alone.” “Finding your support network is also key when you start out” she adds.
What’s next for Melissa? She’s currently developing career curriculum which she can offer online or in person, so that she can reach and help more people.
One things for sure. She’s chosen the right career for herself. Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to anyone who is overwhelmed or struggling with career options.
And let’s face it. For some of us, we’re still evolving – not sure what we want to do when we grow up!