It was this time last year. I was growing increasingly frustrated over whether or not I should apply for Masters programs and ever-discouraged at the lack of ‘entry-level’ positions in a field I wasn’t even sure I understood.
I had applied to be a SYP for MentorNet… a program I’d heard about over a year previous but been far too busy at the time to even think about. I remember receiving the e-mail on New Year’s Eve 2014, welcoming me to the program. After wrapping up a month long vacation, I finally met my mentor, Dr. Lawrence Loh, in early February. When working through the first module, we were asked to set goals for the program. For me that was the easy part. I wanted to learn, to grow, and to be wrong.
Twelve months ago, I was primarily interested in mental health, HIV/AIDS awareness, and hunger/food security. I had dreams of moving to Southern India and living in a remote village; learning Tamil or Hindi or whatever language was required of me. I’d still love to do that. Through MentorNet, my interests have evolved to include mentorship and career planning, navigating domestic and international projects/programs, and Indigenous (First Nations/Inuit/Metis) health.
At the end of our first meeting, Dr. Loh and I were discussing a few different hypothetical situations when he said:
“…Just know, I’m telling you this so that you can leave here today—think critically about things— and form your own understanding”.
When I asked him for general advice moving forward, he had two simple suggestions:
“Never break ties”
“Maintain your interests in whatever ways that you can”
Those were lessons 1,2, and 3.
So instead of jumping into a Masters degree, I decided to do a Graduate Certificate in Project Management. However before arriving at this decision, I had also applied to Ryerson’s Public Health & Safety program (to eventually become a public health inspector). I remember discussing this with Dr. Loh and asking for his input. His answer made me recall lesson 1: form your own understanding.