Thompson Rivers University

Mapping the pathway to employment

October 25, 2016

Celebrating outstanding and effective business, education and community partnerships at the Global Best Awards.

Following a whirlwind September spent in Norway and Iceland, Student Employment Coordinator, Susan Forseille, caught her breath at Common Grounds for a catch up and conversation. Sipping a London Fog, she recalls her recent travels, her research and receiving an international award from an astronaut.

Alongside fellow coordinator Arlene Olynyk, Susan received an International prize on behalf of the Career Mentoring Program (CMP).  Susan and Arlene were presented with the Conference Board of Canada’s Silver Global Best Award for Innovative and Creative Partnerships at the International Education Business Partnership Network 2016 Conference in Oslo, Norway.

When not receiving awards and accolades, Susan toured various institutions. The time was valuable and fascinating, “we can learn a lot from each other,” she remarks.

“Norway embeds industry into their school curriculum; as early as elementary school—children do tours of facilities and job site; professionals come into classrooms to speak.”

Instilling career-focus within children, considering how their interests can be applied in future employment is a wise practice. According to the recent World Economic Forum study The Future Of Jobs– “65 per cent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” Quoting a statistic from The Washington Post, Susan shared “children as young as 10 will have up to 40 different jobs and work until they are as old as 100.”

As the state of employment shifts, Susan’s mission is to understand how university career education programs can evolve to provide the best service and results for students.

With the help of career education and experiential learning, students can develop the skills to thrive and survive in the ever-changing workforce and become better accustomed to a professional setting. Once that cap and gown comes off, the graduate has direction, focus and possibly even a job after they step off the convocation stage.

In her own professional journey, Susan recalls working through her Bachelor of Arts with her sights set on teaching. Before proceeding to an education program, she signed on for a job-shadowing venture at a primary school. “After day two, I knew it wasn’t for me,” Susan remembers.

Having the insight to explore future professional options saved time and money.  Professional explorations during university is an exceptional opportunity to glimpse into your future—it’s like investing in a crystal ball.

The Career Education department consistently reassesses how to better engage and encourage student’s career development. Clarifying the student’s strengths and aspirations while guiding them in the right direction. Supplementing their journey with mentors, meetings and networking events.

“Career mentoring programming is remembered well by alumni…and I feel like a proud mom when I see them again,” Susan smiles.

Currently on sabbatical and amid her PhD, Susan is working with TRU alumni to illustrate their career transition stories using a “draw-talk” approach—which breaks down their personal journey route from graduation to employment to settling into a satisfying career.

After interviews, coding and assessment of the findings, Susan is transcribing the individual career transition stories into master maps. “There are over 50 variables that guide the transition from TRU degree to meaningful career choices.”  It is rarely an A to B scenario; it’s A to C to B, back to A or straight to Z.

The future of work requires a great deal of flexibility and versatility—and professional experiences, in addition to educational ventures promises a higher level of post-graduate success.

Students can learn about the art of networking, develop self-awareness, identify key skills, and accept feedback. Susan concludes, “in regards to professional development, TRU could be a world leader.”

For more information about the TRU Career Mentoring Program visit the website or send an email to For more information on Career Education and Experiential Learning please visit the Career Education website or call 250-371-5627.

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