Everything will work itself out

Career counsellor Paul Bowman worked his way across the board before discovering the job he was meant to do

With experience moving through many different sectors of the job market and getting a late start on his current career choice, Career Counsellor Paul Bowman can empathize when students come to him unsure about their career path.

Bowman, Sci ’86, has followed an unconventional career path since graduating from Queen’s. He has worked in fields ranging from engineering to adult education.

Bowman started last year as one of four career counsellors working at Queen’s Career Services.

After graduating from Queen’s, Bowman worked in engineering for five years as a research assistant at the Royal Military College and then at Nortel’s manufacturing facility in Calgary. He decided to switch directions and returned to Queen’s to get an education certificate.

Bowman said it was a personality test at Nortel that ultimately convinced him he was in the wrong career stream.

“There’s a personality assessment called the Meyers-Briggs,” he said. “Based on your results, you’re assigned to one of 16 personality types, and then those personality types are correlated, not so much with specific careers but with different general areas of work where people with that personality tend to be successful. ... There were about 40 of us working in our department, and we did it as a department.

“Based on our results, we had to split ourselves up and go to different parts of the room. I found that 35 of the 40 people were congregated together in one group, and then there were five of us kind of spread around the room. I was in the complete opposite corner as most of my co-workers, and I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe this is telling me something.’”

Bowman wasn’t overly enthusiastic about his work even before he took the personality test, he said.

“There were certain parts of the work that I liked, but for the most part I wasn’t particularly passionate about it.” Bowman said there had been indications he wasn’t suited for engineering going all the way back to his reasons for choosing the program.

“It’s something I did because in high school, I had done really well in math and science, and at that time, I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Basically, through the encouragement of high school teachers, I went into engineering.”

Bowman said the engineering program was difficult for him.

“I struggled to get through; it was tough slogging,” he said. “I probably should have switched out after first year, but I stayed with it. [There was] a lot of peer pressure, a lot of family pressure. I come from a small town and had been very successful in school, and I guess I didn’t want to be seen as a failure.”

After going back to Queen’s for his education certificate, Bowman worked in adult education at Loyola Community Learning Centre in Kingston for seven years, looked after a friend’s farm for a few years, and then came back to Queen’s to work as the Theological College’s continuing education co-ordinator. After four years in that job, he switched directions again, becoming a career counsellor last year.

Bowman said each job has presented its own set of challenges and opportunities.

“They’ve been very different,” he said. “The work at RMC and the work with Nortel was technically related work—I spent a lot of time on the computer analyzing data or, at Nortel, doing some programming—whereas the adult education and the work I’m currently doing, there’s a lot of one-on-one work with people, a lot of listening and a lot of helping people deal with their various life issues.”

Bowman said his current job is aimed at trying to get other people onto a career path that fits them.

“What we do is we try to help people find a focus, which is not necessarily a specific career, but the general sorts of things that someone is looking for in their work life that basically gives them meaning and satisfaction,” he said.

Bowman said his wide range of experience helps him relate to the various students who come to him.

“I think because of the different things I’ve done, the things I’ve studied, I can connect with students from different backgrounds, faculties and courses of study,” he said.

Bowman encourages all students, regardless of their stage in life, to make use of career counselling.

“We see everyone from first-year students to Ph.D students,” he said. “Very often we hear from students who are towards the end of their fourth year who say, ‘I wish I would have known about you and made use of your services sooner.’”

Bowman said he encourages people to keep an open mind to different career experiences.

“Your degree is only a small part of who you are,” he said. “Don’t define yourself too narrowly by your degree: think about all the different things you enjoy doing, think about all the different skills you’ve acquired, and look for ways to match your skills and interests to the work that’s out there.”

Ethical recruiting guidlines

• The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) sets guidelines for ethical recruitment at post-secondary educational institutions. These provide a framework for the professional relationships between employers, students, third party recruiters and career educators; they have been generally agreed upon by employers and educators, and are advocated by CACEE for national implementation.

During the recruitment process, each group has a role to play in upholding the guidlines. All groups must comply with all relevant federal and provincial legislation.

EMPLOYERS

• Contact the career centre well in advance to reserve interview space and provide company literature.

• Provide accurate information on job responsibilities, compensation, benefits and contact information.

• Notify all applicants individually of their status.

• Interview for positions whose starting dates are within 12 months of the initial interview.

• Respond to all candidates within agreed-upon time frames and give reasonable notice (a minimum of three days is recommended) of any interview cancellations.

• Advise students of compensation for site or interview visits. Note: On-campus interviews should begin no earlier than the first business day in October.

• Provide a reasonable amount of time for students to respond to job offers.

• Confirm job offers and terms of employment in writing.

• Inform the career centre regularly of the status of their recruiting campaign.

• Honour all offers of employment.

• Full-time job offers to students attracted via on-campus recruitment should have a minimum of two weeks for an acceptance deadline or until the first business day in November, whichever is later.

THIRD-PARTY RECRUITERS

•Third party recruiters are agencies, organizations or individuals recruiting students for employment opportunities with other organizations.

• No direct referrals will be made for vacancies listed by third party recruiters without posting and/or contacting candidates with the information relating to the position.

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

GENERAL INFORMATION

• The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) test is to take Jung’s theories of personality and make them applicable to people’s lives.

• The MBTI assigns you to one of 16 different character types based on your answers to a series of questions based on preference.

FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS

• Favourite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

• Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

• Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

• Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

SAMPLE PERSONALITY TYPES

• Your personality type is a four-letter combination made-up of your answers to the sample questions.

• ISTJ: Quiet and serious, you earn success by thoroughness and dependability. You’re practical, matter-of-fact, realistic and responsible. You decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. You take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized—your work, your home and you life. You value traditions and loyalty.

• ISTP: Tolerant and flexible, you’re a quiet observer until a problem appears—then you act quickly to find workable solutions. You analyze what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical problems. You’re interested in cause and effect, organize facts using logical principles and value efficiency.

• ENFP: You’re warmly enthusiastic and imaginative and see life as full of possibilities. You make connections between events and information very quickly and confidently proceed based on the patterns you see. You want a lot of affirmation from others and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, you often rely on your ability to improvise and your verbal fluency.

Source: myersbriggs.org

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