Those of us who circle around girls and young women are guides and role models, and we play a critical role in supporting their career journey. By exposing young women in an open, non-pressured way to a variety of pathways and encouraging them to learn by experience, we can bolster their self-confidence, teach them to trust their instincts, and facilitate their best future, even as work evolves.
In this episode of Beginner Women, host Katharine Cornfield is joined by Maureen McCann, founder of ProMotion Career Solutions a BC-based company that helps people get unstuck from unhappy careers by promoting their natural aptitudes, talents, and experiences to land jobs they truly love. An expert in resume writing and job search tactics, Maureen works with executives across Canada to power their next career step.
Listen in as Katharine and Maureen discuss value of career development for young women, the importance of experiential learning, and what it will really take to thrive in the future of work. Filled with practical, actionable insights, this episode will empower the parents, educators and allies as they guide the beginner women in their lives towards independence.
For more from ambiSHEous™ and the Beginner Women Podcast, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @ambiSHEous or receive updates straight in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter
ProMotion Career Solutions
TEDx Talks Hijacking Your Child’s Education – Jane Andraka
Girls on the Job: Realities in Canada, Girl Guides of Canada
“How will you help your student navigate a successful career path?”
“How to help your student build his/her first résumé?”
“Co-op learning gets $9M funding boost”
Welcome to beginner women, a podcast where we throw out our adult agendas and focus on what it takes to shape a new future for girls and young women. From education and career to health and wealth. We talked to experts, thought leaders, and extraordinary women who will change the way you think about girls, women and ambition. here's your host, Katherine cornfields.
Welcome to beginner women. I'm Katharine Cornfield, founder of ambiSHEous and that's ambiSHEous with a she where we take a unique approach to leadership and career development. We've helped hundreds of girls and young women to develop autonomy, agency and purpose by equipping them with the critical skills and knowledge they need to thrive today and in tomorrow's world. We started this podcast because we know how important everyday role models are. And we want to empower you parents, educators and other caring adults with smart, actionable strategies to help the beginner with Women in your lives reach their full potential. Thank you so much for joining us.
So welcome to beginner women and I am really excited this morning to be joined by Maureen McCann, a fierce advocate of career development and she is someone who is absolutely committed and dedicated to preparing Canadians for the future of work. She is the founder of promotion career solutions, and one of Canada's top executive resume writers with more than 15 years experience teaching, mentoring and facilitating career development for executives and professionals. In her work, Maureen is also a huge champion of career development as a volunteer. She is a senior board advisor to the career professionals of Canada and an active member of both the Canadian Council for career development outreach and advocacy committee and the Canadian career development Federation. National stakeholder committee. Thank you so much for joining us today. Maureen.
Thanks so much for having me, Katharine.
Good. Well, I'm excited to get started. Today we're going to talk about leadership and career development, obviously, we're going to talk a little bit in general terms about the future of work. And we're going to talk about the importance of experiential learning and and try to apply that as best as we can to to beginner women. So, right off the top, you are really well known and respected as a career expert, and have been working in the field of career development for many, many years. But I'm not sure that everybody knows what that actually means. Can you take a minute to explain to our listeners what exactly career development is, and what is a career coach or strategist?
Thanks, Katharine. So you know, the Canadian Council of career development defines career development as the lifelong process of managing your learning and your work, to move forward in work and in life. So that's really what I do. My work involves guiding and advising professionals on how to manage their career. And I look at it from a number of different levels. So I'm most known for my ability to, to manage the tactical piece, so things in Job Search resume, that type of thing. But there's the emotional piece of it as well. And there's always that financial layer. And then sometimes there's a spiritual aspect as well. So that sense of community versus isolation. So that's a little bit about career development and the work that I do.
That's interesting, actually, I really appreciate the distinction that you're making between the tactical, the emotional, the financial, and the spiritual, when it comes to individuals and their career and even to hear you express that niche of being an expert in the tactical that is not a small thing. Writing resumes in the job search is a really challenging piece for everybody. And I hope we can dig in a little bit more to that as it relates to young girls and women as they get out into the workforce. But to start, maybe you could give me a sense of why somebody would need or when they would need a career coach and why? Why would they seek that kind of advice.
So I love to use the example of the movie The Wizard of Oz to help demonstrate why someone would work with the career professional. So think of the character Glinda she's the Good Witch of the North career practitioners, they're not going on the journey with you, but they're certainly pointing you towards the yellow brick road, they're going to rescue you from the poppy fields, and they're going to reveal the secrets to going back home or wherever it is that you want to go. So, you know, in bullet points, I would say, you know, the Y falls under helping people gain perspective and, and clarity around career, reducing that time of wonderment like that in limbo, I could have improving the alignment. So this is what I want to do. This is what I have to do. Guiding them through that exploration phase. So you know what else is out there? That type of thing. And then really, you know, preventing you from making any costly mistakes. And I immediately think of students as an example, but it can happen at the executive level as well. So career professionals, we're really there to construct a framework to make sure that you're aiming well. And we're going to eliminate any time wasters so that you're not spinning in circles. And think of us as that guide. We're not going down the yellow brick road with you, but we're there if you need us. Well, I
I think that's a really, really good explanation of it. And I think that
it's interesting because I'm not sure that there's a lot of parents or teachers out there that would connect career professional to that, that sort of early stage and that early determining of the path from high school and into post secondary and then from post secondary into, into the workforce. So you know, I've actually talked before about the importance of career development for kids and for young people. And it seems to me that, you know, I hear in in the work that I do, and among parents, there's almost sort of two schools of thought there are, there are some proponents for kids thinking as soon as possible about their future. And then there are others. And those people sometimes have pretty strong agendas. And then there are those who will say, like, let the kids be kids, don't pressure them. Don't ask them, leave them alone. What do you think about that? Those two schools of thought?
So I founded the first camp. And I would say about the second camp. If you're pressuring kids, you're not doing it, right. Like pointed out, right. Really, your job as a parent or a guide is to prompt kids to think about making those connections. So I did this really great exercise with a group of kids where I said, Okay, in your day, I want you to just Think about the people that you come across who are working. And so of course, the obvious answers are teachers, principals every once in a while you get a janitor thrown in there. But then I said, Well, what about? What about lunch? What happened at lunchtime? Huh? And so, you know, you might think, you know, cafeteria, but no, a student came back and said, farmer, and I'm like, there you go. Now you're thinking, it's really about showing kids how to connect to their economy. And, and as parents, what I would say is just great TED talk by Jane andraka. And she talks about watching for the spark. So paying attention to your kids so that when they, you know, they demonstrate an interest in something, you're there, you're able to pick up on it. And rather than drive in that direction, you're just exposing kids to whatever that area of interest happens to be. And you're doing it together. So you're learning together and you're sharing together
So you're standing beside them and behind them As they as they sort of, and helping them to notice the spark, rather than sort of putting things in front of them to say, this is what you should do, or this is the direction or have you thought about this or, and this is where you can make the most money and those kind of those kind of suggestions because I have heard that parents are very, very influential in the lives of young people in in determining their, their pathway. And I noticed that that sometimes there might be some value in in opening that conversation up to others other than parents, like professionals, people who work in career development.
Yeah, and the thing is, parents, we're doing the best that we can we you know, it's well meaning Yes, but I think a lot of times it's fear based. Yes, I want my kid to have a stable job. So I'm going to point them towards engineering. I'll worry about their happiness later. But I want to make sure that I feel secure, that they are going to be able to take care of themselves. Yes. I'm going to steer them here, when in reality, you know, those folks in you know, I can only speak candidly about it. But those folks generally wind up talking to me in career crisis sometime in their 30s. The only reason I became an engineer was because mom and dad forced, you know, directed me in that way. But really, I'm an artist.
Yes. Yeah. And it's, I think that's it, actually, as you are saying that and then suggesting that in many cases, it's fear based, a lot of it has to do with the economics of working. And I really, in the work that I do with ambiSHEous, I try to emphasize the importance of financial literacy as a personal tool, and a professional one, but one that that if you have a solid understanding, the sooner you learn about money, and if you have a solid understanding, the more you'll have, the more flexibility you have, the more independence you'll have over the over the course of your life, which is, in particular, very valuable information for girls and women to get early, and I don't I don't want to sidetrack too much, but I will just tell us Late story which I didn't think I would but when you talk about really young kids when my daughter who is now 16, and in high school was in kindergarten, she had the, you know, the inevitable question, that kindergarten teacher asked, What do you want to be when you grow up and all the kids were supposed to, to put a picture together and then the picture went up on the board. And so at the parent teacher interview, we went in, and there was all the pictures on the board, there was the exactly what you just said, there was the teacher, there was the firemen. There was the people that the young kids had already been exposed to. There. There was one because I live in Ottawa, where we are a government town, there was one that had an office worker in a box, and that was the description. And then there was my daughters. And she wanted to be a painter in the jungle. And I kind of at that moment, I distinctly remember I still remember it now. Like I said, I thought to myself, Oh, well, well, that's kind of cool. And I kind of want to support that. I don't want to get into The way that I don't know what she means or if that's a thing, but I don't want to get in the way of that. And, and so that was the first spark for me about understanding that, that young people have their own interests and agenda. So thank you for sharing about, about parents in particular, not because they are doing the best they can. But there is a difference between being fear based and trusting in the instinct that your kids have. So I recently saw a piece that you wrote on LinkedIn, where you described the process of teaching your daughter how to write her first resume. And you suggested, of course, the parents could start thinking about this as young as 10. Can you take us through that process? I don't want to put you on the spot because it was a four step process, I think, but I'm curious about what that was like taking your daughter through and what advice you would provide for girls at wealth for parents of girls or parents of young people to help them take those risks. Very first steps into the workforce with their very first job.
So the first so as a career professional, I've been like chomping at the bit to get her invested. And I have to step back as a parent and let her come to me. So the conversation started when she wanted, I think she wanted a data plan. And I said, Okay, well, you know, that's something you're gonna have to pay for. So she came to me and said, Mom, can you help me figure out how to find a job? Of course, the career professional MBA was like, whoo hoo, better? Yeah. So we sat down together and all I had her do the two of us together to try and figure out what was out there in terms of options for her in our community. So we went to Google and searched part time jobs and then entered where we met, and a couple of things came up and we sort of browse through it together. Now, again, I'm trying to rush the process like oh, no, no, you don't. You don't want to be a dishwasher. I hear myself say it. I think Oh, stop. So you know, there's this contradiction between a career professional and apparently we just discussed exactly right. And so I'm trying to let her drive the process. So this is me pulling the reins in. So she finds a couple of positions that she's interested in, we decide there's three that we're going to pursue. And so we print them off, we go through them together. And here's what I tell her to do. We take three highlighter, three different colors, we're going to highlight in yellow, the things that they're asking her to do. We're going to highlight in pink, the words they used to describe her, then whoever that position happens to be, and then in green, anything that she can't currently do, she's gonna have to speak to. And so I teach her how to I show her how to do the first one I teach. The second one, I asked her to teach it back to me. And then the third one she's going to do on her own. Fantastic. Yes, that's, I mean, that doesn't come from me. There's lots of people who use that, that framework, but what happened was then she was able to understand how and why we're doing it and the resumes, we built the resumes accordingly. So, again, we took a look at the things that she is known for the things that she's really, really good at. And this is something that I've sort of been doing behind the scenes as a parent. I've been tracking any awards, any volunteer work, but it doesn't have to be like it could just be interest. She likes to bake. So we talked about her interest in baking, we sort of dug into that a little bit and figured out that there's some math involved in that. So really, this process, we did it over two or three nights. And then we took both pieces. So all of the things that we know she's good at all of the things that we know from the job poster, and we tried to put them we tried to marry them together in a resume. And it was really fun process. I was surprised at how easily it came together. But again, I'm I've been planning this for a little while. So I had some ideas about what we were going to do.
I think that what's I mean it's fantastic. I recently went through some process not quite as methodical as that with my own daughter. So I'm taking away the tips for the next time. But what is interesting is that she came to you, and that there was she was motivated, and she was motivated by what she wanted, which is nothing wrong with that. But she was motivated that and she came to you, and you actually were able to frame it up in a way that she could learn from it and do it herself the next time. So I think that's really cool. I'm not sure whether you've seen and I don't want to get too far off track here either. But there is a recent study by the Girl Guides of Canada, that I think it was released just in May of 2019. And the study indicated that the wage gap starts as early as high school and that girls actually are earning $3 less than boys in their summer jobs already, which is something that I definitely want to explore a little bit further. Not today necessarily, but I'm wondering just from your perspective, as a parent And as a professional, but more parents like what do you think the ingredients are for overcoming that type of challenge and for empowering her your daughter or other girls to thrive both personally and professionally.
So, I mean, again, it's a it's a really important question to address. And I think the first thing for me as a parent is awareness. Is she aware that this could happen, and this is happening and, and having those discussions I think, for her and I to sit down and have those types of open dialogue and recognize that you know, these things do happen. What are you going to do about it if this situation happens with you? And I think here's where I think my role is most important is in order for her to deal with any of that. She has to have the self confidence to believe in ourselves and trust her gut instinct, and I think my job is apparent what I've been trying to work on. Is that exactly thing I want her to trust her gut. And what it's telling her something's wrong or off, she knows she has to do something about it. She's confident enough in her ability to steer clear of whatever that happens to be or to call it out or whatever action she decides to take. But my role as a parent is really about making sure she believes firmly in herself. And then she needs to have difficult conversations, she has the language to be able to do that.
That's actually a perfect link, I think to in bear with me, but I think that the idea of experiential education which we are hoping to fit into the conversation today is a really good way. The idea that experience is where that confidence grows out from and, and experiential education, and learning outside of the classroom and experiencing stuff that is sometimes challenging or difficult is where that confidence grows from where that voice comes from, where, where the words in the language are going to come from, and there's a lot Attention that's been placed on experiential education lately. I mean, it's always been there. But employers and policymakers in particular are putting increased emphasis on the importance of that. Why does that matter so much from your perspective as a career professional? And how in your mind is it that we are to get more young people interested early in, you know, stepping outside of the classroom and learning in a practical way.
So here in British Columbia, the government last week announced that they're putting $9 million into the co op programs, across 25 different post secondary institutions. And so I immediately thought, Oh, that's great, because Co Op is really good. And then I sat and I thought about it for a moment and I thought the government is spending just invested $9 million teaching kids, parents and students, the importance of work experience. Wow, to me, it was like that career development. That's Yeah, it's a really good thing. But wouldn't it be great. If we started having those conversations a little bit early, we incentive kids to try on jobs. Well, before you know, we, we put these kids in school, and then they consider post secondary education and then maybe some work experience. And then, you know, in theory, they're supposed to get a job. What if that started a little bit earlier? What if somehow they had exposure to a day in the life like our kids, they see teachers every single day. It's the only career that they see for 12 odd years. Hmm, that's interesting. Right? Yeah. So what if we expose them a little bit earlier here on the island? I'm on Vancouver Island. There's a group called the island women in science and tech. They did a one day tour, where, you know, the group of us went, we got to meet five of the new innovative companies. We learned a little bit about their stories. We toured their places of work, and we really got an understanding of ways that we could connect to those particular organizations. Wouldn't it be great if we could do that on a regular basis with our girls? I agree.
I agree. I think what one of the things we try to do at ambiSHEous is to actually zoom out on the program and to actually be quite explicit with the girls who are participating. This is experiential learning. This is something that you're not going to experience in school. This is something that's new and different. So kudos for being here and doing something that you didn't know quite what you were doing to begin with. But this is the kind of experimentation that you could be doing as soon as right now. And it doesn't have to be a big commitment. It doesn't have to be identity forming, it just has to be like just dip your toe in somewhere where you think you might be interested and you want to see, you know, catch a glimpse of what that scene might be like. If you're into sports, then, you know, zoom around that and see where you might be able to try and learn from the adults in that realm. Our domain. So in my work, I really do try to emphasize that experience is not just a way of learning and discovering your path, but it is also sort of the cornerstone of building confidence. I think there's an assumption a lot of times that girls, the girls themselves have, that they were born with confidence or not. And that's just not how it works. It's a muscle that has to be built and developed, and nobody ever tells them that. So interesting. Again, this old idea of Co Op and corporate education, especially in high school and post secondary. What do you see as the biggest challenges for young people and women as they start to explore in high school, their post secondary path? I know you have also written another piece that I came across where you talk about the three key people that every high school student should meet before they graduate. Can you tell us who those three are and in just out of curiosity, would you add any additional Ones that would might be more specific to girls. And if not, no big deal, but tell us who they are those three key people.
So the three that I mentioned in the article are career development practitioners, people involved with scholarships, and people involved with the gap year. And my thinking there was, these are just things that kids should be exposed to. So they at least can, you know, it's like, it's like a buffet. You may not choose everything that's there on the table, but you get to choose what you like. So having exposure to this information, it just gives them more freedom of choice. So the people that I would add to the list, I mean, there's so many I've since talked to someone who specializes in ADD and ADHD when students in children and adults and I think if that was the guests add that to the list, obviously the work that you do, I'm huge fan. That's why we're here. How we met? Yeah, I think that's definitely there's so many great things going on in your program. I will run out of time I'd like to start. There's people in STEM. There's financial advisors and banking. I know you feel very strongly about financial literacy. Yeah, women mentors. I mean, I can't say enough good things about the people who've who opened doors for me. I'm very grateful. I want to go back to your question of, you know, how can we how can we help girls understand and what's happening? I would say, there's such a lack of understanding. I mean, I work mainly with executives. And what I hear from them is their kids are confused. They're feeling pressured, they're not sure. And really, we've sort of set these people up. Not for success. We've held their hand all the way from elementary school, middle school, high school, and now they're, they're about to make an field A major life decision, and we let go of their hand and state. Okay. Good luck. What do you pick? Yes, pay right around, check something.
Yeah. And make some money.
Yeah. And so there's all this pressure. But wouldn't it be great if we were able to give them the tools along the way to help slowly build their confidence in making those types of decisions, just pointing them towards the right resources, the right tools? So that's really where that article came from is, is, you know, what, if you had greater access to these types of tools and information, and I'll say this really quickly to Katharine is, you know, in the piece I wrote, and I absolutely notice respect, but I wrote that a lot of parents feel that the high school guidance counselor is handling this. And they're doing their best. I mean, kudos to them. Yeah. But there's such a high there's such an increase in kids at risk with mental health issues, that the even the Ontario counselor Association has identified that these these folks are overworked. There's not enough read, they're not there's not enough of them. So not to assume that they're getting everything that they need in high school. As a parent, you really want to be an advocate and a champion and make sure that your girls are and your students are getting everything they need to make great choices.
That is very, very valuable insight for our listeners. Thank you. I I completely agree, I do see that the role of the guidance counselor in the high school is shifted slightly and is targeted more at that sort of supporting the mental health of students and that's actually a very valuable role to have in the schools. But on the career side, I think there's sort of maybe an outdated assumption that the guidance counselors are there to guide and that may not in every case be enough. And especially, I think, as the world of work evolves, and we haven't yet talked about it, but let's dive in. In general terms, I think we are all we have sort of a very there There's a sense, it's very prevalent, everyone's talking about it that the future of work is going to going to see some really, really fundamental shifts underway through automation and artificial intelligence, both areas, which I know not very much about, I will say, but I do sense that there's, again, there's maybe a little bit of that fear, and these are changes that are going to impact. absolutely everyone. Maybe girls and women differently. We don't have to go there but just generally what is your sense as a parent as an end as a professional, I wonder what are we need to be doing to equip young people so that they can sort of not just survive but but thrive and and to build their independence remain resilient and and succeed? As the world of work changes so drastically?
Well, I think, you know, the media is A really great job to hype this up. And I think that a lot of times, like I wrote a piece a couple years ago called, you know, the robots are not trying to steal your giant, no, it's happening. But there will be a misalignment between the jobs that are available, and the people in the skills that exist. Otherwise, I read one study by the Canadian in the labor market information Council, that 42% of Canadian jobs are at risk. Now, if you just ended the sentence there,
you know, integration right here, right?
But really, it's things are shifting and changing. So they're automating the repetitive tasks. I think what we want to do as parents as educators, as people in this space, is we want to teach people what skills they need to be on the lookout for what skills they need to be developing. And I would say it's really threefold. My tips are threefold. One always be learning that that just goes without saying if you Work is about learning, you have to be able to adapt, you have to be responsive to the market, things are going to change. It's not you're going to graduate from high school University and have a 40 year long career and they're going to give you a gold watch at the end, that doesn't, that doesn't exist anymore. So the learning piece is number one, two, you're going to have to be more self reliant on your own career development. So oftentimes, in previous generations, the employer took care of you, right, there is promotion, you would wait to get tapped on the shoulder for promotion. What I'm seeing more, more and more of is executives being proactive and, and pitching promotion as opposed to waiting, sitting and holding, you know, holding right and waiting for that to come. And then the third piece, which I've sort of touched on already, is be proactive, you can't be reactive, you can't have you know, sitting back and waiting for things to come. I mean that those days are pretty much over. You're really trying to take a proactive approach to your own career development, your own learning. Wherever you see yourself moving forward.
Well, thank you for that. I think that for me, that idea of always be learning is, is it's almost it's like a mantra for myself. Personally, I can't stop myself. It's like my crack. Oh, there's more to learn. But I know that's not the case for everyone. And I know that it is something that that is kind of a mindset that needs to be instilled almost more than a subject area. And so that's why I think this notion that that it's all gloom and doom isn't necessarily helping in any way, especially as the sort of the next cohort of hyper anxious. Young people start to hit the job market where we're with parents who are equally and rightfully nervous about the whole thing. So the idea that learning and adapting and being proactive In fact, it's the those are the tools of reinvention. Those are the tools of I think independence and those are the things that are going to, to help that individual navigate. Not just their career, but the future of careers because they are they are changing so much. So thank you for that. I think you actually what's great about this conversation is that so much of what you've provided is really very practical. It's, it can it can will land, I think with our listeners in terms of understanding their role as parents and educators and how important they are as role models and guides, but also, to maybe open and expose our listeners to the value of career development as a profession, not necessarily to rely exclusively on what is in place, but to look maybe for other sources of expertise, and to really encourage young people and explicitly and intentionally to be experienced, driven in their learning. And I think, really to the last big takeaway for me is this idea that, that we who circle around girls and young women, you as a mother, me as a mother or listeners, as parents, and teachers and educators, that we actually can really bolster and support those young women as they go through these transitions by standing beside them, and behind them rather than in front of them and, and pulling them along the way or directing them. And for me, that's, that's at the heart of what I do. That's clearly what's at the heart of what you do. I think that is almost evidence by some of the executives you refer to who sort of have these career crises that sort of middle age where they're thinking, Oh, I should have just trusted my instincts all along. So thank you very, very much for spending some time with us today for sharing your spirit. And both personally and professionally, and your insights.
My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. Well, it
was a very fun conversation. I hope that we can continue with offline again soon sometime. And thanks for getting up so early this morning.
Maureen McCann 32:14
My pleasure. Okay, goodbye.
ambiSHEous is a social purpose venture taking direct aim at the gender gap in leadership by providing leading edge training programs focused on the economic empowerment, leadership, development, and career advancement of girls and young women. We are currently developing a network of like minded partner organizations to deliver our proprietary startups self sessions, which combined financial digital and civic literacy in a simulated entrepreneurial experience suitable for girls and young women aged 13. And up the startup self sessions are empowering a new generation of beginner women to become whoever and whatever they want to be. Qualified delivery partners are provided comprehensive training license curriculum of full suite of program materials and access to an online community of practice focused on real life learning. AmbiSHEous programs are equipping a new generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and decision makers with the critical skills and knowledge they need to thrive today and in tomorrow's world. If you are a like minded organization interested in joining our next cohort of delivery partners, let's talk visit ambisheous.ca. For more information and to get in touch
thank you to our listeners for joining us on beginner women a show where we throw out our adult agendas to shape a new future for girls. Check out our show notes for the resources we talked about in today's episode, and for the actionable insights you can use to nurture and empower the girls you know if you like what you hear on our show, brightest review on Apple podcasts. And don't forget to subscribe wherever you find your favorite shows. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn at ambiSHEous. That's AMBI SHE OUS
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