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Why me? Y Not! – The Ampersand December 2020

November 18, 2020

By: Kiara Marika


“Go to school, get a degree, and you’ll land a job!” A refrain we’ve all heard I’m sure. Well, for me at least, as for most of us Gen-Y types, it wasn’t quite that simple.


My job didn’t just land in my lap. I actually had to work for it. Go figure!


Well, let’s back up a minute here. For starters, I went to Mount Royal University, which at the time of my acceptance, meant enduring a lot of judgey opinions, Mount Royal being a college and all. I would always hear “Ooooh … you’ve decided on Mount Royal?  Interesting.” Thankfully I did not let these opinions get the best of me as I not only achieved a high level of education at MRU but I thrived in the small class sizes, loved the fact that my professors knew me by name and appreciated how they were willing to listen and help me achieve the best version of myself. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. That’s also foreshadowing.


Anyways, I studied at Mount Royal College, I mean University, where I got my degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing and General Management and a minor in Finance. At the end of my University career and upon completing my degree, I was unsure of where exactly I wanted to start my career journey, and I remember thinking “now what? Where am I going to end up with all my new qualifications?!”


Turns out, insurance was the answer! I got hired to work at a small insurance brokerage where I dealt with employee health and wellness benefit forms and tracking spreadsheets.  This was neither Marketing, General Management nor Finance related. And, to say the least, this did not fulfil many, okay any, of my work aspirations. I mean, I had a degree in Marketing and here I was working in a windowless, clientless box at an insurance brokerage that used precisely none of my skills or training to their advantage.


A few months into the job (after really giving it a chance) I found myself dreading going to work and realized that I needed to make a change in my career; one that would fulfil me and make me happier in what I do. I was wasting away at the ripe old age of 24, mindlessly reviewing benefit claims in a stuffy office, never interacting with the customer or the sun. This is not what I wanted nor how I pictured my career unfolding.


At the same time as I was working at the insurance brokerage, I was also working part-time at a newly opened workout studio in Bridgeland. While an entirely mindless job, I enjoyed it as I got to interact with clients every time I was there. I genuinely enjoyed talking to people and checking in on them to see how they were doing. After completely hating my stagnant day job, this part-time second job let me be more myself and interact with amazing people genuinely trying to make themselves better and healthier. Not to mention, it was a great networking activity for a young professional like myself! With almost every customer who came to the studio to train, I would ask about their professions, checked in on them and strived to be as friendly as I could be. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. Through my days of greeting people at the studio and constant little chats, little did I know that my future (now current) boss was a regular.


Turns out, after taking his daily punishment in the HIIT room with one of the trainers, one of my regular chats was with Adam. Turns out he was interested in what I did for work (sensing with his Spidey recruiter powers, perhaps, that I was less than fulfilled). I mean, he does have an edge for finding the best people! After chatting with Adam and realizing that there was so much more for me out there, I decided to hand in my resignation at the insurance company and take a chance at a new job with Pekarsky & Co. Although the decision was difficult, now in hindsight, it was definitely worth it. I remember thinking that this is a huge risk, but if I don’t do this now, then when? This risk, it turns out, would have been in staying, not leaving.


Fast forward a few months. I started with the firm on April 30, 2018. Immediately, I was putting to use my university degree and was applying it to real life situations pretty much every day. While that may sound fairly standard, many of my peers are not so fortunate. In fact, I find that this is extremely rare to find in an employer. Many people these days go to university and work in a field that has absolutely nothing to do with that degree. And although there is no Bachelors of Recruiting, I feel like I am able to apply all the skills I attained in university to my current job and for that I am extremely grateful.


Specifically, I handle all the firm’s marketing functions ranging from website management to social media to event planning. I am a part of a global Marketing Committee with Panorama, the global alliance of boutique executive search firms to which we belong. In that role I have global responsibilities and interact with people all over the world. Closer to home, I handle all the firm’s accounting functions, monthly bookkeeping and invoicing, working closely with, and learning from, our outside accountants. I assist the Partners in the operations of the firm, too. It’s as though I got my degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing and General Management and a minor in Finance!!


But most importantly, and perhaps most uniquely, I feel like my voice, my ideas and my skills are truly valued and respected. I find that most people my age struggle with this in their jobs and I feel quite lucky to have found a workplace that makes me feel important. But, I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I had decided to stick it out at some insurance brokerage. I took a risk. I left that job and I am now at a firm where I’m valued, appreciated, fulfilled, part of a team and actually, legitimately, have a path to owning a piece of it one day.


I think it’s important to find something that you truly enjoy and it is true what they say: “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” This is achievable if you surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and connect yourself with people who will give you an opportunity to prove that.


Lastly, this message is directed at young professionals, our Leaders of Tomorrow, as they navigate these unsettling times. Remember to be stubborn about what you want from your career and then find a place that gives you that. I now happen to be a part of a firm that is a big believer in empowering everyone to do their best; supporting women, diversity, and inclusion, and truly growing however you can. And at the end of the day, these are the things you should always look for.


Yes, MRU allowed me to thrive in the small class sizes and I loved the fact that my professors knew me by name and I appreciated how they were willing to listen and help me achieve the best version of myself. Hmmm, sounds very similar to Pekarsky & Co.


I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.