Blog > Fear of Fjords and Awards

Fear of Fjords and Awards

posted on November 28, 2016
By Susan Forseille, Student Employment Coordinator at Thompson Rivers University

Are you asking how a person can be scared of fjords and awards? Oddly I had these fears before traveling to Norway to attend the Global Best Awards and conference, hosted by the Conference Board of Canada and the International Education Business Partnership Network.  My colleague, Arlene Olynyk, and I were attending to accept an award on behalf of the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Career Mentoring Program.  I have a habit of building things up in my head, only to be disappointed by the reality.  I was scared this would be the case with the fjords.  I have never seen fjords up close – just in pictures and movies, and I wondered if they could truly be as spectacular and inspiring as I imagined; the contrast of the steep mountains meeting deep water, riddled with waterfalls, wildlife, and rustic historic villages.

Even scarier, the kind of fear that keeps you up at night, was winning an award for the TRU career mentoring program we initiated and developed over the past eight years.  While we are very proud of the program, the dreaded imposter syndrome weighed heavily in my thoughts.  I was curious and a little anxious – who were the other career educators attending?  What were their stories of successes and challenges?  How would a small comprehensive university from rural Canada fit in with such global company?  Ultimately I wondered whether we even deserved such a prestigious award?   I was so nervous at the opening wine and cheese that I couldn’t eat, a very rare occurrence for me! 

After meeting and speaking with new people, and listening to their stories my nerves abated a little.  Everyone was very friendly, and many were as apprehensive as I was.  The first day of the conference my nerves regressed further.  Other delegates shared similar struggles and challenges as Canadian schools when working towards successful student career development initiatives. And through trial and error, innovative thinking, and impressive action, they created partnerships with businesses, organizations, and government bodies that significantly impacted students’ career understanding, action, and graduate outcomes.  Over the four days I discovered how:

  • Career curriculum is highly integrated into primary school programming in the Scandinavian countries due to an impressive collaboration between educators and industry;
  • High schools in Australia are partnering with industry councils to enhance students’ understanding and exposure to careers in trades;
  • Universities in the United Kingdom are aligning student enterprises with regional economic development strategies;
  • Youth in Ontario have created a series of videos on employment strategies targeting youth, resulting in better youth engagement;
  • Finance Norway and Junior Achievement are working with school boards, helping expose youth to career paths; and
  • Finland is coordinating virtual visits to workplaces.

In particular, I was highly impressed by the Canadian contingency in Oslo. I was proud of the unique business partnerships and career support being provided across Canadian post-secondary institutions; I was honoured to be rubbing shoulders with colleagues from UVIC, Western, SFU, SAIT, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Ryerson, Norquest, Medicine Hat College, and the College of New Caledonia. 

This combination of vision, action, and results is just the tip of the iceberg – or should I say fjord? To have the opportunity to learn about and discuss emerging trends in career education and innovative programming with business, government, and non-profit societies was as inspirational as seeing the fjords in person.

I am happy to report my fear of fjords was replaced with awe.  They are even more spectacular than I imagined!  My fear of awards didn’t disappear, but I learnt through effort, action, tenacity, and determination hard work does pay off - sometimes even in the form of an accolade.  But most importantly, just as I was in awe of the fjords when I first saw them, being with a group of global career educators was inspiring.  Their depth of commitment, the exceptional programming that they have implemented, and the unique ecosystems they have initiated is highly motivating. There is so very much we can and need to learn from one another!

For more information on the career education partnerships shared at the event send me a note, J