Leaving School: Expectations vs. Reality

As of September, I was out of school for the first time in nineteen years.  I packed up on my last day of placement at the RCR Museum, sad to be leaving but hopeful about a bright future full of opportunities and an exciting career. See, when I pictured graduating, I pictured getting full time work right away, making good money and moving into my own, trendy apartment (probably with a puppy).  Then reality struck. I am twenty three, living back in my parents home (thanks mom and dad) and working several part time jobs that almost add up to full time work.

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This doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog post. I just thought it was hilarious and it’s another expectation vs. reality that I can relate to. It’s my blog so I guess I can choose when to stay on theme!

Worry not! I am having loads of fun, learning a LOT and thankfully, making some money. This post is a recap of what I’ve been up to over the past few months.

Long Point Region Conservation Authority

My first contract after graduating was with the Long Point Region Conservation Authority.  To be frank, I wasn’t all that excited about it as it had very little to do with what I went to school for.  However, I ended up enjoying a lot of the job! The people I worked with were great and I learned a lot of helpful skills including microsoft excel and formatting protocols.  I even got to help out at Backus Heritage for a few days, dressing up like a pioneer and teaching children about pioneer life. One of the coolest parts for me was being in the old Tobacco Board building where my grandfather was once chair and seeing some of the original artifacts from the board.

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Tillsonburg Cultural Improvement Alliance

My main job since graduating has been with the Tillsonburg Cultural Improvement Alliance (Tillsonburg CIA).  We work to network artists, provide affordable advertising and host training for them.  This includes visual, performing, literary, horticultural and culinary arts as well as heritage institutions, service clubs and conservation authorities.

On my end of the job, I get lots of variety.  I have been meeting lots of new people, helping them get set up on our website (and maintaining said site) as well as running our social media campaigns.  In particular, I send out a weekly newsletter through mailchimp.  If you do newsletters, I highly recommend this site!

Our courses have been broad and very popular, including things like grant writing workshops, volunteer attraction and retention seminars and book publishing courses. I have even taught a couple on social media!

I love the flexibility in this job and the constant newness of it.  I’m rarely bored which is huge for me!

Don’t forget to add us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Living Memories Oral History Project

I have continued to work with the Tillsonburg Historical Society, working on transcribing a backlog of oral history interviews with influential Tillsonburg residents.  I still love it and have been able to apply the skills I learned at Western!

Bill Findley Education Centre

This project is definitely in the works but I am very excited to say that I will be working with Robin Barker-James to host a number of school programs out at his living history site.  In particular, I will be working on a genocide history workshop that places particular emphasis on material culture. I am very excited for this opportunity and will keep you posted!  As one of his former students, I know this is sure to be an interesting and rewarding experience.

Canadigm: Souterraine Impressionist Education Kit

Canadigm’s Souterraine Impressionist exhibit is being opened at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum and Museum London with plans to expand across Canada. This particular exhibit features 3D printed recreations of Canadian war art found in the caves of Souterraine France near Vimy Ridge.  I am in the process of creating the education kits for this exhibit that teach kids the history of the art but also tie into other curriculum subjects. This has been a challenge for me as I have not created education packages with clear curriculum links before but it has been fun and a great learning experience.

Professional Development

Not only have I been able to attend many of the courses put on by the TCIA but through work I have been able to go to a number of cool workshops hosted by other organizations.  To name a couple, I have attended a culinary workshop here in Tillsonburg and a follow up one on planning the culinary portion for events in Niagara Falls with the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.  The emphasis here was on eating local and ensuring that food providers and event organizers appeal to the foodie in everyone by telling the story of how the food came to be.  For a look at one way this is being done, check out the FeastON program.  I have to say it has rooted a huge new interest for me!

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Tillsonburg Toastmasters Club

I have become the president of the newly chartered Tillsonburg Toastmasters Club! Each week, I meet with our other members and practice leadership and communication skills.  We have three prepared speeches each meeting followed by a table topics session which focuses on 1-2 minute impromptu speeches. As a lover of public speaking, I have had a reality check as impromptu speaking is a whole other art!  I am learning a lot though and I think it will help me in interviews.  More importantly, I have met a whole new group of people in Tillsonburg who are creative, eager to learn and incredibly supportive. I can’t express what a positive experience the club has been for me.

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OBA Basketball

I’m back in the game at Glendale Highschool! I totally missed those halls and the gym in particular so I am so happy to say that I am helping coach my younger cousin’s OBA Team.  The girls have improved immensely over the season and it’s been a great transition to watch.

In Conclusion…

Starting my way in the professional world has been a challenge. There are some road blocks and reality checks but I’ve loved it so far! I’m trying all kinds of new things, gaining new skills and sticking my fingers in so many pies that I finally feel like I’m making one step closer to figuring out what I want to be, getting full time work and of course a puppy. Hang tight to see if that ever happens haha.

Peace and love.

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