Being the Dad of a Grad

June 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

Okanagan College BannerThirty-three years ago, I received my Diploma in Communications and Certificate in Journalism from what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, B.C. Earlier this month, it was my turn to watch our son graduate from Okanagan College in Kelowna.

While it’s a milestone in our family to watch our only child take those next steps toward launching a career, thousands of other parents go through the same experience every year.

Countless other dads get to show their sons how to do a Windsor knot in a tie this year.

However, what I found remarkable was that all the speakers stepped to the podium combining to deliver essentially the same message I’ve already been sharing with young people – that youth today have more opportunities than ever before.

When I graduated to pursue work in journalism, you could find employment in print, television and radio.

I determined that I had a face for radio but not the voice and that sports writing was what I really wanted to do when I began my career.

In today’s world, you can specialize in social media and there are other numerous other niches such as green marketing. You can author copy in Canada about events in another country without stepping foot in that nation.

The range of other communications jobs that have emerged since my own graduation includes web content production and creating podcasts.

Even blogs were not yet a thing when I entered the workforce. Yes, there was life before the Internet.

And as graduates were reminded, jobs have been invented even since they began their college careers.

Pursuing a Writing and Publishing diploma wasn’t Peter’s first post-secondary choice. After trying a couple of terms at college, he decided to work in retail and construction before determining what he really wanted to pursue.

While Peter will be working in communications, something I can relate to, it’s much more important to me that he’s passionate about whatever he does.

I’m fond of the Confucius quote, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

If I’ve inspired Peter and other young people about anything, it’s to find enjoyment in their employment and to think of what they do as more than a job.

That doesn’t mean being a workaholic – I’ve been called that – it’s more about considering what you’re doing fitting into the bigger picture, either for your current workplace or future opportunities.

I cringe when I hear people say they are bored or stuck in a rut at work. Even in a less predictable economy, we should still be masters of our own destiny.

That’s why the words of Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton, in particular, resonated with me. His key messages were:

Be present in all that you do. Take the time to engage with those around you – the best ideas are born of collaboration.

Be intentional about how you spend your time and about the work you choose to do. Follow your instincts and find a career and a life that aligns with your values – engage in work that is personally meaningful to you.

Give back. Use the skills you have acquired to transform yourself and your community.
Okanagan College graduates were told that most people will work in several careers in their working years.

A continuum of jobs has contributed to one career for me.

I began in journalism, moved on to corporate writing and editing, operated my own communications business, then returned to the public sector, first as a communications officer and now as a manager.

Okanagan College graduates would be wise to follow Mr. Hamilton’s advice.
Some sage words they might also heed come from the late Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator and author.

He once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Son Peter will go as far as his ambition takes him. I wish him and all graduates much success in the next chapters of their lives.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

June 1, 2015 § 3 Comments

Desk 1I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few weeks, but the timing is best now.

Tuesday would have been my father’s 93rd birthday. He’s been gone for 26 years but a surprise reminder occurred when my older brother, Bob Jr., delivered our dad’s rolltop desk from Canmore, Alberta, recently.

The old piece of furniture has endured a tough life. When I first grew up, it remained at the old farmhouse where my father was raised in North Rolla, B.C. It was moved into Dawson Creek, thankfully, before vandals burned down all the buildings at the farm.

Once at our house, the desk, probably more than 100 years old, proved to be a landing spot for my father’s paperwork. I think I inherited my lack of filing prowess from him.

My father willed the desk to Bob and I snapped up the opportunity to take it when my brother began downsizing.

I remember always being fascinated with the desk – its many cubby holes, the deep drawers, the handiwork behind the rolltop, and the solid oak structure.

The arrival of the desk was an opportunity to connect with Bob, my sister-in-law, Louise, and their son, Logan. I hadn’t seen my nephew in a few years and memories of my dad rushed back into my head.

I’ve been without my father almost as long as I had him – I was 28 when he passed away.

The desk is a reminder of my father, beyond its physical presence. It is strong. It has character. Its dark stain makes it appear stoic. My father had an enduring quality, though he passed away much too young at age 66.

Although it needs some tender loving care, the desk is reminiscent of my dad’s relentless drive to excel as a highways foreman, a position in which he rarely missed a day’s work, even when seriously ill.

Dad might have been called a workaholic though that term wasn’t used widely in his generation.

I believe we share a lot of the same qualities – caring, compassion, generosity, a sense of fairness and justice, and a wry sense of humour. He was shy until he got to know people. I am the same, though my career choice has found me coming to grips with public speaking and schmoozing upon occasion.

He preferred talking one-on-one to people, often workmates about a project. Through practice, I have learned to be comfortable in crowds, though I like smaller groups, talking about shared interests like sports or music.

I gained my work ethic from Dad but also learned the value of playing hard, something he was just figuring out how to do when he passed away.

Ironically, he died on the way home after watching his first NHL hockey game in person. I have been to many professional sporting events live along with going to numerous concerts, another love of mine.

Dad’s idea of going on vacation was to get from points A to B as fast as possible. I enjoy compiling hordes of information and then plotting out a general plan, with room to be spontaneous.

I’m thrilled the arrival of the desk provided a new opportunity to think about my father.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We’ll take good care of your desk and continue thinking of you often.

Where Am I?

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