Interview

Starting Your Own Creative Business: Interview with Mary and Penelope

 

 

We interviewed Penelope and Mary, two sisters on a mission to create empowering relatable designs that highlight social issues, about starting your own business without a business degree. The professional world isn’t exactly the same as generations before us. People change careers often, work multiple jobs or gigs, and often prefer to work for themselves than a large established corporation. Long gone is the dream (or reality) of working the same job until retirement. So, we thought it would be interesting for students and recent grads to learn about young adults who have started some creative and meaningful businesses.

%name Starting Your Own Creative Business: Interview with Mary and Penelope

 

Penelope and Mary showcase their meaningful designs on an array of clothing and accessories. They also try to do their part to give back to the community by donating a portion of their profits to non-profits that represent their personal and professional values. They are the epitome of a socially conscious business. Ultimately, Penelope and Mary’s goal is to make people feel good about themselves and brave enough to shed light on some really important issues.

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How do you think your creative educational backgrounds and your own kind of work experience have helped you as you ventured into the world of entrepreneurship?

 

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Penelope: I am a believer that all of our skills are transferable in many ways. For my undergrad degree, I majored in film studies, and then I did a diploma in social work. Two, what seems to be different avenues, really required a lot of the same type of skills such as: perception, communication, seeing things that are not necessarily right in your face. For example, when you are making or studying a film, you are analyzing it, breaking it down, looking at the story that is being told, learning about the characters… Films are such a beautiful medium for storytelling, and to also create social change. Learning how these types of mediums can tell stories that can change people’s lives and shed light on a lot of topics was the one thing I really took away from my Film degree. With my experience in social work, I learned all about looking at the world as a whole and lifting the veil to seeing it through a lens of understanding of issues like white privilege, and oppression. These experiences really opened my mind. Now, I am taking all of that and putting it into this business in terms of our concept and what we are trying to achieve with this business. We strive to become a socially responsible and conscious business.

Mary: It is a little more obvious how my background would help out this business. I have always loved to draw and it is something that I have been doing since I can remember. Naturally, I became an artist and decided to learn about graphic design. With graphic design, I had to come up with designs all the time. I had to always come up with different concepts and learning to design different things, such as posters, websites, and photographs. All these things that I learned in school, I have tied into this business. I have taken those creative and designing tools and applied them directly to our products. My educational background has been a huge impact on our business. 

 

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What would you tell your 25-year-old selves, who are thinking of starting a business in the next few years? What kind of warnings or tips would you give them?

Mary: I would tell my younger self to not be overly confident. Do not go into this thinking that things need to fall into place right away. Do not assume that things need to work out right away for things to be successful. Everything takes time. Even now we are still growing and learning and we are still not at the point where we want to be yet. When we first started this whole business, I was under the assumption that I am pretty good at designing, so we are gonna get sales, and everything is going to work out perfectly. However, that has not been the case. That has been a learning experience to be patient and just keep going. Sometimes, you have to let go of expectations. Do not give up and things will slowly get better. 

Penelope: Personally, I think one of the challenges of starting a business is not necessarily the process of starting it, but rather figuring out how it is going to evolve and your vision for the business. What direction do you want it to go? This question can be hard because you may have a really good idea, but not really know what the vision is like. Even if you have a vision, there is a lot of stuff you are not going to think about or know. You have to learn a lot of new things and skills and everything takes time. As Mary said, you cannot just go into it expecting to make money right away or get sales right away because it is not going to happen. You have to build up to that. 

Tell us a little bit about the values in your business. Where does the inspiration come from?

Penelope: Empowerment is like, a major one for us. We want our design to make people feel good about themselves. We want our designs to make people feel seen, Mary and I have often felt very misunderstood throughout our lives. Personally, I felt like a very misunderstood person most of my life. I felt like an outsider who did not always fit in. We just really want our designs to reach out to people that do not feel like they are important or special, or that they matter. For example, our AF collection, such as Queer AF, Sensitive AF was actually my idea. I have felt ashamed my whole life for how sensitive I am and I want to reach out to people who have felt ashamed for being who they truly are, and let them know that they should not feel that way. A lot of our values come from our hearts and personal experiences. We aim to create something that it speaks to people. It is always about love, acceptance, inclusivity, and empowerment.

 

Mary: My answer would be really similar to what Penelope said. Through our designs, we try to make people feel relatable. For example, I identify as pansexual, so that is why we have the queer design. I know how hard it is to come to terms with who you are and even now I am still discovering myself more and more as I get older. All of our designs are a piece of us. It all comes from personal stories, our personal journey or those close to us and their journey. We are always just trying to make everything really authentic. Thinking about the keywords about our values, another one would be kindness. Treating people with kindness is highly valued for us in a world where everyone is so competitive. For women, especially, sometimes we feel not enough: not pretty enough, not smart enough, or not doing enough. As a result, we want to speak on that issue through our designs and a big part of our focus is on female empowerment.

Book Recommendations

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown

She Comes Undone by Wally lamb

MOODish

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Thank you, Mary and Penelope, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Becoming a Priest : Interview with Emily Gordon

 

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.

We interviewed Reverend Emily Gordon, a minister of the United Church of Canada here in Toronto, about vocations. A vocation is defined as a strong feeling of suitability for a certain occupation. People who talk about being called to do something or that they couldn’t imagine doing anything else are likely pursuing a vocation. One profession that requires individuals to feel called to it before they can even get an entry level position is ministry. This is an area of work that is often not discussed by career counselors because of its status as a vocation, but for individuals who seek meaning, purpose, and a connection to something beyond themselves this may be the ideal path.

March 300x225 Becoming a Priest : Interview with Emily Gordon

 

Emily did not start out her education knowing that she would one day become a minister, but her education has helped her in ministry. Emily completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in English and Classics at Mount Allison University, followed by a Masters of English in Print Culture from Simon Fraser University. After a couple years of exploration and reflection, she felt the call to the Ministry and enrolled in a Masters of Divinity at Emmanuel College, becoming an ordained Minister in 2015. Her original love of reading and writing is now expressed in reflecting on Biblical and other spiritual texts and writing prayers and sermons for church services and materials. 

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Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey to realizing that you felt called to become a minister?

For me, vocation is a calling. It is a voice that’s calling you toward something – certain work or a certain purpose. In order to become a minister, part of the process that denomination asks you to take part in is being clear that this is a CALLING, rather than just an idea of something that you could do off a list of many things. It’s a fairly significant commitment that you make, and most ministers that you talk to will say that wasn’t an easy decision. You don’t just sort of fall into this.

So, originally I thought that I was going to be a professor and go into academia. I did an Honors degree and Master’s degree, and I was expecting to complete a PhD in English Literature. However, I began to realize that I was not feeling satisfied with the idea of the work that I’d be doing for the rest of my life. As much as I enjoyed reading and writing my whole life, it wasn’t the only thing that I wanted to do. I felt that I wanted something more meaningful. I wanted to find a way to make an impact on people’s lives.

Most people who go into ministry have a call story. My call story is fairly direct. When I realized that I wasn’t going to continue in academia, I spend a lot of time thinking about what can I do. And one day, when I was asking this question, I felt that I heard a voice, not an actual literal voice, but a fully formed sentence that rose up from within me. For me, I understood that as God speaking to me because it felt both like a completely new idea of going into ministry, but also something that felt deeply familiar and deeply right. I spent some time in very careful reflection to make sure this wasn’t just a passing idea, but something that I was called to do. I spent some time discerning and traveling and working in a church. Then, I began the discernment process in the United Church, which consists of going before a discernment committee to ask and answer a bunch of different questions. Then, I went to back to school to study theology, and eventually was ordained a minister in 2015.

Do you have any advice for students on how to plan for schoolwork at home during the pandemic?

Back when I was a student, I used a technique called Parking Lots. I first started using this technique when I was writing essays. The parking lot is the place where you put any ideas you have that are unsure where they fit into the essay yet. Or, if you wrote something and realized it did not belong where you put it, you could copy and paste that whole paragraph or set of sentences into the parking lot. Similar to the actual parking lots, it gives you a place to store things in case you need them again. If you figure out where it belongs eventually, the work is not lost, so you do not have to spend time worrying about it or thinking about it.

The parking lot approach can also be applied to the things going on in our lives too. On days when I am not working, one of the strategies I sometimes use depending on the workload I have, is starting a parking lot. This is usually just a page in my planner or just a scrap of paper, and then anything that pops up in my mind goes onto that. It can be, for instance, follow up with Lisa, or finish writing that prayer for Sunday. Once I’ve got those things written down, I know I will not forget them. This helps me to clear my mind and focus on the present, so that I can enjoy my days off fully. In addition, as soon as I am working again, I’ll be able to just look at that list and add it to the to-do list for the day.

For students who are religious, or perhaps spiritual, what would you say is something that would be beneficial to their daily spiritual practices?

I think often times we have a very narrow idea of what can be a spiritual practice. It might be meditation or prayer or reading scripture, but we sometimes miss all of the other things that can be spiritual practices. For instance, one of the things that is a good spiritual practice for me personally is going for a walk. The opportunity to move, be outside, see the world, not talk to anyone, and have space to reflect on what’s happening around or inside of me really helps me to stay grounded.

Intentional breathing is another option. Intentional breathing does not have to be as long as meditation. For people who may not find many meditations meaningful, they might appreciate doing a few minutes, or even seconds of intentional breathing. Intentional breathing can be something as simple as breathing in for five counts, then pause for three counts, and the breath out for seven counts. If you repeat that three or four times throughout the day or any other time when things happening just start to feel a bit too much, it can help you to recenter. What it does is it grounds you into where you are. It brings air, and oxygen into your body and nourishes you, so that you can better cope with the stresses around you.

Recommended Books and Resources

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith by Marcus J. Borg

Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power―And How They Can Be Restored by Marcus J. Borg

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

Thank you, Emily, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period. 

Janelle Lewis is a social worker in the Toronto area who has experience working with vulnerable populations. While jobs in the sciences are sometimes considered to be “practical” an arts degree provides skills and opportunities, which can be used for careers that make meaningful differences to the community.

LewisJanelle 1 1 768x1024 Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

Over the past two years, Janelle has worked as a Program Resource Worker within the Regent Park community, where she manages intensive cases in supportive housing and provides life skills training and interventions to those experiencing mental health struggles.

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What inspired you to get into social work?

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The first thing would be the area that I grew up in as a child and the second thing would be coming from a working-class family. So, to further elaborate, the area that I grew up in, it was predominantly an area that had a lot more crime than other parts of Toronto and it was home to a lot of working-class, immigrant families. And at the time when I was a child, there was a shortage of social services. So, that definitely made me think about how I could contribute to my community. Just seeing my parents struggle made me think about what I could do for people who are also living in poverty or living in low income, and just seeing how I can make a better impact on them.

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What has been the most meaningful part of your career so far?

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So, currently, where I work in Regent Park, I work with those who experience mental health issues. I would say just hearing a thank you and how I’ve helped them, is honestly the most meaningful part of my career. A lot of my residency experience anxiety and paranoia, and just seeing where they’ve come at the beginning of when we started working together until a few years later and how they’ve developed skills and coping strategies and they’re stabilized and much more independent. As an outreach worker, I work with a lot of people who experience poverty and homelessness. So, for them to share their story about how they got there and the struggles and the struggles that they’re experiencing. It definitely is so meaningful for them to find some sort of comfort or trust to share that story.

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What are some of the challenges of being a social worker?

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I mean, within the social work profession, it can be a very heavy and emotional job just because we’re experiencing a lot of stressful, traumatic situations. Number one would be taking my work home with me. I’ve gotten a lot better at this where I say okay if I end at five o’clock, that’s it. I’m going to be in the present moment, and I’m going to go home. But sometimes I do hear some very difficult stories. And I’m a very sensitive person. So, after hearing some difficult stuff, or just maybe seeing a crisis that I was assisting with, and going home with that I just sometimes need time to reflect on what happened. The second challenge that I would say is wanting to do more with me that people are experiencing homelessness. I want to do more. I wish I could provide housing, I wish I could spend a little extra more time with my residents who are experiencing isolation. But at the same time, I have to remind myself that sometimes you can only do so much.

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What is the process of becoming qualified as a social worker?

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There are so many different ways of becoming a registered social worker. I attended George Brown College for the Social Service Worker programme, which is a two-year programme. And the reason why I decided to go to George Brown College rather than University is that I wasn’t exactly sure whether social work was the career I wanted to go into. I felt that it was very daunting and scary committing for years and to a degree that I wasn’t exactly sure about and it made me feel better knowing George Brown College that they provide placement for both years. So, once I graduated from George Brown, I transferred to York, and I did a double major. So, I double majored in sociology and social work. If you have your bachelor’s in social work, you can stop there and you’re asked to sign up as a registered social worker, but then sometimes people want to continue their education. So, for me, I’m going back to school for my Master’s in social work.

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Thank you, Janelle, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about professional development and writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!
As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.
Housing 300x300 Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!

 

We interview Janelle Lewis, a Program Resources Worker in the Regent Park community of Toronto and volunteer with vulnerable populations. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Janelle’s reasons for pursuing social work

Challenges and rewards of being a social worker

The process of becoming a social worker

Attending grad school in the fall

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To get more help with professional development and writing, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Thinking of becoming a Professor: Interview with Danielle Law

 

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.

We interviewed Danielle Law, Associate Professor in Psychology and Youth and Children’s Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, about her career journey from student to professor. While a B.A. degree provides students with transferable skills such as critical thinking, which can be used for a number of career paths, many choose to attend graduate school and eventually become a Professor.

DLaw Headshot 258x300 Thinking of becoming a Professor: Interview with Danielle Law

 

 Danielle is Associate Professor of Psychology and Youth and Children’s Studies at Wilfred Laurie University and Director of the Child and Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) Lab. Her research focuses on the social-emotional development of children and youth and their mental well-being. Danielle’s primary area of research focuses on online aggression, associated mental health concerns, responsible Internet use, and creating caring communities. She strives to connect academia with the community with her research, teaching and learning philosophies. 

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Can you tell us a little about what the daily work of a Professor is like?

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In the summer and spring, I’m usually preparing for the fall. I am preparing for my courses. I’m also writing manuscripts for publication and also working on research projects. I also supervise graduate students, which happens all year round. For example, next week I have a thesis defense for one of my students. Then, I also need to attend committee meetings for the university to talk about program development and recruitment and etc.

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What kinds of career options are there for PhD graduates in Psychology that are outside of mainstream academia?

Some of my students have gone into counseling or have become therapists. I have some students, and also my own colleagues and friends, who work for Statistics Canada. They do research for the government and I also have others who are researching for the private sector as a research associate for different industries because the thing about getting your PhD is that they’re training you to be able to conduct research. So, many of my colleagues and friends are conducting research outside of academia, but some are also working in school administrative positions, such as the school board. Some have even gone off to start their own research consulting firms. 

What advice do you have for first-year university students?

I think it’s really important to open your doors to as many possibilities and if there are people accepting bachelor students to volunteer in their research labs, I would take it because it’s a very rare opportunity to get that chance to research outside of graduate school. All of my students in my lab, apart from two, are undergraduate students. They all have this opportunity to conduct research and have their names on publications during undergrad. It will help them to get into grad school later, and that’s one of the reasons why I like having this opportunity for undergrads in my lab.

Danielle’s Book Recommendations and Resources

Books:

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Give and Take by Adam Grant

Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Podcasts:

The Happiness Lab” by Dr Laurie Santos

‎”How To!” by Charles Duhigg

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Thank you, Danielle, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Resilience Building for Recent Grads Starting their Job Search: Interview with Sarah Lang

 

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career related posts from last year, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.

 

We discussed how to boost academic resilience during COVID-19 with Sarah Lang, a certified coach. Since the past few months have been a difficult time for many, with dramatic lifestyle changes such as being isolated at home. While it is easy to feel discouraged, by taking small steps to build resilience, you can feel more in control and empowered in your life.

JanisLempera SarahLang1 25 1 300x200 Resilience Building for Recent Grads Starting their Job Search: Interview with Sarah Lang

 

Sarah supports people to dream big, launch new projects, and bring creative visions to life. Sarah is passionate about helping her students develop their speaking confidence and skill set so they can make a bigger impact. 

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How did you begin your career as a coach?

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I would say like many people out there, I had a bit of a circuitous journey or winding road to get to where I am now as a full-time coach. Of course, when I look back I see the dots connect, but it wasn’t obvious at the time. I have been really passionate about personal development since I was a teenager. However, I put this interest in coaching on the side for many years. In the meantime, I tried out a lot of other interesting things, which I think helped me to become a well-rounded and experienced coach. For example, I lived abroad in Tokyo for four years. I was a student in Hong Kong as well. I did a Master’s in Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, which is where I met Lisa Pfau. I also built a career in the non-profit sector, where I worked as an events manager and a project specialist. I did a lot of interesting work, but on the side, I had this deep interest in personal development and leadership coaching.

Finally, when I was pregnant with my second kid, I started my coaching credentials. I took my time because I was working full time, had a child at home, and was pregnant with another. I took it one course by one course, and I was eventually certified at a place called CTI, where I did the entire certification process. And then, once I certified as a coach, I started this career off the side of my desk, just working at it part-time from the desk in my basement. I did that for a few years and three years ago, I jumped into it full-time.

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How does building resilience work?

I look at building resilience as if I have two inter-interlocking circles, like in the shape of an infinity symbol. That’s my model that I’m working with. On the first side of the symbol, the first loop is all about learning to process and handle difficulty, learning to be with what is difficult and accept it. And then, the second loop is amplifying the positive, which means bringing more joy and purpose, consciously into our life. So to me, this is really a model that incorporates so much of what we know about how to build individual resilience.

We need to learn about how to accept. Just truly admit “yeah I’m suffering or scared, terrified, worried, sad or depressed” – all of these emotions are just so normal to be experiencing right now, so it is an opportunity right now to really learn how to be with that. Try to find ways to allow our bodies to process those emotions. Allow ourselves to understand that our thoughts are creating our feelings; rather than, just completely numbing out and spending the whole day on the computer.

Why is being resilient so important, especially at this time?

At the beginning of the interview, we highlighted how challenging the past few months have been for all of us. Our ability to navigate through and move through this period of change and uncertainty is paramount. My definition of resilience is that I work with is linked to why I think resilience is so important, all the time, especially now. I think resilience is our ability to move through a challenging, or stressful times and come out the other side. But it’s more than that too. It’s coming out the other side, having been transformed by that challenge and become stronger than we were before. We can become wiser and more able. People often have more of a limited idea of it as like – you know the bouncy ball or the elastic band. We can turn discomfort from stress and challenges to transform ourselves, making us stronger, while giving us the gift of wisdom.

How does being resilient impact our ability to succeed?

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I have two points on that. The first, and the more obvious answer is that more resilience means better wellness. Better wellness means better results. You are going to have improved mental health to manage stress. If you are feeling resilient, then you will feel like you can cope and thrive, regardless of what the circumstances are around you. So if you are motivated by thoughts such as” I’m going to be okay” and “I can do this,” then the decisions that are going to come through will lead to positive actions in your life. You’re going to take care of yourself, study hard, go to the gym, and make healthy choices. You’re going to care for yourself because you are motivated by a belief that you can succeed.

My second point is that if you’re more resilient, you’re going to be more open to taking risks. You will trust that you can cope with the consequences of risks because you are not scared of dealing with failure. If you are scared of feeling embarrassed, then you will have fewer options that can help to improve your performance at school.

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Sarah’s Book Recommendations and Resources

Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Blog Series: Everyday Resilience by Sarah Lang

 

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Thank you, Sarah, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Starting a Non-Profit: Interview with Megan Kee

 

We interview Megan Kee, the founder of 20/20 Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to the production of innovative art projects that raise awareness, visibility, and fund for charitable organizations, about Starting a Non-Profit. This week’s episode is part of our Careers in the Arts series, where we talk to young professionals with Fine Arts or Liberal Arts degrees, who have established themselves in an interesting and fulfilling profession. Deciding what to do after university, especially with a degree like a Bachelor of Arts that is often general and does not prepare you for any specific profession, can be daunting. What most students don’t realize though is that your Arts degree has provided you with a variety of transferable skills, such as critical thinking, research, organization, and communication that can be applied to a number of different professions. We hope that through these interviews students will feel less overwhelmed and hopeful about their career options.

Self Portrait 2021 Megan Kee 300x300 Starting a Non Profit: Interview with Megan Kee

 

Megan has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ontario College of Art and Design, as well as a Master of Art in Museum and Gallery Studies from Kingston University in London, England. She has over ten years of experience in the Fine Arts industry, including working as a Gallery Assistant at Lausberg Contemporary, Head Exhibition Designer at Quaycrafts, and Project Manager at Pursuit Inc. She is passionate about bringing people together over collective values, beliefs, and passions, amplifying the voices of charities/non-profits through the most powerful medium she knows of: ART.

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It seems like you have a clear vision of who you are and who you want to be. How did you know what you wanted to do?

To be honest, I did not always know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. It was a journey of self-discovery and it took a lot of patience, consistency, practice, and time. When I was also a young adult, I had a lot of uncertainty about my future and I felt the need to have all the answers, but I just did not have them. I have been interested in art from a young age. It was the first thing that I was ever got good at, so I was able to gain satisfaction from art as it fulfilled me in a way that nothing else does. I always knew that I want to work in the Arts field; however, it took me several years to figure out what that work would be. I initially wanted to be an art practitioner and a painter. I also had interests in becoming a tattoo artist, but it did not really necessarily pan out as I planned. I tried out different types of work and slowly gained more experience and built my resume. The various experiences helped with my process of self-discovery and developing my passions. Through starting my own exhibitions and working on my different projects, I figured out what I enjoy. Eventually, I quit my full-time job, built a team, and started my own non-profit organization.

What traits would you say someone needs to do something like start and run a non-profit organization?

Our organization is slightly different from traditional non-profits as we strive to educate, inform, and inspire audiences to challenge the stigma associated with mental health, homelessness, and addiction instead of building a shelter to help people on the front lines. For me, the key is to figure out exactly how we add value, which has been a very long and arduous process. I think building a base of concepts and proving their value is critical for non-profit organizations. You should be able to recognize the target demographic and critical feedback to learn from people’s responses. The feedback is from both the community that you are trying to serve, as well as the donors or sponsors that you are trying to get funding from.

 

Good communication is also crucial. You need to be able to communicate your organization’s values. What is your pitch? If you were to sell somebody on your idea in two minutes or less, can you do it? It has taken a long time for me to be able to build that and I think I am still working through it. It can be such a terrifying thing to put your heart and soul out there for everybody to criticize and possibly provide feedback on. If they do not like it, you may start to have internalized fears and doubts about yourself. However, I think as long as you build yourself up and recognize that your value is not reliant on somebody else’s opinion, rather, your value comes from within then everything else is secondary.

Running a non-profit is no easy task. What do you do to establish a clear work-life balance and prevent burnout?

I think a work-life balance really comes from listening to yourself and getting to know how the things in your environment impact you. I schedule time in my life for my work and myself, and I make the time for myself non-negotiable. For example, one of the things that I do now is on Wednesdays, no matter how important the person or the call is, I will not schedule a call on that day. I allow Wednesdays, which is in the middle of the week, to take time off if I need it. Sometimes I will work through a full Wednesday focused on my work with no calls or emails because it gives me a moment in the middle of my week to reflect on how I feel. I would ask myself: “do I feel like I’m mentally okay?” Sometimes I take the full Wednesday off if I feel that I really need that time off. It is just about listening intuitively to yourself. There are times in your life when work is going to demand more of you. There are also times when the family is going to take priority over work. So, even though I try to maintain this work-life balance, I think life is always going to dictate otherwise and you just need to be responsive when those things happen. I believe that the more that you can make time for yourself, the better you are going to be at work; and, the more focused you are going to be at work, the better you are able to show up for the people in your life.

What lessons have you learned over the years that you think have helped to become a more confident leader and role model for other young women?

I would say that I am fairly confident now, but I think that comes from just having a sense of value within myself and feeling like I have value. I understand that it is a long process for a lot of people. I think one key lesson I learned is to spend more time with myself and try all kinds of different things. I think confidence really comes from self-love. You should take time to appreciate yourself as we often let negative thought patterns repeat themselves. I recognized that when I started meditating. I was totally unaware of it before. Over time, you start to value yourself, and the more you value yourself, the more confidence you are going to have. As a result, even if someone may try to talk down to me, belittle me, or make me feel less, I can respond confidently say: “No, thank you, this isn’t for me.” You should build a sense of self-worth and have enough belief in yourself, your abilities, and your value as an individual that other opinions don’t bring you down. Also, it is important to recognize that not everybody needs to like you and that is okay. You should not allow the opinions of other people to dictate your own self-worth or value.

Recommended Books and Resources

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

20/20 Arts

Thank you, Megan, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Finding a Job as COVID-19 Continues: Interview with Alif Huq

Last spring, we interviewed Alif on the challenges and opportunities facing young adults during COVID-19. We thought this topic would be relevant for students looking for summer jobs, as well as recent graduates attempting to enter the already competitive job market. As the pandemic continues, these tips continue to be relevant.

 

MG 0902 683x1024 Finding a Job as COVID 19 Continues: Interview with Alif Huq

Alif Huq is a digital marketing specialist and job hunting expert. Since the start of the pandemic, Alif has been offering specialized job hunting webinars and tips on social media. He has also helped numerous young adults to learn the art of marketing themselves online.

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What kinds of challenges are you hearing about from young adults engaged in the job search process?

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What I’ve noticed is that there’s a lot of hiring freezes. I have friends who work in the HR space where they probably had five interviews lined up. And unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and hiring freezes, those interviews were basically on pause or cancelled because companies are thinking more about how to sustain their budget and a new hire can be costly.

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What pet peeves when it comes to people using social media ineffectively to get a job?

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So my biggest pet peeve is when people ask “Can you refer me to a job?” or “Alif, do you know any job opportunities?” and I don’t even know them. Being on the receiving end of a lot of these messages does get very annoying, and it feels like I’m being used. Instead of saying, “I noticed there’s a company opening, here’s my resume”, the best way to establish trust and is to ideally get them on a phone call with you.

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How can young adults, who do not have a lot of work experience, present themselves as capable professionals?

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The first thing I would say is, you’ve got to develop a tangible skill set. The way I got hired into my first marketing assistant role, without any marketing experience, or even any connections or education was because I made a YouTube video where I was showcasing my copywriting skills. They saw that video of me and decided to onboard me for the role itself. For example, if you want to go into graphic design, instead of taking just a course on graphic design, you might want to actually create your own graphics and a portfolio. For digital marketing, instead of taking a Google Analytics course, you might want to start your own blog and experiment with SEO and paid advertisements.

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Alif’s Book Recommendations

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4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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Thank you, Alif, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the episode? Listen here:

 

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For more advice about the job search process, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

 


Both the written, visual, audio and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Finding a Job as COVID Continues: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 5 panel 2 300x295 Finding a Job as COVID Continues: Podcast Episode Live!

 

Last spring, we discussed the challenges of finding a job during a pandemic withcontent marketing specialist, Alif Huq. Unfortunately, we are still in a COVID lockdown, which is discouraging for new graduates. All hope is not lost though. Alif shares some tips with new grads to make the best use of this tricky time.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Job market changes during COIVD-19

How to stay motivated when job searching

Social media strategies and what not to do

The art of marketing yourself online

 

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute consultation with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

The art of negotiation
Getting Comfortable with Conflict as a Woman: Interview with Alexandra Kutilin

 

We interview Alexandra Kutilin, a full-time MBA student at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, about being a strong woman and speaking up for what you want and need. This week’s episode is for all the strong women out there, who struggle with balancing their tactical professional self and caring compassionate self. I know this is an internal conflict that I deal with regularly as an entrepreneur in a care-giving and creative sector. How can I highlight my expertise, intelligence, and strength without losing the softer side of myself? This struggle is particularly evident in negotiations, where we are required to bargain for something we want, such as a better grade, performance from a group mate, raise from our boss, or new opportunity. Women are typically socialized to step back, give in, and avoid conflict. So, how do you harness your inner shark without losing yourself?

Alexandra Kutilin 8 200x300 Getting Comfortable with Conflict as a Woman: Interview with Alexandra Kutilin

 

Alex is passionate about career mentorship, professional development, and entrepreneurship for women, topics that she regularly explores on her blog. As an ambitious young career woman, she is also very active on campus. She is currently the President of the Graduate Women’s Council, a Student Ambassador, and a Mentors in Business participant, and has been a competitor in the 2019 BC MBA Games and 2020 National MBA Games.

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Negotiation, or more specifically, conflict is an area that women stereotypically have been socialized to avoid. What strategies do you have for individuals who find negotiations challenging because of a fear of conflict or disapproval?

For this question, three things come to mind. First, recognizing that I have my own thoughts and perspectives, which I can get into in a little bit. Second, being prepared by going into a negotiation having done the research. Third, knowing that you can just chill out and keep your cool in a situation that can get very tense. Building these skills and confidence takes time and practice, and I think are something everyone should invest in.

We are in negotiations all the time, and some of them are comfortable, some of them are not. However, if you prepare yourself for different situations, you can get more comfortable by actually being in them as yourself. This means that you are not overly concerned with sounding silly, which oftentimes is the internal voice that discourages us. I feel like this is a huge barrier for women in particular as we are socialized from a young age to be people pleasers. I think that, as I move on in my career, I am starting to get used to that, and I do not experience it as much as I did when I was younger.

Business is typically viewed as a male pursuit. Where do you think that comes from and what can we do to encourage more young women to consider business?

I think it’s a combination of the sentiment is something “men have always done”, traditional gender roles, and the way that history has portrayed those roles. Even though the Western workplaces slowly started to welcome women into their ranks into the early to mid 20th century, this assumption persists.

Things are slowly changing as we see more female CEOs and business leaders. I also see more young women in my MBA classes. I think it is important to have strong female role models for young women, so that they can see that it’s possible to be a businesswoman.

For undergraduate students out there who are considering an MBA in the future, do you have any advice for them?

Definitely. Looking back now and reflecting on my experience, the things that I know now were not obvious at first. My goal was to figure out what I wanted to do, and I did that by taking initiative, pushing my comfort zone, and trusting myself.

First, take initiative with the goal of learning, instead of the goal of getting something out of the experience, like a job or a raise.

Second, take chances and push your comfort zone. I don’t just mean blindly say: “okay I’m going to take this chance and step off the cliff”. For me, it is about taking chances when the stakes are a little beyond your healthy comfort zone. For me, that was losing a year’s income to enroll in an MBA program.

Finally, trust yourself and your ability to achieve a challenging goal. You have already accomplished the big goals that you set for yourself in the past, so what makes you think that you cannot do that again in your future?

Recommended Books and Resources

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto by Joan Reardon

Alexandra Kutilin

 

Thank you, Alex, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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_

Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.