From Pain to Empowerment: Post Divorce Career Planning

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Recovering from divorce can be a thorny and complicated process. Many look at their job future and struggle with reclaiming interests and goals they set aside while married and perhaps raising a family. In the interim, they may have changed as individuals, as skills and interests have shifted. “Often people struggle with having to rewrite their story when they weren’t prepared to,” says Ann Nakaska, a local career professional and consultant, specializing in career decision making.

“Many don’t even know what their career options are, and it can be overwhelming, especially if they were not the one who wanted the divorce. There can also be money worries for those who thought their financial future was secure. They see a hit in their economic status and realize they are solely responsible moving forward, including retirement preparation and complications that arise if there is a property split.”

Given the growing number of clients she was seeing struggling with these issues, Ann created a workshop to tackle the issues entitled Embrace Your Future: Career Decisions Post Divorce. She’ll be leading this session at the Central Library on Saturday, November 1st, where participants will examine essential workplace skills, career choices and financial options.

Ann acknowledges it can be hard to run towards a future that wasn’t anticipated or planned for, "but it’s possible if people are willing to plan a new vision of what they want in their lives, that can often be even more rewarding than the old one."

Registration for this program is easy, either online, or by calling 403-260-2782.For further exploration of moving forward after divorce, Calgary Public Library has a huge selection of print and electronic books on the subject.

To Market, To Market: Logistics Careers in Alberta

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According to a recent Calgary Herald article, "Canada faces a shortage of 357,000 workers for the supply chain sector—at least 50,000 job openings in supply chain in Alberta alone—between now and 2020." But awareness of the variety of jobs within the logistics sector eludes many, despite excellent websites dedicated to the industry, including the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council and the Supply Chain Management Association of Alberta. They each feature great career overviews and industry information, and highlight the huge demand for support occupations from a range of professions:SCMA Alberta graphic

To help you explore your options, we invited a team of supply chain professionals to take part in our 4th Annual Accelerate Your Career event at the Central Library on April 26th, as part of our Career Conversations. Drop by and chat one-on-one and find out more about the industry and explore the type of work available. They will be joined by 15 more professionals in industries such as oil and gas, information technology, accounting and insurance, as part of our career exploration event.

Career Conversations—Law and Legal-Related Professions

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Interested in a legal careers? Visit us from 11:30 to 2:00 p.m. during our huge Law Connect event on Wednesday, October 23rd at the Central Library.

Sign up on event day to speak with people who work in the following professions to learn more what they do in their jobs:

  • Lawyer
  • Legal Assistant
  • Paralegals
  • Regulatory Analyst


Melissa is one of the volunteers on the 24th, and works as a regulatory analyst in Calgary. We chatted with her to find out exactly what she does, and how she got there:

Melissa, tell us a bit about your career path

After graduating from Bow Valley College, I went into matrimonial law. Gradually, I made the switch to regulatory law, and in June, 2013 I was offered a Regulatory Analyst position at a local firm. So what do I do? I am responsible for the scoping, execution, and commitment follow up of regulatory and environmental permits, approvals, notifications and commitments for new capital projects as they relate to local, provincial, state, and federal authorities with varying jurisdictions. I am also responsible for pipelines that are provincially regulated in the eastern part of the country, as well as federally regulated pipelines. I think my career path demonstrates that you can progress naturally into other fields and take other forms of education upon graduation.

Do you find your work interesting and meaningful?

I am challenged every day at my job, which makes my job more interesting. My employer trusts me to work independently, and I have the privilege to work with people who care about their company. I really feel as though my employer cares about honesty, hard work and integrity, something that’s often hard to find.

To find out more about this and other great legal related professions, drop by Wednesday and take part in the day's events:

Career Conversations: Law and Legal Related Services
11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Central Library

You can also sign up in advance to meet with a lawyer in Law Connect: Legal Grounds Summary Advice Clinic (offered in partnership with Pro Bono Law Alberta) and learn more about local legal services during the Law Connect: Legal Resources Fair.

Contact us at 403-260-2782 with any questions.

Women in Work Boots

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There’s a new gal in town with a Backer Board and a mission.

She knows that if you were to ask a group of high school girls what they know about the variety of work in the trades, it’s pretty likely their knowledge on the subject would be slim. The industry continues to battle an image problem, especially with women who last year represented only 4% of those working in the construction trades. Yet for those women with successful careers in the industry, they are quick to point out many advantages: their ability to advance in the profession, continual learning, and gratifying, tangible, and independent work.

The Canadian government is working to create greater economic opportunities for women in many sectors, including non-traditional occupations, especially given current and looming shortages. They admit however, that there is a serious lack of knowledge about hands-on professions, which contributes to the problem. Post secondary institutions are working hard to improve and change the situation, along with business, government, and industry groups. But more inspiration is needed.

Here’s where Calgary’s Jill Drader comes in. An educator at SAIT, Tile Setter, and consultant associated with the skilled trades since 2007, Jill recently created the Women In Work Boots site. By sharing stories of local women working in a wide variety of trades, her mission is to inspire more to make career changes, own and run a related business, or explore the industry as a viable option after high school. And stories are important. Subtle changes in the way women talk about their roles in construction and how they got started in the industry will go a long way in bringing more women to it, according to Debbie Wadsworth, female construction leader and former president of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction in a recent interview. "Sometimes the things that count are really subtle, like what you do, how you got there, or talking about how much money you make.”

Featuring links to education, industry resources and apprenticeship guidance, Jill’s site is an excellent supplement to provincial initiatives such as Tradesecrets. But I was curious about mentorship opportunities, and asked Jill for her opinion and to share where this whole journey is taking her:

Jill, let's talk about mentorship opportunities. Do they exist in Calgary, and how important are they?

Mentorship is a critical part of passing on relevant information to women thinking of entering the industry. I've found career fairs sometimes have female mentors working the booths for various companies as recruiters, or as union members. I've also seen third part organizations create interactive career fairs and use round table discussions featuring mentors to deliver and share information.Unfortunately, there are so few women in the skilled trades that to take a percentage of those and make them visible mentors would prove challenging. This speaks to why I started the website: one, to use stories as a means of mentoring, and second to use the advice offered in the stories as a means of coaching women by using a web platform of storytelling.

What kind of feedback have you had to the site?

It’s been incredible. I've had emails from across Canada and USA, and even the UK and Australia, from women who found and follow the site. I've had the provincial government and oil and gas companies ask me to do events, public speaking, and conventions speaking about the the project. I've had representatives of the government call me to thank me for Women in Work Boots, and my MLA office is helping me. I have men emailing me and asking for advice. And most important, the women whose stories I featured and shared have told me they cried because they were so proud to read their journey and the way I told it. It brought to light that their work is meaningful, important, and a source of pride, which was my goal.

What is next on the horizon for you?

Taking this information to national and international audiences. Currently, I'm in Toronto waiting for a meeting with a national TV network that found me and invited me for an audition/interview of a show they want to pitch to me. This proves my previous point, that this movement was created to spread organically and wholeheartedly through storytelling and word of mouth.

This fall, I will be launching a digital magazine version of the website. I'm also writing a few chapters for a U.S. Women's Study program that asked me to contribute to their course, Women Work and the Web. And it turns out that I found a missing link to women in the trades: business education, and how it will enable men and women to run a great enterprise. With an industry in such high demand, I find that those hard at work often don't have any extra time to study, explore and learn more. To address this, I've created an online course to launch this September where they can purchase, download, and learn business trade fundamentals at their own pace, with access to me and my team for questions and follow up.

Oh, and raising my 1 and 3 year old sons is the first priority!

Future Foggy? Need to Get Unstuck?

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Calgary Public Library is thrilled to be hosting our second annual Taste of Coaching event on May 22–23rd. Along with learning more about what coaching has to offer, Library customers will have the chance to sit down with a coach to get a taste of the coaching experience.

I had the pleasure of working with a coach in the past year and know personally how the coaching process can create focus on personal and professional issues, provide insights into dilemmas, and encourage a commitment to personal goals. Each one of us has something we want to work on and improve in life, and sometimes there is great value in having a skilled coach meet us where we are in life and help guide and support us.

To help give you a sense of how coaching works, we talked with local coaches Gary Armstrong and Nancy Love:

What attracted you to the profession of coaching?

Nancy: I was a classroom teacher for many years. What I noticed was that when I ASKED students about things they remembered. When I TOLD, them they forgot. So I spent a lot of time finding the right question to ask to get them to think about things differently. I love coaching because it does the same thing. It provokes learning, self knowledge, and self confidence. I love to watch the lightbulbs go on and to see people believing in themselves and their goals.

Gary: I had a coach. The experience was significant in moving me forward and inspired me to learn to do the same for others. Coaching is a strong fit with the skills that I picked up in my career as a police officer and educator. Both professions required that I listen intently to what was being said and ask thoughtful probing questions, two hallmarks of great coaching. I was amazed how asking questions which reflected intent listening could uncover thoughts I had never articulated before—thoughts that were the catalyst to new and sometimes very personal discoveries about how I was being perceived by others.

Coaching can be a transformative and profound process. How does it affect your clients?

Gary: What I notice most is the impact being heard has on people. Consistently people will delve deeper within themselves to find the answer to their own toughest questions when they believe someone else is their willing to hear them through. I am awed by the progress people make in their careers when they explore their own thoughts and devise strategies they know are right for them. It is extremely rewarding to help people move forward in such a significant way.

Do you believe that many of your clients have the answers to their questions hidden inside them?

Nancy: Everyone knows what they need to do to change a situation. Most just need a nudge in that direction. I like to use time-lining. I ask the person to consider a future point or a point in the past and look at the present situation from that perspective and describe it in detail. It removes the emotional response or adds a different emotion to the understanding of the situation.

Gary: I believe we all know our best path. Early in life we develop a set of values which guide our conduct and help us chart a direction in a career, or for that matter life. Understandably we all differ and from time to time we face situations which collide with our values. In those moments we may make small sacrifices to our values for the sake of harmony. For me coaching, in part , is an opportunity to affirm my values and return to a course of action I know is right for me.

Have there been any books or articles you have read that really explained or spoke to the power of coaching?

Gary: Mary Beth O'Neil's book Coaching with Backbone and Heart stands out for me. My opinion is that for most friends the heart piece of being there for someone comes naturally. It is the backbone that can be harder to call on. However there are also friends who have more backbone than heart. They are the ones who sometimes are too willing to tell it like it is. O'Neil does a great job of showing how both are needed in a balanced coaching relationship. Moving between backbone and heart is quite similar to teaching someone a new skill or task following the old adage two steps forward one step back. Being challenged to take two steps forward at times can be quite daunting. Being able to judge when to take a step back is heart. Balancing both is an acquired skill that a coach brings that a friend may not always be able to.


Gary Armstrong is an Executive Coach and President of Empowered Employee Education. Gary’s services appeal to enterprises developing current and next generation leaders. Those who wish to positively implement and navigate change with a collaborative, communicative, strategically thoughtful leadership team that possesses the skills required to focus others on a clear mission and vision, centered on confirmed values.


Dr. Nancy Love, PhD, M.Ed. works in many cities across North America to present the PULSE programs to government agencies and private industry. She is the author of PULSE Conversations for Change. Her continued interest in how people use conversation and language lead to the formation of the PULSE Institute which studies People Using Language Skills Effectively.

Make Your Mark

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Would you like to know that the work you do daily has a positive impact on the lives of Canadians? For the first time, Calgary Public Library is welcoming staff from the Public Service sector to take part in our Career Conversations event on April 20th as part of our Accelerate Your Career event, where they will answer questions about working for both the federal and provincial government. Representatives will discuss the wide variety of jobs available, so we asked them a few questions to get the conversation started:

Jackie, the Government of Alberta features several of the benefits of working for the federal government, but we’re wondering what you see as the top “selling features?”

To start, there are such a wide variety of jobs available. So although it’s one employer, there are many opportunities. For example, someone like me moved from a front line position, then pursued further education and switched to a support position in Human Resources , and then progressed into a management role. Employees also have the ability to make a huge difference to clients through the services they provide. We also know the importance of the work we do and are in it for the long term. Lastly, we get to work in a fast paced environment with the support of having good benefits and job security.

Are there any occupations or fields that are experiencing high demand?

Currently, we have a need for Social Workers in the Child Protection areas, Occupational Health and Safety Officers, and careers in our policy areas.

Jackie, what are some of the common questions that are asked by job seekers at career events, and what advice can you offer?

Questions are usually about the hiring process, specific jobs availability, training opportunities, and locations where new hires could work. As for advice, I would recommend that individuals interested in public sector careers should:

  • Look at all levels of government (e.g.
  • Given that opportunities are vast and varied, explore areas that you are passionate about. For example, environment, education, health care
  • Explore what type of work you are interested in, such as policy, direct-service delivery (aka front line), technical, etc.

Does the Public Service ever use social media to scout for talent or recruit?

Governments are looking at innovative ways (e.g. Web 2.0) to recruit individuals to the public service including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter (e.g. @jobs_gc)
  • Second Life (Public Service Commission did a trial run and provided information booths and interacted with potential candidates)
  • LinkedIn (frequent posts from various government agencies are often posted on LinkedIn)

Career Conversations Meet one-on-one with twenty professionals from high-demand industries to learn more about their careers

11:00 am–3:00 pm

Main Floor Sign up during event First-come, first-served

Get Your International Qualifications Assessed

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Say you are from Brazil and you need to know the equivalent degree in Canada for your geology degree back home. How do you go about getting your education assessed so Canadian employers have a better understanding of your qualifications? This is a common question at the Calgary Public Library, so we talked with Simran, a career practitioner with Bow Valley’s College’s Career Connection’s downtown office.

Who will benefit from an IQAS assessment?

This assessment tool analyzes international educational credentials and compares them to educational credentials in Canada. An IQAS assessment can help New Canadians with educational and employment goals, as it provides colleges and employers with an education summary in Canadian terms and uses the language needed for a Canadian resume. For example, an industrial designer from another country might be called a project design engineer in Canada. IQAS issues three types of assessments, listed here.

There is a $100 fee for the basic IQAS assessment. Is it true that clients of Bow Valley College Career Connection can have this fee waived?

Yes. Eligible Calgarians may register with Career Connections and request that their IQAS application fee be waived. Click here for a list of Career Connections offices in Calgary.

What if a new Canadian needs to know what courses they need to take to complete a Canadian high school diploma? Does IQAS provide this type of assessment?

Yes and IQAS can send a copy the assessment directly to colleges. But be aware that this assessment application requires planning and takes time, and that processing can take anywhere from two to three months. Click here for a list of the educational institutions using IQAS

Do universities also accept IQAS assessments?

As a rule, most universities have their own assessment departments. They ask that applicants submit their credentials for more detailed assessments that are often required for advanced degrees. Professional and industry association organizations, such as APEGGA, conduct their own assessments. Click here for more information on this subject.

What about professional designations?

Yes, IQAS can facilitate licensure for professions such as Certified General Accountants, along with some other professions in Canada. It’s important to call your professional association or check the IQAS site for more details.

What advice do you have for Calgarians considering an IQAS assessment?

First, IQAS only accepts information in English and French. If transcripts need to be translated, there are several organizations that can help, such as those listed here. Also, be aware that IQAS is only an assessment service and does not provide guidance or advice. Agencies such as Career Connection or Alberta Human Resources can provide further support and answer questions.

Note: The IQAS website has a list of frequently asked questions, along with an excellent video tutorial.

Alberta Human Resources also has a list of other organizations that can offer help with international education assessments. Click here for more information.

Finding Work in Alberta’s Energy Industry

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For those looking to work in Alberta’s energy industry, industry forecasts from organizations such as the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) and The Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada show that there will be a shortage of skilled oil and rig workers in 2012.

The Petroleum HR Council created an excellent website devoted to helping those who want to find information on or a job in the industry: Careers in Oil + Gas.

Careers in Oil + Gas has sections listing job boards in the Petroleum Industry, tips and tools for job seekers and a Day in the Life section that features interviews and videos of people working in the industry.

The Petroleum HR Council has also worked with the industry to create the Petroleum Competency Program to help address industry HR issues. The following video clip from their site talks about how the program works with entry level workers:

Petroleum Competency Program

For more information about the forecasted shortage of oil workers:

Oil worker shortage forecast to hamper 2012 drilling (CBC website)

Canadian Rig Worker Shortage Prevails, Despite Innovative Training (Rigzone)

Both Rigzone and the new CAODC Service Rig Website have information and job postings for oil and rig workers.

For more information about jobs and careers in the Energy Industry, the Alberta Learning Information Services (ALIS) Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Industry ALIS Occupational Profiles and the Petroleum HR Council Occupational Profiles are a good place to start.

Please contact the Third Floor, Central Library at 403-260-2782 or if you would like more information about jobs in the Oil and Gas Industry in Calgary or Alberta.