Written by: Chelsey Evans
In our work, we have the privilege of regularly talking to students about their career journeys. However, it’s less often that we get to reflect on our own career journeys, so when I was invited to be part of the Humans of ACE project, I gladly accepted. As you will see, my career path has taken a bit of a circuitous route…
I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan (Go Riders!) and remember two distinct career aspirations from my childhood: hairdresser and dentist. I had practiced both professions in different ways: cutting my Barbie’s hair and pulling friends’ teeth on the bus (I actually carried dental floss in my backpack for any soul brave enough to let me pull a loose tooth!). In my pre-teen years, I discovered the arts and got involved in local musical theatre, improv, and television (YTV, anyone?). These experiences led to my next career dream—to be an actor! As I approached grade 12 graduation, I applied to only one university (presumptuous? you bet!). I had my sights set on the UBC Department of Theatre and Film. I set sail for UBC, having never been to Vancouver before, excited for the adventure that awaited. While I managed to partake in a number of theatre productions at UBC, my dreams shifted once again during my first year at university. I found myself drawn to psychology courses—brain and behaviour, social psychology, the psychology of human sexuality, and the list goes on … I was fascinated by the topic and my plans for my degree morphed accordingly.
As much as I enjoyed my academic endeavours at UBC, I arguably learned more from my experiences outside the classroom. I was a highly involved student, serving as a Residence Advisor, Disability Resources Centre Peer Mentor, and Wellness Information Network Educator. After graduation, I had the opportunity to continue working professionally at UBC in the Registrar’s Office. I learned that I really liked working in higher education—I found the culture collaborative and enriching. Also, while working at UBC, I was involved in a very cool WIL project. I supervised a group of Applied Science students in a community service learning project to build a chicken coop at the UBC farm. This was my first experience with WIL and I was inspired by how transformative this type of hands-on experience can be for students.
From there, I travelled to Edmonton, where I continued to work in student development as the Coordinator of Student Engagement and Learning. Here I pursued my Master’s in Education, specializing in Adult Education, and was able to apply my academic learning directly to my work. On a particularly cold (-52 degree!) Edmonton day, my partner and I decided it was time to return to beautiful BC—but not before embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime round-the-world trip! Fast forward six months and we landed in Kelowna, where I luckily got a short-term contract for a development role with the UBC Okanagan Library. Hoping to secure a continuing position, I broadened my work search. In 2011, I was hired at UVic in a Residence Life and Education management role and worked in Student Life for the next eight years. In 2019, I took on the role of Associate Director for the Optional and Professional Programs with UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services. Then in 2021, I moved into my current role as Director of Operations.
When I started in Co-op and Career, my boss Andrea Giles advised that the best way to learn the ins and outs of WIL and build my network was to get involved with ACE-WIL and CEWIL. I quickly followed up on this good advice by joining committees with both organizations. I am now the chair of the CEWIL Membership Committee and serve as the Business Officer/Treasurer on the ACE-WIL board. I am also a member of the ACE-WIL External Partnerships and Events committee. Getting involved in ACE-WIL and CEWIL has been an amazing way to meet, work with, and learn from colleagues across the province and the country!
As I look back on my career journey, I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities that have led to my current role working in Co-op and Career Services. It is incredibly rewarding to work in a field that I so wholeheartedly believe in. I do not know what will come next in my career journey, but I am excited for what the future holds!