By Tara Bond & Mitch Clingo

For this month’s Humans of Ace blog, we spoke to Larry Iles, Experiential Learning Coordinator with the Career and Experiential Learning Department of Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

Historian, Starbuck Addict, and Mildly Amusing.  Larry Iles has been in Education for 25 years.  He was the Chair of TRU’s Career and Experiential Learning Department from 2000-2008, during this time Larry lead initiatives combining Co-op with Career Services and developed Co-op for academic elective credit for TRU.  He has been involved with ACE-WIL since 1997, he started with the communications committee in 97 and served as President in 2006 & 07.

His path to Career Education was not straight-forward as he wove his way through many different areas to land in post-secondary academia.

Not your typical story of a university instructor, Larry dropped out of high school and wandered for a few years before finding his way.  Along the way, Larry has been a house cleaner, jean store manager, tree planter, and worked in the protection branch of forestry for both the air tanker and fire centre’s.

Larry’s major turning point came from an unexpected mentor while working at Canadian Tire in Ottawa.  He was pulled aside by the manager/owner, Harry Campbell, who told him he seemed like a bright guy and shouldn’t be stuck in a department store the rest of his life.  Harry offered him a full-time job every summer if he’d go back to school.

Harry taught Larry that collaboration, as opposed to hierarchy, is a more effective means to work towards goals.  This stayed with him as he pursued his education; first at Carlton University for a double degree in History and Psychology then finishing a Bachelor of Education at UBC/UCC.

Larry moved from working as an elementary school teacher to youth transitions facilitator before finding his way to TRU as a co-op coordinator.  During his years in co-op, he completed his Master in Education from the University of Calgary with a focus in Career Development and Instructional Design.

Now a Career Jedi, Larry still embodies the notion of collaboration through all aspects of his work with students, faculty and community-at-large.  Larry truly partners with his students as he guides them through the career development process.  He lives for the Ah-Ha moments with students when they make the emotional connections of personal awareness with career trajectory.

Larry believes that every student should take some form of career development course prior to graduation as well as be able to explore their career choices through experiential learning opportunities.  He has often seen how real-world experience can change a student’s idea of their ideal career and alter the trajectory of their career path.

He is open and honest about the chaos and happenstance along his own path.  Constantly promoting experiential living, Larry does things he both excels at (he’s avid skier and back-country hiker) as well as taking risks with new endeavors (self-proclaimed worst golfer in Kamloops).

Lately, Larry can be found on adventures with his partner, Laurie Robinson, travelling, fishing, skiing, downhill mountain biking and completing multi-day backcountry hikes such as the Mount Robson Trail, and the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island.  He has 2 talented adult children that often help test his career counselling skills.