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Self portrait of Rebecca Earley

Rebecca Earley Psychology Alumni

Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?

I am a career consultant at the University of Manitoba. I work with students to help them discover their dream career and help them to achieve their goals once a pathway is clear. My job involves working with students one-on-one, delivering workshops to groups, planning events, and coming up with resources that can be used by students. The most challenging part of this position is staying current amongst constant changes and maintaining a strong knowledge of career information. I need to know about educational programs all over the world, new careers, local businesses, and the best techniques to allow someone to confide in me and to work towards uncovering a student’s passions. I love learning and reading, so this, while challenging, is also something I enjoy quite a bit. The most rewarding part of my job is getting to know a student very well – working closely with them, getting to know what is important to them and eventually seeing them succeed and reach their goals. There is nothing more rewarding than helping students discover their plans for their future. It always makes me happy to get an email from a student saying they got their dream job! 

What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?

Throughout my degree, I got involved on campus and in the community. I knew that I wanted a career helping people, so I found volunteer and work positions that gave me experience working with others. Through these experiences, I was able to discover plenty of things about myself that helped to shape my career pathway. This gave me insight into the things I wanted to do and avoid in a career. I volunteered with Peers: Students Helping Students for three years, which showed me my passion for supporting students. It also helped me to get my work-study position at Career Services, where I began learning about career development and discovering that I loved everything about this profession.

As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed? 

I chose to do a psychology degree with the plan of becoming a clinical psychologist. At the time, I thought this was the only way I could help people the way I wanted to. The further I got in my degree, the more it reaffirmed my desire to work with people as well as my interest in social science. What changed, though, was that I slowly began to discover that there was a whole world of amazing careers helping others that I could take on with my undergraduate degree. 

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in psychology?

The most important advice I have is to seek out experience above and beyond your academics. My psychology degree helped me to strengthen my writing skills, develop my presentation abilities, and gave me a critical eye when evaluating research and psychometric tools. Since my goal was to work with people, I also made sure I supplemented my education with experience in the community. This gave me even more skills that I could put on my resumé and it also connected me with people who would eventually help me to get the job I have today.

What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?

Develop connections with people in the organizations you want to work with and take advantage of the network you’ve already made. Be aware of all of the amazing skills you have from your psychology degree and don’t be shy in showing them off in your application. Be creative in where you look for work and try to stay hopeful. It took me well over three months to find a job after I graduated –this is typical for anyone looking for work, with all kinds of backgrounds. It was a lot of work to find my first job, but after the countless hours of searching and applying it was the most amazing feeling in the world and made it worth it. Keep your chin up and start early!

Tell us a fun fact about your career path.

Before my current position, I spent a year working in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Residence, which supports middle and high school students striving to be professional dancers. It was an amazing job where I got to have a lot of independence and responsibility. I was able to use so many of the skills I developed through my education and experiences as I supported students, managed staff and ensured the residence ran smoothly. My psychology degree was a huge help to me in this position. One of my major projects was to write a new discipline policy, which I diligently wrote in the same way I wrote countless papers in my undergrad, using academic research to back the policy I recommended.

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