Connections count in career development. Dave’s involvement in the field is due to Kris Magnusson, a classmate in our PhD program many years ago. Kris Magnusson introduced Dave and Michael in the early 1990s. Without that introduction, we would likely not have met and, even if we had, may not have connected in the same way. Over 30 years after meeting in a grad course, Kris attended a talk we gave on career development and mental health at the Cannexus conference. This led to a coffee with Kris to talk about research possibilities in the area. Kris, then the Dean of Education at Simon Fraser University on Canada’s west coast, talked about a funding opportunity with Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC, which all academics pronounce “shirk”) targeting partnership development between researchers and community stakeholders who would benefit from and participate in the research.
In a parallel connection stream, Dave and Michael found themselves in a meeting with a career development researcher from the University of New Brunswick, José Domene. We didn’t have much opportunity to connect with José during the meeting, but we all had the opportunity to learn a little more about each other.
Back to Kris… Part of the idea of a partnership project is to have multiple academic institutions work with multiple community partners. So, when we started to think about who to partner with, and then discovered that José was moving to Dave and Michael’s province to take a position at the University of Calgary, it seemed natural to see if he was interested.
Applying for SSHRC grants is a ridiculous amount of work; it’s a big ask to request someone to join the project. Fortunately, we knew that José was going to be at Alberta’s provincial career development conference. We found the time to meet and José indicated his interest in the project, particularly if it was focused on the career development and mental health of youth.
Fast forward to today, and we are extremely pleased to announce that Simon Fraser University was awarded a Partnership Development Grant for a project entitled Connecting Career Development and Mental Health in Schools. On the academic side, Kris, José, and Krista Socholotiuk (an SFU prof with an interest in child & adolescent mental health) will lead the project along with collaborators Pete Robertson (Edinburgh Napier University) and Simon Viviers (Université Laval). The community partners are from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick and include provincial education ministries, school districts, an employment-related ministry, and an industry-education council.
The overarching aim of the 3-year partnership is to map out a research agenda to study the impact of career development on mental health among youth in secondary education in such a way that the results of the research have practical as well as conceptual value.
We are pleased with the turn of events, and we hope you are, too. You may have attended our presentations or workshops, and you may be one of the many who have contributed significantly to our thinking about career development and mental health. Like our book, the SSHRC grant would likely not have happened without your contribution. The voice of front line practitioners was central in our thinking when we were developing the models that eventually made their way into the book, models that will inform this 3-year research project. We will be involved in the research as consultants and trainers and will have you and your contributions in mind.
The morals of this story?
- Relationships matter.
- Letting people know what you are interested in matters.
- Finding out what people are interested in matters.
- Serendipity or Krumboltz’s “planned happenstance” matters.
- Small investments of time and energy can often yield dramatic results.
- There is considerable interest in career development and mental health.
Stay tuned for more info on this project. A virtual symposium for the partners, spread over October, November and December, is currently being planned.