Livelihood and life…

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Job, gig, post, vocation, calling, niche, livelihood, occupation, career, stint, position, trade, craft, profession, employment, work… call it what you will-most of us spend a good chunk of our week involved with it. One of the things that is always on my list is considering my (and my husband’s) career. I feel mine has come to an interesting-and realistic- place. After graduating from university I have been lucky enough to be moving upwards as seasons and jobs pass by. I admit, I did run off to Georgia for a while abandoning my career but that was not for career reasons at all. It was to satisfy other dreams and goals. Luckily, I feel the international experience only catapulted me to the next stage of my career when I returned home.

Now, I am in a wonderful position and feel like a very valued member of a team that makes a difference. I have been offered an extension on my contract and am sure once the renewed contracts with the funders come through, I will be given a permanent position. I can actually see myself settling into this position for at least another year or two-maybe longer. Others have worked there for more than 15 years…will I be the same? The thought seems a bit alarming rather than pleasing. Is this normal?

I admit I still have wanderlust rear its head and do check out if any international dream opportunities are available but finding one for which I am qualified (mostly due to inability to speak some major exotic second languages) and that will support a decent lifestyle is difficult. This brings me to the realistic part…I am lucky to be in a position which is in my dream field more or less and I am lucky that I can build on this experience and see where it takes me. Maybe it will be a long and fulfilling career at this organization or maybe (and more likely) it will be a stepping stone to something exciting as all my other jobs have been so far. We will see but I am enjoying the ride so far and do not mind being where I am for the next while-a perfect place to be as my husband gets settled and maybe the perfect place to be to start a family. Hmm….that opens up a whole other can of worms which we won’t get into.

Now, another thing on my list was to help my husband with career planning. As you may know, he arrived in this fine country almost two years ago without knowing how to speak English-essential for success here, of course. His work and education from home was immediately irrelevant and the first year of his local career was a struggle…mostly my struggle it seemed at times! Of course it was also difficult and depressing for him to lose everything-especially status. I created a resume for him and sent it everywhere. He had a few jobs in his first year-all of them terrible in some way or another and all of them paying low wages. A bleak start and he did take it hard. I encouraged him to hang in there as this was what everyone has to do when starting their career. Over time, as he started picking up more English better opportunities arose and he got used to how employment works in the west (I can assure you it is wayyyy different back in his home country no matter what anyone says and no matter how it looks on the surface! There are major psychological differences as well which are a huge challenge!).

Since last January he has been at a rather respectable company and was working hard-unfortunately in a labour role but the pay was decent which kept him going. The good news is that the workplace is unionized and he has a lot of opportunity for gradual advancement. Already he has had 2 raises with more guaranteed to come and based on how many hours he works. Just a while ago, he was offered an opportunity to obtain certification in the operation of certain machines that would allow him to have a much less labour intensive position. The catch? He had to pass a test-in English. Naturally, anyone learning a language is much better verbally at first so his reading and writing is weaker than his verbal ability. This had him worried about being able to advance.

Seeing how important it was to him and how much better his daily life would be (no more lifting heavy things!), we gave it our best shot and studied until the wee hours of the morning the day before the test. We went over his whole text and I drilled him. The concepts he understood well enough but remembering new English words such as centrifugal force and the names of the parts of machines and all about velocity and gravity was the difficult part. However, again, I drilled it into him with quizzes, spelling tests, and repetition. The next day he had the test and I am pleased to say he passed with flying colours! Now, he has been in training for the new position which comes with a $2.56 per hour raise! Not bad at all-more than the raise I expect! I am certainly very proud of him and glad to see all the progress he is making. He only recently began to understand the difference between a job and building a career. Despite all the other challenges we have, we both seem to be on the right track in this department at least!

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