You study hard, get good grades, do what everyone tells you, only to be ejected into the cold hard world at graduation.
That was Qualicum Beach’s Clinton Nellist’s experience graduating from UVic, so he and roommate Denis Luchyshyn created Road to Employment to help fellow grads.
“Upon graduating we both had a difficult time transitioning into the workforce. I got stuck in a bunch of sales jobs, sidewalk selling, door-to-door, retail at the mall,” he said of his long, hard struggles after graduating with a degree in political science and history in 2013.
“I wasn’t stoked about my employment situation, Dennis was having his own challenges and our friends were moving back into their parent’s basements to survive,” he said of his cohort’s general employment hopelessness.
“Looking around at the opportunities we had, we knew we had to be better prepared for the labour market, so Dennis and I quit our jobs, packed our lives into the back of a two-door Chevrolet to drive across the country for four months, couch surfing the whole way, filming a documentary about youth employment in Canada.”
The film ended up being a four part series called Road to Employment, which they parlayed into a media production and public speaking company.
The first two parts of the film are available on Youtube and on their website (http://roadtoemployment.ca), which they are developing into an extensive portal for all things youth employment.
The film and website are slick productions with a focus on concrete advice.
“Our goal was simple, to speak with fellow graduates, employers, career developers and identify actionable strategies to help you find meaningful and relevant work,” the opening narration of the film explains.
After their adventures driving from Victoria to Halifax, they stopped on their way home to finish the film in Montreal, and never left.
Now based in Montreal, the pair support themselves through the burgeoning company, including a number of high profile speaking engagements.
Nellist recently spoke to a class at Kwalikum Secondary, his former high school, “pro bono” while home for the holidays.
While critical of the graduation experience, he admits “I wasn’t very proactive with my education, which is a big part of why I suffered so much.”
“School teaches work ethic, the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic, basic skills that we need and it teaches you how get down to work, but I think there’s not enough emphasis on career education and ‘what am I actually going to be doing with my learning’.”
“I wasn’t empowered or motivated to actually explore my career options, I was just told to focus on grades, get through your classes and worry about your career when you graduate.”
He said the common lack of engagement among students is a key part of the issue, thus part one of the film is “Engage,” hoping to help change that dynamic.
“We’re trying to put a very youthful, enthusiastic spin on what career education can be.”
Check out the company at http://roadtoemployment.ca.