Career Coaches Share Advice They Wish They Knew When They Were Younger

November 2, 2020 | Teresa L

Comments (1)

Hindsight is 20/20 but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the experiences and even the mistakes of others. Our Career Coaches in Residence share career advice they wish they knew when they were younger.

Cindy Fruitman, Jennifer Gaudette, Ken Lee and Tharsheka Natkunam
Toronto Public Library's Career Coaches in Residence: Cindy Fruitman, Jennifer Gaudette, Ken Lee and Tharsheka Natkunam

Your career is a journey, not a destination.

Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Cindy Fruitman


After I graduated with a Psych degree, I decided to give myself a break before hitting the Toronto job market and decided to travel to Australia. Great idea, right? Well, those few months’ visit turned into a 10 year stay!

As it turns out, my first job after graduation didn’t land me my dream job as a pioneering psychologist. I actually landed work in a retail shoe store! Sure, I set out looking for work that would flex my skills in counselling, support and analysis. But those jobs were hard to come by, especially since I hadn’t planned on starting my career in Australia. My education and background didn’t quite fit the local hiring criteria for my field of work. Since I also had no Australian work experience to offer, I had to broaden my job search strategy to consider more practical options that fell somewhere in between my transferable skills and who was hiring.

It was pretty humbling. But here’s the deal: Even though I was initially frustrated that I wasn’t working in any role close to my dream job, the work experience I did gain actually further developed my skills. Particularly in service, support, problem solving, empathy, resilience, multi-tasking, operating a business and more. All skills essential to my career success.

Upon my return to Toronto, I practically lived at the library, researching through local business directories and employment resources which helped tremendously! I gained understanding of the local employment market in my field, researched which companies to target, and was able to scan current opportunities.

So don't be discouraged if your dream job doesn't happen right away. Keep an open mind when job hunting and look at alternative routes into a profession. It can pay off in unexpected ways!

Young woman on laptop
The library offers a range of directories and databases to help you with your job industry research.


Everyone can feel like an imposter from time to time. 

Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Jennifer Gaudette


Imposter syndrome is a feeling of not belonging or being good enough to be in your role, to do a task, or to be perceived in a certain light. It is common when we are starting out in a new role, or taking on a new responsibility, essentially when we are stepping up to a new level. Though it is not just people new in their career who experience this feeling. Even the most confident-seeming leaders have said that they often doubt themselves and have active inner critics when venturing into new territory. As more and more is being asked of employees in today’s current workforce, lacking confidence or not feeling ready or "qualified" enough is a hot topic.

Most people want to do a good job and perform well. When we think there is a chance of failure because perhaps we’ve never presented to such a large audience before or managed other people, for example, we can feel the weight or the pressure to do something significant and use skills in new, untested ways. It is important to remember that imposter syndrome is just our brains trying to protect us from the pain of judgment or rejection. It is a negative script that we are playing in our head, that we may not be "good enough" to prepare us or stop us in case we aren’t.

Instead, if we take a beginner's mindset and view every situation a chance to learn what we are capable of from both our successes and our failures, then every challenge becomes an opportunity to improve whether or not we perceive ourselves as ready or deserving to be where we are. There is no way to know any outcome with certainty, so the best way to tame this feeling is to simply believe you can do anything, even if it takes several attempts. Growth can only happen outside the comfort zone when we take risks, so if you are feeling like an imposter, chances are you are growing. Learn how to gain more confidence by checking out some self-actualization books from the library.

Book shelves at Fort York branch
Browse our career and job help book collections on topics such as leadership, confidence, resume building and more.


Be excellent, but don’t forget about current events and your health.

Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Ken Lee


Practice breeds skill. Skill breeds confidence. Commit to becoming excellent in everything you do, particularly things that you enjoy. Even more important, practice self-compassion. Understand whatever you do in the beginning, you won’t be immediately great. So go ahead and learn or practice some technical skills such as Microsoft Excel through the Toronto Public Library’s online courses.

As you pursue excellence, don’t forget about current events. It's important to know what’s going on in the world. This will help you when socializing in the office and when you’re engaging in networking activities. So pick up a newspaper or a magazine and immerse yourself in politics, sports and more. Best of all, the library has free access to major newspapers (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and more).

All that being said, you need to make sure to establish professional boundaries. You’re more than an employee. While it’s great you’re an overachiever, work will always be there. It’s important to practice mindfulness. Your health matters, so consider reading books on stress, resilience and mental wellbeing.

Most importantly, enjoy the journey. I promise you, it’s going to be a wild adventure

Digital newspaper on tablet
Keep up with the latest news using the library's online newspaper subscriptions with PressReader.


Get exposed to different work opportunities at the beginning of your career journey.

Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Tharsheka Natkunam


When I was starting my career I was so focused on checking off all the boxes to go from the classroom to the boardroom that I became very focused on a single outcome. In that linear journey, I focused on getting opportunities that supported that straight pathway to a job title. However, that made me miss getting experiences to develop other skills that are useful in the workforce. If I was advised when I was younger to take on different entry level jobs, to volunteer in different industries, and to connect with people in the field early, I would have started my career journey with:

  1. Transferable skills
  2. Diverse experiences and
  3. Opportunities for growth


Do not underestimate the value of your first fast food service job, your volunteer work at the library, or the people you meet along the way. All of these experiences shape up your skillset, which turn into strengths to write on your resume, which then turn into opportunities to get you employed! 

You can also explore careers online from home with Career Cruising.



Are you on a career journey and need some guidance? Book an appointment with one of our Career Coaches in Residence.

The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by the RBC Foundation, and the Friends of the Toronto Public Library, South Chapter.