“You don’t remember me, do you?”
He stood outside my office door, gruff voice parting from his mouth.
He looked familiar, but I couldn’t quickly place him. I would say he was in his 50s. He gazed at me with stern eyes and a staunch posture. Hmmm, was he a student wanting to make an official complaint?
When he told me his name, I quickly recalled who he was and a beaming smile crept across my face.
I spoke with him about two years ago, when he came to access career guidance as a prospective student. He seemed tentative and a bit anxious when I first met him. He had a long and successful career in the trades, but a failing body made him realise that he needed to find a new type of work.
He struck me as a proud man. A man who had the gift of the gab, was a straight-talker and liked being in authority. He was also highly inquisitive and wanted to find the answers to things.
I had two in-depth career guidance sessions with this man and helped him to explore his skill-sets and values. He articulated what was going to be important for him, and this included having more time for family, but also having work that allowed him to be in control and have a strong voice too.
He doubted himself. He hadn’t completed formal tertiary study before and felt his age was a barrier. After our sessions we identified some options for him including studies in Project Management. We wrote down the plan and considered the pros and cons. He advised me he was going to apply for it and that was the last I heard from him.
Years later, he is looking at me with a steely determination in his eyes. He said he wanted to come and thank me in person as he successfully completed his diploma and was graduating in September. He found the study really challenging and came to realise he didn’t know everything! But he found comfort in this, especially in knowing that the construction industry is evolving en masse.
He has projects in the pipeline and likes the idea of working as a consultant. His confidence grew immensely and he said he had shifted from being a lifelong worker to a lifelong learner. He can foresee new pathways and opportunities in his future.
I went to shake his hand, but he gave me a big hug instead! I told him this made my day as I don’t often get students who come back to us to let us know how they’re getting on. He chimed in and said that was the one of the reasons why he came to visit me.
He was very thankful for the support I gave him, but I was also thankful for the time he took to come and visit. Even though I do less client work then I used to, it was a reminder that the work we do does make a difference. To all my fellow colleagues in the careers industry and beyond – don’t forget that very statement!