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Education Outside the Classroom

Michelle Beemer (B.Ed 2012) – Workforce WindsorEssex

Michelle Beemer graduated with her Bachelor of Education (I/S, Music and English) in 2012. Prior to graduation, Michelle began looking for work outside the teaching profession after recognizing that she may not be able to secure a teaching position right away. A Faculty of Education classmate contacted her regarding a job opportunity at Workforce WindsorEssex Workforce WindsorEssex is the local Workforce Development Board that facilitates and promotes employment through research, partnership and communication. Michelle was interviewed and hired for her position the day before graduation. Initially, she had been hesitant about taking a one-year contract position, but thought she could try it out for a year before moving into the world of teaching. Michelle has been at Workforce WindsorEssex ever since, and is working in a position that she absolutely loves!

Michelle, what has your experience been like thus far? Is it what you expected?

My experience has been far more than I ever could have imagined. I work with an incredible team of people who desire to have a positive impact within our community. Through this position I have had the opportunity to do so many things that I never would have dreamed of doing!  I have developed and used a diverse range of skill sets in a variety of settings and my eyes have truly been opened to all that Windsor-Essex has to offer. I have developed a much deeper understanding of how the worlds of employment, education and training intersect. Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to:

  • Deliver engaging and interactive Labour Market presentations to various groups of students (at all levels of education), parents, educators and community members, including presentations at the Ontario Cooperative Education Association Conference, the OYAP Conference and the Futures Conference.
  • Build relationships and partnerships with community organizations and employers for collaboration on initiatives and events.
  • Develop and manage online content and websites.
  • Host a group of 7 Faculty of education students for one of their placements.
  • Organize interactive learning opportunities for students, teachers and guidance counsellors to deepen their understanding of career opportunities (such as tours of manufacturing facilities and video competitions).
  • Facilitate and organize career expos and living libraries for students of all ages (including the one at the Power of Your Potential Conference at the Faculty of Education).
  • Develop different bulletin and blog series for educators and local service providers to use with their students and clients.

In the early stages of your job, what did you learn at the Faculty of Education that helped you to succeed? Was there any specific experience you relied on from your time in the B.Ed program?

In the early stages of my job it was crucial that I had time management skills and the ability to take initiative. A lot of our work is team based, so it was important that I was able to work on my own and as part of a team. While at the Faculty of Education I had taken LEAD. This experience helped me further develop project development and event planning skills- both of which I use regularly in my role. These experiences helped me develop a foundation for many of the projects that I have worked on over the last few years.

How has your background in Education contributed to your success in your current position?

My background in education has given me a deep understanding of the importance of how people learn differently. This has been essential, as I have worked with the Workforce WindsorEssex team to develop products that can be used by teachers, students, community members and service providers. This has been incredibly helpful in taking labour market information and putting it in forms that people can use, understand, and apply to their own lives.

Throughout my time at Workforce WindsorEssex I have had the opportunity to do several presentations. I have had to use my background in education to learn how to tailor material to fit the needs of the audience and the purpose of the event. Seeing as how these presentations are usually one-time occurrences, I have had to learn how to quickly connect with different groups of people. My role at Workforce WindsorEssex has given me the opportunity to connect with employers and community organizations. I am able to see what employers and educators want and need, and then try to coordinate efforts for both groups to work together effectively so that we can best ensure that our students are being as prepared as possible for the workplace setting. I have also been able to work alongside representatives at all levels from our four local school boards, post-secondary educational institutions, and community organizations.

Do you have any advice for students entering the Faculty of Education and Academic Development? 

Have an open mind about careers that may be considered “beyond the obvious.”  Don’t miss out on an opportunity simply because it doesn’t have you teaching in a classroom. Teachers can be found in many incredibly organizations throughout our community and you never know where your transferable skills will lead you. You may end up in a career that you enjoy even more than teaching! Be open to contract positions. They are becoming more and more common, and even if they are only short term, they can help give you valuable experience as your start your career and develop your network. They may even open your eyes to positions you didn’t realize exist. Discover all that Windsor-Essex has to offer!

If you end up going into teaching, I encourage you to keep up to date with local labour market information. Take every opportunity you can to help your students explore careers and our local community resources. You will have opportunities to inspire and influence the career choices of your students, so it is important that you can connect students with the information that they need.