Advisors: Ask Our Career Advisors

Advisors:


Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed.

You've got questions, he has answers. That's because career specialist Mark Swartz has been there too. Downsized twice in the corporate world, each time when his wife was pregnant.Then shifting to feast or famine self-employment for the last 12 years. His "tell it like it is" advice has reached millions through his books, columns, professional speaking and coaching.

First job
Working in a small advertising agency where I learned how business was done in the real world. I wore so many hats and had such killer deadlines I began to stumble badly. Thankfully the agency's owner, Reid Bell (who is no longer with us), became a mentor and helped me find my way.

Favorite job
Doing what I do now: writing for various publications, speaking to a wide range of audiences, and coaching people one-on-one on how to improve their career prospects. It's such a great feeling to be making a living by making a difference.

Oddest job
The summer of my final year in high school I spent a week pulling nails out of mouldy lumber. They fired me for plunging my hand into the drinking water after I'd carelessly smashed my thumb with the hammer.

Career advice
Take a bit of time, if you can, to define "success" on your own terms. Then try to stay true to yourself while earning a living. If you can retain your personal values and beliefs even during hard times, you're likelier to end up contented than those who chase after goals that > weren't their own in the first place.

Best advice ever received
From my dad, before his untimely passing: Just be yourself, Mark, and that way you will never lose your way.




Paul Brent

Journalist and business reporter Paul Brent has found new life – and freedom! -- in the freelance world. His work and contacts as a reporter for the Financial Post have come in handy at Workopolis.com, where he specializes in employer-based news and trends.

First job
"Burger Boy" Toronto Island Airport

Favorite job
What I do now, freelance journalism

Oddest job
Stand-up coordinator, G7 economic summit with CBC host broadcaster. I was paid to help foreign TV crews shoot the Toronto skyline.

Career advice
If you love your work, it's not work.

Best advice ever received
Pretty much the same as above.




Norman Grosman

Recently named one of Canada's Best Employment Lawyers, Norman Grosman is a regular contributor to workopolis.com. He has appeared several times on WorkopolisTV’s "Legal Corner", written a regular employment law column in the Toronto Star, and consults with both employers and employees on a wide cross-section of employment law issues. He has also argued employment cases at all Court and Tribunal levels.

First job
Busboy at an Italian Restaurant

Favorite job
Current one

Oddest job
Cleaning and painting the bottoms of swimming pools (the fumes were deadly)

Career advice
Don't aspire to a career cleaning and painting the bottoms of swimming pools

Best advice ever received
Be yourself, stay positive and work hard - the rewards will come in a variety of forms.




Alexis Wise

As co-founder and Vice President of LifeSpeak, Alexis Wise has enjoyed the opportunity to work with exceptional speakers from across Canada as well as leading organizations dedicated to supporting their employees. These experiences have provided Alexis with a unique perspective on the issues of health, wellness and work-life quality in today’s workplace. Like any busy professional, Alexis aims to thrive in both her personal and professional life and regularly applies the advice provided by LifeSpeak’s experts to achieve this.

First job
Summer camp counselor

Favorite job
Founder of LifeSpeak

Oddest job
Catering – I spent a whole summer making fruit platters!

Career advice
Work hard – it will always pay off. And when it does, enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Best advice ever received
Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before leaping forward or you may never make the jump.




James Houston

Former utility defenceman for the All Scarborough Pee Wee Champs of 1982 and holder of the Cub Scout's Blue Star, James "Jimmy" Houston discovered the joys of typing during an ill-advised and self-funded Investigation Into The Hyper-Extended State of Meaning In Late Capitalism while between careers. He's had more jobs than most people have had hot dinners, including mailboy for the ill-fated Livent theatre corporation, where he fetched cappuccinos for Garth Drabinsky, and learned first-hand that crime does in fact pay.

First job
Stockboy at Pirri's Fruit Market

Favorite job
Mailboy at Livent - better than taking your MBA

Oddest job
Settling estates for deceased residents of City of Toronto homes for the aged

Career advice
Never, ever do it for the money

Best advice ever received
Get up early, drink plenty of water, and go like hell.




Alan Kearns,
Canada's career coach & founder of CareerJoy

Alan and his team, work with professionals from St. Johns to Victoria helping them to make smart career decisions. Through his column and his podcasts, he desires to bring fresh thinking and practical solutions to the complex world of careers. Alan is also a trusted advisor for the business section of Chapters/Indigo.

First job
I delivered flyers every week on my street for 5 years. Who says I can't get my hands dirty!

Favorite job
My current role is my favorite situation. I am privileged to use my talents and passions within my work. These can range from coaching our clients, to leading our team. Being a catalyst to help clients get on the right path provides terrific rewards intrinsically and extrinsically.

Oddest job
For a short season in my career, I worked as a nuclear operator...I call it the "Homer Simpson" phase of my life.

Career advice
Know yourself; pay attention to where your talents and passions intersect and, have the courage to design and pursue work that is well-suited for who you are naturally. Surround yourself with the best people you can. Final bonus thought: Take your work seriously but not yourself!

Best advice ever received
I was fortunate to have a relationship with Paul Henderson, scorer of the winning goal in the ‘72 Canada-Russia hockey series. He had made two observations in his journey: "Most people regret not taking more risk in their careers, and not spending quality and quantity time with the people that matter most. I have screened my major decisions through the lens of not having either regret."




Alison Martin

Alison caught the journalism bug early in life, receiving her first by-line at the age of four in a Toronto Star poetry contest. And, she hasn't looked back since. Her previous work experience includes freelance writing, an internship at The Ottawa Citizen, and a lengthy stint at toronto.com, where she dabbled in everything from writing to radio to blogging. Alison joined the Workopolis team in May 2007, as an Online Editor where she minds the "ps and qs" of contributing writers, and covers the latest topics and trends in the Canadian labour market.

First job
I entered the media at a young age, making weekly deliveries of TorStar supplements.

Favorite job
Writing. What else?

Oddest job
Working security at a Canada vs. Trinidad soccer game – The 5 ft and change stature must be intimidating.

Career advice
Find personal satisfaction in what you do – getting paid is only part of the process.

Best advice ever received
You can’t score a goal unless you take a shot.