At the end of January, I had the opportunity to attend Cannexus19, a national conference for career development professionals put on by CERIC. Despite being held at the end of January in Ottawa – quite possibly the coldest time of year, in one of Ontario’s coldest cities – it was well worth the drive. With over 1,200 in attendance, you couldn’t go more than a few seconds without hearing the words career, employment or jobs.
I’ve attended almost every Cannexus, but this year was pretty special as it helped me realize all the different hats I wear as a career development professional (CDP).
Hat #1: Exhibitor
I’ve been an exhibitor for CLSR Inc. and Personality Dimensions the longest out of all my roles. We have clients from all across Canada – from Victoria to St. John’s, and as far north as Yellowknife; Cannexus is one of the few opportunities I have to see many of my clients in person. Despite living in the digital age, I still like being able to connect on a personal level that you just can’t reach over email. Attending Cannexus also gives my clients a chance to look at some of our resources in person. It’s also the one time of year I get to catch up with some of the authors of our resources, such as CDPs Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerel.
Hat #2: CDP student
Last year, I decided it was about time I started doing some more professional development, so I enrolled in the Introduction to Employment Services (IES) program at Dalhousie University. Being in the program has given me a new appreciation for the work that CDPs do, not to mention the many things I have learned about ethics, theory and practice – an education I was able to continue by attending Cannexus sessions. As a bonus, I was able to meet a couple of my instructors from the program – Teresa Francis and Jessica Isenor – in person and see them present together. Their session on Practitioner-Based Research still has me thinking about what I can work on after I’ve wrapped up the IES program.
Hat #3: Advisory committee member
I’ve been a member of the Career Development Practitioner Certification Board of Ontario (CDPCBO) advisory committee since the board had its first meeting in 2015. Cannexus gives me an opportunity to connect with career professionals in Ontario whom I wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet, and hear their thoughts on certification. It was also great to meet with counterparts from other provinces who are working toward the same goal. (Shout-out to the great folks at NSCDA, who had an incredibly creative set-up in the exhibitor hall and some amazing people working it.)
Hat #4: Newly minted CCDP
After much procrastination, and many stops and starts, I finally submitted my application to the CDPCBO for my CCDP designation in the first week of January. I was over the moon when directors Gillian Johnston and Gayle Takahashi presented me with my certificate. (And thank you to the Canadian Career Development Foundation’s Sareena Hopkins for sharing in my achievement – and photo-bombing the presentation!) For anyone sitting on the fence, I can honestly say it is well worth the time; the application has you reflect on all your strengths and achievements as a career development professional – and seeing it down on paper makes you feel pretty good. Because I don’t work for a service provider, or in private practice, I’ve felt like I was on the outside of the career development community looking in. Now that I am a CCDP, I feel like I am part of the amazing group of professionals that gathers at Cannexus every year.
Simply put, Cannexus is one of my most valuable resources. I firmly believe that there is so much value in meeting people face-to-face, and this is the place to do it. Where else can you find that many people in the same place, at the same time, who all share a passion for career development? All that aside, it is a really well-run conference; the amazing staff at CERIC and their army of volunteers kept everything moving along smoothly and make it a great experience for everyone there. I can’t recommend Cannexus enough to anyone in the field.