It is that time of year again: the most exciting career development conference – Cannexus! I wanted to attend Cannexus last year but was unable to attend. I knew there would be other opportunities, but how?
Fortunately, in September 2021, I had received an incredible invitation that I could not pass up – to attend Cannexus22 and speak on a panel in the “Geared to Grow–Enhancing Career Development in Schools” Plenary session. This was a double blessing: attending and speaking at Cannexus22!
Cannexus22 proved to be much more than a conference. It provided invaluable life lessons and experiences. I not only learned about career development but also life, summarized in three main lessons.
Lesson 1: Even if it’s scary, you can do it
I find networking uncomfortable, as I am an introverted person, but I am pushing myself to become comfortable with networking. Cannexus provided me with a great opportunity to grow this skill and myself.
Cannexus22’s Hallway Meetings – which were randomized, one-to-one video networking sessions – pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Though I was very nervous to attend my Hallway Meetings, I was able to speak with others comfortably and confidently.
In addition to the Hallway Meetings, I was also able to connect with quite a few individuals through the Cannexus platform and LinkedIn. The active outreach and connection were a small step in developing myself, but for me, it was huge. I am not someone who reaches out to people I have not met to start a conversation, so I had to push myself.
My experience of networking and making connections pushed me out of my comfort zone. Though I may not be the best networker, or comfortable doing it, I am proud of myself for working on it. I am still growing. This experience reassured me that if something is scary at first, just try it. More often than not, you will learn from it.
Lesson 2: Burnout is real!
Lydie Masengo’s presentation on “Burnout and Self-Care among Novice Therapists: A Review of the literature” was relevant to many individuals who work from home. While adapting to working remotely, the line between work and home becomes blurred. Working from home has been an absolute blessing in my experience; however, we need to be able to detach from work. This proves to be increasingly difficult when the physical and temporal boundary between our work and our personal space no longer exists.
There is a multitude of environmental factors (social, political, economic, employment, personal, etc.) that influence our lives. When they start to overlap or intersect in negative ways, it can become overwhelming. The solution provided to burn out is one we have all heard of before: self-care. Self-care is critical to keeping yourself happy and ready to enjoy life – not just to combat burnout.
Doing what you love and celebrating yourself as a holistic person is much more important than dedicating yourself exclusively to your career or any singular aspect of your life. Implementing self-care can be hard at times as life gets busy, but it is always beneficial in the long run. This session made me reflect on how I can incorporate self-care within my daily life. It reinforced that we must find something that we love and actively participate in it. Celebrate your whole, authentic self and ensure you are living life to the fullest. It will make a world of difference in your life!
Lesson 3: Just play
Thinking back to my childhood, one of the things I loved the most was playing. Playing allows you to use your imagination, creatively solve problems and strengthen your thought process. Playing builds on essential skills such as communication, critical thinking, analysis and personal development. Most of all, playing allows you to be free – to get lost in the world you have built. Heather Nesbitt’s session on “Children’s Play as Early Career Development” illustrates just that.
This session explained how free play is a great introduction to career development and exploration. Children learn more from playing than strict, curriculum-based “sit down/seatwork” education. Nesbitt noted that research indicates play-based experiences promote the development and active participation of learning hard and soft skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, etc.), which are imperative to career development.
I have personal experience with the importance of play-based education. My kindergarten and Grade 1 teachers believed in this concept. Our classes incorporated play-based work within our curriculum and classroom instead of only doing “seatwork.” These teachers felt we would learn and develop our educational, career and personal skills more than if we sat at a desk all day. I truly believe this educational component made a substantial impact on my education, life and career.
This topic also raises an important point: remember to play. Life is supposed to be fun! Playing allows you to let go and get lost in joy. We must incorporate play as it brings job and life lessons we cannot receive from anywhere else. Play stimulates new learnings and reinforces existing skills. The joy, laughter, happiness and excitement provided in life is something that I will never forget. To be able to experience the childlike love of life and joy solely because of play is important. As adults, we can often forget this. It will make our lives better through the joy it brings us, and others.
Cannexus22: Helping develop you
Cannexus is much more than a conference. It is an important opportunity for personal growth, introspection, learning and development. It is a chance to engage with others. It allows us to build ourselves up with knowledge and new lessons learned, unique to each of us. These lessons can stem from your career or your holistic personal development.
Cannexus22 has been a blessing in more ways than one. I am honoured I was able to take part in this opportunity. I look forward to learning, growing and developing throughout the year with these lessons learned. This is one for the record books.