How to design your own career: Thea Rutherford, Master of Education student on volunteerism

August 26, 2014

This article is part of a series exploring professional paths for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that make use of or leverage academic training but are not limited to traditional faculty positions (#alt-ac).

Don't see yourself as a lawyer, doctor, supermarket clerk or any one of the other professions depicted in the storybooks of your childhood? Neither does Thea.

Thea Rutherford is a Master’s student in Arts Education currently in the second year of her program. 

"I can do anything in arts education, my degree is not a straight line and I don’t want it to be. I’m not looking for a traditional career."  

Instead, Thea has begun figuring out how to make her own through a very strategic approach of information gathering: donating her time.  

“I received a scholarship from an organization in the Bahamas, my home country, and one the requirements was that I do 20 hours of volunteering. That’s how I got started, though I have done probably triple that by now!”

Upon arriving in Canada, Thea started volunteering at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and has since worked with various organizations around Vancouver and within SFU, including the Vancouver Writer’s Festival, SFU’s summer Convocation ceremony, and most recently at SFU Sustainability.

“What I like about being a volunteer is being in a new environment and seeing how things work. I am learning how to put many different positions and projects together in new ways.” 

While Thea enjoys helping others, one of the main draws that keeps her exploring new volunteer opportunities is being able to work alongside and learn from people that have knowledge and expertise in fields of interest to her. And in doing, she is gathering the tools she can use to build her own custom career.  

- Jackie Amsden, APEX Professional Development Coordinator

Thea Rutherford is a participant in the APEX Certificate, a professional development program designed to help graduate students and postdoctoral fellows plan and pursue their career paths. See this link if you would like sign up for one of our upcoming information sessions on this program. 

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