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How career counsellors can help you

OYAP Coordinator Mark Brotherston & coworker stand at their booth at Build a Dream London inside the Agriplex.

Young women will say that they want to make an impact with the work they do but to discover how to connect that desire to a career, spending time with a career counsellor could be beneficial.

Students in high school should take advantage of free services like accessing the guidance office to discuss career counselling for women. These professionals can look at your skills, your interests, and help you identify careers that you may never have previously considered.

What is the role of a career counsellor?

A career counsellor is a professional who offers career advice and support. Counsellors provide individual or group job coaching to students (or alumni for those at post-secondary school) to help them make informed career decisions, explore occupational choices, prepare for an effective job search, and connect with opportunities like co-op, internship, part-time work, and full-time employment. 

At the high school level, counsellors are teachers who have worked in the school system and may have additional workforce experience that allows them to provide valuable advice.

Why are career counsellors important?

Melanie Holmes, Student Experience Advisor at Centennial College shares her insight: “Student counsellors are an important part of the team of adults (teachers, parents, caregivers, coaches, etc.) that students have access to that can help to navigate through the education system and plan for career success. Whether that is through helping with course selections, experiential learning opportunities like co-op and OYAP, or preparing for post-secondary education, student counsellors provide vital support for students in figuring out their next steps.”

Specifically, counsellors can help:

  • Identify your strengths & gaps in your education
  • Connect interests & skills to jobs
  • Provide information on exciting careers to explore
  • Shortlist careers based on your research
  • Suggest experiential learning that lets you test a career before graduation

How did your school counsellors get to where they are today?

General qualifications for Ontario counsellors include:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) with Grade 12 English 
  • Diploma or degree or qualification in a related field
  • Certificate from teachers’ college 
  • Experience (required years will vary depending on job level)

While the above qualifications are often needed, there is no specific pathway to becoming a career counsellor and like other jobs, it can be a wonderful and winding road. Build a Dream spoke with two teachers who currently provide the invaluable task of working on career development with students.

Angela Ciarlariello-Bondy, GECDSB, OYAP

Angela Ciarlariello-Bondy, Teacher Consultant Co-operative Education & OYAP, Greater Essex County District School Board

Angela always knew she wanted to work in education. Like many young women, she dreamed of making an impact. One day while working at a restaurant, her favourite teacher walked in and a simple statement by the head cook changed her life. He said, “You know what, you would be a good teacher.”

Those words gave Angela the confidence she needed to apply for teachers’ college. 

After working as a teacher for a while, Angela was accepted to a board position as the Re-engagement Coordinator. There she was responsible for organizing curriculum and offering support to teens who had failed to graduate from high school. 

After five years, Angela returned to high school as a guidance counsellor, before returning to the board this time as a teacher consultant for the Co-operative Learning and Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). Today, she helps students connect to employers in Windsor-Essex and assists them with things like navigating their co-op placement and registering as an apprentice.

Mark Brotherston, (OYAP) Coordinator, Thames Valley District School Board

At age 16, Mark demonstrated his interest in becoming a journeyperson, and after a dialogue at work with a journeyperson and continuous efforts to show his hard work, he was able to convince his employer to register him as an apprentice, “I showed my passion and drive for things.” Mark’s hard work and resilience paid off…he was able to receive the title of a journeyperson. 

After more than two decades, Mark decided to take on a new type of career challenge: teaching. 

Mark had experience in the field and was motivated to improve the knowledge of opportunities in the skilled trades available to high school students. He decided to go to teachers’ college and began teaching soon after. It was in this role Mark learned about the position of OYAP Coordinator, where he could directly assist students considering a career path in the skilled trades, the guidance he himself had lacked. Mark now helps students register for their OYAP program and provides encouragement along the way.

For years, both Angela and Mark have been advocates for a balanced workforce and do not hesitate to speak at or attend events that help improve the information that students receive on the amazing OYAP program.


You can learn more about youth apprenticeship or to find your local representative, visit the OYAP website.

To read more about Mark’s journey (journeyperson, entrepreneur, author, radio host, educator), read his full interview click here.

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