Written by Ramneek Dimen, M.A.
When I look back on my journey to see what landed me here in Seattle, Washington, almost 2,500 miles away from home, a few things stand out: it involved a certain level of risk, overcoming uncertainty, and a whole lot of self-discovery. The hardest part about any move is thinking about where you’re going to land once you get there, especially if you are leaving behind a stable career, as well as your family and friends. When my husband first presented the idea of the move, the greatest sense of discomfort for me was in the fears surrounding the uncertainty of it all, and whether I would find a desired job once I got to Washington. My husband had no doubt in his mind that I would land on my two feet and would have no trouble finding a job, and though his confidence in me is comforting, it didn’t eliminate my fears around failing.
I have always found myself on the road less traveled, not on purpose by any means, but mostly because I’ve always struggled with defining my purpose and direction. School was never an area of my life that I excelled in, growing up I was put in the Individual Education Program (IEP) in elementary school, which is a program for children who have difficulty learning and have been identified as a special needs student. What that meant for me was that I would often have to break away from my regular class to receive specialized attention from an IEP teacher. Reflecting on that experience, I wouldn't say that I required any special attention from my teachers, rather, I think I struggled with what many first generation students, and students who come from immigrant parents, struggle with and that’s juggling many, and sometimes even conflicting, expectations. There’s also a lack of awareness into what opportunities are available to us, which results in being in a constant state of learning as we go. This is a dilemma I’ve faced many times over during different milestones in my life; I regularly feel conflicted between choosing my passion verses choosing a stable career path, and I find myself often behind the curve, trying to make things up as I go along.
My grandfather was very passionate about politics, and would recite the news to me daily, wanting to chat about Jean Chretien’s new policy or how the Liberals lost the election to Stephan Harper. These conversations with my grandfather gave me a sense of direction in terms of where I wanted to go with my career, and sparked an interest in government and politics. This is why I decided to take a risk and go into a program that didn’t have a clear career path forward.
What compelled me to the Political Science program was my foundational interest in politics that I had acquired through my conversations with my grandfather, coupled with the fact that I had never excelled in school, and therefore the path forward past High School was always unclear to me. In choosing my desired career path there wasn’t an obvious choice for me, such as becoming a doctor, or an Engineer, or some sort of Science prodigy. Therefore, a degree in the Social Sciences seemed like a viable option, however I didn’t know what I would do with the degree once I graduated, but I figured that I would cross that bridge once I came to it.
During my time in University, I quickly connected with all the Political Science classes, and I even became a Teaching Assistant during the course of my Master’s program. Upon graduating from the program I opted to go to endless networking meetings with other policy professionals in the public sector. Over the course of a six-month period, I met with close to fifty different professionals, I found them by searching the Ontario Public Service (OPS) employee directory, and just did a limitless amount of emailing to find my networking opportunities.
I was eventually able to land my first entry level public sector role, I was referred to it by a fellow Political Science graduate to whom I am forever indebted (thank you Yazmin!). Since then I have slowly worked my way through the public sector, gaining experience in various policy and regulatory realms, such as rail and bus transportation, housing, property assessment and tax policy. I have worked within the Canadian public sector as well as the American public sector, and I am currently a Senior Regulatory Affairs Analyst, working within the realm of energy policy and regulations. You can tell from my resume that I never truly learned how to focus my attention, however, I have learned that, though I have varied interests, we are equipped with a strong level of resiliency that allows us to overcome uncertainty, and dare I say, even thrive in uncertainty! That being said, I have collected many lessons learned over the years. Those lesson’s that I have learned have inspired me to pass on those learnings to others to help them avoid mistakes I made, or encourage them to become comfortable in the less “traditional”, and safer routes. I mentor students from my alma mater, McMaster University, to guide them and share my lessons learned.
So when my husband asked me if I would be interested in moving to Washington, I was still uncertain about whether I would get a job, but I also knew that I had successfully navigated uncertainty in the past and would do so again! As someone who took a less traditional route in many ways, I know that everyone has the ability to venture off the beaten path and carve out your own way. Though it is scary, and though it is indeed a risk, also know that fear is temporary, and you have the ability to overcome your fears if you so chose to face them. If you’re still uncertain, feel free to reach out, because I hope to be a resource that can motivate, support and guide others on their career journey!