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  Jane Miller
BSc  PhD  ECPC


 
 
 
 

Articles -- You must be crazy!

My life has been punctuated by people telling me, "You must be crazy!"

When all my friends were at university, I took a five month course in computer programming. This was in the days of mainframes and punched cards and was "an unusual field for a girl".

A few years later, when I was in a high-paying job in that field, I decided to go back to university and pursue a new profession - social work. "Why would you move from a high-paying job to a low-paying one?!"

But at the university, I hopped from one discipline to another. Every term, my friends would ask, "So, what program are you in now?" I ended up with a BSc in Psychology in the area of cognition and perception. No one knew what I could do with that degree. Nor did I!

When I got married, my mother thought I would at last 'settle down'. But my husband and I were both bored with nine-to-five jobs and were dodging offers of promotion. No one understood how we could turn down management positions. But the idea of baby-sitting people while they did all the creative work did not appeal. Postgraduate studies allowed us to continue playing an active role in our fields. So the next adventure was going England to do postgraduate studies - not for the prestige or for a higher paying job, but just because it was fun and exciting.

We ended up staying in England for seven years, taking turns studying and working at the university. By the time we returned to Canada, my qualifications were so weird that potential employers must have wondered - programming, Psychology, statistical consulting, computer models of vision. Luckily, Carleton University appreciated a person with many skills and hired me as a consultant in research and statistics. I was delighted to be in a university setting once again.

After being a statistical consultant for three years, I was asked to work with a colleague to design an internet facility for students. My programming skills were resurrected and I helped to make Carleton the first Canadian university to offer internet access to all its students in 1993. This was the most fun job I ever had, interacting with students and professors to design a user-friendly system where they could share course information and socialize with each other. This was when www was only just starting to make its appearance. My colleague and I were pioneers!

After a few years, when there were no resources to expand the system, it was time for me to move on again. From there I moved to a small company designing a web-based facility for sign makers and then moved to a huge organization designing testing procedures for hiring. Finally at an age when most people were retiring, I decided to get training and certification as a Life Coach.

Now I'm joyfully occupied in many projects, including life coaching, designing web pages, carrying out research studies, and illustrating children's stories. What next, I wonder?! My friends wonder too, but they're used to me.

The moral of the story
Over the years, I've learned that you can take care of the practical side of life, and still make sure you enjoy life now. You can resist taking a conventional path and follow your heart. And it's ok when people tell you you're crazy. They'll eventually get used to you!


 
 
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