By Sean Meyer
Anne Carbert studied law with an interest in human rights, but it always seemed like there was something else she was meant to do.
Anne had many questions about how people work, why they work so much, and how everyone makes their decisions about work. Realizing the work environment is just as important — maybe even more so to her — than work tasks themselves, she decided to explore the realm of career counselling.
“I work to support the careers and career decisions and career transitions mostly of artists, activists and unconventional types,” Anne said. “My interest was people who were making off-the-beaten-path choices.”
The transition to career counselling began with a few courses at George Brown College before she earned a Master of Education in counselling psychology at University of Toronto.
When she sits down with a client, Anne’s work often begins with a self-reflective exploration of who the client is, what’s important to them and what they need and want out of their work experience.
Often people come to her at the point where “they are feeling trapped, like they don’t have any options,” and so her job is to help them in their exploration.
Turns out, it can be a high-volume profession as there are many people unhappy in their work.
Sometimes, Anne explains, people don’t know what they’re getting into until they get into it. Other times, a job that was a great fit sees something change and suddenly it doesn’t feel like what fit before.
With every person’s situation being different, Anne’s job becomes “person-centered” and begins with a conversation around what’s going on, what do they need and what’s important to them.
It all starts with people imagining their best-case scenario.
“Let’s aim high and imagine we can get that. If you need to trade off later, you will do it consciously . . . but if you don’t aim high, you may miss some opportunities that are well-suited to you,” Anne said. “There are all kinds of new possibilities that weren’t around just a little while ago.”
One of those opportunities — and a growing one at that — is the social enterprise sector.
It’s one Anne knows well, having started her business in Toronto in 2008 and working out of the Centre for Social Innovation.
“It was energizing for me as professional, good connections for my business,” she said. “I was a tenant there for a couple of years, part of the community, I had a workspace to go to once a week, so I wasn’t so isolated. I knew that was a community I would connect with on a values basis.”
That experience was one she was able to reconnect with after becoming an early co-tenant at Innovation Works in 2016.
Anne explains she’s enjoyed her weekly visit to Innovation Works (she lives in Stratford), particularly as the space has grown and evolved.
That said, it remains a space that shares her values around innovation, community participation, and doing meaningful work.
“Arts and culture, non-profit, social justice, so as soon as I say that, the people who approach me looking for meaningful work . . . they will be interested in social enterprise,” she said. “I like the opportunities for interaction. I’m naturally an introvert and the extroverts here are very visible. I find the spots where I can interact one-on-one in a social setting in the community and build relationships.”