Mentorship Lunch ‘n Learn #3: Careers in Law and Municipal Government

February 27th, 2014

On Wednesday, February 5th, we held our third Lunch ‘n Learn as part of our Mentorship Program. Organized by Youville Centre Board President and Chair of the Mentorship Program, Megan Wallace, who herself is a lawyer who balances career and motherhood, the student-requested theme this time was “Careers in Law and Municipal Government”. Guests on hand included: Youville Centre’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Constable Monique Paquette of the Ottawa Police Service; Darian Parsons, Youville Centre alumna and current student in the Law Clerk program at Alqonquin College; Susan Lepine and Valerie Lepage, Law Clerks at Burn Tucker Lachaine; and City Councillor representing Kanata North, Marianne Wilkinson.

Group Shot

L to R: Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, Youville Centre Board President and Mentorship Program Task Force Chair Megan Wallace, Alumna Darian Parsons, and Law Clerks Susan Lepine and Valerie Lepage.

To begin this Lunch ‘n Learn, our School Resource Officer (S.R.O.), Constable Monique Paquette, shared valuable career advice. Describing her experiences and career path, she encouraged our young moms to set goals and work toward them: “You can achieve whatever you want to achieve.” “You will achieve it even if you have barriers.” Before becoming a police officer, Monique engaged in volunteer work, post-secondary graduate studies  and related employment. She was candid with our young moms in sharing that it took many years to complete her degree while working concurrently and balancing daily responsibilities. She encouraged our young moms to use available community resources to assist them in achieving their successes. With perserverance, Monique achieved her goal of becoming a police officer.  She imparted words of wisdom to our young moms to “be good to yourselves” and to “give yourself that chance.” As is illustrated by her own story, she told them, “Sometimes it will be hard and take a long time but you can do it!” To prepare any of our students interested in the field of policing, Monique brought with her application packages and described in detail the application and interview process they should expect. In her role as Youville Centre’s School Resource Officer, Monique and her partner S.R.O.s work directly with our centre and our young moms to keep our clients and their children safe. It was inspiring to witness Monique’s connection with our students and to hear her success story.

The next presenter was Darian Parsons, a Youville Centre alumna and currently a student in the Law Clerk program at Alonquin College. Darian gave our young moms a student’s eye view of the Law Clerk program and enlightened them on the realities of college life. Currently in her second year of the program, she will complete her diploma with a full-time, paid co-op placement at The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development this summer. She is looking forward to this valuable work experience. Darian offered some sage advice to our young moms regarding choosing their field of study: “Don’t choose your program based on hours or salary. Choose something you want to do. It will make you a lot more successful,” she told our young moms. Her daughter Sierra is 2.5 years old now, and Darian structures her day to do her school work during the day while her daughter is in daycare, which allows her to spend more quality time with her daughter in the early evenings. She also advised our students to look into ways to budget their O.S.A.P. funding to make sure they provide for themselves and their children in a stable, balanced way. She is grateful for the support but she reminded the students, “It’s scary because you have to pay it all back.” This candid advice was very valuable for our students to hear, especially from one of their peers who has gone before them along the journey and is enjoying success post-graduation. It is always valuable when alumnae can speak to our students about their experiences, and we are grateful to Darian for taking the time to come back and visit us.

Susan Lepine was next to offer her story as a Law Clerk at the firm Burn Tucker Lachaine. Accompanied by her colleague Valerie Lepage, Susan shared career tips and insights with our young moms. A law clerk since 1985, Susan described the duties of the job and explained that it provides an opportunity to work in many different fields including the corporate sector, the government, and for banks and insurance companies. Since her firm is a personal injury firm, she professed to the students that, “It’s a job where you have to be compassionate.” Susan also shared that she finds her job very rewarding. “At the end of the day, you’re happy because your client is happy.” Susan also explained to the students what it takes to become a law clerk and what skills are required: organizational skills, time management, multi-tasking, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and working  well under pressure.  Stating “I love my job”, Susan echoed both Monique and Darian’s advice: “You have to like what you do. Everyone can do what they put their mind to.”

Councillor

Councillor Marianne Wilkinson focused on her role as a community builder and reminded our young moms that they can pursue more than one career path in their lives.

 A self-described “community builder”, City Councillor Marianne Wilkinson (Kanata North Ward) was our final speaker at thisLunch ‘n Learn. Marianne used her relatable speaking style and personal stories of life and career to speak to our students about careers in municipal government and getting involved in their community. A mother of 3, Marianne had been volunteering in her community when she asked a friend, “Are you thinking of running for City Councillor?” and the friend said, “No, are you?” This unexpected answer from her friend got her thinking and she decided to go for it. She ran and was the first woman elected in her municipality. Marianne stressed to Youville’s young moms that law in municipalities underlies everything, and that these laws exist to protect city services and residents. Once the laws have been established, it is her role as a councillor to build community, which is what she did with the newly created recreation facility in her ward. She informed the students that a career as a Bylaw Officer could also be an option for them, and a stepping stone for anyone wishing to becoming a Police Officer. Councillor Wilkinson reminded the students, that their “dreams will change”, and that they should do something they like. They can have many different careers like she did, as before serving in her current role she was also a high school teacher, a Parks Canada employee, and she worked in the fields of real estate and non-profit. Stating that she “likes helping people to better their lives”, she has proven this fact many times, and she has hired two single-parent moms to work for her. She demonstrated that she understands the struggle to balance career and parenting, and she recommended that Youville’s young moms get out there and meet people: “The more people you meet, the more likely you are to get a job that you want.” It was a pleasure having Ms. Wilkinson as a part of this Lunch ‘n Learn to inspire and motivate our young moms toward their career goals.

We are grateful to each guest presenter who added value and discussion to our “Law and Municipal Government” Lunch ‘n Learn. Our students thank you!

Plans are underway to recruit mentors for our one-to-one mentoring program, slated to launch in the fall. If you are interested in applying, applications are due soon, and we would be happy to email you an application package. If you are interested, please contact us at communications@youvillecentre.org and we will send you an application package.