Today, Jennifer Otley will proudly tell you she's a dietitian. At 27 years old, she's found exactly the career she wants. But being a dietitian wasn't always part of her plan.
Like many young people, Jennifer went straight to university after high school. After four years, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education. It was during those four years that she discovered her true passion.
“I took a range of things. That's why I liked my degree program — because you dabbled in a bunch of different areas,” says Jennifer. “I loved my nutrition classes. I would read the textbooks for fun.”
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Soon after graduation, Jennifer decided to become a dietitian. That meant three more years of university in Toronto.
According to a 2009 report from the Canadian Council on Learning, just over half of college and university students follow the traditional path through their post-secondary education, graduating from the program and school where they first began their studies. The rest take a less direct route. For some, this means attending more than one institution, switching programs or changing subject areas.
Jennifer recently completed a one-year internship as a dietitian. After a three-month job hunt, she's now working in diabetes outreach. “Even though I'm in debt, I don't have any regrets,” she says with a laugh. Nor should she; in today's labour market, two out of three jobs require a post-secondary education, according to a labour market report from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
For Jennifer, the journey has been worthwhile. “University opens a lot of doors and gives you time to figure out what you want to do,” she says. “I'm glad I kept following what I wanted to do."
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