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Career Crossroads

Author: Jonathan Collaton

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Getting to where you want to be in your career is not always as linear as we might think. On Career Crossroads, host Jonathan Collaton talks to one guest each week about the expected and unexpected choices they have made to get where they are in their career today. Starting with the question of 'what did you want to be when you grew up?", they discuss all the jobs they have had, the people that influenced them, and the decisions that led them to their present career. They reflect on how sometimes we have these 'crossroads' moments where we have to pick one thing over another. The episodes are about the guests and their stories.
26 Episodes
#25 - Composer, voice actor, sound designer, host. These are some of the words you can use to describe what Lindsay Graham does in his current career as a full-time podcast creator. He's the man behind American History Tellers, American Scandal, Business Movers, and many other hit podcasts that are part of the Wondery network, however, podcasting has really only comprised the last handful of years of Lindsay's career. Prior to that, he worked in insurance sales, marketing, accounting, and a variety of other roles that are not directly related to what he does today. So did he go from those jobs to podcaster? You’ll have to check out his Career Crossroads interview to find out.
#24 – Early in her professional career in India, Priyanka Ojha has moved around a lot. It started when she got her degree in mechanical engineering and was quickly recruited by Bosch to work in their diesel engine pump division. But one year into that career, Priyanka decided to expand her professional credentials and began a Masters of Business Administration in Finance. That led her to jobs in business development and employee engagement before she packed up to move again – this time to Germany where her husband’s career was located. Now working in software consulting for Deloitte, Priyanka has come a long way from where she started her career. Listen to episode 24 of Career Crossroads to hear Priyanka reflet on the career path she has chosen.Social Links for PriyankaPodcast: Social Media: @peoplesstoriespod
#23 – Ivan Lu was driven by respect and competition to follow in his brother’s footsteps in a corporate career. To make that dream a reality he decided to get a degree in Commerce, something that would provide him with a variety of opportunities when he graduated. While in university, his internships/co-op experiences helped him realize that some of what he was studying was just not that interesting. He did not want to sit in a room and crunch numbers so upon graduating he tried to find a job with more of a client-facing role. Bouncing between a couple of jobs, Ivan found himself spending more and more time on one of his hobbies, singing, and soon realized he needed to set off down a totally different career path than the one he initially intended.  Now, two and a half years later Ivan has his own vocal coaching business and is thriving.Website and Podcast: singingsimply.comInstagram: @singingwithivan
#22 – Chris Johnson has an idyllic life working at his own skate shop, Passion Board Shop, in Eau Claire Wisconsin. But when he was 18, life didn’t look like it was heading in that direction. With an interest in sales, Chris decided to study business at the University of Minnesota Duluth but quickly decided the degree was unnecessary. As he had learned working at a Zoomies store in his teens, you just had to be a good salesperson to succeed in sales, and that is what he wanted to do. Chris set out to begin climbing the corporate ladder at Kay Jewellers, Helzberg Diamonds, and eventually landed at Verizon Wireless as an Assistant Manager. Then one day, he looked around and realized he didn’t like the person he was becoming and decide to make a change. How does that lead to opening a skate shop?  Listen to Chris’s interview to find out.Find Chris at the links belowInstagram: @passionpodPodcast/Business Website: 
#21 – Raised in rural Kansas, Scott Mason would look up at the stars at night and dream of two things – disco and the big city! After finishing his undergraduate degree in Minneapolis, Scott was accepted into Columbia Law School and was quickly trying to find his place in New York. Upon realizing that his passion lay more in advocacy work, and not in litigation, he began working for the City of New York. During his 20-year career there he was involved in numerous projects and initiatives that he can be proud of but something wasn’t sitting right, and one day Scott decided to leave his job for the great unknown. While trying to figure out what was next, he began working as a small business consultant which opened up a world of opportunities that directly influence the work he does today. Listen to Scott's interview to hear his entire career journey.Scott’s Websites: and speakerscott.comScott’s Podcast: Purpose HighwayScott’s social media:  @s.scott_mason
#20 – From switching schools in undergrad, to working in the Bahamas, to living in 4 states before she was 30, moving around was never something that held Sarabeth Berk back. She had never been afraid of change, from the moment she decided to shift away from her plan of working with computers in university. Instead, she went in an entirely opposite direction and studied art. Upon graduating, she loved the creativity working as an art teacher gave her and found roles that she enjoyed. At the same time, she had the desire to affect change on a larger scale, which led her to pursue first a Master’s degree, and then a Ph.D.  After working for a private school, a school district, and a foundation working on early childhood initiatives, Sarabeth now finds herself educating people on the value of their career hybridity.  What is career hybridity you might ask?  Listen to Sarabeth’s career journey to find out. You can find Sarabeth at the following locations:Website – www.morethanmytitle.comSocial Media - @morethanmytitle
#19 -   Growing up near London, England, Josh De Luna decided to study law in university, but not because he wanted to become a lawyer. He was busy trying to figure out who he was and how he fit into this world – law just seemed like a fun thing to study along the way that would also appease his parents' wishes. Upon graduating, Josh left for an adventure in Brazil, volunteering for an environmental NGO, but many months later he decided to come home when the lifestyle wasn’t a good fit.  Thus, began Josh’s journey to find out what WAS the right fit. Watching his friend's careers take off, he moved to London and tried a variety of high-powered jobs so he could live the Wolf of Wallstreet lifestyle, but something with always slightly off. At some point, Josh realized that while he was running away from being a lawyer because it was what other people wanted for him, it actually was what he wanted for himself. After working as a bartender, and loving it, during his Master of Law degree, Josh is now in a happy place as a lawyer who lives life on his own terms. You can find Josh's  Personal Instagram here: Josh’s Podcast Instagram: 
#18 - Growing up in Nigeria, Yemi Timson aspired to achieve greatness. Despite her parent's wishes that she become a doctor, she had an interest in accounting and economics and completed a diploma at the University of Jos. While considering further education in accounting, she began to look to the career of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Managing Director of the World Bank as a template for what she should aspire to be. A promotional video with jet skis from Eastern Mediterranean University convinced her to do a degree in Cyprus and on her first day she switched into the economics program to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.  After 4 years in Cyprus, a Master’s degree was in the cards, and Carleton University in Canada was offering a full ride! Three provinces, her first experience with snow, and three jobs later, she is now working as an Economist for the Government of Alberta. Will she ever make it to the World Bank like Dr. Okonjo-Iweala? She hopes!If you want to listen to Yemi's podcasts, you can find Tunuka Media here:’s Instagram and Twitter - @MyPixelJourney
#17 - When leaving high school, Jonathan Miller took the route that many would say leads to success; he went to Wilfrid Laurier University, did co-op, and graduated with a business degree. His co-op secured him a good starter job in Toronto and it seemed like, at 22, he was at the beginning of a long career in marketing.  But just over a year into his career, he took a trip that changed his perspective on what mattered. Upon returning, he quickly realized he wanted more of that adventure and within 4 months he quit his job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand.  Returning from his second big adventure, he worked his way up in the world of digital marketing, but when he and his partner had the opportunity to sell their house and leave it all behind for adventure number 3, they jumped at the chance. A journey that involved living in a van, philosophy books without answers, and rock climbing across North America, left Jonathan with the urge to build something himself.  Starting as a Communications Coach, he is now a successful Leadership Coach working with social impact founders in South Africa. Check out Jonathan’s story to hear how his career has unfolded.Jonathan's Website: Jonathan's Podcast:  Mindful Communication Podcast. Soon to be renamed The Leadership Gap
#16 – Ania’s career path has taken her many places. When she was in high school she wanted to be a lawyer but a guidance counsellor crushed that dream. When she wanted to go to fashion school in Los Angeles, the almighty dollar crushed THAT dream. After an amazing experience at Conestoga College, she finally settling into a career in business, however, a tragic loss led her to realize there was more to life than work. She began to look for something that would give her a better work-life balance and although she excelled at a career in insurance, it wasn’t a long-term career option for her. As Ania found herself drifting towards something where she could be more creative, she took the plunge and headed back to school as a mature student at Sheridan College for their Interior Design program. After a tense period of trying to land a steady job, she has found her fit at Wilfrid Laurier University while also managing her own design company, a YouTube channel, and a podcast.Link’s to Ania’s projects: Podcast: Youtube: Business: 
#15 – As a kid raised playing ball hockey on the streets of Toronto, Tyler Madarasz always knew he wanted to work in hockey. But when it came time to pick an education pathway to get him to his goal, Tyler wasn’t totally prepared.  He ended up picking a program that was not what he expected and quickly realized he needed to make a change. After getting advice from a family friend, he found his way to the College of Sports Media where he immediately fell in love with the program. During his diploma, he got a placement at SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and knew he found a place he could work long term. However, upon graduating from the college he faced the prospect of working his way up the ranks in small radio stations across the country to get his dream job. Where did Tyler end up? Listen to episode 15 of Career Crossroads to find out!
#14 - While cultures around the world are different, parents are all the same; they want their children to have a good life, and a stable career can help make that happen.  That’s why Sen’s parents recommended that their son, a bright student, should become a doctor.  The world always needs doctors, in good times and bad, so Sen took their advice and ended up as a surgeon in his native China. After a government policy change pushed him away from surgery and into the role of Quality Care Specialist, Sen moved through the ranks until he was the Director of Emergency and of the Patient Department at the hospital where he had done his training. Despite the success, some of the things Sen saw had him considering leaving China for the western world. Looking for a way to move his family to Canada, he found the Master of Public Health program at Western University and knew that was his pathway to immigration. Three and a half years after arriving in Canada, completing his Master’s degree, and working in the Canadian healthcare system, Sen reflects on how he got here. 
#13 - Will Smyth (a.k.a ImperialJedi) didn’t always know he was going to be a Youtuber/Twitch streamer, but he did have ambitions to do something grand or different. Racecar driver? Radio host? He couldn't settle on one thing, so when he had to pick a path out of high school, he decided to attend the University of Guelph. The plan was to work in either law or law enforcement, but an ‘existential crisis’ led to him abandoning that idea. While taking some time off from school, he stumbled upon a YouTube video of someone who had early access to Sim City 2013, the newest version of a game he played when he was younger. Early access? He wanted early access, so he decided to try and make his own YouTube videos with the hope of getting a few free games out of it. After going back to school for Business Administration, a marketing professor heard the passion he had for his YouTube channel and encouraged him to keep growing his online content. Then in 2015 with the release of a new game, Cities: Skylines, Will was hooked.  The day the game released, he created a tutorial video, uploaded it to YouTube, and by the end of the day, it was by far his most popular video. After funding a stable full-time job that allowed him to rebuild his relationship with his father and continue to work on his content, he built up a catalog of quality Cities videos and began to stream on more consistently. After numerous false starts, he finally made the jump to full-time content creator early in 2020, and now instead of getting video games for free, he's getting paid to play video games. Listen to episode 13 of Career Crossroads to hear Will’s story. ImperialJedi Twitch: Jedi Youtube:
#12 - Kait’s journey to her current career took her through a winding road in her late teens and early 20’s.  She tried multiple educational paths and finally settled on fashion as her career of choice.  But the path to being a Merchandising Manager was bumpy, and she turned to a more stable office administration role where she thrived.  With a constant urge to better herself, and with the support of her colleagues and friends, she moved across the country, again, to begin a marketing program at Humber College. Going back to school as she was turning 30, she wanted to have the traditional student experience she had heard about and joined the Humber College First Year Experience program; a decision that proved to be very beneficial to her long term.  After two lectures with her Organizational Behaviour professor, she had a conversation that changed the whole path of her degree.  Listen now to how Kait ended up in a career in Human Resources.
#11 - Brandon was always good at chemistry and had plans to invent new materials after getting a university chemistry degree. But as university wrapped up, he realized that he did not want a future filled with lab work, so what to do? His university experience gave him the skills and the drive to work with people, so after some deep reflection, he decided a job in sales would make him happy. Utilizing the Wilfrid Laurier University Career Centre, he found a local start-up that seemed like a great fit. After gaining experience with the start-up, he was ready to move on and work towards his goal of being an Account Executive at Desire 2 Learn.  Was it an easy path in getting to his desired destination? Listen to Brandon’s story to find out.
#10 - Zahra can trace her creative streak back to her time as a child, when she created products to sell to her friends.  After planning to work her way into a career in psychology, she realized that she was more interested in understanding what people want. Upon the advice of a friend and some reflection, she realized that the aspect of selling those childhood products she enjoyed the most was not inventing them, but convincing friends of their value. A career in marketing seemed like the perfect way to scratch that itch.  After recently switching to market an entirely new product, Zahra has creativity to spare and has directed her energy towards creating a series of children’s books and a television show she recently pitched to Netflix. Take a listen to Zahra as she tells me about her career path.You can buy Zahra's newest book by visiting: her on Instagram @officialqueenzara
#9 - As a good student in high school, Heather Patel did not have an exact goal in mind when she decided to attend the University of Waterloo.  Three degrees later she had found her calling; helping others as a social worker. With a busy career and three children, the idea of having a place where parents could come together to decompress and learn from one another all while their children were entertained, was appealing. Thus, Heather’s side-hustle Play-A-Latte was born. Hear the whole story here on episode 9 of Career Crossroads.Check out Play A Latte at:
#8 - A young Ronak Patel was practical, so a career working with computers seemed like a smart decision.  When he realized the passion wasn't there, he pivoted to working towards becoming an optometrist but again the passion was missing.  After taking an economics course, he found his lane and worked towards his passion for marketing, entrepreneurship, and connecting with people.  After a decade of honing his craft in a variety of jobs, Ronak and his wife decided to strike out on their own and take the biggest risk of their lives - starting their own business.  Listen today to hear Ronak's journey to founding Play-A-Latte.Find them online at or on Instagram or Facebook and Instagram @playalattecafe.
#7 - Brendon Bedford knew what he wanted; the perfect middle-class life and the chance to make a difference in the world. After finding a happy place working in politics, an opportunity arose to work at the university he called home for 4 years. He jumped at the chance for a more stable work-life balance and he finally had everything he wanted; a stable career, a house with a picket fence, and a loving wife and daughter. And yet, something was missing. One day something hit him - literally - and he had to finally reconsider the question people had been asking him all these years. After saying no for so long, he finally said 'yes' when he was asked "Have you ever thought about going into the church?" Take a listen to Brendon's story.
#6 - Aatir got his first job at 15 years old and has not taken a break from working since. When he attended the University of Waterloo, the first thing he did was get an on-campus job, which led him to consider a career at the University's Office of Advancement.  But his real crossroad moment came during the winter break after his first term, where he went to an interview for a summer job that would change his life.  When you know the path to your dream job, does school matter anymore? Listen to Aatir's journey to find out.
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