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ASK A PRO | Administrative Assistant to the Youth Centre Administrator

Professional Title:

Administrative Assistant to the Youth Centre Administrator

Can you share your career journey and how you arrived at your current position? Please include education, volunteering, work experience, etc.

It all started in my third year Child and Youth Work placement at St. Leonard’s Society in London. I was completing my placement in their Youth Attendance Centre program. I fell in love working with youth in conflict with the law. From there I knew I wanted to work in some type of justice system. I continued my education with a Bachelors degree in Criminology. In my final year I remember applying for a job with the Ontario Government as a Youth Service Officer. Months went by I got a job at St Leonard’s working in adult halfway houses. I was able to become a full time Justice worker at a mental health half house after 4 months of employment. I began volunteering for Federal Probation and Parole. In June of 2018 I received a very confusing phone call asking if was still interested in a career as a Youth Service Officer. At this point 7 months had gone by and I did not remember applying for the job nor what this job was. I decided to drive the hour and a half for an information session and testing. The next 6 months consisted of interviews and physical testing session. Finally just before Christmas I was offered a spot in the next training session in February 2019. This training session was 5 weeks long unpaid in Brampton. They covered our accommodations and we would get reimbursed for our food once hired. These 5 weeks were full of classes and tests and finally learning what a Youth Service Officer was… it’s a correctional officer in a youth jail. If you failed one you were done. At the end of 5 weeks I was offered a job as a Youth Service Officer. I began official employment in March 2019. My first day on the job was when I learned this very important phrase “through all your training no one ever told you that you may not leave your shift alive”. At the age of 24 that thought never crossed my mind. Two years later the opportunity arose to shift career paths and move into the office as a Records clerk. My main job was ensuring the youth went to court with the correct legal documents and completing sentence administration. For 4 years I worked in the Ontario Government as a Fixed Term Employee, meaning you sign a new contract every year. I eventually became full time after 4 years. The administrator of the facility asked me if I would like trying out the administrative assistant position when his current assistant retired. After trying it out for 6 months I was hired full time as the Administrative Assistant to the Youth Centre Administrator.


What motivated or inspired you to pursue this field?

I was always interested in the criminal legal system from the courtroom to probation. My first time sitting in a courtroom in my third year placement I was so excited and interested in everything happening. I knew I wanted a job that helped youth get back on the right track.


Were there specific challenges or obstacles you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I have had in my career has been understanding how your passion and career journey can change and not go in the direction you thought. From working the front lines as a Youth Service Officer to sitting in an office not working with youth. I struggled in making those final decisions knowing that my days working directly with youth may be over for quite some time. But I also know that this position is also opening so many more doors for future opportunities!


What aspects of your job do you find most rewarding?

The most rewarding aspects of my job are being able to sit in meetings I once never would have been invited to and having my input heard in regards to how the facility runs. From staffing to programming.


What aspects of the job do you find challenging or less enjoyable?

The least enjoyable part of my job is knowing that if I go away on vacation no one else is doing the job so I will always be behind when I come back.

What advice do you have for someone starting in this field?

Take every chance you are given. You don’t know where you may end up. If your career takes a turn in a different direction try it out. Take the risk in learning something new.


Are there specific skills or qualities you believe are crucial for success in your profession?

Confidentiality, professionalism, honesty, care, and dedication to the facility. Dedication to your job is seen by those around you and can have an impact on the stages of your career


How do you stay current in your field, or do you engage in ongoing professional development?

I always ask for training in new areas. If an opportunity for training arises I ask if I can go. The more you have training in the more valuable of an employee you become.


Did you have any mentors or role models who influenced your career choice?

In this career a lot of people take different paths to get to where they are. I don’t think I have a specific role model at this time, but that can always change.


If you could go back and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Don’t underestimate yourself. Work hard to achieve your dreams.




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