Finding your place and trying to be successful as an Indigenous youth can be difficult when pursuing education or career goals. The following is a list of five pieces of advice that Indigenous youth should consider when striving towards their professional or education related ambitions. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but these are pieces of advice that have worked for me throughout my career.
1. If you want to work in your professional industry, you need to be able to go out of your comfort zone
You need to connect with other professionals in your field of choice and take the time to meet with them. Buy them coffee or take them out for lunch, and ask them how they were able to get to where they are today. Most of the time people are happy to provide guidance to you. You just need to go out of your comfort zone to connect with them.
2. Sometimes you need to take a bit of risk in order to advance yourself
This summer I moved to Toronto to chase opportunities in the legal world. It was difficult moving to a different city and I was presented with many challenges along the way. However, I was able to learn from my experiences and from having the opportunity to work in my professional field. I challenge you to take those risks and to not be afraid to take new opportunities in order to advance yourself.
3. Get used to taking criticism
Ask yourself: How can I improve my skill set during my professional development? Taking criticism is not easy for anyone, but getting feedback on your work can help you to improve the overall quality of your work. Remember that someone taking the time to provide you with critical feedback is a gift.
4. Remember to take care of yourself
Get a good night’s sleep, smudge, go for a walk or make a healthy meal. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to perform professionally. This is one piece of advice I wish I’d been told more when going through law school. I wish I had been reminded more about the importance of keeping my body, mind, spirit and emotions healthy.
5. Be kind, be humble and remain grounded in your identity
Whenever you face challenges or you feel like quitting school, I want to encourage you to put down your tobacco and remember why you began this journey in the first place. I want to remind you that younger generations back home in your community are looking up to you. You are a role model to them for pursuing your education. Remember to be kind throughout your journey, be humble and always remain grounded in your identity.
Caitlin Tolley is a proud Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan-Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec. Caitlin is currently completing her final year of law school at the University of Ottawa.