Episode 6: Meet Cristina Eftenaru – Finding the inspiration to keep on keeping on

If you have joined ACE-WIL BC & Yukon over the past year or so, you most probably received a warm welcome email from me on behalf of the Membership Committee. I am honoured to have Co-chaired this wonderful committee with two amazing colleagues, Tara Bond and Drew Jenkins, whom you have met in the past Humans of ACE episodes. You have also had the opportunity to meet all committee members over the past year. Did you miss an episode? They are still available online!

It is my turn to introduce myself and close the “Meet Your Membership Committee” series.  Unless this series inspires you to join our committee, and then, you could be next Human of ACE!

I have been working in the field for over a decade. I have supported job seekers in various disciplines over the years, but mostly Applied Sciences undergraduate and graduate students at Simon Fraser University. When I joined the team as an Internship Coordinator in 2009, I was looking for a way to use my undergraduate education in technical disciplines, my teaching background, and my newly acquired knowledge of the Canadian job search process. Being new to the field, I did not know what to expect then. If you are “new to Co-op”, you might also not be aware of all the opportunities that being a practitioner in this field offers you. Keep exploring! For me, it has offered the chance to be involved in facilitating students’ learning and development of employability skills, establishing community partnerships, developing a new program, conducting research, engaging in change management, attending (or organizing) events, prep’ing conference presentations, and volunteering for the institution and association. All while walking slowly toward becoming a “COVID-19 grad” and one of the first grad students to defend their doctoral thesis online.

In the fall of 2021, I began teaching at Langara College. Being still in the midst of the pandemic, creating a virtual (and later, face-to-face) learning space to meet with enthusiastic students on a weekly basis rekindled my connection with teaching. The opportunity to guide the Post Degree Diploma students in writing and sharing their career story in the country they hope to call “home” has been inspiring and a reminder of the beginnings of my journey in Canada. At the end of the day, that’s what we—Co-op and Career Practitioners—do in the midst of giving students a hard time on their accomplishment statements or job interview answers. Not to mention the “old-fashioned” cover letters in the emoji era. Yes, we help others write their own and unique career story as well as discover ways to integrate it with others’ wherever their path might take them.

Though my current roles are somewhat different in nature and focus, they complement each other, they overlap at times, and they help me see beyond the boundaries that each of them has. Now, if you were to ask my colleagues, they would probably say that I like to balance (or try to) several areas of my professional life and that I strive to make a difference for someone or something within my sphere of influence. On one hand, it could be for a student, a colleague, or a student’s supervisor. On the other hand, it could be for a process, a practice, or a perspective. Many people have supported me over the years, so I endeavour to do so for others. Though breaking trail is not always easy, a (tiny) step forward is not a step back, nor complacency. Every breakthrough motivates me to keep on keeping on. Removing a barrier, finding a creative solution to a challenging issue, learning a lesson, and/or advocating for people or causes are reasons I go to work every day. On a personal note, I enjoy writing, music, and long walks – in the midst of busy times, these are good reminders to slow down, reflect, and be thankful for the people and the nature around me.

In closing, I would like to invite you all to introduce yourself or recommend someone who would make a great addition to the Humans of ACE blog in the new school year (September 2022 – June 2023). Feel free to contact me at cristina_eftenaru@sfu.ca for future contributions. Let’s use this avenue to get to know one another better, connect with those we share interests and passions, and build a strong(er) community.