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The question

I am seeking your advice regarding the pursuit of a writing/journalism career. I am 35, married with three daughters, and landed last July as a new immigrant in Canada and settled in Mississauga.

I have a bachelor and master degree in computer science from Ukraine, both earned since 2000. While Arabic is my native tongue, and I do speak English and Russian fairly well. After graduating and finding a job, I realized that I don't like what I am doing now in the information technology field, however, and I want to explore what I really want to be. I like writing, news, investigating, asking questions, monitoring events, videos, photos, social and political TV shows, debates, exploring the diversity of cultures, communities, and discipline, such as the law, rules, systems and processes.

I started to test my writing skills by creating an Arabic blog, and I received many positive comments from people saying they like what I am writing about and like my writing style. This has really encouraged me to go for the next level to make my writing professional such as writing in a newspaper and authoring books.

Do you encourage me to make this major step in my life? Do you recommend this change? If I decide to go back to school, do you think a two-year college degree would be enough, or do I need to a university degree instead? I really like political science and history, however, I might consider English because I have one significant challenge for my writing/journalism career: my English is not strong enough, and it's not 100 per cent Canadian. Then I could add a few journalism courses to my English work load.

The answer

You sound like you want to make a significant change in careers, which takes a lot of courage, hard work and determination – and it can pay off significantly in the end by allowing you to do what you love.

The first step in considering a career change is to research your market. Journalism, broadcasting and radio usually require some education in the area so visit your local colleges and universities and find out what kind of education they offer in this field. Talk with an academic adviser and ask how you should go about pursuing this kind of area.

These advisers would also be instrumental in helping you choose classes that would help with your English, whether that is verbal or written.

I was also struck by your interest in different cultures so I would suggest getting an opportunity to meet with people from media that appeals to a multicultural audience. Meet people who work there and find out what their background is. Perhaps they offer internships or accept co-op students once you are into your studies. Keep those contacts handy so you can call on those people again for assistance in launching your career.

In addition, practicing your writing skills is essential in a media and communications role. A blog is a great idea. Also, pitch ideas to community and cultural newspapers in efforts to get some published work. This would add to your portfolio to show potential educators and employers.

Being able to work in different languages is a huge benefit for you. These are unique talents that you should showcase to employers who may be looking for someone who can work in other languages. Once you have the right training, make this work for you by going after markets that would be in demand for these talents you have. Sooner or later, your training, coupled with determination will pay off.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting in Calgary.

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