GSEP: Where Are They Now – Basak Yanar


Name: Basak Yanar

Education: PhD, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management (November 2011), Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Current Job: Instructor, Centre for Executive and Professional Education, Odette School of Business, University of Windsor


  • When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    I was always a scholarly child. I loved reading and learning, so I knew I was going to be something to involved both but I wasn’t sure what. In my early teens I became interested in psychology. I loved understanding why people do what they do, so I wanted to combine that with my interests in reading and writing. This made me realize that academia would be a good idea, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do.

  • How did you become interested in career development?

    As I mentioned, I’m really interested in people’s lives and why people do certain things. What led me to career development, was during my PhD at the University of Toronto I attended a seminar by one of the faculty on career development. This was my first time looking at careers from the perspective of the modern world and what careers currently look like. It led me to think about career from the perspective of the owner. I remember sitting in that seminar being fascinated by these new ideas, because before that I only thought about career as getting a job, but this opened up a new world of the perspective of a career for me, which led me to do research on that.

  • What are you doing now that you’re done school?

    I completed my PhD two years ago. I did a bit of soul searching because I love research, but I wanted to do more outside things as well. I did a bit of teaching during my PhD, and I loved it. So I did a bit of teaching at U of T and York University, and am now currently teaching at the University of Windsor. I’m also continuing research on the experiences of immigrant workers in Canada and the experience of younger workers. I also worked as a project c-oordinator in the area of occupational health and safety. I really wanted to use what I had learned in a practical setting, so I’m currently also doing some online career counselling. I love creating tools and questions for the individual to explore career opportunities. I have worked with small organizations to help evaluate career counselling programs. That was really interesting with my background. I enjoy being involved with different projects. I love research but I love career development and working with people, so I have many interests to satisfy.

  • Looking back, how did being a member of GSEP help enhance your current career?

    I don’t quite remember how I found CERIC and GSEP. I think it was through my research I stumbled upon the organization. I got in contact with CERIC’s Marilyn Van Norman, who was great, very warm and very helpful. She introduced the GSEP program to me and asked if I would be interested in presenting at Cannexus, which was a fantastic opportunity. Going to Cannexus really helped me as a PhD student focused on research learn more about the field and meet career practitioners. It really helped me expand my network, I’ve met several different professionals through Cannexus. It’s helped me understand more about the field and meet with other students. The GSEP program helped give me confidence in the sense that there’s an organization, CERIC, that really cares about the career development field and students who are studying in the field. Cannexus introduces you to a whole new and wide world of career development, which was very helpful for me. I have continued to attend Cannexus and meet contacts and expand my network. It was a great platform to learn. Through GSEP I was also able to give feedback and be part of the task force for the new ContactPoint website. The task force also again allowed me to work with individuals in this field, and people who came from diverse backgrounds. GSEP helped me become part of these interesting things and to learn and contribute to the field.

  • What is something surprising you’ve learned since getting into the career development field?

    I think one thing I’ve learned is career is more of a personal perception. Talking to people as part of my research and now with my online counselling I’ve learned that careers don’t make sense at the time or when you’re in the midst of a career transition – careers only make sense when you look back at them. At a point in time you don’t know how your decisions are going to play into your career as a whole or why things happen like they do – but when you look back you can see your career as a whole and see the whole way it played out. Career is an adventure that evolves in ways we can’t really anticipate and you might only realize that at the end of your career. And at the same time, I now see how much career is related to other parts of your life. You can’t really separate your career from your life – it’s a centrality.  I was also surprised by how diverse and broad this field is. There are so many people and it’s so broad and there’s so much to explore. I think that’s really fascinating.