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 wanted to do something that involved both but I wasn’t sure what. As a teenager I became very interested in psychology. I loved understanding why people do what they do, so I wanted to combine that curiosity with my interest in learning, reading and writing – which made me think that academia could be a good career for me, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do.

  • How did you become interested in career development?

    During my PhD at the University of Toronto, I attended a seminar on career development by one of our faculty. It was my first time looking at the evolution of careers in the modern world and what careers currently look like. I remember sitting in that seminar being fascinated, because before that I only thought about career as getting a job. It opened up a new perspective of a career for me, which led me to do research on careers.

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

    After completing my PhD I did some soul searching, so to speak, because although I loved research I wanted to explore different options as well. I taught Organizational Behaviour courses during my PhD and liked it, so I did more teaching at U of T and York University, and I’m currently a sessional instructor at the University of Windsor. I’m also continuing research projects on the experiences of immigrant workers in Canada and the experiences of younger workers, and worked as a project coordinator 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 career counselling. I love creating tools and questions for people to explore career opportunities. I’ve also worked with small organizations to help evaluate career counselling programs, which was really interesting given my background. I enjoy being involved in 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?

    It was through my research I stumbled upon CERIC and GSEP. I got in contact with CERIC’s Marilyn Van Norman, who was wonderful; very warm and very helpful. She introduced me to the GSEP program and asked if I would be interested in presenting at Cannexus. Going to the conference really helped me to learn more about the career development field. It’s great to know that there’s an organization that really cares about students who are studying in the field. It’s a wonderful platform from which 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 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 that 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 much sense when you’re in the midst of a career transition – they  usually only make sense when you look back at your trajectory. 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 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.  At the same time, I now see how much one’s career is related to other parts of their life. You can’t really separate your career from your life.

Learn more about CERIC’s Graduate Student Engagement Program (GSEP).