Category Archives: Vol 16, Issue 1

Etta St. John Wileman Award Interview- Denis Pelletier

It is with great honour that the editors of The Canadian Journal of Career Development bring you a special series of interviews with past Etta St. John Wileman award winners. The Etta St. John Wileman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Career Development is designed to recognize and celebrate individuals who have devoted their lives within their professions; devoted their lives to the enhancement of career development practice, administration, research and education; and personify the role of researcher, educator, author, practitioner, and career leader.

These individuals have all contributed in their own way to the identity of the career development profession in Canada. It is through these interviews that our readers will get to see different perspectives, and perhaps gather some inspiration for their own work and career development.

Denis Pelletier, Ph.D. is a retired professors (1966-1996) from the Faculty of Education Sciences at Laval University, Qubec. In 1982, he co-founded Septembre éditeur, which is a publisher specializing in the field of career and education. In 2006, he received the prestigious title of emeritus member of the “Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation et des psychoéducateurs et psychoéducatrices du Québec (OCCOPPQ)”. In 2009, he won the Etta St. John Wileman Award from CERIC for his work in championing career, work, and workplace development in Canada. Denis Pelletier is also the joint au-thor of ADVP approach (activation de développement vocationnel et personnel) which is recognized on an international scale.

Re-printed by permission from CERIC. Original Interview conducted for ContactPoint on Dec 14, 2015.

What do you see as the major significant change in the career field in the past 10 years?

Denis: Self-knowledge and self-experimentation.

An inclination to involve oneself in the experience seems to be a defining characteristic of
today’s youth. The idea, for them, of learning by doing, of experimenting rather than exploring by thought alone, indicates the need for active counselling.

For my part, I have been trying, for several years now, to understand what active counselling could entail. I first reflected on the feeling of personal effectiveness (Bandura). It progresses, in adolescence and through life, based on personal goals achieved, milestones reached, challenges faced, encouragement received, results obtained and credit given to oneself; also, on a patient approach to performing tasks and on the ability to manage stress when the going gets tough. In a nutshell, self-knowledge becomes self-experimentation and a feeling of competence and optimism with respect to the future. Note that the analysis of traits and factors, and of interests and aptitudes, has its importance, but that nothing beats self-experimentation as a method for validating and clarifying what one wants to become.

At Cannexus07 (the first one!) you spoke about `A New Paradigm of Career Counseling for a New Working World`, What is one message you hope is still resonating with people today?

Denis: The road and the path.

I distinction between a road, which goes from point A to point B as quickly as possible and a path, which is the strip of earth we walk upon. I think that institutional career counselling—which dictates the times for choosing and the rules for advancing in the various education- al programs—uses the road, from getting a degree to getting a job as directly and effectively as possible.

The concept of progressing along a path defines a non-linear way of thinking about career counselling. Your path is something that evolves and is very close to a kind of becoming, to personal and existential development. It is a process of searching, whereby the person recognizes him or herself in and through action, and seeks to act competently. This constructive approach characterizes people who make their career a personal matter and who transform success and adversity into confidence. All told, the path is discovered by venturing forth, revealing a destination that is sometimes unexpected but nevertheless positive and satisfying.

As you look ahead, what factor do you see most influencing the future of career development?

Denis: Choosing and deciding

There is an important distinction to be made between choosing and deciding. Choosing is a cognitive activity while deciding has to do with motivation. I am now looking for a decision-making equation that takes into account the conditions through which the decision becomes affective and effective. Luckily, I have access to a large quantity of testimonies that I obtained in a study on seizing opportunities. Opportunities feature a strong, intense moment, in which one is offered a real opportunity, and not just a hypothetical one, to “take it or leave it,” and with little time to decide—with all the attendant unknowns. In short, I believe that the decision, in this context, is mostly emotional, and that it overcomes the uncertainty and complexity by making an intuitive assessment. These are elements that are the focus of neuropsychological studies.

Could this be a promising future direction for career counselling?

If you are interested in learning more about Denis Pelletier, you can read an interview that he has done with l’Orientation in 2014. His article is found in Volume 4, Number 1, pp 29-30.



Welcome to 2017! This year The Canadian Journal of Career Development is 15 years old. I am immensely proud to see how far the Journal has come, as well as how much progress has happened in the career development field over the last 15 years. Since the Journal started in 2002, we have received over 160 sub- missions and published over 120 articles. This anniversary brings with it changes that will allow continual growth to the Journal and, in relation, benefits to the career development field. As the editorial board reflects on the past years, we will be creating a strategic plan for the future of the Journal. In the coming months, a survey will go out on our social media sites to gather information and input from our readership and authors. I ask you to take a moment of your day to provide us with your feedback, as well as share it with anyone interested in the Journal.

Submitting your work to a journal can be very intimidating; this is especially true for students. To help alleviate this, this year we will be producing a special edition that focuses on graduate student research. We are accepting submissions for graduate student research briefs. This includes thesis work from about to graduate students but also from students how have already graduated. Research briefs are to be a maximum of 5 pages (2,500 words) inclusive of references and tables. They should contain a slimmed down intro, methods, findings, and conclusions (if applicable). Deadline for submissions is Monday, April 3, 2017. Additional details are available on our Facebook page. You can also contact associate editor Diana Boyd for any inquiries.

Now I bring your attention to the articles in this issue. In the first article titled ‘The gap year dilemma: When a purposeful gap year is the answer to career unpreparedness’ the authors discuss the benefits of taking a structured year off between high school and before starting university. They evaluated 200 first year students to see how the career choices of those who took a gap year were impacted vs students who went straight onto post-secondary.

‘Effect de l‘information sur le marché du travail (IMT): Comparison entre l’utilisation autonome et assistée de l`IMT’ by Francis Milot-Lapoint, Réginald Savard, and Sylvain Paquette assesses the impact that labour market information has on achieving career goals of individuals. The article is written in French; for those who are not bilingual an English translation will be published in the coming issue.

The last article is of international scope. In ‘The influence of ‘prompting for value ranking’ on career choices of youth in the Gulf Arab world’ author Khamael Al Safi explored how prioritizing the importance of attribute values influences the career choices of youth. The author also examines how such prompting may impact the labour market.

Finally we conclude with an interview done with Denis Pelletier. This interview is a re-print of an interview conducted in previous years by ContactPoint. For those who may not have been able to read the original, we are glad to be able to provide you with the opportunity now.

In closing, I invite our readers & authors to engage with each other. We must all work together to increase the awareness and benefits of career development.

Rob Shea Founding Editor