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Meet a GK member whose journey proves that even best-laid plans can fall apart

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by Julia Brown
February 7, 2023

Tom Themeles truly is the living embodiment of the phrase, “life doesn’t always go according to plan.” A little over twenty years ago, Themeles attended three different schools and earned four degrees. He started at McMaster University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Geoscience and History with honors. He then attended Wilfrid Laurier University and earned a Master’s in Psychiatric History. Last he went to Brock University for Teachers College and earned a Bachelor of Education in teaching.

With so much education and potential under his belt, Themeles should have had a straightforward trajectory into the career of his choice, right? Unfortunately, that was not the case. “The advent of the internet and its subsequent rise in the digital era displaced the concept of a career,” said Themeles. According to him, the subject matter he had just learned was irrelevant shortly after he left school. Themeles said, “I felt behind, tried to keep up, and stayed up to date. It was a struggle.”

After remaining unemployed for some time after finishing his education, Themeles took a government position at Crown Corporation in Ontario, handling insurance claims in Canada. He said, “I did not have the correct information, skills, education, and experience to pursue anything else at that time.”

Although he wasn’t on the career path he had chosen, Themeles continued to excel in his place of work. He held four different positions while employed by Crown Corporation, with his last job title being an Operations Manager. Themeles said that even though his work at Crown Corporation was unrelated to his university degrees, the transferable soft skills he learned could still be applied.

The other positive takeaways from his job were the people he worked with and the leadership and management skills he learned. “One of the best parts of the job was the people. I made some great friends that I stay connected with to this day,” said Themeles. “I also had terrific managers whom I enjoyed working with and who taught me many things.”

Shortly after gaining employment at Crown Corporation, his life also took a happy turn. Themeles met and married his wife, Marla, and they have a beautiful daughter. With his new family, Themeles now also had a new perspective on life. While working for the Canadian government, Themeles felt he did not belong in that institution. “I felt trapped, continuously stressed, and worried about my future and health,” said Themeles.

It was time for Themeles to change his journey from pursuing an income to pursuing his passions. However, it had been years since he was last in university, and Themeles wasn’t even sure what he was passionate about anymore. “I decided to research my future work. I discovered this whole world centered on technology,” said Themeles. “I read about data science, robotics, the development of AI, 3D printing, and so on.” He felt reinvigorated and decided to be part of what he considered to be ‘the future’.

“To do that, the first thing I did was empty most (but not all) of my prior learning,” said Themeles. “I had to start over.” He did some research and started taking data science at Sheridan College, where he learned a variety of platforms, concepts, and programming. In 2020 he finally acquired the certification he needed to begin his new career path. Themeles said, “The program was fantastic, the professors were great, and I also met many people who have become good friends.”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic started shortly after completing his certificate program. The good news was that, by that time, Themeles was ready to take the next step. The leadership and management skills he learned while employed at Crown Corporation became instrumental during the early days of the pandemic. He had to learn how to react, problem-solve, and mediate various issues. In late 2020 Themeles began a new job that he now enjoys tremendously. With his new direction in life, he feels as though he is once again filled with immense potential.

Today Themeles is thriving in his new career. And in his spare time, he writes articles for the Golden Key Academy. His journey is a reminder to all that life can be unpredictable but that it’s never too late to make a change. Themeles said, “Today’s world is moving quickly, and you need to determine the trends, topics, and subjects to keep up with. Being adaptable, flexible, and open-minded will keep you sharp, in the know, and geared for success.”

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1 thought on “Meet a GK member whose journey proves that even best-laid plans can fall apart”

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