At Waterloo, success is not always defined by job title or pay grade. See how four Waterloo alumni question common “good career advice” and are carving out a new set of rules.

Get a good job

1. Leave a good job


Larry SmithThe conventional wisdom of finding a “good” job might be a very risky move. Respected and thought-provoking Waterloo Economics professor, Larry Smith (MA '75), is on a mission to help us avoid good jobs so we can find a great one. In his book “No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career” he itemizes all the excuses and worries that can hold us back  and deconstructs them brilliantly to inspire all readers to pursue their passion.

Pick a direction

2. Change direction


Change is good. Rachel Thompson (BSc ’15) was in her final term studying Health Studies at Waterloo when she changed direction to focus her research on the effects of reading on people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her research sparked a life-changing social venture, Marlena Books, which revolutionized the way adults who suffer from cognitive impairments read. “I didn’t think I’d end up as an entrepreneur… It fell into place very organically”.

Rachel Thompson

Stay long

3. Travel longer


Staying in one job only offers one perspective. Having lived and worked all over the world, Waterloo alumni David (BA ’85) and Elizabeth Kerr (BA ’87), have experienced first-hand how enriching such experiences can be. David, who has held leadership roles for IBM in Shanghai and Prague, and has led work for Deloitte and IBM in more than 20 countries, says how working abroad leads to being “more self-aware, a better communicator [and] a better negotiator.” Through their International Experience Award, David and Elizabeth provide support to the brightest students, who wish to broaden their minds through travel.

Kerr family

Climb the ladder

4. Escape the ladder


Mike FarwellJob titles are important, but they’re not the only marker of success. Waterloo alumnus Mike Farwell (BA ’97), best known as the voice of the Kitchener Rangers, takes on odd jobs given by community members — from making schnitzel in a butcher shop, to banding calves on a farm — all in return for donations to cystic fibrosis research. After losing both of his sisters to cystic fibrosis, Mike’s courageous goal is to raise awareness and funding to help end this fatal disease.