This month, we sat down with Monika Gay, one of our educational consultants, to learn more about her role at Options.
Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Options Solutions.
This is my third year at Options Solutions as an educational consultant; prior to that, I worked in a similar role, as well as in various secondary and post-secondary teaching positions, for more than 20 years. At Options, I primarily see clients one-on-one at all three of our offices. I also enjoy running Video Interview and Application Workshops, helping out in Writing Workshops, and also teaching ACT/SAT and provincial exam classes.
When I was hired, I asked to be able to do a variety of things at work, and Options has certainly provided me with that opportunity!
What do you enjoy most about working at Options? What do you find is the most unique aspect of working at Options?
In all my roles, I love working with a wide range of students from grade 8 to entering grad school, and with a huge variety of interests – engineering physics! Beekeeping! Economics! My job is never boring! I have wonderful colleagues and see such awesome kids from all across the lower mainland, and also – by Skype – students as far afield as Boston, California, and Taiwan.
I love how fun my work with students can be, and also look forward to those times when I can make a significant difference in someone’s life by handling a crisis, providing options, and being a constant source of support.
What is the value of working with an educational consultant? What does a “typical” appointment look like?
Each appointment is different, depending on the grade and interests of the student. Prior to grade 12, appointments might focus on setting academic goals, building an extra-curricular profile, or career exploration. In later grade 11 and grade 12, we are likely to be researching post-secondary choices, making and completing an application plan, following up on each school, deciding between offers, and then choosing courses. I LOVE working with students to choose their first year courses!
What’s been your biggest success or learning opportunity at Options?
My job requires constant learning – this is a time of rapid change in Canadian universities, and keeping up requires a lot of homework! I have also learned about working with a wide variety of personalities and learning styles, and I have learned a great deal about secondary schools and extra-curricular opportunities across the lower mainland.
I also learn from my co-workers every day – writing coaches, admin staff, other consultants – and this enriching work atmosphere is one of my favourite things about Options. It’s also lots of fun.
Some of my successes have involved working with clients long-term to build an academic and extra-curricular resume that allows them access to schools they thought were impossible. Other successes involve working with applicants to gain admission to very prestigious programs – across Canada and the US. In all cases, what is fun is getting to know each person, and working with them to build academic success and then match them to programs that are just right for them.
What’s something people may not know about you?
I’m very interested in theatre, and especially musical theatre. I am super excited about going to see Hamilton in 2 weeks! Locally I love Bard on the Beach, Arts Club, and touring musical productions.
I love to read – recent favourites have included “The Glass Castle”, “Educated” (recommended by a client), and “The Night Circus.” I love young adult fiction, and I recently re-read the “Little House” books (childhood favourites).
I used to knit compulsively, but then one Christmas I made 15 felted bags and since then I haven’t wanted to knit at all.