About 25 years ago I interviewed for a vocational rehabilitation counsellor position at for an insurance company. The owner of the company had a PhD in Psychology while my undergraduate degree was in Archaeology. I thought that put me a decided advantage. His first, and as it turned out, last question in the interview was, “Why would anyone who is being paid disability  benefits, which can be quite generous, be interested in giving It all up and go to work?”

“They have a need to improve their economic situation.” I answered. “They want to pay more taxes and contribute to their RRSPs. With each embellishment of this theme I dug myself deeper and deeper into my self-excavated hole of despair. Finally, he ended the interview. Come back when you find the answer.

The bastard never gave me the satisfaction of answering the question. At least he didn’t call me grasshopper or try to get me to snatch a pebble from his hand. What a show off.

Over the next 25 years I developed a career for myself as a vocational rehabilitation counsellor. Luckily, no one ever asked that question again. Nevertheless, it haunted me. It was a riddle that demanded an answer.

That’s why last fall I was thrilled to be asked to speak to a group of people in Burnaby to try out some of the answers I thought might at least open a discussion on why a person with a disability might want to work a part of their recovery.

My original answer still stands. It’s good to have money. Money lets you do things beyond survival. But there is more to it than that. The good doctor was right after all.

The first of these is workplace comradery. When you find a job, you’re thrust into a position  of relating to strangers. You begin to form relationships with them. You may even find yourself socializing with them, which is probably better for your wellbeing than hanging around the house watching reruns of Hogan’s Heroes on the cable network. Having relationships means gaining support, expanding your network, and generally getting yourself into trouble.

My audience  liked this reason for working. In fact I could have left it there and had a good question and answer period afterward. But I felt freeform. I had more to say. Next week will bring my understanding of archaeology, paleontology and driving a tug boat to show two other ways employment can benefit people recovering from a mental illness.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .


He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

 He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

 He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net  or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.


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