Erin Richardson (Canada)'s story

Erin Richardson (Canada)

Erin Richardson (Canada)
Ballet Dancer
Veterinarian Technician
Changing careers is never easy. But leaving a career in dance is especially hard.
Like most professional ballet dancers, I started dancing at the age of 4. From then until I was 26, I lived and breathed ballet. Ballet class was the structure of my life.
Then, rather suddenly it seemed, the day came when I faced the moment many dancers dread -- the decision to hang up those beautiful instruments of torture, the point shoes.
It is not a decision any dancer makes lightly. Leaving dance is not just getting a new job. A new job can’t replace the passion of your life. Only something you are equally passionate about can do that.
I couldn’t have done it – certainly not as painlessly, without the support of The Dancer Transition Resource Centre.
The DTRC provides members with academic, career, financial, legal and personal counseling services. I was able to use the career counseling to explore various possibilities and then to discover not only what I would be good at, but also what I loved.
The counseling helped me explore all my possibilities and helped me see that my love of animals and my concern about their health and wellbeing could be my next calling.
To be sure about my next move, I thought it would be an important step to see first hand what would be involved in a career as a veterinary technician.
Lucky for me, I remembered a patron I had met once at a closing party. I contacted Dr. Boston and asked if I would be able to intern with him to get first hand experience and to finalize my decision.
I had now decided that my new career would be in the veterinary medical field as a veterinary technician. Deciding on a school and finding out what I would need was next.
The DTRC provides skills grants to help dancers develop transferable skills in such areas as second languages, computer and business studies, and like me, to get the pre-requisite courses for university or college.
I used the Skills Grant to support academic upgrading so that I had all the pre-requisites necessary for the intensive Veterinary Technician Course at Seneca College.
When I was accepted into the course, I was able to obtain the Retraining and Subsistence Grants, Stream I and II from DTRC to offset the costs of being a fulltime student.
I graduated from Seneca with honours in the spring of 2009 and immediately got a position at the prestigious Mississauga Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital and Referral Group. I also passed my registration exam to become an RVT in the summer of 2009.
Now that my transition is complete and I am well established on a new path, I can see that my years as a dancer and the self-discipline it instilled in me makes me a better employee and a better emergency vet tech.
I would like to take this time to thank Dr. Terry Boston and his wife Diane for their support through my transition. As the first hand experience allowed me to be 100% sure of my new career path. It was so valuable in my case that I wonder if the Dancer Transition Program could play a role in helping other dancers arrange internships or mentorships to confirm their new career choice.
My final message is this: As one who has been a professional dancer and has gone through the transition to a new career, I know first hand the value of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre.