A Chance to Give Back: Helping Young People by Sharing What I Know About the World of Work

The Burnaby Board of Trade is a partner in the Reboot Plusprogram which seeks to support youth in exploring careers paths and connecting to the local labour force.

Cliff Thorbes is a professional who has volunteered his time and expertise to the participants of the Reboot Plusprogram, offering informational interviews to youth. He is a trained Horticultural Therapist Registered (HTR), Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP), and a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Canada Facilitator.

“I believe that I’m at a stage of my life that it’s really important for me to give back to the young people coming up behind me. I feel this is a responsibility of a mature person of society. Sharing our stories passes our knowledge to youth. Youth gain insight, but I also gain knowledge of what is going on for them in their world and their time. 

My Journey

How did I get to where I am? This is not an easy answer. A career is always developing, changing, and growing, even if you are in the same role for a long period of time. Career journeys are winding paths. We should always be exploring our surroundings, while looking for ways to weave in what is transferable, to our pathway. For example, I took a theatre program for two years. I did not complete it, but to this day, I am grateful for my training. I use it regularly as a Facilitator and Instructor in Mental Health First Aid.

I have had so many different careers, leading me to now. I am a Horticulture Therapist; I use horticultural activities to achieve therapeutic outcomes with clients. I am a Career Development Practitioner. I am the Coordinator of the Registration Committee for the Canadian Horticulture Therapy Association, helping applicants understand the process for voluntary professional registration. I am a Swimming Coach, and I am a Mental Health First Aid Canada Facilitator giving public the skills to help someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Finally, I am an Expressive Artist. I express myself through many artistic mediums.

My Advice for Youth

Things take time to grow. Patience is something I continue to build into my practice of learning. It’s very unlikely that success is going to happen overnight. First, you must plant the seed, and then you need to nurture it. You can foster your growth through exploring a variety of experiences and education that help you achieve your goals rather than taking a linear path.

Connect with people. Connections with others are how I have obtained many opportunities throughout my life and my career. You never know what is going to happen when you plant your seed. When the time is right, the connections you have fostered will provide you the opportunity to grow.

Keep expanding your education and professional development. Ongoing learning is important for your continued professional growth. Follow your interests, even if they are outside of your career or profession and weave it back into what you do. Diplomas and degrees are great, but so are weekend workshops.

Look for joy. Ideally, your career will bring you joy in some way. Sometimes, this comes in a moment rather than an overall experience. These moments will teach you where you should direct your energy and your attention. When you find yourself in joy, take note and pursue this.

My Advice for Professionals

Youth are one of my favourite populations to work with. They are the builders of tomorrow. Sharing your experiences and your journey can change the trajectory of their life. Realizing that no path is linear, and that we have all faced our obstacles, will help youth through the highs and lows ahead. Your hope and faith in youth, despite their challenges, will help them figure out their own solutions, in their own direction, in their own time. Be the connection and encouragement that someone needs to plant the seed of hope for themselves.”


Students, in the Reboot Plus program, are trained to connect to professionals for informational interviews to explore what businesses and careers are really like. This opportunity to ask their own questions, rather than read through online information, helps students gain a deeper insight into various career paths.

Offered in partnership through Douglas College Training Group and PEERs Employment & Education Resources with the Burnaby Board of Trade, this innovative program aims to re-engage at-risk youth in education and career development by providing them training and exposure to both post-secondary education and to the world of work.  The program is funded as a labour market research initiative by the Future Skills Centre. The findings will inform government, labour and educational institutes on broader adoption of novel approaches to training and skills development.

If you’re a business professional who is able to give 30-60 minutes of your time to this program, we would love to connect with you. Please connect with the Burnaby Board of Trade for any questions or to volunteer to participate!

Jocelyn Huber
Jocelyn@bbot.ca /  604 412 0100