Episode released March 6, 2020
Chelsey: [00:00:00] Welcome to the ReSkilled podcast. We're happy to have you join us. But we need to ask you a tough question first.
Why are you here?
Maybe you're not satisfied with your current job. Maybe your industry is shifting and you're worried about how that affects you. Are you wondering about the idea of lifelong learning and what this buzzword, "reskilling," even means?
You know what? So are we, and we've decided to dive right in and find some answers.
You've been encountering situations where you've had to reskill yourself your whole life. As you grow and change, so does your path in life.
I mean, take a second to think about the person that you were five years ago. Odds are that you've done a lot of growing as an individual. Maybe you've taken on more responsibility at work or, or your partner, and you've decided to start a family. Whether you realize it or not, these experiences have led you to re-skill yourself.
The ReSkilled podcast will explore what it means to be engaged in the workforce of the 21st century. Why it's essential to be a lifelong learner in this modern age, and how you can chase your dreams while still staying grounded in the day to day realities of doing your job and paying your bills.
We hope you'll join us as we learn from real people who are out there challenging societal expectations, taking life-altering leaps, and pushing the boundaries of what learning and reskilling even means in 2020 and beyond.
Which brings us to today's episode. Today on the Reskilled podcast, we're going to sit down and have a conversation with two individuals: Azumme Degun and Darcy Kaiser, who have made drastic career and geographical changes in their lives, and we're going to find out their motivation behind these decisions.
In may of 2016, Azumme Degun, packed up her life in Nigeria and moved halfway around the world to Canada. After navigating the immigration process, Azumme realized that she wanted to make an impact. That her true passion in life lay in mentoring others who may be experiencing the same barriers she encountered.
Azumme is now the director of a not-for-profit, where she plays a large role in facilitating and coordinating their mentorship program.
Azumme, it's so great to have you on the podcast today.
Azumme: [00:02:20] Thank you, Chelsey. It's a pleasure to be here.
Chelsey: [00:02:23] So I think we'll just dive straight in. Um, so how did you get to where you are now?
Azumme: [00:02:29] I have a background in, I have a bachelor's in economics. Um, I, in retrospect, I mean, I got into university really young. I'm not sure that I knew exactly what I wanted to do at that point, but I wanted a degree. So I got a bachelor's in economics.
And um, right after school I went into banking. Um, I did about seven years of banking in my home country, Nigeria. Um, and I did that in a variety of roles in the banking sector.
And then, um, I got married and started to have kids. It was... tough to be in banking and raise a family with young kids, so I moved into a role in government. And it was in one of sort of the government agencies. I spent about three years there.
Then... So when I moved to Canada, my experience was basically banking and government, and my most marketable experience at the time was banking. And I gravitated to and was trying to find a role in what I figured that was my, you know, most sellable experience.
And then I started working in banking here for a bit. Still looking on the, you know, looking out and trying to push my career in what I felt like I wanted to do.
I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity over time to transition from my role in banking into what I'm doing now.
Chelsey: [00:03:49] Okay. So do you want to talk a little bit about your current position and what you do?
Azumme: [00:03:53] Oh yes, sure, I'd love to!
So I'm currently the Director for the mentoring program at the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council -- most people just say ERIEC for short. It's a mouthful.
We're not-for-profit, and what we do is provide career settlement services to immigrants. In my case at ERIEC, I lead the team that does the mentoring program.
Essentially what we do is career-specific matching, right? So in an ideal situation, we will be matching an accountant with an accountant, an engineer with an engineer, you know, that sort of thing. Because we believe there's value to be gotten there.
It's one thing to move here with a degree in accounting or engineering and think that "I'm just going to get a job." But the reality can be very different.
Chelsey: [00:04:42] So, you did move here and then you started working in banking. And then you were there for, what would you say, like a year and a half?
Azumme: [00:04:51] Just under a year.
Chelsey: [00:04:52] Okay.
Azumme: [00:04:52] And when... So banking is an amazing profession. My husband's in banking. He looooves it. But that's not me, right? I did a self-appraisal and I asked myself, "can you do this another 15 to 20 years?"
And I was honest with myself, no. No, that's not, that's not the fire that burns on the inside of me.
And so even though I had a good job and a stable job, I was, I still had my eyes out for what I wanted to do. And I knew that I, even though I did not have the experience for what I wanted to do, or the education for what I wanted to do, I felt like: I could do it. I just needed the opportunity to prove that I could do it.
And one of the events, again at ERIEC, I attended after was, uh, I think it was a global talent conference. I met someone who I didn't realize was in a position to hire. She, we were just sitting at the same table, chatting.
And she said, "oh, what are you doing?" And I told her, I said, "Oh, this is what I do, but this is what I would love to do."
And she said, "you know what? I might have a position for you in two weeks."
And I'm like, "Oh, okay. I didn't see that one coming." And true to her word, in two weeks I did go through the entire recruitment process and I, and I had the job.
It was a scary leap for me, because it was a one-year, part-time contract role. But I saw it for me as an opportunity to get my foot in the door doing what I wanted to do. So even though I was leaving the comfort and security of my job in the bank... I really wanted to get into what I am doing.
And so I said, you know what? It's part time and it's contract. I don't know what's going to happen after one year, but I'm going to take my chances.
And before that one year was up, I got literally headhunted by another organization that said, we've seen the work you've been doing and we'd like for you to-- I didn't apply! They came to me.
Chelsey: [00:06:52] Wow!
Azumme: [00:06:52] Yes. And with all humility... I know that this is not the typical immigrant story. But it's helped me to see what has worked for me. And that's- I keep saying why I want to pay it forward. I want to coach other people to put these things to work- sometimes things that they don't even notice are a big deal.
Chelsey: [00:07:14] Before you were speaking about how you had to like, kind of analyze and look at yourself and decide to make a choice to leave banking and to leave that profession.
What kind of questions did you have to ask yourself and what kind of, um, decisions did you have to make? Like, did you talk to your husband about it, and then what did you settle on?
Because I mean, the position that you have now... Were you just like, "yes, I want to work with mentoring immigrants," or was like, was that your decision of a career path or did you kind of decide on something else and this fit in with that?
Azumme: [00:07:48] I knew that I wanted to do something along the lines of recruitment. But I didn't want mainstream human resources. I don't know that I can do the hiring and the firing. I just, that's not me. I would feel bad if I had to take tough decisions in that regard!
But I, at the same time, I felt like, every time I saw the resume of a new immigrant, I felt like, "oh no, you're doing this wrong. You shouldn't be doing this. This is how you should probably be doing it... If you want the results, this is how you should be doing this."
So I knew that was- it wasn't mainstream HR. It wasn't recruitment per se, but there was- I felt that niche, where I don't know what I'm even going to call what I want to do, but I see the gap that I want to fill.
And so those were the, those were the questions in my head. Me trying to provide answers. "What do you want to do?" Um, I don't know what the name of it is, but I know the problem I want to solve.
And that's where I sort of had an epiphany. And I'm like, this is what I want to do. If I see it, I will know it.
And that's when I just sort of jumped into looking for roles in those lines.
Chelsey: [00:09:01] And then once it, once it came up, it felt right? Like you knew that that was it?
Azumme: [00:09:06] I knew.
And you asked the, I know you asked if I talked to my husband. So we- when we came, he went back to Nigeria for about a year.
So I was here alone with the kids, and then I'm like, "Oh, by the way, I want to resign."
And I tried to convince him- he's very supportive, and he's like, "I know your mind is made up, madame. I will support you."
And... Just for him having that trust in the decision I was making was all the support I needed.
Chelsey: [00:09:46] But I mean, it goes to show like that you followed what felt right for you.
Azumme: [00:09:50] Yeah.
Chelsey: [00:09:51] And that where you are now was the right path. Right. Like when you are very passionate about what you're doing, you're, you're gonna do well at it because it is what you love.
Azumme: [00:10:00] Yeah.
Chelsey: [00:10:00] And so it's nice to see that. You, you took kind of an experience in banking that wasn't fulfilling- what you wanted in life, and you change that and you took that leap. And just because you had faith in yourself and you wanted to do it, you've come so far in that. Which is great.
Azumme: [00:10:16] I have! I'm, I'm grateful. I'm very grateful.
I mean, I can look back in retrospect and hindsight 2020, laugh about a few things. They were not laughable at the time. Uh, I was literally shaking in my boots. "What are you doing?"
I was, it's... You've packed, and when you're moving halfway across the world, you're leaving everything that you know, right? And then it felt like you were lucky enough. God was kind to you. You got a job like, in a shot. Well, and then you're going to leave that to pursue something that you think you'd want but don't know what it really is?
Chelsey: [00:10:54] Yeah. It doesn't sound good-
Azumme: [00:10:55] Does not sound good, right? But I knew that was what I wanted, and I keep going to the analogy that I saw a long time ago. I don't even remember where, uh, someone said... When you're pursuing something, it's like a, it's like the headlamps on a vehicle. You can probably see 50 meters or maybe a hundred meters when your head lamps are on, and you see what's ahead that hundred meters, but in order to see what's ahead the next hundred meters, you need to move. Right?
And I literally felt like I can see the next a hundred meters. I don't know what lies beyond that, but I got to move for my lamps to be able to shine further. Enough to see another hundred meters and keep going. So that's a, an analogy that I just... "Okay, I, I kind of see and then I'll keep going and hopefully I keep seeing."
Chelsey: [00:11:42] What would you say is the, was your, your largest, um, learning kind of challenge? Like when you were transitioning from banking into the not-for-profit role that you have now?
Azumme: [00:11:54] It was adapting to the Canadian workplace culture. It's something that- I don't know to say, that I struggled with it... But it took quite a bit of learning.
Because I realized that... The things that I thought were normal, somebody else thought were weird. Um, the things that I thought were weird, somebody else thought was normal and... It was a fine line for me to understand. Just- and part of the work that I do now is in diversity and inclusion and intercultural training.
And Canada's a very multicultural country. Uh, in a typical workplace, everybody's from someplace or second generation somewhere else. So it took a lot of deliberate learning and deliberate work on my part to learn to work in a multicultural environment.
In my home country, if I cracked a joke, most people would think it was a joke, or everybody would think it was a joke and we would all laugh about it and it wasn't a thing.
But if I did something similar here, I might be offending someone and it is never my intention to offend. Right?
Chelsey: [00:13:06] Yeah.
Azumme: [00:13:07] So it just, that balance of, "okay, this maybe don't say that way," or be more conscious of what somebody else thinks or feels. Yeah. That was a, that was a learning curve for me.
Chelsey: [00:13:19] Yeah.
Azumme: [00:13:21] I think that the, the immediate barrier that hits everyone, is the weather.
Chelsey: [00:13:26] Oh yeah?
Azumme: [00:13:27] Depending on what time of the year, it's like, no one tells you it's, boom! In your face. It depends on time of the year, again. In my country it would probably be plus 20, plus 30 all year round. And I moved here in the spring and it was plus 16, and I wouldn't leave the house.
Chelsey: [00:13:46] That's still a big change.
Azumme: [00:13:47] And it was windy. I feel bad for anyone who has to land here in the winter. But you know, that's one major barrier dealing- Because you might come with jackets, and any jacket that's from outside Canada is probably not for Canadian winter.
So no, you gotta get that memo. So, um, apart from things like the weather, language... Um, again, a network- it's... Not having people to lean on.
And, you know, everybody's situation is unique. Sometimes they, you have kids and you're trying to get them into school, trying to figure out how the school system works...
Chelsey: [00:14:27] Right.
Azumme: [00:14:28] Maybe you're trying to get your driver's license, and you're trying to rent an apartment, and you're trying to do this and do that. So there really is a lot on the plate of the typical immigrant professional.
Chelsey: [00:14:38] Yeah. It seems like, I mean there's already that, that decision, that life-altering decision of picking up your whole life and moving somewhere where you don't have presumably any connections with anyone. So that's scary in and of itself. And then there's these cultural barriers that you face and maybe the language barriers and the weather barriers.
And then on top of all that, like it almost seems like at that point, looking for a job is kind of like the easiest thing in a way? Like, "Oh man, I know how to do accounting. Like, I can do that." So once you're there, you kind of feel comfortable?
Azumme: [00:15:10] Mm-hm. And yes... It's- sometimes it's the juggling everything that's in and of itself is a, is a headache.
Chelsey: [00:15:19] Going back to kind of re-skilling in general, when you did take the position that you're at now, did you have to do any, like, did you do any online learning or was it all purely learning on the job for you?
Azumme: [00:15:32] Um, so I did a lot of reading and research and... Just on my own time, because I wanted to prove that I could do the job.
I had to put in a lot of work behind the scenes. And then I was taking the online course and yeah, so there was a lot of personal research, um, studying, and learning on my part.
But I did subscribe to a lot of, um, newsletters. One of them, the Forbes 30, um, the Mentor Matters.... Just as kind of- so I went online and I found a lot of organizations that are doing the kind of work that we do, a lot of them in different capacities.
Some was organizations and doing mentoring for students, some for young adults, some for women... You know, just everybody sort of has a niche. And I was just picking a little something from everybody and trying to tailor everything that I was getting into my current role and how I could help move that forward.
Chelsey: [00:16:35] Okay. And what do you think your biggest takeaway was? Is there anything that's still impacts you to this day that you've learned?
Azumme: [00:16:42] From my time kind of gathering information?
Chelsey: [00:16:44] Yeah, yeah.
Azumme: [00:16:45] Hmm. Just from doing the research that I was doing, I saw a lot of organizations, and not, not necessarily here in Edmonton or even Canada, but I saw a lot of organizations that offer mentoring services and programs.
And what it said to me was "there is a need... And people are trying to fill it. "
Chelsey: [00:17:06] What would you do differently if you were given the opportunity to go back?
Azumme: [00:17:10] Hm. I don't know that I would do anything absolutely differently, uh, because I think that I was doing the right things, even though I didn't know that they were the right things to do.
I felt like I should have been doing those things, but I couldn't- I- at the time, I didn't know that these were. These were sort of stacking up to help me create a foundation for me. So I don't know that I would have done anything differently. In, in retrospect, I feel like I took the steps that I should have taken.
Chelsey: [00:17:42] So do you have any advice that you would give from, for someone that is looking to make kind of a big move like that?
Azumme: [00:17:49] Half of the battle is in your head. The first thing is what is your "why."
Chelsey: [00:17:54] Right.
Azumme: [00:17:54] "Why" do you want to move? "Why" do you want to change your career? I know my "why". Um, I know how many years it took me to understand and come to the realization that this is my "why."
Now when you find that "why" and you get a grasp of that "why," you need to understand that not everybody will believe in it. Or even understand it. There will be times that it'll be lonely, so to speak, because you're pursuing a vision that people don't- some people don't understand. You have to be willing to fight for it.
There will be grey days, but you got to keep going.
Another thing that I would say is, one thing that I find that helps is planning. In, in my personal and professional life, I am the, I'm the planner. I have my ten year goals, five year goals, one month goal, one week goals. I have journals for this, journals for that, journals, for the other.
And it- maybe I'm just that type-A kind of person, but it helps me to put my vision to paper and to see, like, visually where I want to go. And to check the boxes as I go along. Right? So plans- there will be times where your plans will be thrown off course, but just having that... It's like a, it's like a guiding light that you're working towards that, that makes a difference. Depending on the uniqueness of your situation. Do you have kids? Awesome. Then you need to plan and prepare and read about the educational system.
The thing is, as much as you can do before you get here, please do it. Right? Cause when you get here, it's overwhelming. So these are the things like: what's the educational system like? Is my kid gonna go in at grade two or they're going to go in at grade four or what? You know, do some studying before you get here. What's the license, like, driving license process like? Can I bring my license from my country? Do I get credits for it? Things like that. Plan! Bring- cause if you're going to get credits for it, then it's easier for you to, you know, maybe jumping GDL against- going- you know, things like that.
It's- okay. So what does a typical Canadian resume look like? You won't get it perfectly, but go online. Research, see what it looks like. Try to do something. Research cities and organizations that hire for the roles you're trying to look for and trying to get into.
If you're going to switch careers, identify your transferable skills, right? Identify if you need a total reskilling, or if it's something you can slide into bit by bit. Do you need to hit the ground running and go to school first, or can you start what you know and then try to get into what you're trying to get into? Things like that. So I feel like those are the things that will help make your path a little smoother.
Chelsey: [00:20:46] So I want to pull back to when you were talking about finding your "why" and how you had- how had it taken you years to kind of finally figure out what your, "why" was and I want to ask you what your why is, you know, what was that, that reasoning for you?
Azumme: [00:21:02] For me, like what was my why of coming here?
Chelsey: [00:21:05] Yeah. Coming to Canada and then making that career change. I guess maybe that's two whys, but,
Azumme: [00:21:10] Okay. So my why of coming, we'd come into Edmonton was, as I mentioned, my children. I had always wanted, and I felt like.. Coming to Canada generally was about my kids, and I felt like coming to Canada gives me- and I'm not living for my kids. I'm living for myself. But I'm also trying to create opportunities for them and for the career change.
I am big on value-adding, and as a banker, yes, I did add value. I did. Especially to people's financial lives and giving people sort of access to information and training and better, you know, banking information, financial information, financial support.
But I feel like that's just a piece of the puzzle. If they don't have some other things going for them, it's hard to be trying to get your banking done right.
So I was looking at adding deeper value. I felt like banking, I think the value I was adding in as a banker was kind of superficial, surface level.
I wanted deeper value. Value that has a ripple effect. Value that they can pay forward. Value that they can pass on to their kids. Value that they can share in their community. Value that they can wake up years down the line and say, "You know what? This made a difference to my life."
And so yeah. That's why I changed careers.
Chelsey: [00:22:39] I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to come and sit down with me and talk about your, your journey so far in life.
Azumme: [00:22:46] You're welcome. I enjoyed it.
Chelsey: [00:22:49] Thank you.
Deciding to move to a new country requires a large amount of reskilling, especially if that country is halfway across the globe. But knowing her "why" helped Azumme to make the decision for her and her family, and gave her strength she needed to successfully navigate and learn a new culture, language, and climate, all the while discovering her true passion in life.
In order to realign career paths with core values, Azumme took a leap of faith and moved across the world, while our next guest, Darcy, moved between worlds.
Like many of us, Darcy Kaiser graduated high school and enrolled in university with no set idea of what he wanted to do in life. He ended up pursuing a science degree at the University of Alberta and found he had a particular interest in the study of Alzheimer's, which led him to pursue a master's in the topic.
Upon graduation, Darcy secured a job in the oil and gas sector testing the toxicity of effluent from drilling sites on a variety of species.
Fast-forward 10 years and Darcy is now working full time and just started his own company... As a journeyman. Electrician.
But how did he make such a drastic change, and was it for the better?
Talking to us over the phone today from his home in Calgary, is Darcy.
Darcy, it's great to have you on the show today.
Darcy: [00:24:16] Thanks for having me, Chelsey.
Chelsey: [00:24:18] Did you want to start by giving us a summary of your career path?
Darcy: [00:24:21] Sure! So after high school, I actually- my first job was working with the city of Calgary and I was a garbage man. And after two winters of that, I decided, "let's go to school for awhile and see where this leads..."
So I got into University of Albert. Started a science degree, uh, focus on pharmacology. Cause I, I mean, my parents always told me to just take what interests you, right? Don't worry about the money.
So I took what I was interested in, got my degree in pharmacology. And I felt like there was still, there was still more I wanted to do there. So I got into the master's program, working on Alzheimer's disease. Which was really interesting!
After completing that... I decided it was time to get out in the real world again. And got a job, as you said, as a biologist working for an oil and gas company.
Um, I did that... For about a year and a half, two years. And I just found it quite tedious. And I didn't really feel like it was going to lead anywhere.
So I wanted to pursue, you know, in another career path. And that's when I went and got into sales... With a molecular biology reagent company. Selling microscopes and microbiology stuff to universities and hospitals and stuff like that. Again, after about a year, I felt that it just didn't, it didn't suit me very well.
So I, I left that again and... By this time I was, I was feeling a bit discouraged with the opportunities in the science field. So I decided to head in another direction.
I mean, I'd, I'd done construction and stuff like that before, and I knew electricians got paid pretty well. So, uh, I decided to try my hand at that. And I managed to get on with probably the biggest electrical company in Calgary. I've spent the last five years working on the big skyscrapers downtown, and just recently started my own, uh, electrical and construction company.
Chelsey: [00:26:46] Wow, that's great! Congratulations on starting your own company, that's a big step.
Darcy: [00:26:52] Yeah, it's been, it's been a lot more work than I anticipated, but, uh, I like it.
Chelsey: [00:26:59] So out of high school, you were working as a garbage man...
Darcy: [00:27:02] Yep, that's right.
Chelsey: [00:27:04] And then from there, you decided that you wanted to go, or that you should enroll in university. And so... Did you pull kind of from your experience in high school and just go, well, I was good at biology in high school, so maybe I'll do that in university?
Darcy: [00:27:19] Yeah! I would say, yeah. I mean, I, I was always interested and always really good at science. It seemed like it gave you a lot of options. Like you could do science and then try and go into medicine or try and go into pharmacy, or... You know what I mean? It had a lot of paths you could go.
Chelsey: [00:27:38] Yeah, no, that's very true. And it's, it's really nice that your parents were supportive of that. Because I, I think speaking from my personal experience and a lot of people I know... Parents are like, well, you're going to university so you better come out with something that's going to.. Get you somewhere, you know?
Darcy: [00:27:53] Yeah. See, I mean, the, the philosophy I got was just: do what you're interested in and, my dad always said, that the money will come. Because you're interested in it, which in turn will lead you to be good at it, which in turn will, should, lead to getting paid well for it.
And, I mean, he kinda, he, my dad, was an accountant. And I don't think he, he loved his job very much. He, he did the opposite thing at university, right?
Like he went for the job that was going to pay him well when he got out. And then I think he worked in that for a bunch of years and was never really happy with it. So that's why he gave me any advice to just, just do what you like.
Chelsey: [00:28:32] Well, it's interesting, then, because you, you ended up doing what you liked and in the end, it still, it wasn't... what you wanted.
Darcy: [00:28:42] It still blew up in my face, yeah.
Chelsey: [00:28:45] Were you interested in it all the way through university? So like, in your undergrad were you very, very into biology... And then in your masters, like continuing onto that, was this still like: you're absolutely in love with that field and what you're doing?
Darcy: [00:28:58] Yeah, I mean, I found it very interesting. Yeah, I did.
I mean, the main issue came from graduating with the masters and kind of... Realizing there wasn't really that many options to do- to keep continuing doing that. Like what I really enjoyed in the laboratory, right?
Like, I mean, there's, there was almost no pharmaceutical companies. You could go work at. The only option was to really pursue a PhD and try and get a professor position.
But again, that's like such a long shot and such a hard road.
Chelsey: [00:29:32] Do you feel like you were limited by location then? Like would there have been more lab jobs in different cities?
Darcy: [00:29:38] Yeah, I think that definitely was a factor. Because like I said, I mean Alberta... There's not really a pharmaceutical industry or anything like that. Like I think that's what I was aiming for with those jobs, is go work for a drug company.
But I mean, I also had my girlfriend-slash-wife at the time. She had a good job. Yeah, I mean, I had a lot of, I had a lot of family here... And it just was, it wasn't really feasible me just up and leaving to totally different city to go to find a job at a pharmaceutical company.
Chelsey: [00:30:13] So then you ended up working for oil and gas. And do you think that's just because that was one of the main kind of industries in Alberta... Has been and is still kind of oil and gas industries?
Darcy: [00:30:25] Yeah, I mean that's definitely why. I mean, that was, those were really the only jobs available for people with a degree in biological science.
Chelsey: [00:30:34] Even in oil and gas, to get those jobs?
Darcy: [00:30:37] Yeah.
Chelsey: [00:30:38] So once you started working for that company... Do you want to talk a little bit about what exactly it is that you were doing for them and why it made you reconsider your whole career path?
Darcy: [00:30:49] Sure. Um, so it was, it was a big laboratory that housed a bunch of different organisms. Like rainbow trout... Bunch of different kind of insects, water beetles, daphnia...
And what we would do is we would get... Samples of effluence from drilling rigs, and then we would dilute those out, put the different organisms in these different dilutions of these substances. And then basically just watch mortality over time and do some statistics afterwards and try to determine how toxic all these effluence were that were coming out of these drilling rigs.
Chelsey: [00:31:35] That's.. very depressing, in a way. Hey?
Darcy: [00:31:39] You know what? It was depressing because I like, I'm, I love fish. I have fish tanks all over the house, you know? And... It was not really what I was expecting, to just start working there and just be... killing hundreds of baby rainbow trout every day.
Chelsey: [00:31:58] Yeah. No, and I mean, even looking at your masters, you were focusing on Alzheimer's and I would assume you were focusing on how to cure it or how to like, help-
Darcy: [00:32:08] We were actually, we were trying to mimic the disease in zebrafish so that they would have a good model to test new drugs and things.
Chelsey: [00:32:19] Interesting! So when did you start realizing that you wanted to make that change and how did you recognize that in yourself, that this wasn't fulfilling you?
Darcy: [00:32:29] From the biologist position? I mean. It just, it became very tedious, right? I mean, you just got into work, did the exact same thing everyday: dilute, dilute, dilute. Fish, fish, fish. Count, count, count.
And, uh, I mean, I started kind of asking around. There was maybe 15 other people that had worked within this lab, and I mean, there was a, there was a lot of people there with, you know, PhDs who were doing, they'd been there for five years. They were doing the exact same thing that I was doing. And I mean, there, there just didn't seem to be any kind of progression from this position.
And I mean, I've always had aspirations to do more, right? And I just, I didn't see it happening at this place. So I just said, well, let's go try something else.
Chelsey: [00:33:21] And then, so you said that you had kind of past experience in construction, which led you to, to choosing to be an electrician as a trade. But can you speak more to that, that choice and what was going through your head at the time?
Darcy: [00:33:36] Yeah. Again, it was kind of about being able to progress. So, I mean, I had done that kind of stuff before and I enjoyed it because it was more physical work. I mean, you could, you could see what you'd done every day and it, and it seemed very needed, right? Like as soon as I was talking about it, everybody knew needed an electrician.
Seemed like high in demand and um, yeah. And I figured why not? Give it a shot. I mean, I've had some experience with it, and it could eventually lead me to my own company, being my own boss. Making good money...
Chelsey: [00:34:15] So would you say that the decision was more of a, like a practical decision than a following your heart kind of decision?
Darcy: [00:34:23] Yeah, I would say it was probably more practical.
Chelsey: [00:34:26] And are you happy with that decision that you made?
Darcy: [00:34:28] Extremely! Extremely. I mean, being an electrician, it suited me perfectly. It combines aspects of like, of science and being technical. Of trying to figure out where circuits are growing, where the electricity is flowing, and at the same time you get to do physical stuff. You work on huge projects. You can be your own boss. I mean, I, I love it.
Chelsey: [00:34:52] So your process then, do you want to walk us through from the moment that you made that decision that you decided, "okay, I want to be an electrician." Like, what did you do after that?
Darcy: [00:35:04] So, after leaving the biologist job, um, I'm hunting around again for another kind of job I can get with my science degree.
And most of what I came across was some kind of sales. And then I actually, was contacted by a headhunter looking for sales- a Western Canada sales manager for a molecular biology company, and I mean. I'd always been pretty, again, pretty personable. And I figured, why not? Let's, let's give that a shot, too.
I started doing that. I mean, I wasn't super comfortable with it from the get-go... But I figured I would, I would stick it out for a while and kind of see where it led. And after, after a year of that, I mean, I was, I was so tired of the travel and... Just being pushy. I mean, that wasn't really, my style, being pushy with things, right?
So my wife was also pregnant and I just couldn't be out of town a couple of days a week. That's when the construction thing came back up again. Cause after I, after I quit, actually started developing our basement in our house in Edmonton. And I mean, I always liked doing that kind of stuff. And, uh, I, I called to get an electrician to come check all the work that I'd done.
And I couldn't get an electrician to the house for like, three weeks. Like they were booked- every company I call was booked solid. And I mean, that really got me thinking that this is a good, this is a good job. If they're booked three weeks out, like every company I call.
So, uh, I went on, I went on Kijiji and just made a post that said, you know what? I have a master of science degree. I'm just tired of doing these, these science jobs. If anybody has anything. In the electrical field or construction field, let me know.
And then, uh, the next day... Yeah. I mean, it was, I don't even think it was a day, I was contacted by the manager of this huge electrical company. He said, "come on down."
Chelsey: [00:37:28] Just off of your Kijiji ad.
Darcy: [00:37:31] Yeah, it didn't even take a day!
Chelsey: [00:37:32] Wow. And what, like, what provoked you to, to do like, write an ad on Kijiji, versus just applying for jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn or something?
Darcy: [00:37:41] I was... I was curious about Kijiji, honestly! It seemed pretty popular at the time, so I figured I'd throw something out there and see what came.
Chelsey: [00:37:53] That's amazing... And it just worked out like that.
Darcy: [00:37:55] Yeah! It blew my mind that it worked like that.
Chelsey: [00:37:59] That's... Yeah. I would have never, never thought to do something like that! I mean, I've seen people post... Ads for roommates and looking for roommates on Kijiji.
But I mean, I guess it does make sense. Cause looking into people reskilling, oftentimes when they are applying for jobs that are totally outside of what they do currently, a lot of hiring managers seem to be like, "wait, like why? Why is this person with a master's in biology wanting to be an electrician now?"
So at least you kind of have the opportunity on Kijiji to explain yourself and explain-
Darcy: [00:38:34] Yeah! Well, and I, and I figured too, it was also- yeah, I mean it was, it was a good way- like I knew a ton of the companies were looking for people. And I mean, this just seemed like an easy way- took me five minutes to get my name out there and see if anybody was interested.
Chelsey: [00:38:53] Yeah. So then what happened with that process? Like what was, uh, what was the learning curve like? Was it pretty easy to fall into, into your, your journey as an electrician?
Darcy: [00:39:05] Yeah... I mean, it was pretty easy for me because like I said, I mean, I, I'd done a bunch of that stuff already. So I mean, what I was doing for the first couple of years as an electrician wasn't really anything new to me.
Chelsey: [00:39:19] Was there something that did take you by surprise?
Darcy: [00:39:22] Yeah, I mean, like the scope of it kind of blew my mind. Like for me- I was used to just doing.. whatever, do some electrical in a house, right? Add a couple plugs or something like that.
And... Then when I started with this company, it was like, okay, meet us at this 50-story skyscraper and start doing electrical on that. So I mean the the scope of it was crazy.
Chelsey: [00:39:48] I guess when it came to biology, you went to university to kind of learn the skills that you needed for that job. But for being an electrician... It's kind of the opposite, isn't it? Where you get that job first and then you kind of go to school every, every year for like, what is it, two months?
Darcy: [00:40:06] Yeah, that's right. And I actually- so there's also an option to challenge the electrical exams instead of going to school.
Chelsey: [00:40:15] Okay.
Darcy: [00:40:17] So for the first three years. I mean, I didn't go to school. I just- you have to get your hours, get your experience, and then you're allowed to challenge the exam. And that's just what I did.
Chelsey: [00:40:30] Was it a hard process to challenge the exam?
Darcy: [00:40:32] Yeah- I challenged year one, two and three, and then I tried to challenge the final year, but they wouldn't let me.
Chelsey: [00:40:39] Okay. So then how long did you have to go to school for, before you took that exam?
Darcy: [00:40:45] For the final year, I- they have this rule that you have to go to school at least once.
Chelsey: [00:40:51] Okay.
Darcy: [00:40:52] And, um, so for the final year, I tried to challenge. They said, no, you have to go to school. And I said, okay.
And I looked online and they had just started this, it was called a "blended learning" program. So you could do two months... kind of self-directed at home, and then you had to go to school for the last month, and do... labs and stuff like that.
So that's what I opted to do. So I think my final year was a month or so in school.
Chelsey: [00:41:26] That's not bad at all, hey?
Darcy: [00:41:28] No, it wasn't bad. Because I didn't like- I really didn't like taking all the time off work. Like that's what stopped me from going to school the first three years. Is that you gotta stop working, take a break for three months and go to class every day.
And I figured I'd already, I'd been in university for eight years. I'd done enough class time.
Chelsey: [00:41:49] Were there any... Kind of unexpected challenges that you faced when making that, that initial move?
Darcy: [00:41:56] Yeah... I mean, of course, right? It's, it's always tough. The perception of it, to other people was kind of difficult to take. Like, I mean, my parents weren't happy that I had left, you know, this so-called white collar prestige job of being a biologist. And then I'm back to being a construction worker.
I mean, there was tons of questions and everything about that. But I, I think it all- once they saw that I liked it and I was good at it and I, you know, really enjoyed it, that went away.
Chelsey: [00:42:29] For anyone else that is looking to make a change like this in their life, like going from kind of a... An office-ish job to more of a hands-on trades job, is there any advice that you would give them?
Darcy: [00:42:42] I mean, I would, just say don't be scared of it. I mean... There's always skills that you're going to learn in your current position that are always going to translate into what you decide you want to do next. I mean, you can always carry stuff over.
It's hard to take that leap and decide you're going to start something new again, but just look at it as a challenge. I mean, that's how I kinda took it. Let's take this as another step. There's another challenge of learning something to do.
Chelsey: [00:43:12] If you could do things differently, would you?
Darcy: [00:43:15] That's a tough one. Because I mean, career wise, I wouldn't have even gone to university. But on the flip side, I mean, I really did enjoy going to university and I mean, I think I learned a lot of useful things there. So, I mean, I can't, really say I would've done it different.
I might've tried to head my university career in a path that I knew I was going to have a profession afterwards. Like, I would've probably would've gone into pharmacy or medicine.
Chelsey: [00:43:48] Do you think you would have been happier doing that, or do you think you ended up where you, you should have ended up?
Darcy: [00:43:54] I don't know! That's tough to say. It's tough to say.
I'm pretty pleased right now having my own company and kinda getting the ball rolling on that. It's pretty exciting and I mean, I think it worked out pretty well.
Chelsey: [00:44:08] Darcy, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day today to talk to us and we really appreciate that.
Darcy: [00:44:14] Thank you.
Chelsey: [00:44:16] Having spent his whole life in a job that didn't speak to him, Darcy's father encouraged his son to pursue a career he was passionate about.
He didn't want him making the same mistake he did: choosing a career for the money, but Darcy woke up one day and realized that the career path he pursued out of passion, wasn't what he wanted to do anymore.
You can now see that both of our guests had to take a step back and evaluate what they wanted out of their lives. They grew and evolved as people and realized that their "whys" no longer aligned with their current lives, priorities and passions.
In order to realign career paths with core values, Azumme took a leap of faith and moved across the world while Darcy moved between worlds.
Both Darcy and Azumme are examples of people, just like you and me, who're evolving and growing. And who are not being held to the expectations of the life they were living up to this point.
Reskilling means growing. And we hope as we explore more stories of people breaking new waves and making new paths for themselves, you might just get a little inspiration or see a little bit of yourself in them.
Well, that's today's episode. My name's Chelsey Zaplachinski, and I want to thank you all for listening.
ReSkilled is brought to you today by Onlea: transforming lives through the power of learning.
Production help from William Fritzberg, Jeff Woodward, Beau Disaulniers, Adrianna Lopez Forero and me.
You can follow us on Instagram, at ReSkilled Podcast and to learn more about our guests, you can find their links in the show description.
If you like our content, be sure to follow us on whatever app you use to stream podcasts. And don't forget to leave us a review- it helps out a ton! Tune in next time for another episode of ReSkilled.