Andre Mazerolle sits on a Harley-Davidson FLHXS -Street Glide Special motorcycle at Mackie Harley-Davidson in Oshawa on Friday January 15, 2021. Mazerolle was laid off from his marketing job during the pandemic and has since made a big switch to selling motorcycles for Mackie Harley-Davidson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Andre Mazerolle sits on a Harley-Davidson FLHXS -Street Glide Special motorcycle at Mackie Harley-Davidson in Oshawa on Friday January 15, 2021. Mazerolle was laid off from his marketing job during the pandemic and has since made a big switch to selling motorcycles for Mackie Harley-Davidson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Canadians launch new careers, return to school as COVID-19 rages on

As the economic downturn continued, more people were ready to consider bigger moves on the job front

When COVID-19 swept across Canada last year, Andre Mazerolle’s 25-year career in marketing ground to a halt as he was laid off from his job.

Gutted, the Oshawa, Ont. man poured himself into his motorcycle hobby while he tried to plot the next phase in his working life. Then a chance conversation with a friend made him realize there was a way to do both.

“She said, ‘Hey, I got laid off too and I’m working at a motorcycle store selling parts and accessories….You should come and work with me,’” Mazerolle recalled.

“A week later, I was at the motorcycle store … doing something I was passionate about.”

Faced with hiring freezes, wage cuts and layoffs forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians like Mazerolle are making dramatic career changes. Others are seeking skills upgrades or shifting their hours after realizing their current jobs don’t offer the stability and flexibility they need to raise kids or care for immunocompromised family members.

An online survey of 3,000 Canadians that Morneau Shepell released in November found 24 per cent say the COVID-19 pandemic led them to consider a job or career change.

Makenzie Chilton, a B.C. woman who runs career coaching company Love Your Mondays, said people around the world have been reaching out to her throughout the pandemic.

As the economic downturn continued, she said, more people were ready to consider bigger moves on the job front.

“Initially everyone was worried about their jobs because in March nobody knew what was happening … (by) June, it was just an influx of people looking to create a change,” she said.

Educational institutions are seeing an uptick in interest too. Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, for example, said enrolment for spring-summer courses in 2020 grew by 15 per cent when compared with 2019. Particularly popular were certificate programs in disaster and emergency management, advanced safety and health studies, it said.

Jennifer Hargreaves says that isn’t surprising.

The owner of Tellent, an organization that helps professional women find flexible work opportunities, said COVID-19 has triggered a “big pause” for Canadians juggling work, social calendars and kids, no matter what their plans looked like a year or two ago.

The pandemic pushed them to slow down or stop, she said. Many women even decided to make their career a second priority because daycares closed or their kids moved to virtual schooling.

“It sucks and it forces you to re-evaluate where you are and what you want, but I think that’s a silver lining and a bit of a blessing for some people,” Hargreaves said.

That slowdown came in March for Kristin Hoogendoorn of Milton, Ont.

Hoogendoorn has built a travel business over the past four years, and running it became her passion.

When the pandemic started, she cancelled more than 100 flights for clients and found herself worrying about her husband’s work too because he’s employed by an airline.

After more than a decade of self-employment, Hoogendoorn hadn’t job hunted in years and her self-confidence was wavering, but she knew she had to do something.

“I thought, ‘I can’t live on no income anymore’,” she said. “I just don’t know how we are going to get out of this.”

She eventually sat down with career coaches who boosted her morale and helped her plot her future.

She’s now seeking a part-time job, ideally something in sales or technology that’s relatively pandemic-proof. She’ll hang onto her travel business, but will keep it on the back burner until COVID-19 subsides.

“If I let it go completely I would be giving up and doing a disservice to (my clients) after everything that we’ve been through together,” she said. “It’s too hard.”

Mazerolle, who moved from the first motorcycle company that hired him to working for Mackie Harley-Davidson in January, was quicker to make the career switch, but agreed it was an emotional process.

His anxiety was high and because of strict lockdown restrictions, he felt isolated and missed work.

“When I was let go, it was like I had lost this wonderful umbilical cord attaching me to all the people in my organization, and now they’re gone too,” he said.

Finding a new job was a chance to leave some of those hardships in the dust, but it came with a learning curve, even for a motorcycle lover like Mazerolle.

Now he is constantly learning about parts and accessories, getting excited about innovations Harley-Davidson is working on and talking to customers who love motorcycles as much as he does.

“It is kind of like a dream coming true, and don’t we want our dreams to come true?”

READ MORE: Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacists will distribute NARCAN nasal sprays at 470 Belleville St. May 1 from 7 a.m. until 6 pm. or until handouts are gone. (Black Press File).
Man brought back to life by Vernon RCMP

Victim was not breathing following overdose, until life-saving efforts of police

After 54 years as an educator and community leader in Kelowna, Rolli Cacchioni has died of a stroke. (Contributed/SD23)
Long-time Kelowna educator, community figure dies

SD23 Trustee Rolli Cacchioni died of a stroke March 23, after 54 years with the school district

(FILE)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at Central Okanagan schools

Schools in Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna confirm exposures of the virus

Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games 2022 committee has released its branding for the event which will run Feb. 24-27. (Photo submitted)
Vernon BC Games committee releases branding

Branding, logo released; director of marketing named

Comedian Tim Nutt will put on a pair of outdoor drive-in-style comedy shows at Lake Country’s Swalwell Park on Saturday, March 27. (file photo)
Lake Country hosting first-ever outdoor comedy drive-in

Comedian Tim Nutt to perform two shows at Swalwell Park in a drive-in-style feature March 27

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

A B.C. government-run cannabis retail outlet was proposed for a building to be constructed at the Salmon Arm SmartCentres site. (File photo)
Province backs away from plans for Salmon Arm cannabis store

BC Cannabis Store was proposed to be in building to be constructed at shopping centre

Sicamous will have a new locally-owned option for grabbing a bite on the go as the Snacktastic food trailer opened at the start of March. (Kelly Hesleton/Facebook)
Snacktastic offers Sicamous a new dining option

Food trailer owner Dawn Backs grateful for support from family and community

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Blaze started when man’s campfire catches fuel containers on fire

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read