My Career Transition Journey


You probably don't know too much about me but I was one of the thousands of airline personnel who was furloughed (laid off) from my position at one of Canada's largest airlines.

It feels like a lifetime ago that all it happened and to know that it's been almost a year since I donned my uniform and ran from gate to gate makes me feel a sense of loss. Anyone who's worked in the aviation industry knows that it's not just a job to us, it's a second family to a lot of us, we spend most major holidays together, we celebrate our highs and our lows. We fiercely stand up for each other and of course we travel together.

To say that I miss my life before this pandemic happened is a huge understatement, I miss it every day and it's not the job I miss, I miss the people I spent those early mornings and late nights with. The frustrations, camaraderie, inside jokes, and the feeling of belonging to something bigger than any of us. It was an exhilarating experience and if/when I do get called back, I'll gladly go back because to me it's more than just a company, it's my second family and I'll always be there to support my family.

Stop with the nostalgia Chrystina

Now, that you know about what I did before the pandemic let me catch you up on what went down once it was announced as a pandemic and the whole world shut down and when my life and many others came crashing down around us.

We'll start here...

My Career Transition Journey

  • April 2020: laid off/furloughed
  • May 2020: applied to a full time bootcamp that specializes in career transitions
  • June 2020: started my bootcamp program
  • Sept 2020: graduated from my program
  • Jan 2021: started as a full time product designer

When I look back at those dates, it doesn't seem like it took me that long and a lot of people will congratulate you for the transition. But what a lot of people fail to see is the amount of tears, hard work, sleepless nights, fear, and faith that went into making the transition. I've always wanted to go back to school to get my foot into the door of tech, an industry that I've always wanted to be a part of. I knew that I had already made a huge change and moved to Toronto a year prior to this and that I wasn't interested in going back into sales.

I had given myself a year to adjust to a new city and then I was going to take a crack at finding a position that was more in line with what my career had been up to this point. Going back to school was on the back burner for me, at least for the next few years, it wasn't something I was going to pursue until I had a solid footing in my new city. If you're following along, my one year in Toronto had come and then a couple months after I had reached my one year, well, the world shut down and I had to throw all my plans out the window and come up with a brand new plan.

I didn't think the pandemic would last as long as it has but as the months went on and we were now almost into June, I started to think about school. I was extremely depressed and trying to come to terms with the fact that we may never be called back and I had to figure something out. It was around this time I sat down with my partner and talked about how I was feeling and that I want to go back to school to change careers. Like the salesperson that I am, I presented all my research I had done into the industry I had chosen, the school I had chosen and the cost. He was wary of it and it was a huge risk but he supported me in my endeavours. In the end he just wanted me to be happy and if I thought this would make me happy, he'll be there to support me in any way that he can.

I told just my family and close friends that I was going back to school because I knew that there'd be a lot of judgement coming from other places and I just didn't have the mental bandwidth to deal with that kind of scrutiny, so I kept it to myself and my support system. So with their support, I scheduled a call and got the ball rolling on my enrollment.

As you can see from my timeline, I completed my program and secured my first position as a product designer.

That's great, but what did you learn Chrystina?

Now that you know me a hell of a lot more, the amount of lessons I learned in this whole process and continue to learn has been so invaluable to me.

I will say this to you ...

If you're also making the transition or looking to make a career transition, know that you'll feel like giving up, you'll be exhausted from all the rejections and question all your career and life choices and think you made a horrible mistake and that this is impossible.  

Know that it's not easy to break into an industry you've never been a part of, to forge a new path in a career that only once felt like a dream, a thought, a second thought to you, an impossibility, but now here you are, living it. Be proud that you have the courage to take that chance on yourself, that you invested in yourself and believed in yourself.

I'll be the first to admit that I gave up almost more than once in this process and thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life but I persevered and made it happen. Be kind to yourself, congratulate yourself for taking this step, for being brave and for taking a chance on yourself. it may seem impossible at times but it's in those moments of impossibility that you'll see just how strong and resilient you really are.

In the words of my instructors:

Embrace the ambiguity

Until next time!