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Millennial bails on high-paying company existence she despised

“The Work Shift” collection is written for Each day Hive by Gerald Narciso, a Vancouver-based freelance journalist, as he speaks with millennials and Gen Z employees who’re navigating the post-pandemic job market in real-time.


Dyed blonde hair spills out of the again of Monique Music’s black welding helmet.

The 30-year-old is on the store ground at his metallic fabrication apprenticeship and analyzing a blueprint for a personalized flat deck body that can finally sit on a truck mattress. Steel sparks fly and loud drilling sounds persist as she cuts by way of the aluminum sheet.

Every single day is a grind. However she prefers it that approach.

A female welder holds tools as she works in a shop

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“There’s undoubtedly a variety of research on how transferring the physique makes you content,” says Music, who lately moved to Langley from Vancouver. “What I like about my work is which you could visibly see what you have completed in a day.

“The success is correct in entrance of your eyes.”

Working within the trades is hardly the profession path for her, conventional Asian dad and mom envisioned for her. In Music’s youth by way of effectively into her maturity, her household has a variety of affect, generally even dictated her schooling and profession choices.

“As a lady, they had been fearful about what I used to be doing with my life,” Music says. “At this level, both you are purported to have a profession that you just’re chasing after, or you might have a companion that you just’re constructing a household with. I had neither.”

On the robust urging of her father, Music utilized and was accepted into the Grasp of Enterprise Administrative (MBA) program at Simon Fraser College (SFU) in 2020. But it surely did not really feel proper, nor did it appear logical to Music. She sought a profession that was apparently recession-proof and a level or certificates that may not depart her in important pupil debt.

Most of all, Music wished to cease pretending to be somebody he wasn’t.

“While you graduate from college, you go land a job and then you definately’re anticipated to sort of keep there and climb the ladder,” says Sweet Ho, an assistant professor of Integrative Profession & Capstone Studying on the College of Fraser Valley (UFV ).

“We now know that not everybody needs to climb the ladder. There are numerous different elements that decide profession happiness.”

Young people working industry

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Work-life steadiness, flexibility, firm tradition, job roles, and naturally, compensation, are key indicators for happiness, particularly with the Gen Z and millennial generations. A extremely publicized 2010 examine, carried out by Nobel Prize award winner Angus Deaton, asserts that happiness peaks at $75,000 per yr. Something past that determine solely compounded issues for the earner.

Music by no means felt fulfilled, accepted, and even steady, within the company world the place she had instincts as an government assistant and a undertaking supervisor. Excel spreadsheets and workplace tradition had been an existence that she despised.

“I used to be simply there counting the minutes and ready for the weekend,” she says. “And that is type of on the level the place I simply determined to make a shift.”

The reset

Huge and arid desert land sprinkled with sparse bushes makes up the desolate Australian Outback.

Work shifts Monique Song

moniquesong/Instagram

On the finish of 2018 Music left her job as an government assistant at a healthcare firm in Vancouver to maneuver to Australia underneath the momentary Working Vacation visa for Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35.

For greater than a yr, he explored and camped throughout the nation’s countless deserts and spectacular coasts in rugged 4WD SUVs. She soul-searched, pursued love, and filmed her adventures on her standard Overland Woman YouTube channel.

Monique Song

Music documented her travels all through Australia on her YouTube channel. Submitted

On high of documenting the intense stars and navigating the tough terrain, she would tinker with the automobile’s elements and supply tutorials in assembling tenting tools.

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It was additionally Down Beneath the place Music developed her affinity with the trades and the way the nation embraced blue-collar work.

“Individuals there are proud to be a ‘tradie,’” she says. “They even put a ‘tradie’ on their Tinder profile.”

Nevertheless, handbook labor professions carry a stigma in Music’s tradition. Her household immigrated to Canada from China in 2009 — when she was 16 years previous — and he or she was anticipated to review enterprise at college after which thrive within the company world.

“Being a blue-collar employee in China is sort of appeared down on, it is virtually an indication of not being good sufficient,” mentioned Music, who earned a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise administration from Kwantlen Polytechnic College (KPU) in 2017.

The worldwide pandemic pressured Music to return to Canada within the spring of 2020. She was all set to return to actuality and start her grad college research till studying your complete grasp’s program could be carried out nearly.

“It made me rethink whether or not or not I nonetheless wish to take an MBA, as a result of the entire level of taking an MBA is to be in a collaborative hands-on working atmosphere,” says Music, additionally noting the five-figure tuition connected to grad college. “So, I simply thought that it actually wasn’t value it simply because my dad instructed me to do it.”

She additionally thought-about that company employees had been prone throughout financial downturns.

“So, there’s that a part of the important or nonessential concept that involves thoughts by way of job safety,” she says. “You should make certain the work you are doing is all the time going to be vital irrespective of how dangerous the financial system is.”

Work Shifts

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In 2021, Music enrolled in BCIT’s Trades Discovery for Ladies program which sparked her curiosity in metallic fabrication. She is at the moment an apprentice with the Intercontinental Truck Physique in Surrey and lately acquired her Degree Two in February.

She has not appeared again.

Cash vs Happiness

Like in most profession adjustments, there have been tradeoffs for Music.

Tuition for the one-year, full-time MBA program at SFU prices $43,836 (plus roughly $5,000 in pupil charges and books). However the payoff is probably profitable. Entry-level MBA grads in British Columbia earn a median of $66,303 per yr in response to ZipRecruiter, whereas graduates within the seventy fifth percentile earn $96,500, and high earners web $135,500.

Compared, the 26-week BCIT trades discovery program tuition prices round $2,500. By the top of the trades discovery and metallic fabrication packages, she acquired her funding again by way of grants sponsored by Live performance Properties and the BC Middle for Ladies within the Trades.

An estimated 96 % of apprentices from BCIT get employment. And no matter what Music’s dad and mom might imagine, working as a metallic fabricator has supplied a steady revenue.

Monique Song

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Based on Certainly, the typical wage is an estimated $37 per hour (roughly $76,000 per yr). That determine instantly mirrors the one in that 2010 happiness examine.

“What’s $120,000 a yr if you cannot do your hobbies or are feeling burnt out?” asks Ho, who can be the vice-chair of CERIC, a Canadian nonprofit geared toward advancing profession improvement for younger folks.

“It goes again to ‘how are you residing in alignment together with your core values?’ And I feel that is the larger query.”

Work Shifts

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If residing in her truck in the course of the Australian Outback was any indication, Music enjoys the simplicity of life. She does not take care of the rat race and has no want to reside in an Olympic Village highrise. In reality, she has zero qualms about finally transferring to distant areas of BC the place the incomes alternative for commerce employees is increased.

However extra essential than a steady profession, incomes potential, and significant work, Music has discovered peace and acceptance. She is proud to be a ‘tradie’ and her dad and mom have come round as effectively.

“Enterprise college and a Grasp’s Diploma is what my dad and mom used to assume was the one strategy to be completely happy in life,” she says. “However a fulfilled life takes many types.”


Learn half 1 of the collection: How out-of-work millennials are navigating the brand new regular, half 2: The wrestle is actual. Even with a facet hustle, and half 3: Laid off couple in tech considers abandoning Canadian metropolis.

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