Current Job: Home Daycare Provider
Current City/Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Education: Public Relations Practitioner Diploma, Algonquin College, 2000
Sara’s Story: When Sara first took work as a nanny, it was simply a means to an end: she needed a way to pay the bills. But after exploring different office jobs, she realized her calling was to work with children. Today, she couldn’t be happier in her career.
Sara’s Career Path:
Be Aware of Your Interests
Sara Lefebvre took the first job she could find out of high school. It ended up being in the field of her dreams. She just didn’t know it at the time. “I was 18 when I moved out, so it was sort of survival of the fittest,” says Sara. “I had to pay the bills, so I answered a call for a nanny position through a newspaper ad.” Sara had worked as a camp counsellor and had done high school co-op placements at a daycare, so she already knew she loved working with children. She just hadn’t thought of it as a career path.
Find What Makes You Happy
While Sara brought home the bacon as a nanny, she took night courses toward her Public Relations Practitioner diploma at Algonquin College. She wasn’t passionate about the program, but felt pressure to pursue something that would bring her a higher income than, say, being a childcare provider. After graduating in 2000, Sara accepted an entry-level job at Nortel Networks, hoping to get her foot in the door and launch her career. It took her all of six weeks to realize that it wasn’t making her happy. “I didn’t like working inside and I wanted to work more with people,” she says. “I loved taking care of kids and I missed it.”
Learn by Example
Sara left Nortel and found full-time nanny work in her neighbourhood. She was absolutely in her element. “The kids are fascinating to me,” she says. “Where else can you go to work and get kisses and cuddles every day and be told ‘I love you’?” Sara spent the next few years providing childcare at other people’s homes. She thought her career couldn’t get any better, until she paid a visit to a friend in Calgary in 2007. Her friend had recently left an administrative position so she could run a home daycare, which allowed her to spend more time with her own young children. “She was really happy doing it and I loved her set-up,” Sara says of her friend. “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m ready.’ I had outgrown the nanny job.”
Get the Education You Need
When Sara returned to Ottawa, she enrolled in several courses offered through Mothercraft and the Child Care Providers Resource Network, learning everything she needed to know about opening a home daycare—from child development and healthy nutrition, to home safety, First Aid and CPR. In March 2008, Sara opened her own home daycare. Business has been booming ever since.
Use Your Skills in New Ways
Sara sees her career as the ideal situation for a woman who loves children and wants to be a very hands-on mother. But she doesn’t regret having taken a somewhat roundabout route to get there. The knowledge and experience she gained while completing her diploma have certainly been put to good use. “It’s given me really good organizational skills and people skills,” she says. “I work with different families, and sometimes I have to learn how to work out issues. I also have to plan little parties and activities for the kids. So (my diploma) benefits me. I think all education benefits you.”
“Find something that you like and that you can see yourself getting up and going to work for over the next 25 or 30 years. You don’t have to make a lot of money; you just have to like your job.”