Jayde Tarbuck was striving to climb the corporate ladder while working in the transport and global supply chain industry. But when a lack of fulfilment left her feeling burnt out, she decided to try something drastically different. She left her job in Australia, sold her belongings and set off to Canada.

After arriving in Vancouver, Jayde found part-time work to keep her afloat while allowing time to explore, try new experiences and grow her confidence. In this interview, she discusses the impact of her time in Canada on her personal development, navigating the logistics of the move, the challenges of seeking work again after arriving back in Australia during a pandemic, and her hopes for the future.

What was your career path before you decided to take some time out?

I was working in the transport and global supply chain industry, in customer service and administration. I loved where I worked – the people in the office really made it enjoyable.

I started off the in the domestic division of the business and decided to move over to the international division in the hope of taking my career overseas, and to also learn a new area of the business.

What inspired you to take a career break and travel to Canada?

Six months before I actually decided to go ahead with it, I started to feel burnt out in life. I stopped feeling inspired no matter who I spoke to or what I did on the weekends. I just didn’t feel fulfilled… I felt a bit too comfortable.

At the time i was also battling mental health issues, and I just knew I had to think outside the box to turn this around for myself.

Jayde left her corporate customer service career in Australia to try out life in Canada

How did you approach the situation with your workplace?

The lead-up to me breaking the news to not only my line manager but also my branch manager was nerve-wracking to say the least! Every few months the company does one-on-one performance reviews, and I was told I would be great fit for an upcoming position. I just flat out came out and said, “that sounds like a great opportunity, but I’ve actually decided to take a career break and move to Canada”. She was taken aback, but she was also excited and happy for me, which came as a great relief.

Now I had to break the news to my branch manager (I thought it was tough having the conversation once, but twice?!). I caught him outside on his own, so with sweaty palms and heart racing I again mentioned what was going on. He was a bit taken aback too, but not only was he was he happy for me, he encouraged me. It felt reassuring that my managers had handled the news so well. I appreciate them to this day.

“I sold my car, quit my job and sold nearly everything that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase.”

How did you plan and prepare for your career break?

I researched a lot. Even just before I left, I still didn’t feel I had researched enough, but I just trusted that everything would work out – and it did. I researched the main necessities such as banking arrangements, social insurance number, which phone providers to connect with, recommended areas to live, and I let the rest fill itself in.

I am lucky as I had a friend from one of my earlier travels in Europe who helped me so much with accommodation and work when I first arrived, helping me settle in and showing me the ropes of Canadian life.

The main thing was that I saved my butt off during the lead-up to the move, as I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t leave myself struggling financially. I sold my car, quit my job and sold nearly everything that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. Something about only having what you need is quite exhilarating!

What was your approach to financing your career break?

I had heard that Canada is an expensive country, especially in the main cities (I started in Vancouver) so I definitely didn’t want to cut myself short, as I didn’t have anyone to save me back home if I ran out of funds. So before I left, I saved a certain percentage of my pay and just really knuckled down and put as much away as I could.

I got a working holiday visa which allowed me to work in Canada for two years. I started with part-time hospitality work, like corporate functions and weddings, and waitressing and bartending near downtown Vancouver. I got enough hours to pay my rent and get groceries, but also enough to explore the city and see the beautiful flora and fauna the country is known for.

“I pulled myself out of bed on my days off and went to a nearby national park for a hike, or checked out events happening downtown, which I would never do back home.”

How did you use the time in Canada, and were there any stand-out experiences?

I left Australia to really bring myself out of my comfort zone and feel inspired with life again, so I filled my time with things i wouldn’t find myself doing back home.

Socially, I can be a nervous person and find it hard to bring myself out of my shell sometimes. Many times I pulled myself out of bed on my days off and went to a nearby national park for a hike, or checked out events happening downtown, which I would never do back home.

I met so many great people just from taking fear out of the equation. I made really good friends with my housemate in Vancouver. I also met a lovely girl from Calgary, and on Halloween (which was a whole new experience for me) she took me to a cornfield maze with her friends. For someone coming from a country that doesn’t celebrate anything like this, It was so fun! I felt so welcomed.

Once winter arrived, I left Vancouver, saw snow for the first time and learned to snowboard.

Jayde Tarbuck cornmaze trip Vancouver
Jayde’s new community of friends in Canada gave her a Halloween experience to always remember

What did you learn on your career break that wouldn’t have been possible in your regular working life?

Honestly, I don’t know where to even begin. I learned to be more independent, and I have a sense of personal growth that I wouldn’t have been able to find being somewhere familiar. Google was my best friend! You find yourself in situations where you just have to figure it out on your own, as your friends and family sometimes aren’t just down the road or a phone call away.

I learned I am stronger and smarter than I give myself credit for, and I am so proud of myself looking back.

What have been the biggest challenges in returning to Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge coming back to Australia from Canada has been finding work. I came back when Covid was coming to the world’s attention (just in time unintentionally).

I flew back to Sydney with the intention to settle there, however after three months I decided to return to my hometown of Brisbane, Queensland, and after battling some personal things for the past few months I have been searching for full-time work. However, I have found it harder than ever to get my foot back in the door in these circumstances. I am staying positive and optimistic that I will soon find the next perfect career step for me.

Jayde Tarbuck snowboarding
Jayde saw snow for the first time when she left Vancouver to go snowboarding

What are your hopes and dreams for your future career direction, and has this been influenced by your time out?

Through my travels, I have learned that organisation and planning is key! And I have really developed in this area.

I have always naturally loved organising, whether that be technologically with emails, databases, photos or in a physical space to help others with accessibility and help make their daily life that little bit easier. I would love to secure a role that incorporates this with planning potential in the form of personal assistant or project administration.

What advice would you give to other people considering taking a career break?

Just like what anybody else will probably tell you. Do it! If I had waited, I probably would have missed my opportunity. Taking a career break let me just enjoy being 23, and gave me that mental space to grow and really tap into what I am capable of.

At the end of the day if it isn’t for you, all you have to do is book a ticket home, and you will never have to think about “what if”. Everyone’s journey and story is different, and whether you travel for three months or eight years, it is still a big achievement to make the choice and give it a try.

Did you enjoy Jayde’s story? Our ebook How to Take a Year Off Work will you start planning your own career break. You can also read more stories in our series of career break interviews.

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Jayde Tarbuck left her job in corporate customer service to live and work in Canada on a career gap. In this interview she tells her story. #careergap #careerbreak #canada #gapyear #sabbatical

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