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Marie-Ève Beauregard, from hairdresser to auto bodywork champion

Published on : April 12, 2022

This article is part of the series entitled Stories FPT, an initiative supported by the RBC Foundation and produced by Compétences Québec. Showcasing about thirty individuals from all walks of life, this series aims to propose different points of view on vocational and technical training in Québec and the skilled trades in Québec.

At the age of 39, Marie-Ève Beauregard, from Lachute, won gold at the Skills Canada National Competition in Autobody Repair. She is a shining example of perseverance and successful career reorientation. After working as a hairdresser, clerk, surveyor, bookseller and administrative assistant, this mom and stepmom decided to return to school in her mid-thirties to find a job she was passionate about. "It's never too late to follow your instincts and make your dreams come true," says the bubbly motor vehicle body repairer, who is proud to have finally found her calling in a trade that suits her personality.

First Foray Into the Job Market

Marie-Ève Beauregard chose to change paths in her mid-thirties and enrolled in a DVS in Auto Bodywork. With the help of Emploi-Québec, she is perseverance personified. Her journey highlights the variety of profiles that can be found in vocational training.

Marie-Ève Beauregard did not have an easy childhood. Family problems led her to change schools about fifteen times as a teenager. But she was a good student and obtained her high school diploma before undertaking vocational studies, a DVS in Hairdressing. "It's an age when you're looking for yourself a lot, and I think I was misdirected at the time," she analyzes retrospectively. "You didn't hear much about trades when I was younger, everything was separated into jobs for guys and jobs for girls, but because I liked to dabble in everything and enjoyed a lot of things, it was hard for me to choose a path and make the right choice."

First Career in a Hair Salon

Before enrolling in the DVS in Auto Bodywork, Marie-Ève participated in the Student for a Day activity, giving her an overview of the skills taught and the equipment.

Marie-Ève worked as a hairdresser for a few years, but working evenings and weekends was getting to her. In addition, her carpal tunnel started to hurt, and she felt bored at work. She gradually left hairdressing for a job as a merchandise receiving clerk in a student co-op, where she became the bookstore manager.

At 25, driven by a desire for change, she became interested in the construction industry and obtained a DVS in surveying and topography (French program only - DEP Arpentage-topographie). "It was an interesting profession, but I quickly realized that I didn't like working far from home or outdoors," she says. She then had a series of small administrative jobs before ending up at the local employment center during another period of unemployment.

The Orientation Process

"From the very first practical modules, I realized I was performing well. I was always happy to be at school. All in all, this DVS gave me a good foundation to practice the trade." Marie-Ève Beauregard.

Marie-Ève has nothing but praise for the support she received when trying to find her calling. "The Emploi-Québec team in Lachute, in collaboration with the Trousso, Direction emploi, an employability organization, did a wonderful job of helping me find the right path and choose a trade for the right reasons," she says.

"I went in there with the idea of becoming a medical transcriptionist. I wanted something stable with good pay. But my counsellor confronted me with my contradictions, as I had told her I didn't want to work in an office anymore.” After several meetings, Marie-Ève became interested in auto bodywork.

Hair Dye, Car Paint

What does her gold medal mean? It confirms that she is in the right place. It is also a great reward for the work she has accomplished. "You know, when I set out to go back to school, with all that it entailed, my mindset was: I want to be the best!" she says.

"When I read the description of the skills when considering this job, a little light went on in my head. They were looking for individuals with manual and artistic skills. Even my experience as a hairdresser could help me in this new profession. All the stars were aligned!" She visited the auto body workshops at the Centre d'études professionnelles Saint-Jérôme and participated in a Student for a Day activity. She asked about the financial assistance offered by Emploi-Québec and discussed her project with her spouse. Although he was the one to transmit his passion for cars to her over the years, he was surprised by this change but encouraged her.

Everything took shape quickly, and in the fall, while her daughter was starting kindergarten and her stepson was starting high school, Marie-Ève enrolled at the CEP Saint-Jérôme in Auto Bodywork. "Without the financial support of Emploi-Québec, I would certainly not have gone through with it," she says. "They covered my school fees, even the cost of my daughter's daycare. This allowed me to concentrate on my studies without financial stress."

"The Emploi-Québec team in Lachute, in collaboration with the Trousso, Direction emploi, an employability organization, did a wonderful job of helping me find the right path and choose a trade for the right reasons."

Marie-Ève Beauregard, Motor Vehicle Body Repairer

Learning a New Trade

After graduating from the CEP Saint-Jérôme in 2019, Marie-Ève worked in several garages. She doesn't intend to stop, as she is already thinking about developing her skills even more to become an auto bodywork teacher.

Marie-Ève has only good memories of her DVS. "From the very first practical modules, I realized I was performing well. I was always happy to be at school. All in all, this DVS gave me a good foundation to practice the trade."

And what about being the only girl in a group of guys? "It's not a problem for me," answers the Lachutoise. "I've always enjoyed being in their company. It's simple, and there's a sense of humour." Her teacher and coach, Mr.Régnaud, mentioned to journalist France Poirier of the newspaper L'Accès of Saint-Sauveur that during her training at the CEP Saint-Jérôme, Marie-Ève distinguished herself by her level of motivation in all of her courses.

"When I read the description of the skills when considering this job, a little light went on in my head. They were looking for individuals with manual and artistic skills. Even my experience as a hairdresser could help me in this new profession. All the stars were aligned!"

Marie-Ève Beauregard, Motor Vehicle Body Repairer

Best in the Country

On June 15, the auto bodywork graduate won first place in the virtual Skills Canada National Competition. It was a very emotional moment for the competitor: "It proves to me that I can forge ahead in life. I found my passion and I am a great example for my children."

Due to the pandemic, the events were held remotely, in a virtual edition, meaning that Marie-Ève was filmed performing the test projects that judges across Canada evaluated. She received her gold medal during an online ceremony.

Training to Become the Best

"I trained with my teacher and coach Jacques Régnaud, who was incredibly professional and always available," says a grateful Marie-Ève. "I learned a lot during the whole process, and winning this medal was a source of intense emotion and pride. I cried. My boyfriend was going crazy!

"My daughter did all kinds of drawings and arts and crafts medals for me. Of course, I would have preferred to experience the "live" competition and the whole atmosphere of the Skills Competition, but this win confirmed that I was in the right place. You know, when I set out to go back to school, with all that it entailed, my mindset was: I want to be the best!"

Working in a Garage

After graduating from the CEP Saint-Jérôme in 2019, Marie-Ève worked for a while in her first garage, Fix Auto, before joining the BMW team in Laval. While she would go through periods where she worked, she also went through periods of unemployment, and the pandemic upset her plans. Since then, things have improved for her. She works at Carrosserie Préférence, in Terrebonne, where she has opportunities to work on different types of vehicles: trucks, buses, etc. “It's really varied and really fun!" She plans to develop her skills, gain experience and become an auto bodywork teacher. "I'm starting my Bachelor of Education part-time next January."

Follow Your Dreams

Marie-Ève Beauregard knows she can inspire others like her to return to school and consider a non-traditional field. "I tell people they have to be daring. Just set goals and go for it! Guys are happy to see girls coming into the garage. With the right attitude - hard-working, easy-going - you fit right in."

RBC Foundation/Fondation