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Work Life Balance is Not a Myth at Keyano College

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“You can’t put a dollar figure on it. Keyano has allowed me to be a full-time mom, and even though I work part-time, I feel like I am a full-time teacher thoroughly committed to my students and to my work,” says Pierre, who has three grown children now.

Pierre is a Keyano veteran. She has been with the college for 26 years in one capacity or another and says being a part-time contract instructor has fulfilled her on many levels.

 When Pierre moved to Fort McMurray in 1977 from Guyana, South America, her country of origin, it was to follow her husband who took a job with Syncrude Canada. She began in administrative assistant roles at the college and then completed the Office Administration Diploma Program in 1995 followed by the Microsoft Office Specialist Master Certification in 2004. Becoming a contract instructor was a strategic and easy choice.

“Getting summers off, and a winter break were the deciding factors for me versus full-time work. I get to pick and choose my own hours, and decide when I work, and when I don’t,” shares Pierre, who teaches computer skills, reading in the workplace, and writing in the workplace in addition to elements of Microsoft Office such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Dr. Kevin Nagel, president and CEO of Keyano College, invites you to join the team.

“The Municipality of Wood Buffalo is home to one of our country’s most educated and credentialed populations. We know that there are many people in our community who have the qualifications or industry certifications that, with some post-secondary teaching instruction, could become terrific classroom instructors or industry trainers. What we are offering people through our hiring blitz is an opportunity to pursue teaching and/or training for personal development reasons, and, if they like it, as a rewarding part-time or full-time career.”

Intrigued yet? At first glance you may not think Fort McMurray can be your key to careers other than the oil sands. But that is far from true. Whether it is the municipality, the hospital, or other businesses, there is a world beyond the oil sands that is thriving because there are those who love their jobs – and translate them into careers. And, these jobs don’t include driving heavy haulers, or waking up at 4 a.m.

You can even try the theory out because Keyano has recently launched a contract instructor hiring blitz for both full-time and part-time instructors. Not only is the institution offering to train you to become an instructor, but they are even offering interested individuals the chance to tell them what they would like to teach.

Alanna Bottrell, marketing coordinator, Continuing Education & Corporate Training, Keyano College, says this is an incredible opportunity for the community to share their expertise.

“Teaching full-time is a perfect transition between working and retirement.  You love what you do, and you’re passionate about the industry, but you’re not quite ready to call it quits.  What better solution is there?  Teaching at the post-secondary level is very rewarding.  Anyone in your class wants, or needs, to be there, so you’re not dealing with grade-school level issues. It’s an exciting job, because you’re always meeting new people and there’s no set routine,” she shares.

As the region battles a skilled labour shortage, who better to teach the trades than those in the field? Keyano’s Trades & Heavy Industrial Division is more than happy to have interested individuals come in and shadow their instructors. If you are close to retirement, then retiring your way is also an opportunity at Keyano College. Work according to your own schedule, and phase in the retirement process. Teaching your expertise and what you are passionate about to the next generation has never been easier.

Instructing part-time is a great career move as Pierre has shared. It not only affirms your status as a subject-matter expert, it gives you the opportunity to expand your skill-set, while you make valuable industry connections. It’s like grooming a new generation of the work-force.

Pierre says over the years she has been offered many other jobs, but she always declines. The camaraderie at Keyano, the flexibility, and the comfortable environment is priceless.

“My colleagues are my second family. I’ve never been lured away,” emphasizes Pierre, who says contract instructors are often offered professional development opportunities.

The fulfillment she gets from hearing feedback from students on what Keyano does for them is the icing on the cake for Pierre, who says Keyano is always listening to community needs.

“Keyano has kept tuition fees low across the province. I used to analyze these numbers in an earlier position, and our fees have always been reasonable; I also used to keep tabs on job retention numbers for Keyano alumni, and those numbers were always high. Keyano is just awesome.”

“I am very passionate about learning and encouraging others. My biggest achievement is when a student calls and says ’Pam, I got the job!’ That’s their goal, and that’s my goal for them. It’s the ultimate job appraisal.”

Ultimate job appraisal. Who knew part-time employment could lead to satisfaction on so many levels. Are you thinking of updating that resume yet?

Randall Mantai agrees. A full-time Power Engineering instructor at Keyano, this summer Mantai took a four-week summer vacation to Halifax.  And he thanks Keyano College for it.

“I have never taken four weeks off for vacation. Keyano is incredible,” he says.

Mantai worked for the oil sands as a process operator/power engineer for seven years, but for the last five years was browsing the college’s website thinking of working there.

“I wasn’t sure about the pay cut. But I was pleasantly surprised. I could support my family; I’m so glad I made the move” recalls Mantai, who joined the college last March, and is married with four children.

“In fact, this has worked out even better, because my wife and I budget in a better way. We are actually in a better financial situation now,” adds Mantai, who moved from Hinton, Alta. to Fort McMurray and has a degree in Education.
Saving money also? The contractor instructor gig is looking better and better. Then there’s something to be said about the priceless work-life balance. These are the daily family activities, being able to pursue hobbies, and gaining quality of life – it’s all part of the package.

“The work-life balance is incredible. I have supper with my family daily instead of waiting for the six-off days,” Mantai says.
Let’s come back to having summers off.  That’s right! Up to four weeks off with pay, depending on how you create your schedule. Whether you drive to Halifax from Fort McMurray like Mantai did, a trip he dubs one of the most memorable of his life, want to visit a dream destination or have the luxury to drop and pick your children up from school daily like Pierre did,  with a Keyano career, dreams translate into realities faster.

“Even when I choose to teach during the summer months I get out of class early enough to catch up on my golf. I couldn’t do that out at site. It also means getting to spend more time with my wife who is a high school teacher,” continues Mantai with a smile.

Not to get emotional on you, but there’s also something to be said about fulfillment at work, the one Pierre described so passionately, and building long-lasting friendships – elements that both Pierre and Mantai say are key to being happier.

“These friendships are beyond the work hours. Working at Keyano College is fulfilling and I can now volunteer for my church, with future plans to sing and act for Keyano Theatre. Working long hours at site begins to wear you out as you grow older. I love my job at Keyano. I have been given the gift of time.

“The gift of time.” Mantai said it best! Maybe this is your gift to yourself for the New Year – joining the Keyano team and attaining that coveted work-life balance everyone seems to be raving about.

There’s a variety of courses that can use your expertise. Just a few of  these are: computer training, dance, music, art, photography, professional book-keeping, project management, leadership in action, and more.

If you have questions, visit: for more details. Or, submit a resume to for the course(s) that you are interested in teaching.

Are you polishing your resume yet?


What it takes to be a part-time Keyano Instructor

  • Dedication to students. Our students are our number one priority and we’re looking for instructors with a similar outlook!
  • Flexible schedule (courses: some are single day-long ones, and others run for a few months at a time. What’s more, some courses run on weekdays while others take place on evenings or weekends).
  • Experts in their field or subject matter.
  • Willing to participate in Keyano’s new Instructor Training program. This program will act as a gold standard for all Keyano instructors, to ensure that we are providing the best possible experience to our students.
  • Organized.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Eager to pass on their skills and experience to a new generation of workers.

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