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'I've never been happier' | COVID is forcing people to make big career changes

The pandemic has people reevaluating priorities and making unexpected job changes in the process.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is no question the pandemic got a lot of people to re-prioritize what matters and in some cases that meant unexpected career change.

It took eight years and a pandemic to convince Chrissy Santos to ditch corporate America and turn her side hustle of making and selling personalized gifts into her full-time job.

"I was like I feel like this is my sign. I was always so nervous, I didn’t have confidence and I just went for it and I've never been busier, never been happier, never had more time with my family," Santos said. 

April Whitlock lost her dad in an unexpected accident weeks before the shutdown last year, prompting a hard look at her priorities.

"I was also processing my own grief and realizing life is short and I needed to make sure that what I was doing for myself and my career that I really loved and it was something that fed me," Whitlock said. 

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After years of running her own business, she went back to work at Charlotte-based Lending Tree – serving as the company’s head of corporate citizenship – the same company she started her career at 22 years ago.

"Your job is literally to help your company give back and do good in the community," Michelle Boudin asked. 

"It is. And I pinch myself every morning that I get the opportunity to do this," she replied. 

Santos too is pinching herself. Right out of the gate she made more money in two days than she used to take home in a two-week paycheck.

"There are tears because people love what I do, this is what I’m supposed to do, this is what joy feels like," Santos said. 

Whitlock is also celebrating and recognizing the bigger picture impact of the changes she made.

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"It was a dream to be able to go back to the place it all started in the city that I love and create an impact program – just a kiss from my dad I like to think," Whitlock said. 

A recent study by a human resources software company found 64% of Americans are looking for new job opportunities.