Tag Archives: Career Change

Getting down and dirty :D

15 Aug

Mud, excrement, rain, kitchen prep, weeding……….none of those things sound particularly exciting or intriguing (well, not for most people :p) but these are all words that relate to my new extremely exciting adventures at a local wildlife sanctuary 😀

When looking for new ways to get some real life experience to help with my new chosen career, I did lots of research and found the courses I have previously written about but I was also exceptionally lucky to find myself having a conversation with an ex colleague of mine who, when I told her about my new plans, let me know that she was studying (also via distance learning) for a certificate in Captive Animals, part of which is 8 hours of volunteer work per week at a local animal shelter/sanctuary. She told me it had been very difficult to find such experience but that she had finally been successful at an out-of-town sanctuary where they don’t get many volunteers due to location. I asked if she could put in a good word for me, and lo and behold, it turned out that they were having a volunteer induction day on the 22nd July 😀

So, of course I registered and took a day off work ( I don’t think I mentioned before, but I am currently temping at the moment, recovering from my old job and filling in the time until I finally get to go back to university(hopefully!)) to attend.

This place is a dream for me, it’s set in the most beautiful location, they have over 350 animals on site (mostly Australian species such as dingoes, wallabies and koalas, just to name a few), and everyone there is wildlife/environment mad and so full of expertise and knowledge which I can just soak up like a sponge!
They have also breeding programs for all sorts of endangered species which I have a special interest in and of course, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

You know when you ask yourself “why haven’t I been doing this all along??”Well, that was me!!

So now I go every second Saturday from 9-5, and get muddy & sweaty cleaning out enclosures, feeding and watering the animals, doing general maintenance and coming up with new ways to keep the animals active and enriched, I LOVE it 😀 There will also be opportunities to get involved with sexing and tagging new arrivals of which there are going to be many very soon as we are heading into spring and the capturing of any animals that may require medical attention (In fact, only last Saturday one of the male Potoroos had unfortunately scratched his eye and we spent about 1 ½ hours trying to catch him, but to no avail (the nifty bugger) so hopefully they had better luck yesterday 🙂

My best moment so far has been feeding the resident Barking Owl. The keeper let me know that she can sometimes fly to you for feeding if she feels like it, so I donned the falconry glove, took some meat and held me arm up high for her to see. And wouldn’t you know it, this beautiful bird decided that I looked ok and swooped down to land on my arm!! I have never been so in awe in all my life. This amazingly beautiful and powerful (you should have seen her talons!!) bird sat with me to enjoy her whole meal, those big bright eyes staring right into me. Most children’s animal stories feature a wise owl, and I can definitely see where the inspiration comes from 🙂 It was one of the best days of my whole life!

It’s really just such a great environment to be in, and not only do I feel like I’m taking a huge step forward and learning heaps, but I’m also doing a lot of good as the sanctuary is privately owned and receives no government funding, therefore they rely heavily on their volunteers.

Plus, it gave me a good excuse to buy that pair of gum boots (or wellies as I would call them) that I have hankered after forever (yes, I know I’m a little strange!). Bob took one look at them and said to me, with a slightly concerned expression,  “you’re not really planning to wear those ALL the time are you?” ;D

Fact 4: The Barking Owl is a nocturnal bird species native to mainland Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea. They are a medium-sized brown owl and have an extremely characteristic voice that sounds exactly like a barking dog noise! Here in Australia, Barking Owls are often said to be the source to the myths and legends surrounding the Bunyip.


Making the Application :D

8 Aug

So, I have made the decision to return to study 😀

Since coming to this conclusion, I’ve been spending lots of time researching, finding out all my options, what courses are available and how to make my dream of studying again a reality.

I guess I should let you know at this point that I have only been in Melbourne for 8 years and I’m originally from Scotland, therefore all my previous study was done over there, and I have very little knowledge about how the Australian tertiary schooling system works. So, as you can imagine, that has my first point of call!

There are plenty of great universities here in my local Australian state of Victoria, so it was a case of finding out which ones had the best courses, most suited to what I want to do.  Here in Victoria, most applications for all tertiary courses need to be done through a central admission centre (VTAC) and they allow up to 12 applications per year. The way it works is that they go through your preferences directly with the universities on your behalf until one of them acccepted (hopefully!).

I have found 9 suitable under-graduate degrees (from various universities) ranging from Environmental Science (Wildlife & Conservation Biology) to straight Science. My last three preferences are TAFE (Technical and Further Education institutions) courses which are shorter courses that will provide an entry into further university study should I fail to get accepted into any of my 9 under-grad preferences this time around. I don’t like to think of not getting in this time around, not when I am so anxious to get going, but I believe I must cover all my bases, as I have defintely learned in the past few years that nothing should ever be taken for granted!

As I’m sure many of you are aware, it’s a little more complicated applying as a mature-aged student than applying as a school leaver. Here in Australia, school leavers receive one score when they graduate (the ATAR) which is their key to university study. For me, what counts is an undergraduate degree that I completed almost 10 years ago (in a completely different field) and to be honest, the first time round, I wasn’t the best of students, preferring the many Edinburgh student bars on offer as opposed to the to the student library! Luckily, as a mature-aged applicant, there were other options available to me in lieu of having the ATAR as well as having prior tertiary qualifications.

I could submit a personal information sheet, which is pretty much like a personal essay where you can state your reasons for returning to study, committment etc. This part was easy, as brimming over with excitement as I am at the moment. It also is a chance to talk about what you have done to show your passion for your chosen area of study but more on this later 😀

The other option is to sit the local STATs (Special Tertiary Admissions Tests), a series of tests designed to assess a range of competencies considered important for success in tertiary study, covering writing, numeracy and analytic skills. Luckily, when I had flirted with the idea of studying last year, I had actually sat these tests, and I have to say that I was pretty happy when I found out that my results are valid for use for up to 5 years after sitting, so no more scary entrance exams for me this year 😉

So, courses found and requirements discovered,  I then went to VTAC, and when all applications opened on the 1st August, I lodged all my 12 choices through their Special Entry Access Scheme (this scheme covers applying as a mature-aged student) 😀 😀 😀

I am SO excited, nervous, scared and a whole number of other adjectives but I have to now call in all my skills in the art of patience (of which I do not have many) as I am in for a long wait. Not including early admissions, the first round offers don’t come out until Jan 16th!!!

5 months feels like an age at this point, but I just have to buckle down and get on with it. And there are plenty of related things I can be doing with my time between now and then….but that’s for a different post ;D

Fact No 2: Echidnas and Platypus are the only living mammals that lay eggs instead of live young! (Both species found here in Australia.)

And just because……Echidna babies are called puggles!

For more information, please see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echidnas and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

NB: I feel I must apologise for this detail laden post, but I felt that if anyone is reading who may be considering starting on the same journey, these descriptions could help in some small way!

How do you start a journey? By taking the first step…

4 Aug

Ok, so I know it’s been a while since my first (and last post)! Not to worry, that just means that I have a lot more to fill you in on in regards to my quest for finding my “purpose”. It’s been a very busy few (alright, so more than a few) months!

When I last left you, I was disenchanted with my current career, was working in sales, and looking to make a change, at the ripe old age of 30 🙂

And look for this change I did.

I spent a lot of time thinking about where my passions truly lay, and realised there were 3 main contenders: wildlife, musical theatre and books. Now, musical theatre is a big part of my life, I try to perform in an amateur production at least once a year, and love working with a number of different amateur theatre companies in Melbourne. However, would I want to do this as a career? Not so much. Amateur shows last for about 4 months, including rehearsals and performances. It’s exciting, challenging and very fulfilling, but there can be some down-sides. The hours are late, there is a LOT of bitchiness, and the thought of doing the same show night after night for years on end, just doesn’t appeal. Also, and I’m being completely honest here, whilst I’m not without a bit of talent, the competitive nature and just sheer amount of people out there who are just way more talented than me, would see me perhaps, if I was VERY lucky, land the occasional  chorus part. This all translates to a lifetime of serving tea and coffee waiting for the next opportunity….Not much of positive life change (for me at least!)

Then I came to Wildlife. And not just wildlife….under this heading also falls nature, environment sustainability and natural science. I am the eternal  tom-boy, and would prefer a life, dressed in overalls and gum boots, saving the planet, to anything else. So right there should have been my answer. Well, unfortunately it was not as straight forward as that. I did a LOT of research and what it all boiled down to was that if I wanted to forge a career of substance in this industry, I would definitely need to study as my original degree was an MA Hons in Philosophy (yes, get the laughs out 😉 ) and therefore of NO use to me in the field. *Actually probably a side note here should be that at 17, when I was asked to choose my preferences for university, I had no idea how important that decision was in determining my future. (I’m pretty sure most people are the same).* My reasons for choosing philosophy, while valid in some ways, were not grounded in real-life direction, and whilst I had the best four years living it up at University, my degree has only really been of use in getting interviews (ie that I have a degree from a great university) and in the most basic of job requirements (ie time-management, autonomy, etc).  Now, the idea of going back to study actually really appealed to me, as I believe this time around it would be a whole different story, and as a mature-aged student, I would get a lot more out of studying a second time around. The other extremely appealing thing about taking this new direction was that it would be fulfilling my other desire, which is to truly make a difference in the world, rather than just make it more money, which is what I feel, at heart, that I’ve been doing for the past few years. However, as always with any such decision, there were the cons to consider, the most obvious being the financial side. My partner (who, for the purposes of this blog, shall be named Bob 🙂 ) was actually just finishing up his own studies and about to forge his career path (yes, for anyone doing the maths, there is an age difference 😉 ), so money wasn’t hugely plentiful, though after having lived on one and a half salaries for 3 years, we thought we could probably do it. Bob was extremely supportive and understanding, he being one of the lucky few that has always know what it is he wanted to do *another side note, Bob’s motivation , and love for his chosen career path, was one of the key reasons for my career re-evaluation. That kind of passion is highly motivating, and wonderful to be around*
But still, I worried about taking the time to study (I would be looking at 3 years minimum if I wanted to do it thoroughly, and at this stage, I don’t want to do anything half-heartedly). At 30, having family becomes a consideration, and although we are no-where near ready for that part of our lives, as a woman, it does weigh on the mind.

So, after much thought, my mind turned to books. I love books!! I read about 5 a week, 2 at a time and love discussing them at any available opportunity. Now at this stage, I should mention that for quite a few years, I actually worked in the publishing industry, in the sales & marketing fields for one particular company. For the most part, I had actually really enjoyed my time working with that company and only left in the end because, as fun as publishing was, the money was not, and when a relationship of mine broke up I needed to earn quite a bit more money in order to manage financially and I wasn’t going to get it by staying in publishing. However, now in a stable relationship and looking to make a change, publishing didn’t seem like a bad option. I could find work (hopefully), become more fulfilled, and we could FINALLY be that glorious of things, the couple who have double income but no kids yet (DINKYS!!!).
So I decided, that all in all, the best choice would be to try and find a job back in the publishing world, but in the mean-time do some study from home, allowing me to fulfil some of my new-found passion for learning, and my love for all things wild, and then perhaps, a few years down the track, once we were in a more solid position with family etc, then I could return to University to study full-time.
So I jumped on SEEK, applied for the limited amount of publishing jobs available, noting that, in the past couple of years, there had been no great rise in salaries in this particular industry. * Note:  I should also mention here that my foray out of publishing had been in the FMCG industry, where money is readily available should you work in the sales side of things, which I did. Returning to publishing, I had no desire to continue in sales, therefore, I was looking more into marketing roles where I had less experience. This meant that I would have to come in a little further down the ladder. (I know this is not strictly true but my confidence was not at an all-time high at this point and so I was probably under-selling myself)*

At the same time, I started looking into Distance Learning and enrolled in a suitable course in Vertebrate Zoology which was extremely exciting and motivating for me.
I was extremely lucky and succeeded in securing a position with a leading publishing house after only a couple of months of job hunting. I couldn’t believe my luck! I was back in publishing, not working in sales, me and Bob were DINKYS  and I was studying another true passion. This was obviously the right choice and things were all going to work out perfectly…………………………………..

Now, obviously this is not the end of the story….but I’ve already posted a novel and don’t want to bore (if I haven’t already :D) so it’s bye from me for now!!

If you are even remotely interested, tune in for the next instalment of: ” Finding my purpose, one women’s struggle to matter” (Catchy don’t you think ;D)