created in partnership with the Unviversity of Melbourne

From Corporate To Classroom: Why Switching Careers Isn’t As Scary As You’d Think

In high school, choosing what you want to study at university can feel like you’re locking in your whole adult life. 
You’re about to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree and dedicate countless hours of your young life to learning the ins and outs of an industry. 
Once you’re back in the ‘real world’, you’re expected to find a job in that field and work your way up the career ladder. But, what if you have a change of heart? What if you leave your undergraduate degree thinking, ‘Maybe I want to do something else with my life?’ 
It’s a confronting feeling to face, but the alternative is spending the next forty (forty plus, let’s be real) years in an industry you’re not sure about. 
If you’re thinking about making a career or degree change that requires you to hit the books again, here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

Think back to your childhood 

Sometimes, what we’re really good at are things we’ve loved since our childhood. Before work and TikTok sucked all of your time away, what did you enjoy doing? Singing? Acting? Writing?
For Mia Hara, it was teaching. Mia initially undertook a commerce degree but, after some big realisations, she decided to enrol in the University of Melbourne’s Master of Teaching degree. 
“Throughout my uni days I was always working with teenagers either tutoring or coaching gymnastics and I absolutely loved it,” Mia told Refinery29 Australia
“During my commerce degree, I completed work experience at a consulting firm and realised that this environment was not for me. I knew it was time to jump into my teaching career sooner than I thought.” 
Think about the things that you enjoyed spending time on earlier in your life and you may find the answer to ‘What do I want to do?’

What do you want to contribute to society? 

Not every job has to be some big, existential question. But for those of us who love to give and contribute, asking how you want to share your talents and skills with the world can help narrow down how you actually want to spend your days. 
After all, the majority of us need to work full-time in order to afford our lifestyles so you might as well feel fulfilled by it.
For Natalie Jong, another alumni of the University of Melbourne’s Master of Teaching degree, it was the impact her high school teachers had on her own life that made her reconsider her career in commerce. 
“The realisation struck when I was working in an industry with long hours and a lack of passion. I craved an environment where I could make a meaningful difference, where each day held the promise of a unique adventure,” Natalie said. 
“Teaching became the avenue through which I could fill my days with purpose and create a positive impact on the lives of the next generation.” 
Thanks to changing degrees, Natalie was able to help make a positive impact straight away

Live for yourself 

Often, we may think we can’t change our minds about our degrees or careers because of what others may think. I promise, no one thinks about your life as much as you. 
At the end of the day, you’re the one who’ll spend hours in the job and receive the consequences of not doing what you’re truly passionate about. 
Your nosy Aunt or frenemy may have a comment to make but they’re not the ones living your life. You are. 
“My family expressed concern that having invested a significant number of years in studying and building my career, switching to teaching might add more pressure,” says Natalie.
“Yet, here I am, and it feels like I've discovered my true calling. Embrace the challenge of opening new doors and discovering what lies beyond. If things don't work out initially, remember to persevere. I can guarantee you, the grass is often greener on the other side, and the journey itself is a learning curve.”

You can always change your mind again

You’re not only given one ‘change-of-heart token' per lifetime. As we age, our priorities shift, our values change and how we spend our days will take many different forms. 
If you’re nervous about making the switch, remember it also doesn’t need to be forever. 
“You don’t know until you try,” says Mia. 
“The worst that can happen is that you quit. But, that’s one more thing you know about yourself, and [takes you] one step closer to helping you find your next ‘right fit’. 
“As corny as it sounds, life is short and we all deserve to be loving what we are doing, so why not follow our dreams?”
Apply to the University of Melbourne's Master of Teaching, the only university in Australia that applies a clinical model of education, bringing together theory and practice giving you powerful insights into children and young people and how they learn. Begin your journey as a teacher today.
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