Career paths

Another year of university is over. Usually I’d be firmly ensconced in the second week of a summer unit but I’m spent. I’ve watched my grades slowly dip from HDs to Cs and to be honest, my life’s been following a similar trajectory. If I keep it up I should be failing school, and possibly life, by Autumn.

My tutor mentioned the focus on my last essay wasn’t narrow enough. I’ve been having similar concerns with my career. I’ve never had a burning ambition for one vocation. Some people have always known what they wanted to be. That’s not something that ever resonated with me but I’m deep in the trenches of revising careers and I’m okay with that. There are no rules anymore. I’m embracing new opportunities and beginning to sound out new ones.

I’m frequently asked by well-meaning friends “what’s the plan?” and I find myself searching for an answer that will placate them so they don’t ask me again in six weeks time. My degree incorporates Public Relations, Journalism, Business Communications, New Media, film and television. Its focus is broad like mine. It’s teaching me wonderful new things and sometimes that’s more than enough.

My plan isn’t set in stone. It involves taking risks. It involves children. It involves a husband with a taxing career. It doesn’t encompass having it all because quite frankly I don’t buy it. I’m still excited and I’m so glad I made changes. I just need a little summer hiatus.

The immediate plans involve reading books. Remember those?  I’ve been busy inhaling my Christmas tree and feeling the warm sun on bare arms. I’m spending less time yelling and more time singing along to Christmas carols and fantasizing about four-year-old kindergarten. It’s time my husband and kids saw the best of me for a change.

Have you ever changed careers late(r) in life?  What do you have planned over the holiday period, can you recommend any books?


  1. says

    This post totally resonates with me. I have never been one who ‘knows/knew’ what they wanted to do. I really wish I was. I refocus every year looking for it and yet it still alludes me. I can feel it there though, deep down but it is unable to be put into words with any sort of clarity just yet. Maybe the timing isn’t quite right. I hope one day it will be. Good luck on your path x

  2. Workingwomenaustralia says

    I have changed careers and will continue to do so because my focus shifts as the world changes. My uni degree was in Marketing & eCommerce, but as the online world developed I retrained in digital marketing. Now my focus is on more tourism based activities as my personal life has changed. One day I’ll settle down. One day…

  3. Ktystar says

    I’ve changed paths six tears after college. I studied communication sciences, just like you (PR, branding, radio and television production, etc.)
    I find myself now as a preschool teacher, which took me to get a master’s in education. I guess I felt just like you, had no specific career on mind all my life, so I feel you. Imdon’t thinks it’s a bad thing, just do whatever you feel comfortable doing and go for it! Wish you the best…

  4. says

    I’ve a few years on you and can still relate. I never quite knew what I wanted to do. I still wish sometimes I’d studied harder at Uni and got Pysch Honours. At least it would’ve opened more doors. I fell into my current career and whilst I’ve enjoyed it for the most part, I don’t want to feel I’ve settled. Not sure if that’s me talking or society pressure about people on average having 5 (?) different careers/jobs over their lifetime. Anyway, I am coming up to a crossroads next year and am in a holding pattern till then. My mum retrained and changed careers at 50 so it’s never too late (so I keep reminding myself!).

  5. Sharron says

    Never been brave enough to change career path. That in itself has dictated the path I followed and I am now a Senior Manager in Customer Services. It pays the bills and I am good enough at it, most of the time. You are certainly not failing in my book, because you have been brave enough to break out of what you were doing to change your path, and that takes guts.

    As for reading, have you ever read Armistead Maupin and his Tales of The City series? Firm favourites of mine and I highly recommend giving them a whirl.

    I am off work for Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day only, so I will be making the most of time with friends, family and good food.

  6. says

    Have you considered being a mummy blogger?

    It’s ok if the plan is there is no plan! Frankly I’ve always found those “where will you be in five years” questions terrifying, because I don’t know where the hell I will be next week let alone next year. I know I’m the crazy lady, but there’s nothing wrong with just floating for a while and enjoying this day, this moment and forgetting about the destination for a while.

    In other news I recommend….
    The Power of Now
    The Corner
    James Ellroy – writing that’s got rhythm like jazz

    Any of which you may borrow :)

    • says

      Mummy blogger has never quite resonated with me either. Surprised?

      I might have to pull out the Power of Now – it’s floating around half-read somewhere!

      • says

        Feel like doing a book swap at all? I’m going to need something to dive into to stop me from killing my MIL from tomorrow onwards, and I’ve exhausted my supply of can’t-put-it-downs

  7. says

    I want to change careers myself now, I really like change (in moderation) and it always grated on my nerves that we had to pick a career in high school and that we were expected to go to uni for that career and do that career forever. Helpful to broaden our horizons and learn what potential careers are out there for us but very unhelpful for most of us because we had no idea what we wanted to do. I can’t imagine anything worse than being stuck in the one job forever! Life offers too many opportunities, and if you are doing something you really love then change course!

    My dad changed careers heaps of times, he was a handyman, then I think he helped my grandparents as an electrician or something, then he studied to be a hairdresser with my mum and then he went to uni and became a financial planner when he was in his thirties and I was about 5 I think. I remember that he had to study a lot, but I don’t remember him not being around at all, rather I remember watching him with his great big text books and studying at the computer and driving with him to his exams and thinking it was all pretty cool, that my dad was really smart and that I would like to go to uni one day :) Looking back now I really respect him for doing that while I was still young and my brother was a baby. It takes courage and strength to make such massive changes but hopefully your kids will look back at your time studying and working and being a mother in a good way too when they are a bit older :)

    • says

      Thank you for such a lovely comment. That’s great you have such fond memories of your Dad.

      Is it the American schooling system that allows you to start the first few years of uni with core subjects before making firm decisions? I think Melbourne uni might be rolling out something similar which would be great.

  8. says

    I question my career path all the time! My biggest issue is I compare where I am to others who are my age and are in higher positions than me! When I put my blinkers on and just focus on what’s important to me I feel much more at ease. I think you are a very talented woman and I’m sure you will excel at whatever job you land in!

  9. says

    You don’t need to put yourself into a box with a comms degree – I have a double degree in public relations and politics. I took similar board and all-encompassing classes like you … which has opened up lots of different doors to me. I’ve worked in media monitoring, I’ve worked in a communications agency, I’ve worked in a comms role for a university and elite sports program, I’ve worked in design and marketing, I’m now working in the public service (because that’s what you do in Canberra) … and I’m about to be a Mum! Be open to everything and when people ask you what you want to be or where you want to go say – I want to be challenged and I want to be the best person that I can be! Shari from

  10. says

    As someone said to me, they don’t put your marks on your degree just that you got it. And that is bloody hard enough to do.

    I have basically been in the same career since I left uni. Most days I love it – some days I want something else. Exactly what i have no idea.

    As for books, I have no idea, but as I’m in desperate need of holiday reading I’ll keep on eye on the comments here.

  11. Karen says

    Lola Bensky by Lily Brett is on my list, and I’m also looking forward to reading All That I Am by Anna Funder. I also have a few nonfiction books, Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti, Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susain Cain and A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
    I’m in a similar position to you re career. I always knew what I wanted to do (writing/journalism) but I never did it. I think I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to undo that mistake. You really need to listen to your gut on these things, and try a few different things. The ones that don’t work (fiction writing for me) will fall away. Good luck, just know that you’re definitely not alone on this one. Many of us are there too. x

    • says

      Thanks so much Karen, it helps to know there’s a few of us about! Your reading list sounds interesting, I’ve been meaning to read Why Have Kids? too.

  12. PhemiEology says

    Oh Carli, Oh… now do I dance to this tune or what..!!.In fact… its just about all I write about these days. That doing a university is just like having a business that you are investing in for many years, never really sure if it will actually be successful or not…the business of YOU… I say a lot that higher ed (HE) is often sooooo much more than learning of things…but it is often the learning of ones self. There are many ways/paths to that learning…HE is just the right one for some of us…

    But as far as the ‘end goal’ is concerned, I think often it is about simply being open to opportunities and at times it is best to not close yourself down to what a particular path way SHOULD look like, because you will miss the ones that actually do turn up…because they dont look the same as the picture that has been sold to us….

    I also believe life is about manifesting a ‘feeling’ …not an image. About an emotion, not a specific ‘look’ or ‘structure’, as ultimately that is what we are all looking for right? “I want to wake up everyday and not HATE where I am going for the day, I want to feel valued, I want to feel as though I am achieving something I am proud of, I want a balance between what I do for a living and for a life…”… the issue is in how we ‘define’ these feelings…

    In any case… I think its an ongoing challenge, especially for the higher education student (largely the career changing ones who make up
    70% of online learning these days), because its ‘why’ we went back to uni to
    begin with…but its exhausting…3-4 years of ‘planning’ a career while
    writing essays and doing exams? Seriously… exhausting!

    Returning to higher education at 27 years old, while one of the most profound moments in my life, was also one of the hardest things I have ever done because of the ongoing thoughts/considerations of “the future” that is always around ‘on topic’. Considering Ive had 5 careers already, starting working on horse properties as a strapper at 12, was a manager for promotions and events by 18, got in to NIDA at 20, and opened a business at 22, with little or no experience in the lot of them, it says a lot about the pursuit of Higher Education!!

    So…now days I refuse to be too worried if the ‘best I can do’ (re-essays) is not the HD’s that it once was…for its about how I FEEL about them…much like life..

    And…to top off my usual long winded Tony Roberts sounding comments/posts…. here is the book that I’M getting for Christmas so that I go into next year with some cemented examples of what I am talking about above……. maybe Santa can bring you a copy too… ;-)

  13. Donna says

    I hear ya! I have always envied those who just knew what they wanted to ‘be’. Sounds like you have it sussed for Christmas and summer though. Hears to good times with family and friends – you can’t beat it.x

  14. Style Revival says

    Its GREAT to have no idea what you’re doing! That’s when change can happen… we’re all so familiar with the idea that we MUST have ONE career to breezily tell people “oh, I’m a GP” but if you’re in the creative industry, I say bugger having just one vocation, embrace the uncertainty and variety of having many!!

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