Growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed being in a small and supportive community like Hopetoun. Now, I appreciate my rural upbringing even more and definitely want to mirror that lifestyle in the future.
I enjoyed school, but I certainly didn’t love it. I feel as though I never really excelled at anything, but my favourite subjects were humanities and history. I focused my energy on what I enjoyed, like the subjects that interested me, leadership within the school, being with friends, and volunteering.
I despised maths and didn’t study it in Year 12. Strange, considering my university studies included a lot of maths! Instead, I took subjects that were a bit left of field, like Philosophy via Distance Education. That eventually helped me to develop the fundamental skill you need at university – independent learning.
Ultimately, I’m glad I leaned into what interested me rather than pushing myself in subjects or activities that I wouldn’t have enjoyed. It helped eliminate stress in VCE, which for some people can be an extremely stressful time.
Gap Year and Travel
After school, I didn’t want to go straight into further study. Instead, I took a gap year. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and it’s something I recommend for anyone who is able.
I spent six months living in Warsaw, Poland, where I worked as an English Language Teacher. Being so young and living in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language, I gained a lot of confidence and surprised myself. It enabled me to have a whole year of maturing before going to university, along with great experiences I will treasure forever.
After Warsaw, I travelled for a while before returning to Hopetoun. I worked everywhere I could in the second half of that year – the shoe shop, the pub, the lake – to save up money again for a move to Melbourne.
Deakin, Study and Travel
In High School, I hadn’t thought too much about going to university. I knew I wanted to use university as a tool to continue learning and experiencing new things, so I put in applications for pretty much anything. I eventually decided to go to Deakin University for a Bachelor of Commerce & International Studies.
I may not have fully understood what that degree would mean prior to applying, but it was a great starting point for me to grow: Commerce being a pragmatic choice, for job opportunities but a challenge considering my limited math skills and International Studies being a passion choice, a way to continue to explore my interests. I don’t necessarily recommend others to go in so blindly, but it worked out for me in the end!
Living on campus at Deakin helped me to make friends and worked as a great stepping stone for moving out of home. I’m thankful that I had a good group of friends around me who encouraged me to study and get out of my comfort zone. It’s always important to find friends who get the best out of you.
I was required to complete two overseas experiences as part of my International Studies degree.
First, I completed a month-long immersion study tour in Japan where we dove into politics, society and culture. Second, I undertook an internship in Shanghai, China. This was a particularly good experience as I had to both live and work in a new country. This also required work trips to more remote areas of China, including one town where I was the first ever Australian visitor!
Starting my Career
Going to University was a chance I saw to explore my options while trying something new, enjoying myself, and leaving Hopetoun and home. But, when I eventually needed to choose a major for my Commerce degree, I had a bit of a crisis. The subjects I was best at came as a shock – Accounting, Finance and Economics. Maybe this happened because I had to try extra hard because they were so number heavy. This made me divided as to what career I should pursue.
So, I sat down with my friends and also a career advisor at Deakin to look at my options. They suggested that I try Human Resources (HR) as they thought it would suit my personality. They were right, and, when I tried it, I loved it. I’m a rules-oriented person and, in HR, you need to be aware of internal policies, legislation, ensuring people abide by those things, and I am also a social person who wants to get the best out of others.
Towards the end of my degree, I was offered a role with the Country Fire Authority (CFA). Everyone at home knows and respects the CFA, so it was a great place to work and feel connected to home. They supported me to work from Hopetoun during the pandemic, and I’ve now moved over to working with Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV).
I never thought this was the path I would go down and I’m only where I am now because I was curious and took opportunities as they came up. That’s my advice to others – explore your options and see where they take you!