This was originally posted on This.
These days it seems anyone can make their dreams come true by simply dropping their day job and investing their time in a garage-based start-up. Many young people coping with the challenges of studying or climbing the career ladder may find themselves tempted to turn their backs on one career path in favour of another.
‘You can always change direction’, insists Professor Ross Monaghan, Director of Graduate Employment, Arts and Education at Deakin University. ‘When you’re young you’re told the course you pick will be everything — that it will define your life. But that’s just not true,’ he says.
Here are three lessons from inspiring professionals who switched direction to follow their interests.
Follow your passion, wherever it leads
Every day Prof. Monaghan works with young people coping with the same problem: the weight of expectations. ‘Many students consider dropping out when feeling unsure. Instead, they should pursue the field that interests them,’ he advises. ‘By going deeper students can unlock a wealth of opportunity.’
Prof. Monaghan’s own passion was communication — his first love being the written word, which led him to his career in journalism. But he was then inspired by the persuasive ability of communications – so started on a new path towards advertising. This saw him using his powers of communication in an entirely new way: writing safety ads for some of the world’s biggest steelwork sites, and reducing accidents around the world. ‘By diving deeper into my passion I’ve had a career that’s not only interesting, but has made a positive impact,’ he says.
“Many students consider dropping out when feeling unsure. Instead, they should pursue the field that interests them”
— Professor Ross Monaghan, Deakin University
Focus on what makes you unique
Whether you’re building your own business or climbing the corporate ladder, being confident and having a positive attitude are vital to achieving success. But how do you go about cultivating the right attitude? Daizy Maan, manager of Deakin’s official startup accelerator program for aspiring entrepreneurs, Spark, has an idea: put yourself first.
‘In today’s world, you’ll constantly be pitching yourself, so you’ve got to understand what makes you unique,’ she says. Daizy wasn’t always as confident as she is today — it all started with her own terrifying leap: dropping out of university to travel overseas and test herself in unfamiliar contexts. ‘I took time to focus on me; find out who I was. What I’m good at,’ she says.
Now in her mid-20s, Daizy has gained experience in a variety of roles, including with UN Youth Victoria and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and co-founded two start-ups – a consulting firm in Tanzania and SeCo (Social Enterprise Collective).
Find what works for you
Someone Daizy has recently worked with is Michael Tremeer, a Deakin graduate who’s not only making an impact, but living the lifestyle that suits him best. Michael’s early foray into university didn’t go so well. ‘I was playing a lot of video games instead,’ he explains. After delaying a course in psychology, he spent time travelling — working in everything from IT to mining.
He longed to stay on the move, so decided to try building a business he could run remotely. During his studies, Michael became fascinated with human routines and relaxation, which inspired him and his partner to launch a face mask product: Trefiel.
Starting a business with only half a degree might seem like a daunting task, but Michael says he learned two core skills that set up him to make a change: adaptability and curiosity. ‘If you’re passionate, you can self-teach – use the internet to find out,’ he advises. Trefiel has since gained huge success, allowing Michael to stay focused on his love of being an entrepreneur on the move. ‘We’ve self-taught ourselves everything we know, but it’s paid off — we’ve currently got plans to move to Bali later in the year, which is a dream come true,’ Michael concludes.