Career

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Changing careers is worth the challenge

Chasing challenges and changing careers


The thought of changing careers is intimidating enough to scare many into sticking it out in the same job for years, no matter how unsatisfying.

But, according to Seek, 57 per cent of Aussies want to make a career change. It's tempting to let fear of the unknown outweigh job dissatisfaction, but don't let that hold you back.

Teacher and ACU graduate Nathan McLean says changing gigs might be tough, but it's well worth the challenge.

Nathan began his career in strength and conditioning. Then he had a stint working in marketing, before moving on to a teaching career. 

“I held previous roles in sport, student engagement and marketing in the higher education sector. It felt like at times I was just a professional email reader and writer. I have always been passionate about helping others to grow, secondary school teaching was the logical next step for me in my career,” said Nathan.

Taking the leap

After some serious soul searching and meaningful conversations, Nathan was ready to return to the classroom.

“I was very happy to return to study at ACU. I had wonderful experiences studying my exercise science and clinical exercise physiology degrees there,” said Nathan.

“My mentor and I sat down when I had reached a turning point in my career and identified that education was where my passions lay. ACU has a sterling reputation for producing thoughtful, compassionate and highly skilled teachers so it was an easy choice to undertake ACU’s Master of Teaching.

Nathan McLean

Nathan McLean

“I have loved my time at ACU, so much so I even worked here. I have worked for several universities in Victoria and none quite have the community and commitment to serving the common good like ACU does. It has been so rewarding for me to be a part of an educational community that cares for its students and the broader Australian society.  

“I owe much of my professional success to the caring and thoughtful nature of my unit and course coordinators.  Even the Associate Vice-Chancellor had the time to share a coffee with me and support me in my aspirations. I was so impressed by how many people at ACU knew me by name and cared about my success. Not every educational institution can claim that they do this.

Tackling challenges

Nathan is now part of the Teach for Australia (TFA) Leadership Development Program that takes individuals from all different walks of life and professions and provides them with the tools to become qualified secondary school teachers who serve schools in low socio-economic communities. 

The program aims to help break the cycle of education inequity in Australia by recruiting and developing leaders in education – individuals who have leadership qualities, learning area knowledge and a commitment to helping tackle education disadvantage. 

“A friend of mine, who had heard about TFA and knew of my dream to become a teacher, encouraged me to look into the program. I was successful after several interviews and selection days. I was very lucky to be accepted into a placement at Narre Warren South P-12 College.

“Each day when I see the growth in my students' abilities and confidence levels, I can't help but feel a sense of achievement in helping to shape a young person's future for the better. My school provides me with a lot of autonomy and support, I feel like I have the room to grow and make an impact on my own terms.  

“At the same time addressing the inequality that exists in schools is such a massive challenge. There are some days where it feels like there is too much to do – but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I know that I won't the be the first nor the last to try and tackle systemic issues.

“Knowing that each day I help others grow, and that I am making the world a better place through my efforts, is what I am most proud of.”

Worth the wait

If you’re considering a career change, experts suggest asking yourself three simple things before taking the plunge:

1. Does your career choice energise and interest you?
2. Is it sustainable (meaning someone will pay you to do it)?
3. Will you be good at it?

Nathan’s new career ticks all those boxes, though not without challenges. 

“My first day of classes was an eye opener, teaching is not a cake walk. Trying to earn the respect and trust of over 100 teenagers was a humbling experience. But almost a year on now I can see that making the effort to help young people grow is so worthwhile. It's amazing what someone can achieve when somebody believes in them. I believe in each of my students and have been rewarded with so many positive relationships, memories and examples of my students' growth.

Nathan in action

“It has been said that, ‘the best thing about being a teacher is that it matters and the hardest thing about teaching is that it matters every day’. I am so grateful to have moved to a profession where my contribution matters, each and every day.”

Making a change

If you are trying to figure out a way to make a career change, but not making progress, Nathan has some thoughts.

“I think no matter what job you do, there's always going to be stressful situations. But if you like what you're doing, it's much easier to deal with that stress. Whereas if you don't like what you're doing stress can really take a toll. 

“Take some time to think: does what I’m doing now really bring me closer to what I want to achieve in my career? If it isn’t, what are some steps to help you get where you want to go? Once you have identified these next steps, devote some energy to it.”

And when it comes to returning to the classroom?

“Be mindful with your studies. Come to class with energy, an open mind and reflect on what you have learned so that your learning is even more meaningful to you.”

Thinking of changing careers? Check out our courses.

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2020 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G