Career plans are actually so great and can help you achieve your dreams, but sometimes they change. Sometimes, you don’t actually know what you want to do at the tender age of 18 when you’re coming out of high school and being told to make a choice. Bottom line, make a plan, but if you don’t have flexibility or room for evolving personal preferences, you’re very much going to get stuck in the wrong career for you.

To illustrate my point, and prove that you can absolutely relax about your career path and make a change at any point it feels necessary, I asked a bunch of IRL people to talk about their own paths.

Interior Design To Tech

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I went and studied Interior Design – now I’m a Tech Manager. When I graduated, I didn’t feel I knew enough/had enough skills to actually work in Interior Design (that’s a whole other kettle of fish) and I knew I didn’t want to work for free, which is what everyone else from my degree had to do.

So I got a job as an Admin Assistant for a small marketing company. I happened to be there at the beginning of some big growth and was able to grow through the company. I worked across Sales, Account Management and Operations before joining my current company. I noticed there was a gap for someone with my skills and managed to work a role change in over the past 2 years as I was originally hired as the Jobs Digital and Marketing Executive. 
– Elise

Going With The Flow

Out of high school, I wanted to be a hard-boiled investigative journalist, covering only the most serious of topics. Now, I write native features about everything from keeping your vagina free from UTIs through to how technology can be used to promote inclusivity. On the side, I am a freelance event host and speaker, and I’m working on developing my skills as a video game producer on top of that. 

After I left uni, my first gig was social media moderation. It had a really negative effect on my emotional wellbeing, and I realised I needed something lighthearted and with a greater capacity to flex my creative writing muscles. I then moved into fashion and beauty writing (which is not a move anyone expected from the girl who owns six pairs of the same jeans), to now writing native.

I always knew I’d end up writing in some capacity, but I never expected to be so heavily involved in games and tech. Not mad at all, tbh.
– Steph

Finding Your Passions

I wanted to work as a translator for the UN – completely did a 180 on that! I’m a Videographer now. I kinda fell into it.

I switched uni’s to try my hand at a book publishing course but you had to do a Diploma of Journalism there as a prerequisite so I ended up doing the full Bachelor of Journalism there and found myself loving the video side of things and from there interned and started working in the industry.
– Jess

The Career Backflip

I’m someone who did a humungous career backflip. Coming out of high school I went into Exercise & Sports Science (majoring in Advanced Biomechanics). My job now is Advertising & Partnerships Manager.

While I was studying, I used to work across some events – both at my Uni and helping with other (bigger) Unis. From there, I built out a couple of yearly events that were popular and made a bit of money, so I got my ABN in Event Organisation. While I was doing those events and going to uni, I got a job at REDDS Cups as Operations & Development Manager across the company.

I learned pretty quickly that my strengths weren’t so much the organising, or management of the events – but the background negotiation, sponsorship and partnership management. I stopped going to Uni – only 1 subject to go, lol – and got a full-time job in Partnerships & Sponsorships for an Aviation Company that did Travel Events around the world.

Then, I saw something pop up for a media company that had been a genuine ambition for me, scored an interview and landed the role. I landed the role I wanted in about a year when I thought it would take me around 3 years of experience to get. Safe to say I was stoked as hell. One and a half years and 2 promotions late I’m even more stoked.
– Eamon

A Little Bit Of Everything

I had no idea what I wanted to do outside of high school. I dropped out halfway through Year 12 due to family issues and ran away from home.

I had been working in retail since I was 14 and found out fairly quickly that I had a real knack for sales – I was awarded National Salesperson a few times. When I turned 18, I decided I wanted to get out of retail and work in an office.

With my fashion background, I thought venturing into Fashion PR and Marketing would be a good transition. I emailed every single PR and Marketing agency in Sydney and received two opportunities as Marketing Assistant. I accepted the position at a well-known PR agency.

I then moved into being an Executive Assistant, Account Manager for an online fashion publication, Digital Media Sales for three years, radio, online publisher, experiential agency and here I am as Creative Project Manager. I enjoy what I do now as it’s a combination of my skills and interest.
– Sam

Multiple Switches

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer coming out of school. Thank god that didn’t work out. My career has probably changed track at least four times, each time because I was excited to learn something new and get closer to what would really excite me.   

I would just sketch out in my mind roughly where I’d like to head (including daydreams) and then bit by bit figure out how to make that happen in reality.

I think Steve Jobs once said something like ‘a career only makes sense looking backwards’. I can only do what I do now because of all the other things I’ve done along the way, but back when I started out there was no way of knowing what those would be. I reckon you’ve just gotta take it one chunk at a time and point towards what fires your interest.  
– Matt

Working It Out

I had NO idea what I wanted to be, besides that I wanted to work in the church I was a part of. I was a super, super, super born-again Christian in Year 12, so when I finished I took a gap year to work full time for my church. Then, I went and did an Arts degree because I knew I liked creative stuff but had no vision for my life yet. 

Now I’m Senior Style and Features Editor, which means I manage all the lifestyle content and long-form features on site. 

I fell into media! About halfway through my Arts degree, I realised my main interest areas were English and History, so I focused in on them as a double major. In my final year of Uni I thought “I love magazines, why don’t I do some work experience at one” and after one week was obsessed with the fun office environment and particularly the lifestyle team, who seemed to write all the light-hearted content I loved.

I landed a magazine job within 6 months after interning and ended up as a Beauty Editor at Girlfriend Magazine. From there, I went digital and eventually ended up here. 

I would actually say I never considered this to be my “dream” job – I fell into lifestyle journalism because it was fun and continues to be a job I enjoy most days.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about “the right career” is that it will feel like your destiny – I don’t believe this. Absolutely, reach for the stars but also finding a job you enjoy going to most days, that fulfils you in some way is a HUGE win! 
– Mel

Learning To Go Your Own Way

Ever since high school, I wanted to be a graphic designer – concept art for games got me interested in illustration and graphics. But I was talked out of it, a little bit from my parents, but mostly from my own lack of self-confidence.

So after school, I went on to do a Bachelors of Medical Science, and then my Masters of Science (Medical Biotech), and got a job in clinical histopathology.

I had been working for around 7 years in the field until I decided to make a switch into graphic design, so I dropped to part-time and enrolled in my graphic design course, and now I’m here. I am loving design in comparison to science so far, so I guess I did always know?
– Dan

No Putting Baby In The Corner

I wanted to be a contemporary and ballet dancer and now I’m a Creative Projects Manager. I always knew I wanted to do something creative.

At first, I studied Dance, then Creative Writing, then Public Relations. Then I worked in a cheese factory for a year to save and move to Sydney to study Fashion Business.

While I didn’t finish all of these things they set me on a path that led to me to growing all of these skills and working in creative roles across the health, fashion and food industries. I’m a big believer in giving things a go, you’ll really never know unless you try. 
– Aaron

Image: iStock Images / urbazon