No matter what age you are or what type of job you have, furthering your education is a commitment you can make for taking the next career step.
The value of education can never be overestimated. A combination of knowledge and experience creates the perfect foundation for a long and successful career.
Thankfully, with an increase in online options, networking events and private organisations, furthering your education is easier than ever.
But not every style of education will suit you what you’re looking to achieve, nor how much time and energy you can commit.
There are now six very different options for continuing your education and potentially even helping you switch careers.
Below is an overview of what’s available.
University. University education is usually thought of as prerequisite for certain careers such as those in medicine, teaching and legal fields, but now a wide range of professionals are using university qualifications to break into particular careers.
The communications and marketing fields are two areas that have seen significant growth in student numbers in the past 20 years. One woman in this field, who has found university has helped pave her career is Lauren Downs. As the Commercial Development Director (Asia Pacific Region) for the Volvo Bus Corporation, Downs believes a degree gives you a great edge. “[University] opens doors in terms of networking, work experience and scholarships.”
But she also does acknowledge this style of education may not be for everyone. “You need to be willing to take some initiatives on your own to really get the most out of it and latch on to the opportunities that come along.”
One-on-one mentoring. When Sue White chose to transition back into journalism she worked with a mentor to help accelerate her back into the industry. “Sometimes in our careers we are just chugging along, no matter what field you work in. One-on-one mentoring can accelerate that process and propel you forward.”
Now a successful freelance writer herself, White offers a mentor program for aspiring writers. Mentoring can work in all different ways but White believes just a few short months of mentoring can you save years of mistakes. One-on-one mentoring offers a personalised approach that many other forms of education don’t. “Mentors will have no competing priorities. That personal attention is always fantastic. If you are willing to take on board constructive criticism mentoring can be a great tool,” White explains. Choosing a mentor is an important factor you will also need to consider, “if you are going to invest your time and money in a mentor check to see if the mentor is the right match for you. Do a course with them or engage with them to see if they have the same approach that you do.”
Private or community colleges. Private and Community Colleges often offer similar degrees and qualifications to universities and TAFE. The fee structures and class sizes vary for each institution.
Nicole Thomson-Pride completed her Bachelor of Business in Public Relations at APM College of Business and Communication. “I found attending a private college hugely beneficial. I had a close and strong relationship with many of my lecturers. They knew me. They knew my strengths, my weaknesses, and were able to push me to be the best I could be.”
She also felt it helped her end grades, “I graduated with the highest grade point average (GPA) and have gone on to have great career success and have been commended on numerous times for my technical skills, which I directly attributed to having studied in a private college.”
On the job training. Some people are not suited to academic style education and learn better in a face-to-face learning environment. On the job experience is particularly useful for practical industries when written education can only take you so far. It is also beneficial in fields when a university qualification is not needed and years of on the job experience can propel you into high management roles.
Online studies. If you are choosing to complete online education you may be combining any of the above options. Many colleges, university and mentors offers online options to suit each person’s individual situation. The most imperative thing to consider in an online education is time management. Without strict class times or appointments motivation and dedication will allow you to utilise this style of study to help you have success.
TAFE. TAFE has been the backbone of working-class education in Australia for many years. Business owner, Larni Mulry achieved her hairdressing trade through TAFE. “Without TAFE I wouldn’t have started my business. For me TAFE was the process I needed to achieve my goal. TAFE is an amazing education provider, especially in trades and the hairdressing trade was where I wanted to work.”
Mulry happily recognises that TAFE plays a large role in the success of trades men and women. “Without trades the world wouldn’t go round and TAFE is the main source of education for the trade industries.”
While still a strong trades-based educator TAFE also offers training courses in a range of disciplines including management and business courses which allow businessmen and women to further their training while on the job.