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Career change from accountant to teacher

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After 16 years working as an accountant, 37-year old Cathy Box wanted to change her career and follow her dream of becoming a teacher. She knew it would be no small feat.

“Changing my career was a big decision. I’m not 17, I didn’t have the kind of time I used to, and as a mother of two I have a lot more responsibilities in my life.

“I wasn’t just going to go in and get qualified for a new profession, I wanted to come out with an actual career.”

Straight after finishing a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary)through Swinburne Online, Cathy got a job at Brighton Grammar School, not because she was a top student, but because she created her own opportunities.

“I had to undertake three teaching placements during the course of my degree and I was fully committed to get the best out of the time spent studying. So after my first practicum, I stayed on and volunteered for over six months.

“I just kept turning up and it was great, they more than welcomed the help and I was able to get some much needed experience. I ended up doing the same with my second placement.

“I had to have the guts to put myself out there to get ahead. I went into the degree with the drive to have a job at the other end and that happened – but I had to make it happen.”

Students that study education degrees at Swinburne Online have to set up their own teaching placements directly with schools. Cathy, who lives in Sandringham, said this new method of organising placements contributed to early success in the industry.

“I don’t know if I could have done the placements if I had to go somewhere far like Bundoora. Coordinating them myself meant I could do them close to home and work in my community.

“Organising my own placements was a great skill to learn. It made me get up and get it done, meet people and be professional in a new industry.

“But doing an online course is like that anyway you have to take ownership of your own journey, I was more determined this time around than when I first did my degree nearly 20 years ago.”

Brighton Grammar was Cathy’s final placement. Mentor teacher, Sam Kuring said he was impressed to hear that she had set the whole practicum up herself.

“Speaking to our student teacher co-ordinator, he said that she was very professional in her communication with the school and showed a lot of initiative to set the whole thing up.

“I would imagine studying online requires a greater level of that and self-management than traditional forms of study and these qualities were certainly evident throughout Cathy’s placement.

“She also showed real care for the boys in the class and wanted to get to know what made them tick and in the process devise ways that best engaged them in their learning. This really stood out to me as she was obviously trying to get the most out of her final placement before becoming qualified,” Mr Kuring said.

Cathy is now working at Brighton Grammar relieving year 5s and 6s and said she could not be happier.

“You need to take that responsibility of your future and look for ways to be enabled to get to where you want. Online study opened the door for me, allowed me to stay in my community and take control of where I wanted to go.

“I didn’t give the schools I undertook placement at much of a choice, I worked for it and I worked hard. Now I’m following my dream and working as a reliever teacher, from here I can do anything.”

Find out more about graduation here.