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From course to career: how Davina is taking care of business

by Yvette Maurice

Suzan Battah

We first met the ambitious Davina Sinclair last year, when she was part way though her Certificate IV in Business Administration. A devoted mum of three from Brisbane, she lives near the Amberley RAAF base with her husband and loving family.

In August last year, she told us, “One of my reasons for doing this course is the fact that I have spent ten years raising kids, so I am doing the course to get a current qualification.”

Davina has achieved her professional and learning goals – and so much more.

Out of the blue, we thought we’d give Davina a ring to check in and see how she’s going. Everyone in the Open Colleges team was thrilled to find out that not only had she secured the job of her dreams, she was now managing others, enjoying the challenge of her new role, and looking for ways to progress and grow her career.

“I’ve landed the job of administration manager.  I have a small team I that manage, earning $60 000 a year. It’s exactly what I was aiming for.  I thought with having completed my Certificate IV, that’s the bracket that I was aiming for – and I’ve done it!”

So – let’s go back to the beginning and break down exactly how Davina did it – and how you can reach your goals as well. No matter what they are – whether you’re doing a course, starting a business, changing careers or aiming for a life-long dream.

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Davina lives in Queensland with her husband and three kids

Davina’s studies inspired her to get moving with her job search.

A course can be a great way to move you towards your goals, as you learn about a new industry and meet people who are doing the same thing. Davina says that she began looking for work after completing a few study periods of her certificate.

“I think I’d just finished Study Period 3,” she remembers. “If I’m honest, I was finding studying alone challenging. Discipline was hard, my motivation began to drop.”

“So I started looking for jobs again,” Davina explains.

“I found work – and I was in employment (in that role) for about six months. However the challenges didn’t end there – the company I originally found work at, was badly managed.” Davina wasn’t sure if the role really suited her.

Looking at the positive side of things, Davina realised (by being in the ‘wrong’ role) exactly what she was looking for in the ‘right’ role.

“I realised that I was capable of so much.  The job I was doing was in administration and accounts and I was getting frustrated. I thought, ‘No.  I really need to step up to the next level, for myself, personally.’”

“I thought that with my  BSB40507 Certificate IV in Business Administration qualification, I would not only be able to get back into the workforce, but maybe work my way up into a management position or an even higher level.”

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Davina has set herself up for a career in business and has big plans for the future

Rising above the “wrong match” for a job role – with a positive attitude, strength and determination.

“I wasn’t coping there so I resigned and I thought – well, now, I’ve got time to pursue my study.” Throwing herself back into her online course, she went on and completed Study Period 4.

Moving on from a job that you don’t feel connected with can be a tough decision. But as Davina proved to herself, with determination and planning, it became clear that she could turn a disappointment into a career opportunity.

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Now Davina is in her ideal business role – working for an organisation she highly values

“At the time I resigned from that job, I had been in the role for six months. I began to apply for other opportunities. I think I must have applied for at least a dozen jobs in a month.”

The roles Davina was looking at were, “mainly administration assistant positions, which I probably would’ve found a bit dull, but I just wanted to get out of the house.”

Anyone who has recently looked for work knows how challenging it can be. “I applied for so many jobs and barely heard from anybody,” Davina remembers.

But then everything changed.

“Then there was this one job (that I’ve got now) where I thought, ‘that’s my job.  I want it.  That’s perfect.  That’s me.’”

Taking her career to the next level.

The role that she found seemed to inspire her. She saw the opportunity to progress with it. “I knew that it had the potential to take me up to the next level.”

The company she works for now is a much better match for this ambitious business woman. “It’s extremely professional,” Davina says. “Processes are in place which allow for a successful business and for happy employees.”

Davina beams when she speaks about her new role. “They really look after their employees.  It’s nice and laidback and the staff are friendly.  I haven’t worked for a company quite like this one and I really, really enjoy it.  So I’m happy here.  And I know that I wouldn’t leave anytime soon – providing they’re happy with me!”

But let’s go back to the beginning of her story.

What made Davina want to study online in the first place?

Time out of the workforce, raising a family, is an experience that many women face. Running a busy home can be all-consuming, and often women tend to put their family’s needs ahead of their own.

“I was out of the workforce for nearly 11 years whilst I was having my children.” But times were changing for the Sinclair household.  “When my youngest went to school – I enrolled in the course.”

Davina had been applying for suitable jobs, “but I wasn’t getting any bites with any job applications.  I’d been out for too long.  So that prompted me to enrol in the course in business administration.”

Homing in on the type of job she was aiming for was essential to deciding which course to study.

“There were quite a few ladies I know that had done admin work and then after having their kids, couldn’t get back into admin and so they have had to do retail work – which was not what I wanted to do.  I thought, ‘No.  I want to pursue the office work.’”

“After hearing my friends say that, I thought I need to be proactive and I need to do something that’s going to help me get back into an office environment.”

The benefit of the flexibility of an online course was essential.

Because of her family life, Davina needed a course that she could do whenever and wherever she wanted. “The online course format gave me the flexibility that I needed to tailor my studies around the family – so it was an absolute must,” she explains.

“Every second week, my husband would be doing a late shift at work.  So I didn’t have the access to do TAFE courses on campus as they were run in the evenings and that just didn’t suit our family.”

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Davina on the job after completing her Certificate IV in Business Administration

The course gave her confidence and professional knowledge.

“I definitely learned lots of new and current information,” Davina says.  “I had a rough understanding of the subjects, but some of it was quite foreign to me and a bit challenging.”

“I did really well with those subjects – and ultimately, I think having done those four study periods gave me the confidence that I needed to apply for this job that I’m currently in.”

Goals for the future.

“This is quite suitable for now, but down the track, obviously my skills will develop,” Davina mentions that she’s not stopping at her current success.

“The company is so good that if there’s further study that I would benefit from, they’d probably be more than happy to pay for my studies anyway.”

A life-long learner, Davina sees opportunities for further growth. “That’s the other thing with the company that I’m working for.  They’re family-friendly and if I need to, I can work from home. It’s very flexible, but definitely, in the future, who knows where I’ll be!”

 Davina’s 6 point checklist – for those wanting to go from ‘course to career’: 

  1. The course you select should be relevant to the kind of work that you’re aiming for.
  2. You’ve got to be as realistic as possible.
  3. You’ve got to prioritise setting yourself goals.
  4. If you have no goals, you won’t really get anywhere.
  5. You’ve got to be driven and positive.
  6. Don’t give up! Keep on trying.

How tough was returning to work for the family?

“My youngest is seven and got a little bit clingy, I have to say.  Even though she’s at school, in after school care. But I think the most exciting thing for our family is we’ve just been pre-approved for a mortgage which has been a pipeline dream for so long that it’s going to finally become a reality.  So that’s the biggest exciting thing for us.”

“They’ve become used to me going to work – and they understand that I’ve got to go to work now. It’s exciting for us all.”

Would she recommend doing a course to others?

“Absolutely.  Without it, my role and my pre-approved mortgage wouldn’t be happening.   I think there’s been a shift in my thinking and attitude – I think I’m a lot more confident.”

“I’m a lot happier.  I needed this for me and then in turn, I’m happier and then, I can be a better mother and wife as well.  So all around, it’s just a big plus.”

Want to study a Business Course online like Davina? Head to this page.

photos thanks to Highways Agency and Nguyen Hung Vu – thank you!

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