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A Change Of Career For The Not So Brave

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: July 31, 2015

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Tresna from Yelp tells her career change story; from battling a job she didn’t love, to the struggle of finding her true passion and how it all came together in the end.


I’m not sure how it happened but by the age of 21 I was married, had a mortgage and a corporate job. Fast forward six years and I found myself managing a HR team and wondering at what stage my childhood dream of becoming a ballerina or a TV chef fell off the rails. I wasn’t particularly happy in my job. I wasn’t miserable, but I wasn’t doing what I felt passionate about. I was just plodding along through life, focused on the next project or promotion and addicted to the feeling of being busy. I realised that there was more to life and that I was yet to find it. So I planned to leave the rat race.

I am afraid of taking risks

Staying in a job that doesn’t thrill you doesn’t make a lot of sense, but throwing down your resignation without some kind of backup plan feels terrifying to someone like me who is risk averse. So I created a plan to save money and eliminate financial commitments. I also took some short courses to learn more about the things I was interested in. It took three years and some big decisions like selling the house and removing unnecessary expenses, but eventually I was in a position to leave behind the suits and stilettos and go and find the “thing” that was going to get me out of bed every day. I created a “get out of jail” card in a small bank account that would allow me some financial freedom to take opportunities that spoke to my passions.

But I don’t know what I want to do

I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I knew what I didn’t want to do (9-5 work in an office), and I knew what I was good at (building relationships, leading others, creative ideas) and what I loved (food, storytelling, throwing parties and travelling) and I went from there.

I love everything about food and wine, so I took part time jobs in great local cafes and restaurants to learn more about coffee, food service and wine. I like storytelling so I started a food blog to tell the stories of local food producers. I love adventure and meeting people, so I started a small business in Melbourne to take people on dining adventures and host secret dining experiences. These were taste tests for what was going to come next.

How do I find "the one"?

I had no idea where all these part time jobs were leading me but by being open to opportunity and meeting lots of people within the hospitality, blogging and event world I was able to tell many people about my career change journey. This meant that when Yelp was ready to launch in Melbourne they had a lot of people recommend me as the person they needed for the role of community manager. The job entailed throwing events, writing, meeting people, business negotiation, attending launch events and plenty of eating and drinking. I didn’t even know this job existed, but it was as if the the job description were written just for me! Now I’m in a leadership role with Yelp, managing a team across Australia and New Zealand and getting to use a lot of skills I developed in my old career while eating and drinking my way around the world.

Top tips for making a career change

  • Evaluate what you’re good at and what gets you excited.
  • Work out what you don’t want to do. Consider seeing a life coach to help you analyse your results.
  • Know what scares you the most and create a plan to minimise risk.
  • Take up a course or consider a part time job to get a taste test for the future.
  • Be open to opportunity and tell people about what you’re hoping to achieve. Allow others to help you build the connections you might need.

Are you thinking about a career change? You’re never too young or too old to switch careers, check out our Career Change Guide for more information and don’t be afraid to take that leap!



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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