What does an adaptable career look like? And how can you craft your own?
For La Trobe alumni Dr Rowan Story AM, RFD, being adaptable brings fulfilment, happiness and, perhaps surprisingly, security. Dr Story explains to us how combining postgraduate study and a flexible approach helped him craft his tailor-made career.
Why should I prepare for change?
It’s almost too obvious to mention, but today’s climate of unrelenting change isn’t slowing down any time soon. Yet, being so omnipresent, it can easily catch you unawares. As technological disruption and societal changes create new opportunities – and move others to the sidelines – it’s essential you can adapt to an unpredictable environment.
According to vocational psychologists, career adaptability is your ability to bring confidence, optimism and self-efficacy to changes in your career. It helps you navigate through career challenges and enables you to spot new opportunities and use them to grow your career – even when, as Dr Story found, they’re outside your current field.
The case for multiple careers
Do you enjoy variety in your working life? Having two – or more – careers could offer you flexibility, fulfilment and even financial security.
“The idea of working at the same place forever and receiving a gold watch when you finish just isn’t the case anymore,” says Dr Story. “For a lot of people, the jobs they will be doing in the future haven’t yet been invented, so it’s important to be flexible and open to whatever interests you.”
Dr Story currently works in private practice as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. But that’s just the prelude to his current CV. He also teaches law and ethics to dentistry students, volunteers at a community legal service, sits on the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and leads an annual volunteer surgical team to Vietnam where he treats cleft and jaw deformity patients.
He’s also served as a Defence Force Reservist for almost 30 years, and from 2011 to 2015 was appointed Director General Health Reserves – Air Force with the rank of Air Commodore. In this role, he was responsible for the recruitment, training and care of all medical and health personnel in the Royal Australian Air Force.
However, underpinning this unique combination of roles is higher education. And, in particular, the incredible possibilities it can create.
“The ability to be flexible and follow new paths is one of the best lessons a university can offer,” he says.
How postgraduate study gives you an edge
Tailoring your career to your intellectual interests is a clever way to satisfy your desire for continuous learning. Plus, given how much time you’ll spend at work – nearly 100,000 hours of your life – it is foundational to both your emotional wellbeing and financial security.
Dr Story’s ‘slashie’ career features multiple university qualifications, including three from La Trobe. After completing his Bachelor of Science at La Trobe in 1971, he returned to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Policy and Law, followed by a Bachelor of Laws.
His interest in the law developed while he was serving as President of the Dental Board of Victoria.
“I became very interested in how the law worked after chairing disciplinary hearings involving professional conduct matters. So when my time on the Board finished, I decided to apply for the graduate Bachelor of Laws program at La Trobe,” he says.
“I’m so grateful to La Trobe because at different times of my life, they’ve provided me with the opportunities to acquire new qualifications and skills that have helped me branch out.”
Postgraduate study in a different field also encouraged him to adopt new ways of thinking.
“Scientific and biological thinking is separate from legal thinking – so it forces you to think differently depending on your situation,” he says.
In turn, understanding different approaches can help you to stand out to potential employers.
Is it time to branch out?
Some people are naturally curious about new careers, while others find it confronting to consider a new or different future. Whatever your tendency, employability initiatives like our Career Ready program can help you develop the confidence you’ll need for navigating the possibilities ahead.
Career Ready connects you with careers advisors, mentors, recruiters and employers who can hone your awareness to future job opportunities. You’ll be supported to imagine yourself in different roles and to explore a full range of aspirations and postgraduate courses. And when you’re ready to turn your career goals into reality, you’ll have support to develop the essential skills and personal attributes you’ll need to negotiate any occupational, organisational or job market changes that come your way.
The world is evolving. Are you evolving too?
Could further study help you adapt to our changing world? Find out more about studying a postgraduate degree at La Trobe. Midyear applications are now open.