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The following article, written by Julie Farthing of Career Dimensions (www.careerdimensions.com.au) appeared in the 2008 Summer edition of Australia’s premier Career Development Magazine the Australian Career Practitioner.

Sue Travers, Careers Counsellor and Teacher - Chisholm TAFE

My career journey so far
My first job was as a geological map maker in the mining industry, but with no possibility of advancement, I retrained as a secondary teacher. My first position was as an English teacher at Cranbourne High. When the Careers role became available I jumped at the chance; I had responsibility for 1500students! During this time I completed the Grad Dip Careers at Rusden.

Following several years as a stay at home mum, I had a HUGE crisis of confidence. I couldn't imagine going back to a secondary school so I took ajob working with small group of high risk, 12-16 year olds with severe behavioural issues, low self esteem (often to the point of being suicidal)and poor literacy levels. I took a course on teaching people with dyslexia through SPELD SA- I still use these techniques on a daily basis.

I next went to work as a sessional study skills support teacher at ChisholmTAFE, which led to my current position as Student Counsellor (Careers).

My current role
My career counselling work at Chisholm is undertaken over three days per week over four campuses, with a wide range of students including those of CALD backgrounds. I also teach Study Skills in the 10-session Orientation to Learning Program that prepares adults for further study. Students are typically 30-40 year old females, but some are younger or older (the oldest being a self-described 'Grandpa' in his 70's). I enjoy helping students overcome nervousness and find their own learning style, as well as getting them to talk about the barriers that threaten to get in the way of their learning and reaching their goals.

Career Highlights
I have found I have a natural skill for working with disadvantaged kids and adults, which has led to me being elected to take on 'difficult' cases, including young pregnant girls, and even a 16 year old dad. Very confronting stuff! I have also, tutored young people in care for the Department of Human Services; children of criminals, drug addicts, drug runners, and victims of abuse. They not only learnt, but became settled in a good routine and were more focused. I also educated school staff on how to handle some of the more challenging behaviours displayed by these kids.

Challenges
I am currently establishing private practice as a career & life coach(www.traverselife.com.au). This is a huge challenge and time consuming, especially the marketing aspects. I am also starting to write some articles on career issues, and am learning how to make these effective.

Maintaining a Professional Development program is essential and a joy, yet costly and time consuming. In addition to my formal education, I have spent many thousands of dollars on training, often at weekends, or by taking weeks of unpaid leave from my employment to attend courses such as the MBTI, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy).

Life beyond careers
I try to get some exercise! I spend a lot of time reading, cruising the web, looking at research into the brain, learning difficulties, career theories etc. I enjoy cooking, mainly Indian and Asian-style food. We gave my son a beer brewing kit for Christmas last year and have been enjoying the fruits of our labour!

Key Career Influences
Carl Rogers' (person-centred) approach to counselling; Vona Beiers at Rusden, was an early influence. Pam Russell at Melbourne Uni was an inspiration when I returned to work. Recently I have adopted brain based learning methodologies, including David Rock (Quiet Leadership) and Harris and Hassed's Mindfulness techniques.

The future
Next March I am going on the Great Escape - a supported 10 day bike ride around the Margaret River in WA. In the longer term, I hope to be successfully self employed, and to keep writing!

And my own legacy ...
I would like to change the education system! Not only to fully support students who aren't reaching expected outcomes, but to comprehensively train ALL teachers to effectively teach those with learning difficulties.

By assisting people who learn differently through school and into work by being fully supported, and respected for their strengths, would not only help the economy but lead to a happier and more resilient society.

I'd like to remove the con that VCE and Uni are the only legitimate paths to "success".

I've heard that I've been a positive influence on some of the most reviled young people in society, that I helped some people to reach their "hidden" potential, that my students and clients feel a bit better about themselves and the world after working with me, that they have hope and a better understanding of their values and how to live life with these in mind.

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