Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Sustainability
COVID-19 was the turning point for Meg Shooter to enact a career change.
Meg initially trained as an actor and was working as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher when COVID hit.
“The industry just started to pull apart,” said Meg.
“The work that I am in, really relies on borders being opened. Even if they were to open again tomorrow, the future of the industry will be rocky for a while. I knew it was time to plan for a change.”
Meg opted for the Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Sustainability, due to an underlying interest in the natural environment.
“I had always been conscious, from a young age, about the need to take care of the planet. It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about, so I thought ‘I might as well get paid for lecturing people!'"
Having never studied at University before, Meg considered an Undergraduate Certificate to be a good way of deciding if university would be right for her.
“The course was a really stable, reliable way of getting a taste for uni, and figuring out if it was something that I would like… in the six months, I was able to work out if I could balance work with study. And it was nice to know, either way, that I would come out of it with something tangible.”
Meg said she loved the structure of the course, and the flexibility of the online study - as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded people.
She is now continuing her studies at Western in a Diploma of Science.
For other people, considering studying an Undergraduate Certificate, Meg said: “Even if it’s just building your confidence, or convincing yourself that you are able to try something new - this course will take you somewhere.”
Undergraduate Certificate in Information and Communications Technology
“Due to COVID-19, I found myself out of work.
I had been working in Facilities Management – which involves looking after the services within office and industrial spaces. But everyone started working from home, and these facilities weren’t being used anymore – so a lot of the work dried up.
I had felt stale at my job for a long while and had been wondering what my next step would be. So, I took the COVID situation as an opportunity. If I’m going to be at home, and not working – I might as well make use of the time and study!
I had an interest in IT since I was a kid – so I started teaching myself programming and found that I really enjoyed it.
At that point I couldn’t commit to long-term study – my focus was on getting some new certifications and experience quickly and getting a job.
I chose to enrol in the Undergraduate Certificate in Information and Communications Technology at Western. The course worked for me because it was only six months and was entirely online. Sometimes I do my best work at night, and the course allowed for that.
I’m 50 years old and last studied ten years ago – but I took to the course with ease and ended up doing quite well, which was a confidence boost.
The course showed me that I’m not ‘over the hill.’ I can still do it. I also have teenage kids who are into STEM subjects – so being able to study alongside them, and share in what they are interested in, was a good experience. I think I made them proud.
The Undergraduate Certificate provided a good taste test, and a broad overview that helped me to decide the direction that I wanted to go. It also helped to show me that I have many transferrable and relevant skills.
For anyone weighing up whether an Undergraduate Certificate is right for them, I’d just say ‘go for it!’ It’s not a big commitment, and you can fit it around your lifestyle, and you never know where it will take you.”
Undergraduate Certificate in Counselling and Mental Health
Alice Rochetich said she always had an interest in counselling and mental health – but the career path always seemed out of reach.
“I didn’t finish high school, and I started having kids fairly young... Once I started working full-time, there never seemed to be an opportunity to go back and study,” said Alice.
COVID-19 turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” for Alice. Living in Victoria, she was home-schooling her two young boys when she finally thought “It’s now or never.”
“We were all stuck and home, and we couldn’t go anywhere, so I just went for it.”
Alice enrolled in the Undergraduate Certificate in Counselling and Mental Health at Western Sydney University and said she “loved every minute.”
“I did worry that I wasn’t cut-out for university… that I wouldn’t be able to understand the content or wouldn’t be able to handle the workload. I was questioning myself – can I do it?
The College offered a short literacy course, which helped me to understand how to write assignments, and what the lecturers were looking for. That really helped to build up my confidence.
Once I got over that obstacle, I was able to settle into a routine. I’d do the home-schooling with the kids and wear them out as best as I could – and then I’d settle them down to watch a movie while I sat with my headphones on, doing some reading or working on assignments. It’s all online, and completely flexible, so I could work around whatever I needed to.”
When the six-month course came to an end, Alice said she realised that she wanted to keep going.
“I couldn’t get enough. It got to the point where I was sitting there, wanting more to read, more to learn. So, I have decided to continue my studies at Western – first with a Diploma of Social Science, and then with the full Bachelor degree."
For Alice, a career in counselling and mental health now feels within reach. For other people in similar circumstances, her message is: “Just go for it. If you love what you are doing, you’re not going to find it hard. If I can do it, you can too!”
Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health Support
Sarah Harrison enrolled in the Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health Support last year. For 20 years she had worked as a Chef in South Australia – but when COVID hit, she was stood down from her job.
“I had been wanting to change careers for a long time – but it is so hard to juggle being a Mum, with full-time work and study. The pandemic ended up being the opportunity that I needed, to think about what I wanted to do, and make a change.
I found the Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health Support and it really spoke to me. I could see the parallels between my background in food and in the health sector, and thought I had some transferable skills that would hold me in good stead. So, I decided to give it a go.
I loved every word that I read, and I loved the challenge of writing assignments. And when I started the health promotions unit I thought ‘Wow! This is the career pathway for me.’
At first, I thought I would just do the six-month course and be on my way – I had no intention of further study. But that has changed now.
At Western, I was given the option of continuing into a Diploma of Health Science, with all the units that I completed in the Undergraduate Certificate recognised.
I have also just secured a position as Branch Coordinator at Meals on Wheels. In the role I will be working with volunteers to coordinate the operations of the Burnside Branch.
The role is a perfect fusion of my background in food and hospitality, and my newly acquired skills in public health. It’s the perfect job for me – and it’s a direct result of my short course at Western."