Karen Lomas
May 5, 2013

A short story entitled, “It’s Never too Late”…

When  I was in school, many many years back, girls didn’t have quite the options they do now. I was told maybe I could become a secretary, or a teacher, a policewoman or a nurse (NOT a doctor, mind you). I think Mr Evans, our cute Welsh Geography teacher who doubled as Careers Advisor, just lobbed those suggestions at us randomly. There certainly weren’t any careers ‘quizzes’ and we were never told about University until our school joined-up with the Boys Grammar. Even then, we were somehow lesser mortals. Mind you, the boys were a dreadful distraction, so it took a lot of determination to concentrate in class. I have an old school report from 4th year (year 9) that says, “Karen seems a little distracted this term”.

When my year 12 Geography teacher, (sadly no longer Mr Evans), said I should go to university to study Geography, all I could think was; “But I don’t want to be a Geography teacher”. Nobody explained that a degree can open doors, that subjects became pathways to a varied future. All I knew was that I could cook and that if I trained in catering I could go anywhere, preferably away from the little town I was stuck in.

So I pursued a career in Corporate Hospitality and I did quite well in London for a few years, but quite quickly I was out of the kitchen and doing the administration and supervision of services. It was hugely demanding; long hours and a wide range of responsibilities. At one stage I had 75 staff across 5 locations for a major accountancy firm in the City of London. I had the hiring, and sometimes even the firing :( of staff; the operating budgets to manage, and the overseeing of the day to day business operations to supervise. It was essential for me to have a good team of managers for each location, as I simply could not be everywhere, and training them and helping them to advance in their careers became my most rewarding of tasks.

Fast forward several years, and 2 babies later and that part of my career-life is long in the past. I moved to Australia with my husband and so no longer had family support or indeed a professional network. So I stayed at home to raise my girls for a while and in the meantime did some volunteering for a charity. What I had never appreciated was that an incident in life an change your passions. I became very involved in fundraising for research into miscarriage and ‘neonatal death’ (that’s death of the baby in utero), because I had lost 2 pregnancies mid-term. Very personal stuff to be sharing, I know, but because of the support I had received by compassionate people at that time, I decided I wanted to give back, and so trained to be a grief counsellor. I did that work for many years, plus helping out with fundraising events, and then decided to go for that degree. But no, not in Geography! I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Behavioural Studies, at Monash University in Melbourne. Having completed my degree, with flying colours (meaning an HD average across my transcript) I then completed a Professional Certificate in Adolescent Counselling, also at Monash, and am now studying Career Development at Swinburne Institute of Technology.

So is there a logic, and linear progression, a predictability to my story? I’d say not really. I would never have thought I’d be in a school talking to young people about following their passion, believing in themselves and taking responsibility. Maybe much of my motivation lies in the fact that I so wish somebody had sat with me for half an hour and asked me about me, and really listened. And then explained a few things. I don’t have any regrets because I’ve remained self-motivated and keen to keep learning all of the time; to learn how to use computers, to blog, to coach, to counsel.

So if you’re not sure, ask.

If there’s someone you respect and admire, listen to them-If you can’t think of anyone, watch a movie or listen to music that inspires you. Eminem is always a favourite of mine when I need to get myself moving/thinking positively.

If you experience something that impacts you deeply, don’t disregard its usefulness.

And remember, It’s never too late to reinvent!

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