Finding the authentic career fit

Fulfilling work that suits your lifestyle can pay off, writes Mandy Zhang.

Fulfilling work that suits your lifestyle can pay off, writes Mandy Zhang.

If you’re rethinking your career right now, you’re not the only one. I am too. And so are one in three Australian workers under the age of 54 who have considered resigning, according to a national employee study conducted by the University of Melbourne after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Post-pandemic, it seems to me that many people are reconsidering their career paths. And for those of us who were raised in a multicultural environment, finding your place in the professional world can bring a unique set of challenges.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Guangzhou, China in the ‘80s. They, like many of their immigrant friends, moved overseas to better provide for their family. Because of these reasons, work meant something different to them.

It meant selflessly sacrificing to feed and support three generations under one household by any means necessary (it’s the reason I’m able to share my story today).

Two years ago when I told them that I was considering giving up a stable job in recruitment to switch careers, it turned into a much longer and more serious conversation than I originally thought.

While I was determined to find meaningful work on my own terms, there seemed to be little room for finding work that was personally rewarding or based around individual goals. My parents were of the opinion that there were ‘good respectable jobs’ and ‘bad jobs’.

In my family, careers in healthcare, business and engineering were at the top, while jobs that involved physical work or serving others were viewed less favourably.

After eight years of working in the United States and Australia recruiting for various industries, I’ve concluded that separating roles this way rarely benefits anyone.

“Cultural backgrounds shape our perception of our own work.”

Finding the right job often means thinking beyond others’ expectations, and considering what goals are important to you. Some people prioritise flexible hours, while others are looking for opportunities to make a difference in someone else’s life. And if you want both, there are options for that too.

While placing individuals in various positions within the care and support sector, I discovered that roles involving direct, one-on-one assistance for older people and people with disability are among the most fulfilling.

People move into this sector from all kinds of different fields, and if direct personal care isn’t the right fit, there are many other roles available, including administration, allied health, and more.

I find that jobseekers are surprised by the variety of opportunities, the career progression available, and the flexible hours that the care and support sector can provide. Additionally, careers in the care and support sector can be stable as well as financially viable.

With experience as a career coach for skilled migrants and international students, I’ve also seen firsthand how cultural backgrounds shape our perception of our own work – how our upbringing influences the choices we make and the value we assign to certain professions.

Whenever these conversations pop up, they’re often accompanied by the idea that pursuing your passions and finding your purpose isn’t practical for everyone. It’s true, we shouldn’t blindly pursue any passion or job on a whim.

However, prioritising work that makes you feel personally fulfilled and suits your lifestyle can pay off in ways that are hard to quantify.

It’s important to acknowledge that cultural backgrounds can also provide valuable guidance when it comes to navigating the professional world. From my own family, I gained a strong work ethic and learnt to see my job as a way to help not just myself, but those around me – family and community.

In the care and support sector, an understanding of different cultures and languages can also be a tremendous asset, bringing a wealth of valuable experience, insight, and relatability to the table.

So, if you’re contemplating a career shift, remember that you’re not alone. Take the time to explore your values and interests. Don’t be afraid to go beyond others’ expectations to find success. It’s rewarding to find the balance between honouring your cultural heritage and pursuing a career that aligns with your values, interests, and goals.

Mandy Zhang is a talent acquisition advisor currently working for Melbourne’s leading hospital, and a career coach. She has written this contribution in support of the Australian Government’s Care and Support Workforce campaign, A Life Changing Life.

To search for your next role, visit Australian Ageing Agenda Jobs

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