Career Evolution


An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.


When I grow up…

“I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies…”


Quite frankly, if you went back in time and asked 10-year-old me what job I foresaw myself in when I grew up, the answer would not look all that different to the Pussycat Dolls exclamations. At what was clearly my peak of dreaming, I was determined to be in the spotlight in almost every respect possible. Of course, I would be a renowned singer to rival my idol Taylor Swift (despite having zero talent and being essentially tone deaf). When not touring, I would be filming the next big movie (despite being unable to remember a five-minute monologue from 10 Things I Hate About You). To top it all off, as the triple threat that I was clearly destined to be, I would be modelling the biggest brands on runways and in magazines (but my side-profile says otherwise). 


Such big career aspirations are not uncommon from children and most of us had really big dreams such as this when we were young. However, the reality is that we cannot all be that 1% that fill extraordinary roles, and so comes: career evolution.


For me, those dreams certainly began to falter upon entering high school, and my lack of creativity but strong love for learning changed my pace. As a huge animal lover, being a veterinarian was on the cards for quite some time; that was until 8th grade science and scalpels became involved. As much as I loved animals and wanted to help them, not only could I not handle the sight of blood or gore, but the emotional turmoil of seeing animals at their worst, and losing them frequently scratched this one of the list.


Then, Year 10 came around and we were forced to really start thinking about what our future would look like. I had tossed up my interests and abilities and had a few options in mind. My love for forensics took the cake and thus I brought to the career counsellor the options; a detective, a coroner, or a forensic psychologist. With a quick realisation of the reality, once again of gore, and also the limited work available, coroner got dropped pretty quickly. Detective too, was shortly removed upon realising that going through the police force was not for me. So, forensic psychology it was.


Following Year 12, I got into the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at UoN to progress this career goal. As I studied my way through the four years, it became abundantly clear that forensic psychology was quite a niche field and maybe not the easiest career to just slip into. Although the passion remains, considerations were taken. I had been advised that undertaking the clinical masters would be an ideal stepping stone to get into forensics one day, and I was definitely interested in clinical practice. Whilst preparing my masters application and getting ready for the interview process during honours, I realised I had taken a keen interest in research and another door opened. During masters applications, I also applied for a PhD scholarship and that is where I ended up!

In this year and a half of my PhD, my career aspirations have continued to evolve. Although I do plan to go back and complete a clinical masters following my PhD and hope to find myself in forensics in some way, I now also hope to remain in academia. I absolutely adore teaching and find so much value in researching such impactful areas. Alas, I know that my journey is still fresh and, in time, I may change my mind again.


The reality of working in this day and age is that we never really know if we want to do what we are doing until we do it, or where we will end up at the end of the day. The evolution of our career goals and aspirations is ongoing throughout our lives and although this initially caused me immense frustration, confusion, and concern I am now incredibly thankful for where I have ended up. In saying that, I am still in my early 20’s and completing studies, so I suspect there will be more changes to come!


For those of you who are struggling with the idea of selecting a career, are not sure your degree is right for you, or are not enjoying what you are doing now: that uncertainty is OK. Always remember, you are not tied to the career path you chose when you were 16. You can always change degrees, or leave university, if it is no longer for you. You can come back at 45 and complete a masters in a whole different field! Come to sit with the uncertainty as an opportunity, not a burden.

Tegan Stettaford

Tegan Stettaford

Hello! My name is Tegan and I joined the Opus team in 2021 as an outlet to escape my PhD writing. I am yet to find my niche category, but you can probably expect pieces about postgraduate life, creativity, psychology, literature and all things cute and fuzzy. Outside of Opus and my PhD, I am also a peer mentor, team leader, tutor, and sessional academic (so you might just see me in class sometime!).