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Thank you for not being easily satisfied

High school students are expected to select subjects that lead on to what they wish to do with their future. But who really knows what they want to do when they’re 15?

The subjects I picked were Chemistry, Drama, Travel and Tourism, and Computers and I had a genuine interest in all of them. Am I a Scientist, an actor, a travel agent or IT specialist?

No. I’m a Reception Manager and Marketing Co-Ordinator in a gym. I have a Bachelor of Business Studies with a Major in Management. A drastic change from the five years I spent working in Accounting. How do I choose those particular subjects in school, then spend six years studying Management and Accounting, to then end up working in the fitness industry?

Crazy about my boyfriend, I left school near the end of sixth form because he was no longer there, disappointing teachers and family members alike. I began the Business degree the following year, like most I’m sure, because I didn’t know what else to do. By the end of my first semester I had picked up a full-time position working for a small accounting firm. I had applied for every position I could find in the local newspaper at the time. I even had a job interview with a chimney sweep company to do their administration. Unfortunately they felt I was under-qualified for the position and rightly so, as I had no work experience. So to then be given an opportunity to work as a junior accountant was – well a surprise. When I started my degree I had no intentions of following a pathway in accounting. To be honest, I was 18, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. All I knew was my parents would kick my butt if I wasn’t doing “something”.

So I took on this job, and chose what seemed to be the obvious right choice at the time, to follow the pathway to being an accountant. After two and a half years, a friend arranged an interview for me with one of the Big Four Accounting Firms, something that doesn’t come lightly. I left the small firm and moved into a position in this prestigious accounting firm. Into the world of being accountable for every six-minute block on the timesheet.

Another two and a half years here, I realised what I really wanted to do was see the end of my studies. In final year papers, I struggled to manage the work load and a demanding full-time job. So I made the choice to leave my job and spend the next 12 months studying hard to finish my degree. What a scary moment this was. I had been in full-time employment for five years and was about to throw security and stability into the air to “hopefully” finish the degree that I was now nearing my sixth year of doing, having been a part-time student since I started working. Of course I had every intention of returning to a full-time accounting role at the end of this 12 months, with a shiny qualification finally at the end of my name.

Like everyone, I still needed money to pay the bills so I picked up a receptionist role in a gym. The perfect arrangement – enough money to keep food on the table, and a job I didn’t need to think about when I left for the day. It was just a job to make ends meet for 12 months.

12 months is a long time to have “just a job”, and perhaps I knew subconsciously that I didn’t want to return to accounting. Because when it came to the end of this 12 months, I realised that job had become something so much more. I was passionate about the organisation and its purpose, and I was desperate to find a reason to stay. I expressed my interest for a position in sales (the only full-time position I would have a chance of getting), on the off chance something becoming available, and just my luck it did.

“Don’t settle for a job that just pays the bills, find the job that you would give all your efforts regardless of the pay.”

I’ve now been with this organisation for over five years and have no intentions of moving anywhere else. I do spend some of my time working with budgets, but nothing compared with what I did for five years in accounting firms. I still get a little excited when the Government releases its annual budget, but I don’t keep up with tax law or the latest New Zealand Financial Accounting Standards.

I look back at the path that led me to where I am today and I’m thankful for the experiences I had along the way. Turns out those five years in accounting were “just jobs”, putting food on the table while I studied.

So when we ask our 15 year olds to pick their subjects at school, don’t expect them to really be mapping out their future right then. Perhaps even at 25 they’re no closer to making this decision. Some people have one pathway; others have a few forks in the road. Don’t settle for a job that just pays the bills, find the job that you would give all your efforts regardless of the pay. Work out what your passions are and follow them towards something that is more than just a job for you.

With love, Amy

  • Amy McLean

Amy’s life experiences have formed the values and ideals she lives by today. Coming from a desire to help others she has knowledge, passion and ideas to encourage change and personal growth. Amy is passionate about growing the strength of support networks, through appreciation of others and seeking to understand before being understood (S Covey, 1989). She believes in self-evaluation and constantly striving to find ways to grow.



Well written Amy.
You are so right about many people having no idea what career or working path they want to travle, Especially at the young age of 15.
I consider myself so lucky that I knew from a very young age where my passion lay. It wasn’t easy for me but I knew that if I worked my butt off and put 100% effort in, Then I would be able to acheive my qualifications.
I am also very lucky that my parents and Grandparents believed in me and And encouraged me every step of my journey, Especially when I voiced my doubts about my own abilities along the way.
I went straight from school in to my nurse training, Qualifying as a Registered Nurse, 3 years later at the age of 21.
I am now 39 and I am as passionate about my Nursing as I was at 18 years of age, In fact , Probably more so now than ever.
I am now working in the most senior role I have ever had, Working Full time, For the first time since 2003 and loving it.
I trained in England and worked there for 18 months post qualifying. I then moved to Perth, Western Australia after being offered the fantastic opportunity to work in one of Perth’s major hospitals.
I moved here in 2011 and have had to face and overcome one of the hardest periods of my life to date.
I almost gave up on my career and my passion during a major relapse of my chronic depression. I faced the struggle of trying to find employment as a Registered Nurse, as a newly single parent of 2 wonderful children- My rocks.
Not an easy task, Especially with no family support. How could I start at 7am?, Or finish at 11pm???
I applied for every job going in Nursing that would allow me to work Mon- Fri so that I could be there for my children.


I made the decision to have a career change and chose to go back to study, A Ba in early childhood studies.
I sat through a 2.5 hr long interview at Wintec and had yourself and Lisa write a reference for me. It was during the group interview, When I was interviewd with 6 other women, That I then decided not to go through with my application. I just had no interest or passion for working as a teacher, Which was made more obvious to me whilst sitting with the 6 women who were so passionate with their answers to each question to fulfil their dreams in their chosen career.
How could I give up my passion???
Nursing is all I have ever wanted to do, It’s all I have ever done and it’s the only thing I want to do with the rest of my working life.
I decided to let go of all the rejection I was feeling from all the previous posts I had applied for, And determined to battle on, Believing in my self, trusting in myself to get that job, the right job, The right place and the right time.
Feeling confident at my interview with Healthcare New Zealand 6 weeks ago, Success at long last, They offered me the Full time, Permenant position as Nurse Co-Ordinator for the Medically fragile children in Waikato.
I have just finished my third week and I feel fantastic. I have the best job I have ever had with lots of variety. I am my own boss and organise my own day. I love the autonomy it provides me with each day.
I can still be a great Single Mum…….. And I get to really enjoy being at work full time, Continuing to help others every day, Really don’t know how I could even think no to Nursing again???
I guess all I am trying to say, Without all of the above is ……… Never doubt in yourself or in your abilities and capabilities, Because if you really want something so badly and you work as hard as you can, You will get there, You will reach your goal, Even if it takes a while longer to do so……Keep believing in yourself – you CAN do it

Amy McLean

Thanks for reading the article and sharing your message Debbie!
It’s really cool that you found something you were passionate about so early in life, and that you’re now in a position that fulfills that passion. Take care x


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