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I turned my gap-year job into a career: Zoe's story

This article appears in: Vocational Education and Training
CDU student Zoe White sitting at a computer the Waterfront campus

After spending time working in the hospitality industry during her gap year, Zoe decided it was time to upskill with a vocational training course in hospitality and event management. In just two years, she's finished three VET qualifications and has been nominated as a finalist in the NT Training Awards. 

It's been a busy and inspired few years for Zoe. Fuelled by a love for her job in a world-renowned hotel chain, she decided to complete both a certificate and diploma in hospitality, and another diploma in event management

“I loved what I was doing working in the executive lounge and working on events,” she says.

I looked into careers that related to this area and decided to further my studies so I could gain new skills and improve my work.

Zoe chose to return to study at CDU, having previously completed two certificates with CDU VET during high school. This familiarity was important to her when making her decision.

“I already understood how CDU runs and what to expect,” she says.

Tacking challenges head on

CDU student Zoe White using a book vending machine

Zoe has struggled with literacy and numeracy since childhood. With the support of her family and lecturers, she's worked hard to improve her reading and writing skills and find strategies that best support her learning. 

“My family are a big support system for me, and I am grateful to them,” she says.

I communicated with all my lecturers about the different ways they would be able to support my difficulties with literacy and numeracy.

Like many students at CDU, Zoe is also balancing a busy life with full-time study. Developing time management skills has been the key to getting everything done.

“I was balancing three jobs, full time study, and leadership responsibilities in the Australian Army Cadets,” she says.

Her strategy for managing her life commitments was to create a calendar. "I included assignment due dates, work shifts and social events or activities that I had to attend so I knew how much time I had left to study," she explains. 

Looking to the future

CDU student Zoe White using a laptop in front of hospitality banner

Zoe encourages those considering starting or returning to tertiary study to think carefully about their decision.

Do your research, believe in yourself, and accept that you will have to create a new routine.

Her approach paid off. She was recognised as one of CDU's Diploma Students of the Year and as a finalist in the NT Training Awards. She's enjoying a successful career in the hospitality sector and is ready to move into an event management role as soon as the right opportunity arises. 

Does a course in hospitality sound like a pathway to your ideal career? Explore CDU's hospitality and other VET courses today.

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