Today, I want to introduce you to Amelia. Early in her career she worked as a travel agent and started her own Travel Blog to document her many trips. But after having her first child, she wanted to return to work only part-time which her agency couldn’t accommodate. So she completely changed gears and went back to school. Read more about her journey and learn how a beautiful traveler found herself at school.
Can you please introduce yourself, tell us what you do and where you do it?
Hello! I’m Amelia. I live in Adelaide, which is a city of just over a million people in South Australia. I wear a lot of hats – I have a husband and two little boys to take care of, I’m a uni student, and I do some work on the side in the travel industry. I also have a blog that I try to dedicate time to when I can.
Your first career was as a Travel Agent. Can you tell us how you got into this career and if it was something that you always wanted to do?
I’d been at uni for several years, living in share-houses, trying to travel and do all the things young people want to do. I’d been working part-time since I was 15 and living out of home since I was 18, and I honestly just got to a point where I was exhausted. I didn’t feel very successful at uni and worried about getting a graduate job, and I was working three part-time jobs to pay my bills. Then I met a wonderful guy and somehow had to fit a boyfriend in with all of that. So I left uni and got a job with Flight Centre who are huge, thinking I loved travel so much, why not make it a job? It was only meant to be six months while I figured some things out, but I liked having money and a routine and I made some great friends. Within a year I’d been promoted and I’d moved in with my boyfriend… for once I felt like a grown up and like I had it all together. So I stayed in the industry.
In my blog, I write a lot about trying new things and people who start over can you tell us why you left your career as a Travel Agent?
Again, it was a bit of an accident. I had moved to a new agency before I got married and absolutely adored the place. There was definitely the usual small issues, no employer is perfect, but I really loved my job and felt like it was rewarding in a way my previous roles hadn’t been. When I had my first son, I planned to take 12 months off. After about eight months I was itching to get back to work, but not full time. So I met with my employers and suggested a range of different ways I could come back but nothing was suitable for them. They only wanted me full-time or not at all. I was gutted, but I couldn’t leave my son. My mum had worked so hard when I was a kid; I was in the privileged position that I could give my kid more of me and I was determined to do that. So I left. I found a part-time role but it wasn’t really what I wanted professionally for a lot of reasons. But part-time travel roles are like unicorns and I realized if I wanted a fulfilling role with more flexibility (and let’s face it, a better earning potential) I had to make a drastic change. So I did.
You’re now studying for a degree in Psychology. Why did you decide to go down this path?
It’s what I originally started studying right after school, so something I’ve always loved. But back then I clearly wasn’t mature enough. I went through a lot of personal upheaval after having my sons and it forced me to look very honestly at many aspects of my life and my relationships. I also experienced some depression and anxiety. I noticed a few of things: that even though it’s so common, perinatal depression and anxiety is still very stigmatized; that parents in the perinatal period go through a LOT of change and stress and no one seems to recognize it; and that often, the dads are forgotten about in this period too. It seems corny and cliché but I felt a real pull, a calling if you will, to be the person who stands up and says, “this is not unusual, and I’m going to get you help you get through it”. So when I finish I plan to specialize in pre and perinatal care.
Although you’re studying Psychology, your blog is called A Beautiful Traveler*** and is about your past and present travels. Why do you still want to be a travel blogger?
So many reasons! I love having a side project, but also it’s something I was so heavily involved in for so long, and something I’m an expert on. It seems silly to waste all those hours of training or those weeks spent traveling for work. I really do love the travel industry – it’s fun and dynamic and uplifting in a lot of ways. This is my way of keeping a finger on the pulse a bit I guess.
***Since this interview, Amelia has changed her blog to A Winter Escape where she shares family travel ideas.
What do you love most about being a student again and studying psychology? Do you see a future blog coming out of this?
Using my brain! I’m someone who needs a lot of mental stimulation and I just love learning. Going to uni gives me a chance to learn, and to have intelligent conversations and experience the thrill of mastering a new concept for the first time. Just as I loved hitting sales targets, I now love the feeling of receiving an A on a paper. I work my butt off and when those grades come back I feel so proud. It’s such an ego boost. And sometimes as a mum you need that because it can be a bit of a thankless job!
What do you miss about your old career?
There are so many things but the main ones are the friendships with my colleagues, and the rewarding feeling when you’ve solved a big problem and learnt something new. But the absolute biggest thing is the clients. I had many gorgeous repeat clients who I still think about all the time. Case in point: I had two clients, they were middle-aged women. They were best friends and their husbands had been best friends and they did everything together. Then within the space of about six months, both husbands passed away very suddenly. So these two women sat down and wrote a bucket list of all the things their husbands had wanted to do, and they traveled around together ticking things off this list. They actually said (this is a direct quote) “we’re two merry widows spending our husband’s money on adventures!” But they did this to honour their husbands. It has always stuck with me – not only is that true love, but it’s true friendship too. Those two women I miss most of all.
Looking back to when you made the transition, you were a new mother. Is there anything that you wished you’d done differently?
I guess probably yes, but realistically no. I wish we had a bit more in savings up our sleeve since we thought I’d be returning to work and I didn’t. But we’re relatively young and the boys won’t remember us being tight. I wish we had a bit more of a plan rather than always flying by the seat of our pants, but we have very clear goals for where we want to be and that keeps us going even if the path to get there sometimes gets a bit foggy. The way I see it is this – what will my boys remember? They’ll remember being loved and nurtured. They’ll remember mummy and daddy working very hard and having success because of that. And I hope one day they’ll know how to live a happy and successful life.
Did you get any advice or help from others getting ready to go back to school?
Yes and no. I didn’t get a lot of practical advice (and would I have listened anyway?) but there are two people who have been a huge inspiration to me – my in-laws. My in-laws came from fairly humble roots and they have built a wonderful life through supreme hard work. I watch them work together as a team and nothing is too much effort. A special mention goes to my father-in-law because he went back to uni at the same age I did. I was so worried about making that leap until it was pointed out that he did the same thing. And as a result, he built this fantastic career and you would never know he started when he did. That’s what I want to do, and watching and learning from him gave me some great perspective. I really like talking over problems with him as he always has a really useful perspective. And of course a shout out to my mother-in-law, who kept everything going while he worked and studied. And she has taught my husband to be flexible, patient, and encouraging.
And to go along with that question, what advice do you have for someone looking to make a career change, especially when it involves going back to school?
I am 100% all for a good career change, but I’m going to be pragmatic here and not say “go for it! Hooray! Chase your dreams!” It’s definitely worthwhile, but you have to really want it. Particularly when you have a family. I work so hard, often to the point of complete exhaustion, because I’m motivated by something bigger than me. But this time, there are no second chances. I need a certain GPA to get into grad school, so if I fail that’s it for me. All of this would have been for nothing. Plus I can’t afford the fees to take classes twice! So if someone is considering a change, brilliant, but my advice is to really do some soul-searching to be sure it’s what you want and be very sure that you can make it work, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. On a positive note, if you’re back studying, remember to always be proud of your accomplishments. Frequently taking stock of how far you’ve come and the skills you’ve built and the improvements you’ve made, whether it’s better essay writing skills, or finally understanding something you couldn’t get your head around before, makes all the difference to your outlook. And that’s kind of the whole point of making a change!
I hope you enjoyed meeting Amelia. You can connect with her on the following links.