Ever since she was a little girl, Claudia Condello has loved being around children. But it never occurred to her that love could be a fulfilling career, until she started down a different path entirely.
Claudia thought science was a good choice - her teachers recommended it, her family approved - but two years into a Bachelor of Biological Sciences, she knew for sure it wasn’t for her.
‘After doing biology for two years I definitely did not like it so I had to think what is it that I’m actually passionate about, what is it that I like doing and what can I see myself doing as a career that’s not draining,’ she says.
‘I thought you know what, I love children and I believe children love me and I can work in that field. That’s how I got there. I’m a bit of a child magnet, wherever I go children always tend to follow me.
‘I have a big Italian family and I have lots of little cousins so I got to grow up with them, looking after them.
‘In high school I did volunteering a primary school playgroup, so I got to experience a little of the early childhood education sector. It almost comes naturally to me, I was always passionate but I guess I didn’t know that that’s the career path I initially wanted.’
Claudia is now more than halfway through her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and she’s loving it – the classroom environment, discussions with classmates and her teachers, placement and playgroup and especially the study tour to China she took earlier this year.
Ten students across all year levels of the diploma went to Beijing for two weeks, where they went to kindergartens and universities.
‘It was really amazing, a really good experience,’ she says. ‘I actually didn’t think that TAFEs did things like this, especially so early into the diploma, I was not even six months in.’ Claudia says she had to deal with expectations, both her own and other people’s, in making the switch, and thought she had to do a science bachelor degree in order to be successful. ‘But I realised later that No I’d rather do something that I’m more passionate about,’ she says.
‘Sometimes I think “Wow I wasted two years” but at the same time if I stuck around and finished my degree I probably would’ve gone into a job and then would definitely be stuck.’ Claudia deferred uni and did a make-up artistry short course while making up her mind, but that wasn’t a realistic career goal for her either. ‘I thought I wanted to be a primary school teacher but I didn’t want to jump into another bachelor degree straight away. I thought if I can do diploma first, then if I enjoy my studies and I want more out of it, I can go into the bachelor,’ she says.
‘I thought that was the best option and I’m totally glad that I chose that.’ The goal is to complete the diploma first, then bachelor, so she can work in the early childhood field and study at the same time.
With the diploma, Claudia is able to work with children from the age of six weeks to 12 years, in childcare, kindergarten and primary school before and after school care.
And she’s glad she made the change when she did.
‘I would definitely say I am quite proud of myself this year for taking care of me and not thinking about what other people think in regards to studying and what kind of work that I do,’ she says.
‘I know when I was doing biology everyone was saying “wow that’s so cool you must be smart”.
‘But deep down I wasn’t really happy, I didn’t really care that it was a smart subject.
‘This year I just feel much happier, I’m proud of myself that I made that change as soon as I did.’
Find out more on Early Years Education here.