For more than a decade after leaving secondary school in 1991, Tara Shannon had no clear career direction in her life.
She floated in and out of numerous jobs and study programs including working as a waitress, nanny, horse trail riding leader and rouseabout as well as undertaking further education in horse breeding and psychology.
Growing up the country environs of Ensay, near Mt Hotham in Victoria, Tara, 33, just didn't know what she wanted to do until she had two children and became a single mother who needed a financially stable future.
In 2005, Tara decided to move to Melbourne, hoping to raise her two young boys, Darby, 3 ½ and Riley, 2, in a comfortable and secure home.
In 2006, she enrolled for a six-month course in Certificate III in Financial Services at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) and enjoyed it so much, she continued studying by going on to enrol in the Diploma of Accounting. She now intends to complete her Advanced Diploma of Accounting this year.
After a peripatetic lifestyle that involved roughing it in the shearing sheds around Australia and horse studs in NSW and Victoria, donned in boots, jeans and T-shirts, Tara, of Macleod, has chosen to opt for a more sedate existence as an accountant.
And she loves it. Moreover, she is now a student ambassador for NMIT during Taste TAFE Week at NMIT between 6-10 August where she will impart the details of her journey from an itinerant worker to a settled student ready to embark on a whole new career to prospective NMIT students.
Taste TAFE Week at NMIT involves Year 10, 11 and 12 secondary school students the opportunity to engage in direct experience of their chosen course of interest in a specific, three-hour taster session that will provide information and hands-on application at one of NMIT's six campuses at Preston, Collingwood, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Epping and Fairfield.
'I did accounting in Year 12 at high school and really liked it, but at that time of my life, I had no idea what I wanted to do and wasn't interested in academia or studying further,' Tara said.
'Coming to NMIT as a mature aged student was a bit scary as I moved out of my comfort zone after 14 years to enter a very different world.
'I now feel I've found my niche at this point in my life and having made a big decision, I know now it was absolutely the right one. For me, NMIT has been great. It offers so many advantages that people just aren't aware of such as first-class facilities and teachers who are industry experienced which help students be fully prepared to enter the workforce after completing the course.'
And returning to study as a single mum after years away from textbooks and classrooms, NMIT's teachers made it easy for her to undertake her training program, Tara added.
'I once took one of my children to an exam and the environment is so flexible and not as impersonal as university when I briefly studied psychology in Albury-Wodonga. '
Now a staunch advocate of the TAFE experience, Tara said her position as ambassador gave her the opportunity to help dispel some people's negative image of TAFE into one as a positive and respected tertiary institution that can cater for everyone from the early school leaver through to mature aged students.
'It's also a very affordable option and as vocational education rather than just theory based, I'll be ready to hit the workplace as soon as I finish my studies. The hands-on experience is just invaluable.'
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.