4 Successful People Tell Us How They Made It Without Going To Uni
It seems like it’s more common to be asked where you’re going to uni rather than if you’re going to uni, so it’s easy to forget that education isn’t actually a one-size-fits-all scenario.
Four additional years in a classroom isn’t for everyone, and, as these five success stories show us, there is more than one way to follow your passion and turn it into a career.
Allan Campion, Chef
Chef, food writer, and co-author of over three dozen cookbooks, Allan Campion’s career has been long and fruitful. He’s worked as a cook for the Royal Australian Navy, run a small hotel in Turkey, and now he is the owner of Melbourne Food Experiences.
And he skipped the whole uni thing in favour of TAFE NSW. “An apprenticeship was the best way for me as I loved the hands-on learning in kitchens and school. Even though I ‘left school’ at 16 I leaped into the field that captured my imagination and interest,” Campion says.
He acknowledges that hospitality is a challenging field, but also views that as one of its drawcards. “I have never stopped learning, reading and working with the best people I know to get better. If I was 16 again I’d do exactly the same thing – I’ve loved my career in food.”
Patrick O’Duffy, Editor
Currently a Commisioning Editor, O’Duffy says he came into publishing late in life, after he started out in sales. “I didn’t like sales much, though, and started studying for a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at night in order to improve my career options and develop my skills.”
Seeing that he was upskilling and moving in a new direction, O’Duffy’s employer took note and promoted him over to the publishing department where he continued to work having completed his Diploma.
O’Duffy says,“I probably wouldn’t even have this career if not for my TAFE diploma; it was the foot in the door that I needed to get started.”
“I chose to study at TAFE NSW for practical reasons – cost, accessibility, study time. – that made it more effective for me than pursing a post-grad qualification.”
After a few false starts, Skaidris Gunsmith is now living the dream, having successfully turned his passion for games and all things geeky into a full-time career. Not only is he the Game Developer at his own board game company, Gunsmith Games, he is also the event manager and co-founder of the geek nightclub at Beta Bar in Melbourne.
He initially tried the traditional university route, studying fine arts straight out of high school. “Painting flowers for months on end isn’t something I was interested in engaging in,” he says. “I dropped out after two years to work for a while as I tried to figure out something more interesting to do, which lead me to my first attempt at starting my own business.”
He then tried his hand at a university business course but left after a year, instead turning to the practical experience he had gained in the work he’d done around the edges of studying – building arcade games from scratch and working at bars. “Six months later I crowdfunded my first game, Suddenly Drunk, and founded Gunsmith Games,” he says. “Since then I’ve never looked back.”
Bonnie Davies, Comedian & Producer
Bonnie Davies is a comedian and producer who is successful in not just one highly-demanding career, but two. Not only is she a performer, she also is the owner and director of The Gelo Company, a role which sees her developing comedy projects.
Davies got an early start in the industry. Aged just 15, she did work experience at AWESOME Arts, and was then offered a job. With plans to attend uni, she decided to turn it down and finish school. However, when she graduated, AWESOME Arts were still keen, and again, offered her a job.
“So I took it. “People in that role had gone to uni and done courses to even get their foot in the door. I treated that first three years working there like my uni,” she says.
She points to practical experience as being a big part of carving out her career; in particular volunteering and getting the most out of every learning opportunity.
For people starting out in comedy and producing, she has some words of wisdom. “Focus on yourself, not everyone else. Stick to what your strengths are, your values are and what your goals are… If you try to be something you’re not you may end up being very successful in a job, role, work culture or industry you don’t want to be in at all.”
With over 1,200 courses, including diplomas and degrees, TAFE NSW offers a real-world course for just about anything you want to do in life. So take the leap and make the Switch to a quality education. Find out more here.