Finding Your Niche Will Bring Career Success

Cathy Krimmer, TAFE Western Sydney

The story is told of a teenaged Steven Spielberg, wanting to create the visual effect of blood oozing from his mother’s kitchen cupboards. After cooking thirty cans of cherries in a pressure cooker until they exploded, the effect was very much achieved. Steven went on to achieve box office records with films such as Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park.

His mother spent years wiping the residue off the cupboards.

There are some, like Spielberg, who have a career path laid out in front of them and all they need is an imagination (and a pinch of pixie dust) and they will get there.

But for the rest of us, choosing a career and how to get there is somewhat more difficult.

Like Spielberg, the careers that beckon us will be roles that allow us to use a mix of our skills and temperaments. There are online career and personality tests available to help guide us through the sorts of roles which may or may not be suited to a particular temperament. One such tool which is free and also used by our career counsellors is the Career Voyage Profile available through our website (

The suitability of temperament is more indicative of a successful career rather than skills, as skills can be learned and developed, but generally speaking, a temperament is something you are born with.

Once a suitable career has been discovered, the next step is to work out a plan for how to arrive at your destination. By searching job advertisements related to your chosen career you can determine what sorts of qualifications and experience employers are seeking from their job applicants. After this, it is a matter of choosing a training pathway.

Peter Boutros was one young man who knew which career was calling him but was unsure about how to get there.

From a young age, Peter had a strong interest in problem solving and a fascination with construction, which led him to choose a career in structural engineering. When the time came for him to pursue his career, his first instinct was to enrol at university. But when he didn’t get into his chosen course he discovered an even better way to get ahead in his career.

“I spoke to a few people including a structural engineer who I met on a work site. He went to TAFE before university. He said that TAFE was a good stepping stone to university and people from TAFE did very well at university,” Peter says.

Peter completed the Advanced Diploma of Structural Engineering at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute and went on to the honours program of the Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Sydney University. His TAFE qualification gave him credit into his university studies and also gave him additional skills which he believes helped him to excel at university and placed him in front of his peers.

“The fundamentals which you learn at TAFE are extremely important as you progress through your studies as well as at work, as they pop up everywhere. Also, the technical subjects taught at TAFE are very much in line with what you learn at university and provide a good base for you to progress to university.”

“I also learned to use computer-aided design at TAFE which gave me a leg up when applying for jobs, as many employers look for experience in this which many university students don’t have,” Peter says.

Peter’s TAFE teacher, Chris Pracy, said that, ‘Anyone studying at TAFE can expect their training to be directly linked to employment.’

“What we give are practical, relevant skills and experiences that enable our students to be employed in their chosen industry immediately after graduating,” Chris says.

“A survey of our students found that 87 percent felt that the training prepared them well for work and yes, it also gives them that edge if they choose to go on to university.”

“It used to be the case that TAFE offered only trade skills and only within a predetermined timetable, but this is no longer the case – there is great variety and flexibility in what we do and graduates are coming away ready for work, with personalised training behind them for any manner of professions and trades.”

A pinch of pixie dust might be hard to find, but once, like Peter Boutros, you have discovered the career niche for you and the training path to get you there, success is surely just around the corner.

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