Whangarei-born Danny Dyer began her working career as an archaeologist, fresh out of university.

However, she quickly realised it wasn’t the right job for her.

“My life seemed like it was going to be defined by writing reports, being away from home, monitoring and waiting for a pay cheque. I decided to get out before I got too invested in it and stayed for the wrong reasons.”

Seeking stability, she began working in sales and marketing.

“Event organisation became my thing, but even though I enjoyed it I still needed more of a creative outlet.”

Dyer began studying graphic design whilst working, and “played” with polymer clay in her spare time.

“I decided to take a risk and resign to create art before travelling. It paid off and I realised that I was in love with creating art and wanted to make it my new career.”

Now based in London, and creating under the name Danny Rae Design, Dyer works part time in a cafe, and part time working on her art.

“I think it took my journey through careers to realise art was what I wanted to do and for that I wouldn’t change a thing.”

 She said there were skills she had used across her different careers.

“Problem solving, for example. In archaeology I’d work with site managers and together we’d make plans for their site to avoid disruptions to the dig.”

In sales and marketing, those problem solving skills helped with event planning, Dyer said.

As an artist, client requests often led to quick thinking.

“The size of my pieces are limited to the size of an oven, but a client wanted a large piece. I rang around commercial bakers and found one that had a large enough oven to bake my piece.”

Dyer said her generation was fortunate to have flexibility in their working lives.

“We are lucky that in our generation we don’t have to conform to the norm to be classified as a success. We have the opportunity to create our own idea of success and success to me is being happy and doing what I love, learning a variety of skills, seeing the world and sharing my creativity with others.”

For Jasmine Ruffell, the birth of her first child sparked her career change. 

“I had lost the passion and decided I needed to push myself and pursue a career that I was excited and passionate about.”

A hairdresser for six years, she is now training to become a midwife. 

She said her skills developed in hairdressing were already playing an important part in her new career.

“Both jobs require a great deal of communication with clients and staff. Building relationships and connecting with clients also plays a major role in gaining my clients’ trust and respect.”

Time management is another important skill she learned during hairdressing that will help as a midwife.

“Initiative and problem-solving skills are important too. In both careers, things will happen that will be out of my control and I’ll have to adapt to new situations quickly.”

Rachel Jenkinson made the move to real estate after working for St John as an office manager.

“At St John I did a bit of everything, but primarily I focused on fundraising.”

Moving from employment to self-employment was a “leap into the unknown” but skills gained from St John had helped, she said.

“People might think it’s not similar at all, but actually both jobs are about helping people. I get such a thrill from seeing people succeed and move on to the next chapter in their lives.”

She said marketing and networking skills refined from her career at St John helped as an real estate agent.

“It is different in the focus on people, but those communication, people skills and troubleshooting skills I relied on at St John have helped me now.”

 Careerforce chief executive Jane Wenman said a lack of experience when changing careers didn’t have to be a barrier to getting employment.

“Employers often look for people who demonstrate a good set of transferable skills. Having transferable skills signals to employers that you are adaptable, flexible and therefore employable.”

She said soft skills – such as communication, showing initiative, and having a good work attitude – are valuable across all industries.

“If you can demonstrate you have transferable skills that employers value, you have a good chance.”


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