by David Scoppa
When I was two years into a business admin degree at Macquarie University, I was lacking motivation and my mind was elsewhere. I needed a change. I loved snowboarding and decided to defer my studies and follow my passion for snow, winter, fresh mountain air and everything snowboarding had too offer. This meant leaving friends and family at a young age and swapping Australian beach summers for North American winters and returning home in May, only to do it all over again for the Australian snow season in Thredbo. Looking back at my 20-year-old self, this decision laid the foundations for my career today.
Chasing winters and snowboarding as much as possible consumed my life. I was on the mountain at every opportunity, teaching snowboarding one day, riding with friends on the others. Snowboarding was addictive.
Teaching snowboarding over back-to-back winters was about developing rapport and trust with students of all ages and different backgrounds so they could build the confidence to take their snowboarding to their next level whether that meant attempting to turn for the first time, learning to jump or riding deep powder. It also involved personal and professional development through teaching certifications and on-snow training sessions.
When I first decided to leave university, little did I know how teaching snowboarding to kids and adults in across the world would ultimately lead me to a job in career development and redeployment. I did manage to finish my business degree whilst snowboarding, however when it came time to remain in Sydney and focus on a new career I started to think about my next move. As a people-person, I knew I wanted to be helping others and being surrounded by people in a positive way.
Through the process of elimination I started my career transition. I felt my business degree didn’t really relate to my interests and passions and after flicking through various university guides, I decided to settle on a Human Resource qualification from University of Technology Sydney. During this time and after graduation I dabbled in HR generalist roles from a start up online resume company to HR in a small charity before moving into HR in a global engineering firm. There were set backs along the way and I regularly questioned my new career path and abilities to adapt to the office environment. This was all part of my learning curve and those set backs were developing my core people skills and building my resilience to continue to pursue my career to where I wanted it to be.
It was in my engineering role of all places where I jumped on an opportunity to move into internal graduate recruitment. Recruitment was a turning point in my career transition. Recruitment offered opportunities to play a positive role where on one hand, I was helping hiring managers fill positions in a timely manner, and on the other making a positive impact on students and entry-level professionals starting out in their careers. It also gave me the people interaction I had been lacking in my HR generalist roles. My transition didn’t stop there- in a move to the recruitment team of University of Sydney I met managers that turned into mentors and through their guidance, support and encouragement new opportunities became available. In these opportunities I grew my recruitment experience which led to career advising, redeployment and working on change programs that ultimately led to my current position in career development and redeployment.
Teaching snowboarding may seem to be a in a far away place from walking through the ground of a university however each of these careers have a strong people-focus with responsibilities to educate, empower, build self-confidence, grow and develop skills and strengths through individual and group sessions. I may have swapped the snowy outdoors for an office environment however my approach to my work remains quite the same.
When teaching snowboarding, I shared my genuine passion and enthusiasm to engage with people through my love of snowboarding. I wanted my students to feel empowered and have the self-confidence to develop their snowboarding skills. I would regularly remind my students, colleagues and friends, regardless of their level, “try something new or something you have not done in a long time every day you ride and your snowboarding will improve every day”. It’s simple advice, yet is so true in everything we try to achieve in our lives.
More recently, I have continued my genuine and engaging approach to career development focusing on empowering and encouraging my clients to build their self-confidence and skills to make important career decisions.
Over the years I’ve learnt from both my careers:
- First impressions are very important. Building instant rapport with clients is crucial in developing trust and confidence whether you are encouraging them to take their first turn on a snowboard or trusting you to improve their interview techniques.
- Being genuine, honest and sincere goes a long way in building trusting relationships. In snowboarding, I empowered people to become better snowboarders and today, to build the skills and knowledge to develop effective career development skills
- Everybody learns differently and his or her ideas of success are also different
- Simple changes or a slightly different approach can change a person’s life forever
- Every person has a different story and they share their life experiences to grow and progress their skills, abilities and knowledge
- Being able to make a difference to people’s lives in a positive way whether it’s in the outdoors or helping them reach their career goals is very rewarding
For each of us, we are individuals and our career journey is different in many ways. When identifying career transition it doesn’t have to be a complete change of industry. It may mean moving upwards, laterally or just changing scenery. Growing yourself and your career occurs without you even knowing it. That is the beauty of career transitioning.