Working as a teacher's aide might seem a long way from a career in communications, but Michael O’Connor insists there are a lot of similarities.
Michael has worked in communications for eight years, specialising in research and strategic communications in corporate and healthcare sectors. At first glance, it’s very different work to what he was doing before. He’d studied health and nutrition at university, and was working at two different schools in Melbourne.
“I was a teacher's aide at one, and I worked in health at another - it was a normal private secondary school that had students with challenges. I was basically the link between teachers, parents and the student to help with health aspects that impacted their learning.”
Michael decided to get into communications because he wanted to have more variety in his work. He saw how every industry had a need for communications, and how he could work across different fields to provide insight and advice.
“I like a bit of change, a bit of variety. I didn't just make the decision overnight; I spoke to some mentors of mine, some friends in the industry and comms people back at my university to get an idea of jobs and opportunities. They really sold me on what I could be doing now and into the future.”
Having studied health and worked in a related role, Michael was set up well to specialise in healthcare communications because he understands the industry already. He quickly discovered that he had plenty of other transferable skills too.
“Working in schools, you need to be able to speak to groups of people well, and also to present complex information in really simple terms. Those things are also really important in communications.”
Michael says the fulfilment he gets from his work now is the biggest benefit of having moved into communications. Not only can he use his healthcare background to support the sector, but he also has the opportunity to work across various other industries that interest him.
While his previous work may not seem closely related, Michael is proof of just how transferable skills are when coming into the communications industry.
“Having other experience enhances your ability to contribute because you've got expertise in a field that you can apply here. The change doesn't mean forgetting what you've learnt or done before; if anything, you just enhance that.”
We have communications roles available now, including for those from other industries. To find out more or to learn about what’s involved in a communications career, contact Pip Scarff on [email protected]