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Youth Month: Two women found themselves in different fields than what they studied. Find out how they make it work

IOL spoke to two Durban women who have landed up in a different career path to the ones they had originally chosen. Picture: Pexels/Olia Danilevich

IOL spoke to two Durban women who have landed up in a different career path to the ones they had originally chosen. Picture: Pexels/Olia Danilevich

Published Jun 21, 2023


Imagine having your heart set on a specific career only to venture down a different path later on.

For many people, this could be due to a number of factors. For others, they simply could not find employment or opted to take a different route.

IOL spoke to two women who found themselves working in different fields.

One of them is Akshara Chetty, 34, who studied Environmental Science but has now landed in the education space after struggling to land a job.

"I studied Environmental Science because it is essential for sustainability and finding a balance between supporting human needs and preserving resources for future generations and how one could develop strategies to mitigate the impact of human activities on the natural environment," she said.

Chetty said she is currently pursuing her Post-Graduate Certificate in Education which will enable her to work as a teacher.

"I am making the best use of my qualification," the wife and mom of two said.

Akshara Chetty, wife and mom to two. Picture: Supplied

Iman Sheik-Young, 26, graduated with a BA Psychology and now works in the field of Digital Marketing as a Social Media Manager.

The wife and mom of two said she did not make the honours programme for Industrial Psychology and found herself at a crossroads.

"I had only applied to do my honours in Industrial Psychology. It was my only plan.

"I don’t come from a privileged background, I've always been on scholarships and bursaries. I decided to do an internship so I wouldn’t 'waste my year'.

“I applied for everything and contacted a few psychologists asking if I could intern with them,” she said.

Sheikh-Young said she struggled and eventually applied for a marketing internship. Marketing was one of her majors.

“At this point, I was three weeks into the year and it was three weeks too long of doing 'nothing'. Thankfully, I received feedback immediately. However, none from traditional marketing companies only local digital agencies.

“I had no idea how advanced the 'digital world' really was until I sat down for interviews," she said.

She said she loves working in her field as it aligned with her journey as a model.

Wife and mom of two, Iman Sheik-Young. Picture: Supplied

"The brands and work I get booked for have all found me through social media. I love the entire process of creating content and seeing people reach out and communicate the way I do.

“I love that through 1080 X 1080px images I get to tell a story of who company or person is. It’s understanding people’s needs and wants but taking it one step further by persuading them to take action.

“It is also one of the few careers that allows me to have the flexibility I need to be a working mom. I can still be present in my kids' lives and have a 'full-time/stable' income. I love being a mom. But I also love working and pursuing my goals and dreams," Sheik-Young said.

She added that she didn't see herself venturing back into psychology. However, she would consider a role as a school counsellor or educational psychologist as she loves children.

"I do feel like my background in psychology has given me a better understanding of human behaviour, their habits, wants and needs.

“Psychology on the whole has given me better insight and understanding into society overall. I have a better understanding of what motivates purchases or user behaviour online and the dangers of social media.

“I know it has influenced my habits on social media as an influencer and model as well as an employee. I am more aware of the type of working environment I’m in, the importance of a good working culture.

“Thankfully my company really value us as their staff, and not just as staff, as individuals," Sheik-Young said.

She explained that she was scared of having to change her career path.

"It was everything I worked for and wanted for so long. The idea that for the first time I was 'failing'. I didn’t have a backup plan. It was my only plan. I never failed.

“I always did what was required of me. I was never a 'problem'. So to me, this was huge. I felt like I was giving my parents stress but my husband and parents reminded me, something will come.

She said she was the first grandkid to go to university and the youngest student that year to graduate in her class.

“I still had time. I was still young. I didn’t need to have it all figured out.

"I dealt with it, the way I always deal with everything these days. I allow myself to be scared, but I do what I need to keep surviving… the tears I cry, they don’t defy me… the difficulties only mean I’m growing…

“I always trust that God has a plan for me. I always believe in tomorrow. I guess that’s my mom's voice at the back of my head singing Annie to me and now my kids 'tomorrow, tomorrow it’s only one day away'," she said.

Both women had the same advice for those in similar positions. They acknowledged that there would be frustration, but it was imperative not to give up and expand one’s skill set.