"I started studying with 4 kids under 12." How Lan changed her career at 41.

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There are few parts of our lives in 2020 that haven't been touched by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another - one of the most notable being job loss and the rise in unemployment figures.

The number of Australians out of work rose to more than one million for the first time in July, with the unemployment rate sitting at approximately 7.5 per cent according to the ABS. Those are some pretty sobering statistics, but it's not all bad news.

The economic recession has allowed a unique opportunity for us to invest more of our time into retraining, upskilling or even changing careers altogether. Many are looking towards essential roles that are deemed 'recession proof' as well as growing industries such as coding, programming, design and data analytics according to the ABC.

Given we're spending so much more time at home, many of us are also looking for remote learning options like those provided by Open Colleges, Australia's largest private provider of online vocational education. Open Colleges offers thousands of courses that are nationally accredited, and provide students with the practical know-how needed to succeed in the real world.

With a range of online courses across health, business, childhood education, trades, design and technology, Open Colleges has a variety of study options that are interactive, while also allowing you the flexibility and ease of fitting it into your particular lifestyle.

It was the flexibility and freedom in study that led 41-year-old Lan*, a mum of four from New South Wales, to undertake a Certificate III in Education Support with Open Colleges. Her motivation came from a friend who had completed the same course, and Lan is now working as an Education Support Worker.


"Going back to study was an easy decision as the house chores never end - (plus I'm not that good at it!) and I feel I need to get out, make my own money, dust off my brain and make new friends and experiences," she told Mamamia. 

"I also want to gain self-confidence and set an example for my kids. I enjoy helping children to learn and I can use my experiences with my own children to help me with the job and vice versa."

Lan plans two days of study per week. Image: Supplied.

 Before starting a family, Lan was working in clothing production while studying costume-making in the evenings. But now that all four of her children are in school, she's reconsidered what she wants out of her career and is making the switch to become a Teacher's Aide.


With Lan's husband being the primary breadwinner, and after 12 years at home looking after their children, she said she's ready for a change of scenery.

Yet prior to making her decision, Lan carefully considered which industry would fit in best with their family dynamics.

"I've chosen this career path so it will fit within school hours and not impact adversely with my main role as a mother and homemaker," she told us. "It will allow me to still chauffeur the kids around to their extracurricular activities, help with homework and organise their social lives."

While the course provides a recommended study schedule, Lan said she plans two days of study a week between school drop-off and pick-up. This allows her to spend non-study days maintaining the house, and running errands for herself and her family.

"I'm glad I'm studying the course as I'm enjoying using my brain. Each time I've completed a module, I have gained more confidence in my abilities too," she said.

"It's useful for helping my own children with their studies and allowed me to empathise with them more. It's served as a reminder to take it easy on the kids when they struggle with their studies."


When New South Wales schools closed due to COVID-19, Lan began home schooling her children like many other parents. While it was difficult, she did feel that her studies helped her to be able to support them in their school work (minus the tantrums) and she looked at it as practise for her future career.

"I want to work in the special needs field in the primary school setting, as I think it will be very rewarding and I know there is high demand for this sector," Lan said. 

"If I am going to take time away from my family, the role needs to satisfy me mentally and emotionally."  

With the course allowing 18 months for completion, Lan estimates she is about a quarter of the way through her course. She highly recommends it and encourages anyone who is considering upskilling or retraining to take the leap and commit to returning to study.  

"I look forward to reading and learning new content and every time I have done well in my assessments; it has given me a confidence boost," she said. 

"It gives you something positive to focus on besides COVID-19 and I feel I am actively taking action to improve myself. Going back to study has given me new vitality as well as a more positive outlook for my future."

If you're looking to take the first steps towards your new career, enrol in an online course today at and see that everything could happen.

Open Colleges
If you’re looking to move up in your job or start a new one altogether, choose an online course with Open Colleges and discover that once you start, everything could happen.