Making a career change later in life
“As human beings, we love different things at different times. Most of the passions that show up later in life are things we loved, but never really took a keen eye on them.
Some are suppressed while for others, we were just not brave enough to take on,” says 43-year-old Mariam Mell’Osiime Mpaata.
She started off wanting to be a lawyer to defend the vulnerable, but instead pursued Development Studies at Makerere University.
She then moved to Kenya in 2002 and embraced being a housewife for seven years.
She offers: “Fate saw me enroll for a Higher Diploma in Counselling. I practised for a while and felt great because in a way, I was defending the vulnerable.
In 2008, I ventured into sports purely by default. This saw me start a football academy in Mombasa and my counselling skills came in handy because I interacted with the youth. In 2019, I attained a Masters in Sports Management from Spain.
I also juggle my childhood dreams of becoming a writer and currently writing a sports memoir, as well as being a sports columnist for a leading newspaper in Uganda.
I am a sports activist with a dream to set up the first sports university in East Africa. Despite the challenges I face at 43, I feel that I can touch anything and blossom.
I recently started growing herbs at home… I love it. Who knows, I might be a farmer in my next phase of life. Career change is as adventurous as you want it to be.”
Rose Chepseba, who is in her 40s is currently based in Melbourne Australia where she works as a registered psychiatric nurse.
After completing her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, she joined Kenya Medical Training College and pursued a Diploma in Clinical Medicine for three years and later a Higher Diploma in Orthopedics for one year.
“This enabled a successful entry into the job market. I worked in Butere-Mumias District Hospital for two years then moved to Coast General Hospital where I worked for 12 years,” she says.
But Chepsemba has always been passionate about healthcare and its impact on people’s lives through her.
“I yearned to do more. Having 14 years’ worth of job experience opened my eyes to new possibilities and when the opportunity came, I took it without hesitation,” she adds.
She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Mental Health at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Australia, while working as a registered psychiatry nurse in a government hospital in Melbourne.
This new career path has been more fulfilling. Chepseba offers: “I get to build relationships, reassuring, listening and talking to patients.
I have also been able to work with people living with disability by giving them support and care as well as child protection services.
I’ve been lucky to have my work acknowledged, which earned me a scholarship to pursue my Master’s in Mental Health.”
She adds: “I am sure everyone shudders a little at the thought of treading unchartered territories.
However, living in suspense and wonder of what could have been is much worse. Take a leap of faith and go for it.”
She plans to pursue a PhD so that she can break into the research path of mental health.
“I believe that this will help develop my ability to transfer my knowledge and skills so that I can contribute to building the next generation of health officials,” she says.
Gracie Wangui, 42, went to UK five years ago where she began her Access to Higher Education and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) Maths at Gloucestershire College between 2016 and 2017.
The rewarding part
In 2018, she enrolled at Gloucestershire University to pursue Bachelor of Science Adult Nursing and is getting into her third year of study. “When I was in Kenya I used to work at a casino.
I starterd as a croupier having trained at RKL Casino, but had risen to the rank of an assistant pitboss when I left Flamingo Casino in 2015, something I had done for over 10 years.
Having relocated to the UK, I moved to a small city that had no significant casinos.
Plus, I think that ship had sailed and I wanted something different,” Wangui explains.
One of her friends, Nelly, advised on Mental Health Nursing as it was marketable and rewarding.
Having a great and genuine person to guide you in a foreign country is a blessing.
“I applied for a job at a nursing home to care for the elderly whilst pursuing my Access to Higher Education.
It was whilst working here that I knew I wanted a career in Adult Nursing. In 2017, I applied for a job at our local trust working at Gloucester Royal Hospital as a healthcare assistant to have a feel of the hospital setting.
I loved what I was doing and by the time I joined university in 2018, I had acquired a wealth of knowledge,” she says.
It’s not easy to change careers at an older age. “She adds: “Obviously, you have to go back to school to pursue that new course you want to venture in.
An advantage of changing careers at older age is your priorities have changed, you know what you want and so you go for it wholeheartedly.
I am currently enjoying my adult nursing training, which is both practice experience alongside lectures. I am not sure if I’ll stop there or proceed to do a master’s.
But it has been an amazing experience. Working at the hospital has been rewarding,” Wangui says.
“Changing career has widened my knowledge and made me feel good about myself.
I have known changing careers at whatever age is doable. It’s never too late,” Wangui says in ending.