Charting a new career from marketing to counselling with JCU

JCU helped marketing diploma graduate Koh Khoon Geok navigate the path to follow her dream of a career in counselling

Ms Koh Khoon Geok realised that counselling is her calling after graduating with a diploma in marketing. PHOTO: TED CHEN

What you truly are passionate about may not manifest till you have already embarked on a journey to pursue higher education. And this can lead you to pursue a career and education which differs from your current field of study.

In a survey conducted by recruitment firm Monster in October 2018, the results showed that nearly 80 per cent of millennial respondents would consider a new career path. 36 per cent of them cited personal fulfilment and passion as motivations for the switch.

For Ms Koh Khoon Geok, a school counsellor at San Yu Adventist School, finding a job that she is passionate about is more important than to test the waters in the marketing industry after graduating with a marketing diploma from Singapore Polytechnic (SP).

Her budding interest in psychology blossomed when she was taking an elective module in her business diploma programme at SP. Her lecturer noticed her growing interest in psychology and suggested that she pursue her passion by continuing her education in the relevant field at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU).

Two months after graduating from SP, Ms Koh realised that counselling is her calling after all.
She began her research to find the right institution for her to embark on her true path, before choosing to enrol in the Bachelor of Psychology programme at JCU.

She says: "JCU stood out for me as I was impressed by its extensive coverage of varying modules in Bachelor of Psychology, ranging from major theoretical perspectives to adapting and applying research skills."

Beyond the curriculum, she was also impressed by the programme's trimester system and it being accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).

Ms Koh shares that her supervisor at JCU, Dr Jagdeep, inspires her to push herself and challenge her limits. PHOTO: TED CHEN

Smooth transition

Switching a major may be a daunting prospect for some, but it is a necessary step that Ms Koh feels one should take to have a satisfying and meaningful career.

She says: "If you let yourself explore the different options that you are drawn to, you may discover something that will make life more satisfying and meaningful.

"That was the case for me when I made the switch from studying business to psychology, and I have never been happier."

It helps that JCU's faculty are always accessible and supportive in her times of need. Ms Koh shares that her supervisor, Dr Jagdeep inspires her to push herself and challenge her limits.

She says: "Dr Jagdeep has helped me greatly throughout my fourth year programme. She guided me through my entire dissertation and challenged me to become the best version of myself, and more. I remember having to re-write the introduction of my literature review many times because she felt that I could do better."

Broadening horizons

The diverse learning environment at JCU has also presented Ms Koh with opportunities for interaction with individuals of different ages and nationalities to learn about various cultures and practices on campus.

She says: "Tutorials and group work were always interesting as diversified ideas bounced off one another and that provided me with the opportunity to view things from many different perspectives."

The fruitful experience translated well into her role as a school counsellor after graduation.

She adds: "My experience in JCU has, in turn, helped me in my work as a school counsellor at San Yu Adventist School as our students are of different nationalities and ages. It has equipped me with the background knowledge of different cultures and their practices, enabling me to be able to connect with my students more effectively."

Visit for more information about the psychology programmes offered at the Singapore campus of James Cook University.

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