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Being A Mature Aged Student; Coming Back To Study To Learn A Specific Skill

Digital and Social Media Marketing Student Kate shares her experience of coming back to college as a mature aged student.


Hi I’m Katherine and I am halfway through completing my Diploma in Digital and Social Media Marketing. I’m a mature age student (I’m on the right side of 50, let’s leave it at that!). For all of my working life I’ve been involved in communications of some sort, from my very first job in a boutique public relations agency, through to working in public affairs, editing and journalism for a number of government departments including the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Federal Department of Health.



An old work photo of me as an editor.


I’ve got a long history with Macleay College because in my 30s I had the opportunity to do some re-training and I chose a Macleay course in editing (which is not offered any more), and that short course let me straight into a job that I held for 12 years! So when the time came to broaden my skills again, Macleay was my first choice. And I was thrilled to find that they offered the diploma in DSMM as it perfectly met my needs.


I have to say that coming back to school after an almost 20 year break was pretty daunting though. I felt very self-conscious on my first few days at college, especially because everyone else was at least half my age! But I soon found that age really is no barrier at Macleay. Lecturers and students alike treat me like just another student and I’ve been happily surprised with the friendships I’ve made with students that are the same age as my own kids! I initially really dreaded group assignments too, but I’ve had some really positive experiences with them. Especially my teams for some hard challenges in Zeina’s Social Media Strategy class, and Jules’s Creative Process class. Those units have really pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me the confidence to pursue work in the digital comms field. And I’ve really enjoyed the support and mentorship of other lecturers like Florence.


As I’ve been progressing through my diploma, I made a decision to focus my career towards the charity sector. I’m at a great place in my life where I’m ready to give back to society, and use my skills for good causes. To break into this new area, I reached out to the Sydney charity Dress For Success to help them with their digital communication. I’m now doing a volunteer internship there, and working hands on with their Marketing manager to craft SM posts, EDMs, and develop a content bank for future campaigns. I’m happy to say that the digital comms skills and knowledge I’ve gained at Macleay have all been relevant in this real workplace, and I’ve been able to slot right in and speak their language from the get-go. That for me is the Macleay advantage – getting that industry specific and relevant training is invaluable. Ultimately I’ll seek out paid employment, and with this internship under my belt and my diploma, I know I’ll stand a good chance. Just yesterday, a recruiter contacted me via LinkedIn for a content developer job (thanks Florence for that LinkedIn tutorial!), and while its not quite what I’m after now, it’s great to know I’m already standing out.



Studying online during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


COVID hit us half way through our first trimester this year, and I have to say that the college has done a brilliant job of adapting the course work for an online environment. Because Macleay classes are generally small, moving to delivery via Zoom has kept me feeling connected with my classmates. And I think it’s actually helped us with group work because meeting via zoom takes a lot of hassle out of meeting face to face. But having said that, I’m really looking forward to when we can return to college face to face. I miss the camaraderie of the classroom, and the random free food that seems to magically appear in the lunchroom!

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