Despite always knowing she wanted to be a baker, Courtney felt compelled to follow the well-trodden path to university.
“I can’t really say why I couldn’t accept that becoming a baker was my dream,” Courtney said.
“But I think deep down I felt like I wouldn’t get a good enough job without a degree qualification and I really believed that university was the route you are meant to follow after leaving school.”
Courtney began a degree in Journalism straight out of high school but decided almost immediately it wasn’t right for her and switched to a Bachelor of Public Relations and Marketing. While she enjoyed the degree, she knew straight after graduating it wasn't going to fulfil her long-term career aspirations.
“It was funny because when I finished my degree all I could think was ‘I really don’t want to do this!’” Courtney said.
“I didn’t feel particularly engaged by the work and sitting at a desk all day every day is just not for me — I need to be on my feet and moving around and I need variety."
“I often found myself imagining owning my own bakery and planning how I would market it."
“Eventually my partner said to me ‘Courtney you want to be a baker, so become a baker‘ and I knew he was right — it was time to face up to what I really wanted to do,” she said.
But the idea of more training and study after 16 years of school and university did not appeal to Courtney, and she was worried about being locked into an expensive course she didn’t enjoy for yet another three or four years.
“When I started my research into the pathways to become a baker I came across TAFE Queensland pretty quickly,” Courtney recalled.
Courtney was pleased to discover she could undertake an introductory baking course with TAFE Queensland, giving her a good insight into baking as a future career.
“Once I started the course, it was clear I was destined for a career in baking and I tried to use the time to learn as much as I could from my teachers," Courtney said.
“Thankfully, they are all people who have worked in the industry themselves and are still very well connected and their advice was so valuable."
“My teachers even helped me secure an apprenticeship with Bakers Delight, which I started the week after completing the Certificate II in Baking (FBP20217),” she said.
After completing a three-year apprenticeship, Courtney took some time out to work for a small boutique bakery, until she received a phone call out of the blue from her former Regional Manager at Bakers Delight.
“He asked me if I was interested in working in a test bakery and that immediately sparked my interest,” Courtney recalled.
“This was a highly sought-after job based in Melbourne that would give me a new challenge but keep me in an industry I love and am genuinely passionate about."
“After a lengthy interview process, I was thrilled to be offered the role and in April 2019 I packed up my life in Brisbane and made the move to Melbourne. My partner followed a couple of months later and we are enjoying the experience of living, working, and exploring life in a new city.”
TAFE Queensland Bakery and Patisserie Educational Team Leader, Michael Wheeler said he was proud to have played a small part in Courtney’s success story.
“When Courtney commenced her certificate II with us, her knowledge about baking was minimal,” he said.
“Her background was in marketing and events and whilst she was looking for a career change, she really wasn’t sure what she was going to do."
“Fast forward four years and she now has one of the most highly sought-after roles in the baking industry."
“Her success is down to her passion, dedication and talent and it is very well deserved and it has been a great joy for her teachers here at TAFE Queensland to see her do so well and transfer her practical skills into this really unique and special role,” Michael said.
Courtney is a great example of how following your true passion can take you a long way.
“My message to others is that you don’t have to go to university to go far in a big company,” Courtney said.
“You can have a practitioner or technical background and use that to move into other roles within your industry if you one day decide to put the tools down."
“That practical experience is extremely useful in a corporate setting and what’s really important is following a career path you enjoy and keeping your eyes and ears open to other opportunities.”