I first started at TAFE Queensland in 2002 and have worked in a variety of different roles from training consultant to teacher, as Student Activities Coordinator and Student Support Service Acting Manager, before working as a counsellor for four years, just to name a few. In 2014 I took time to travel overseas, living in Thailand for two and half years and working across six countries with young girls who were survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
On my return to Australia in 2016 I decided to explore various careers, which I think was very fitting since I provided counselling and advice on careers. I worked as a Spectator Services Supervisor at the Commonwealth Games, Parliamentary Attendant (casually) at Queensland Parliament, Project Coordinator at USQ, and then a Senior Advisor at Child Safety. But in January 2020 when I saw a counsellor role come up at TAFE Queensland I knew I had to apply. I was really missing working as a practitioner and the fulfilment of assisting and helping people. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to come back and help others make great happen in their own careers.
The diversity of the counsellor role is something I love. In a single day I might travel to different campuses, work with and inspire students to continue on with their course if they are having issues, or speak with and hear stories of current and prospective students, while brainstorming and researching pathways and job searching possibilities and strategies with them. I also get to speak to classes and work with other government departments and community service organisations to help their clients reach their career goals. I never know what the day will bring and who I will meet, but it allows me to follow my passion for helping people to reach their potential, overcome barriers to success, and live a life of fulfilment.
COVID-19 has without a doubt changed things like our careers, different industries, the economy, family dynamics, mental health, and so much more. I am lucky and privileged enough that the pandemic has not impacted me too much, apart from having to work from home for a short stint and talk to students and prospective students over the phone, email, SMS or via Zoom. However this has had its advantages because now we are able to offer a wider variety of counselling methods – some students prefer to email or SMS or talk over the phone, rather than face-to-face. This can make the counselling experience more relaxed and students and prospective students can be more open.
I have had many conversations across a range of industries with people who have had their work hours cut or have lost their jobs entirely, and are making the most of this opportunity to explore other career pathways. Recently I helped a student with a mock interview over the phone who then got the job. I also supported a student in finding and getting a traineeship in administration. Hope is something we all need, especially during this pandemic. While COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted people negatively I think it's important to remember that there are still positive stories out there about how people have rallied and supported others and that in time things will change.
If you are struggling or even just need someone to talk to, please remember that my fellow counsellors and I are here to support you as always. We can provide a range of counselling services and practical resources, like the Smiling Mind App, finding fun or relaxing things to do each day that makes you happy, or making or remembering a good memory, to stimulate dopamine and serotonin – which are the "good chemicals" for our brains.
Megan Buxton has been in the welfare sector for 25 years developing programs and new initiatives, and leading and teaching others. She has experience across various roles including counsellor, career guidance officer, vocational teacher, and more. Megan is passionate about people reaching their potential, overcoming barriers to success, and living a life of fulfilment.