5 STEM pros who changed their minds and never looked back!

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It’s never too late to change your mind! Meet 5 people whose study pathways have twists and turns – and led them to successful STEM careers.

1. Clinton Hadinata 

Software Engineer at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

The switch: Economics to software engineering

Image: Lauren Trompp

Clinton says that if he had one piece of advice for his younger sister, who is in Year 11, it would be that it’s the journey that counts. “I think high school students worry that the decisions they make are the be-all and end-all, and that’s not true.”

Case in point: out of high school, Clinton signed up for an economics degree at the University of Sydney. He completed two years, including a lot of arts and humanities subjects, before he switched to software engineering because he loved programming and problem solving.

“There are a lot of things I learnt in those two years that I wouldn’t have if I’d just done a straight software engineering degree,” he says.

Read Clinton’s full profile here

2. Sophie Calabretto

Maths lecturer, Macquarie University

The switch: Astrophysics to mathematical sciences

From an early age, Sophie Calabretto was interested in just about everything “When I was really little, I wanted to be an Olympic sprinter or marine biologist,” she laughs.

Sophie settled on the idea of being an astrophysicist but discovered it wasn’t quite the right fit. “It wasn’t necessarily the physics I was interested in – it was the maths behind it,” she says.

She switched to a degree in mathematical sciences at The University of Adelaide and felt right at home.

Now, Sophie’s a fluid mechanist and lecturer in applied mathematics at Macquarie University.

Read Sophie’s full profile here 

RELATED: 3 reasons you don’t have to be a ‘genius’ to be good at maths

3. Michael Kasumovic

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology, UNSW and tech entrepreneur

The switch: Michael started uni with plans to be a dentist!

Michael Kasumovic, Arludo FounderMichael enrolled in a science degree back home in Canada because he wanted to become a dentist, but he also – by chance – decided to take an elective course in animal behaviour. “It completely changed my perspective,” says Michael.

Michael went on to complete a PhD in evolutionary biology. That was 12 years ago and Michael has been at UNSW ever since. “My career has taken me on a winding path which involved a lot of serendipity,” says Michael. “By exposing myself to different opportunities, I was able to find what really drove and interested me.”

That has included developing a smartphone app and tech startup!

Read Michael’s full profile here

4. Alison Kidd

Junior Cyber Security Analyst, Commonwealth Bank of Australia

The switch: Software Technology to Cyber Security

Technology was Alison’s favourite subject at school and she knew she wanted a career in tech, so she enrolled at Macquarie University to study a Bachelor of IT majoring in Software Technology. During her degree, a cyber security internship at NSW Health popped up – this was the first time she’d tried it out and she loved it.

Alison switched into the then-brand-new cyber security major at her uni. A Kamilaroi woman, Alison soon found out about another internship opportunity through Walanga Muru, Macquarie University’s pathway and engagement program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The internship was at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) – and Alison continues to intern part-time as a junior cyber security analyst while completing her degree.

Read Alison’s full profile and more cyber security career stories here

5. Kelvin O’Shea

Product designer and developer

The switch: Law to IT/design

When Kelvin started at QUT, he was a long way from his information systems major and was actually enrolled in law.

“I never wrote a line of code until I was outside of high school,” he says. “But I saw that tech was where the world was going. My uni experience really kicked off when I switched degrees.”

Kelvin moved from law to a four-year, double degree in IT and interactive/visual design.

Read Kelvin’s full profile here

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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