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If there's one thing Rhea has learnt in her journey from musical theatre school to business, law and fashion before eventually running her own business, it’s to trust her gut. The 26-year-old Queenslander is driven by a passion for positive social impact and a commitment to not look back and regret the things she could have done. Her career has already taken her in so many different directions, which just goes to show the value of new experiences. We caught up with Rhea to chat about her life and see what advice she had for high school students.
Rhea grew up in Queensland surrounded by creativity. Her Filipino parents encouraged her to dance, sing and play instruments as a child and she eventually finished off her secondary education in a musical theatre school.
“I was fortunate enough to go to New York, but I was super young so I actually came back and studied business-law at University of Queensland,” she says.
Just like so many other Aussies at university, she quickly realised the course wasn’t for her. While about 50% of students change their course in their first year, Rhea went a step further and started a fashion business with a friend.
Now she runs her own live chat lead generation business called Chitterchat and contracts for several other companies, including Grandshake, Fishburners and Photzy, an “awesome company” raising money with not-for-profit Room to Read to build libraries in Third World countries. We think Rhea is a great example of following your passion and not locking yourself to the so-called “right” career.
After so much change in her career so far, it’s little wonder Rhea likes to keep things interesting day to day. Her business is all about telling her clients’ stories and the self-confessed “contract juggler” spends a lot of her time working with those clients on onboarding, customer journey mapping and nurturing.
“I enjoy that,” she says. “It helps me grow and I'm also fortunate enough to work with the Grandshake team,
and build our programs for students to help their own career progression. “Because no career progression is linear, right?”
Rhea’s own career is proof of that but she’s not alone. A recent Gallup report found 21% of millennials had switched jobs in the past year and six in 10 were open to trying something new.
Overwhelmingly, workers say they’ll stay longer at companies that help them learn and develop. While Rhea doesn’t have an HR department to organise courses for her, she might have something even better.
“I pretty much get paid to learn and implement so I’m always learning new things every day,” she says.
Of course, no job is perfect and there are downsides to such a varied workday, collaborating with so many different people. As Spiderman’s uncle almost definitely never said: “with a great number of clients must come great time management.”
“I want to give all my love and support to everyone but unfortunately I just, I’m terrible at it [time management],” Rhea says. “So I'm working on it and improving hopefully.”
It might be hard to believe for anyone stuck in an awful job, but generally speaking, working is good for mental health. According to the World Health Organisation, a negative working environment is what can lead to mental health problems.
Rhea admits sometimes her anxiety is actually what drives her to be a better person, whether that’s taking time to care of herself or a loved one. She manages her mental health by constantly striving for three virtues: gratitude, acceptance and humility.
“If you can perfect all three things, you're sorted. You have ultimate success and happiness in life,” she says.
“I think for me my biggest thing is ego. And that's the conduit of all three virtues. If I have an ego set then I need to strip that away in order to be super grateful for everything.”
Peer pressure is more than what your parents warned you about when they were trying to stop you from smoking or drinking at school. A study in Developmental Psychology found our resistance to peer pressure increases rapidly from 14 to 18 but then basically flatlines until we’re 30. Rhea knows ignoring that pressure is harder than it sounds but if there’s one thing she encourages young people to do it’s to make sure you don’t regret not doing something you wanted to.
“Trust your gut instinct,” she says. “You know, so many young people are influenced by older people saying ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ or ‘do that’?
“But honestly, be confident in yourself and do what you feel is right for you. Who cares what other people think.”
So, why not trust your gut? Think about what you really want to do and head over to our Programs page to find a Virtual Work Experience program to suit. We also have great Career Guidance available if you’re still not sure.
Let’s look at the top soft skills employers of the future of work are looking for, no matter your career path or job.