VTA finalist Linda thrives in the horticulture industry

A career change from the office to the garden opened up plenty of professional opportunities for TAFE graduate Linda Day.

After a 30-year career as a teacher and manager, 54-year-old Linda Day yearned for something completely different — something out of the office and into the great outdoors.

'While many people say I was very brave to make such a radical career change, I didn't really see it that way and I've never regretted it,' Linda says.

'I was 54, I longed to do something more physically active and I liked the idea of working with people who loved their gardens while doing my own small bit to combat global warming.'

'It was either now or never.'

From little things big things grow

While such a career turnaround might have been unthinkable for others, Linda was more than up for the challenge. She took herself off to TAFE, did a Certificate III in Horticulture, earned a place as a finalist in the 2010 Victorian Training Awards, and then set about realising her dream.

'Since then, my business, Linda Day Garden Maintenance and Design, has grown like topsy,' Linda says.

'It all began when I found myself on the other side of the desk learning from some fabulous and inspirational teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic. I'd been in and out of unis many times but this was my first experience of TAFE.'

'I found it an incredibly rich experience and enjoyed it a lot more. It was also very liberating to be a mature age student.'

VTA experience gives Linda a boost

As it turned out, Linda was a stand-out student, earning the encouragement of her teachers to enter for the Victorian Training Awards' Vocational Student of the Year award.

'Although I didn't win, being a finalist was a very positive and rewarding experience,' Linda says.

'I learnt a lot, it was a great confidence booster and I got to mix with people who excelled in their fields.'

Now Linda is excelling in her own field—her business has grown to the point where she has a long list of loyal customers and new customers, thanks to word of mouth recommendations.

She is also giving back to the industry as an energetic member on the Encouraging Women in Horticulture Australia organisation.

'The lovely thing about gardening is that it's an optimistic line of work—working with nature, you get the opportunity to watch things grow and flourish. And I really appreciate that I don't have the stress or long hours that I had previously.'

Her advice to others who might feel stuck doing something that isn't "them" is to take the plunge and follow their gut feeling. '

'Life is full of opportunities—new doors open and all sorts of unexpected things happen.'

'Follow your interests and take a chance. It would be sad to look back and say, 'I wish I'd done that'.'

The good news for anyone thinking of following in Linda's horticultural footsteps is that the Certificate III in Horticulture is one of the 30 tuition-free priority TAFE courses announced by the Government in the 2018-2019 Budget. Courses start on 1 January 2019.

For more information, contact the TAFE and Training Line on 131 823 or see TAFE and Training.

Victorian Training Awards

The Victorian Training Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of vocational education (VET) students, teachers, training providers and the businesses who train them across Victoria. Through celebrating these successes, winners and finalists gain state-wide recognition from the training and TAFE sector, industry experts, peers and the Victorian community.

Judging is underway for the ceremony on 24 August. Find out more about the Victorian Training Awards.