Home » Blog » Chopping and Changing: Career paths (From our guest Sue Turnbull)

Chopping and Changing: Career paths (From our guest Sue Turnbull)

Chopping and Changing: Career paths

From pushing papers to digging holes.
Then chainsaws & tractors,
to holistic therapies & dowsing.

When I first started work in the mid 1990’s, I had no idea the changes I’d make to what I was doing and where I’d end up over 20 years later. It’s been a convoluted route – administrator in higher education to roving commercial archaeologist, to ranger carrying out land management, to (latterly) what I do now. I’m a Bach flower remedy practitioner who does dowsing surveys (house healing & land healing) and also reads runes and tarot.

Each time I’ve decided to change career path, I’ve made sure I had (most of) the skills that the potential employer wanted. The admin. side I fell into after studying for a geology degree, but I was in the right place at the right time to get computer training (Windows95 no less) amongst other things, which was a massive help.

Making the leap from admin. to archaeology was quite a big one. Though I did plan. I was able to do part-time studies. Having done full-time study I knew that planning was key to keeping the studies going. Also being focussed on getting a job in the field was a helpful carrot to encourage me when I had (major) wobbles about what I was doing. I asked a potential employer what he was looking for and his response was whilst archaeological knowledge was important he also wanted folks to have a driving licence and first aid. Archaeology units now have more requirements such as CiFA membership and the CSCS card, though practical experience is top of the list. Volunteer for practical experience if you have to, there are community digs and groups out there who can help with that.

The English Heritage Finds hut in Swindon, 2004.

Archaeologist to ranger was relatively easy, but I did take a year out from working to re-train. The organisation I was with were able to support me through all sorts of training – not least my chainsaw and tractor driving. I completed an NVQ (level 2) in Environmental Conservation as well, which focussed my volunteering nicely.

Sue at Chyvarloe, Cornwall signpost making for the SW Coast Path, 2007.

Be prepared to go back to the old career for a few months for a crossover into the new. It took me on average 10 months each time to fully move into paid work in the desired profession. So have a back-up plan, and savings and be flexible, with plenty of focus. You CAN do it.

The holistic and dowsing thread was always bubbling alongside the jobs I was doing. I trained in reiki in 2001, did a reflexology course in 2002 and continually immersed myself in dowsing and tarot until 2012 when I really discovered how helpful Bach flower remedies were. The job at that time was taking a massive toll on me physically, but was causing big mental and emotional health wobbles too. I ended up on long-term sick for two years – unable to function very well and spending much of the time feeling tremendously guilty for not being at work and not being able to do a job I’d loved. Horribly anxious and depressed about my working future I nearly had a second breakdown, but the Bach remedies and a hugely supportive GP and very helpful union rep. kept me going on the road to recovery.

Two dowsing friends in Cumbria, 2014.

Two dowsing friends in Cumbria, 2014.

I’m self-employed now, mainly so I can work around my health peaks and troughs. Whilst my earning potential is taking time to gain momentum I would still recommend it as a possible route for people. But again- PLAN and be realistic. Pro’s and con’s lists can help. Finding out what you need to have (certain training, insurance etc.) is vital. The web has a huge resource to tap into. Find support groups (like The Inspire Network) or use a business or career coach as they’ll know things that will help you further your dreams. Don’t undersell yourself either. You might feel fearful about the future, I have and it’s sometimes part of the journey. Keep focussed, and keep moving forward with your plans.

Career changes are possible. Two careers/ jobs might run alongside one another until you can finally swap over, but don’t give up if you want to try it. You’ll have to work hard, be patient and focussed. But do it if it’s what you want to do. Better to regret what you’ve done than what you haven’t done. And there’s always a silver lining – even in the darkest days I hung onto that belief, and there was one in the end!


Find me at:

Dowsing surveys (house & land healing). Bach flower remedy practitioner. Rune & tarot reader.

Leave a Reply