Learner story Claudia: Going from neurobiology to sustainable fashion as a lifelong learner

Lifelong learners are those who continuously push themselves towards new ideas, challenges and experiences to grow as individuals and professionals. We interviewed Claudia, a recent university graduate from Indonesia, on the successes and challenges of making a career change as a lifelong learner.

Claudia Natasha, 23, graduated early this year from Bandung Institute of Technology with a biology major. Soon after receiving her diploma, she landed a job at a neuroscience laboratory, where she currently studies brain waves and human psychology both in the lab and office.

In addition to understanding how the human brain works, Claudia enjoys keeping her own mind active with a variety of topics: politics, philosophy, science, technology, culture and all things creative, to name just a few. By continually exploring her topics of interest, Claudia’s true passion started to take shape.

Claudia dreams about working in the sustainable fashion industry - something that ties all her interests together. As an innately curious person, Claudia is on a constant quest to learn, network and upskill herself to achieve her goal. She volunteers, reads, listens to podcasts, attends webinars and learning events, and completes online courses regularly.

What additional skills can you gain from continuously seeking new challenges?

Learning on your own is not always easy. One challenge that Claudia continuously encounters is finding herself in a sea of information. However, making sense of this new information has sharpened Claudia’s abilities to critically evaluate, organize, use, and communicate what she has learned. She has developed critical thinking skills, as well as digital and information literacy - skills outlined as crucial for succeeding in the future workplace.

Sustainability is becoming a more popular topic every day. Finding sources of information is not hard - but filtering the right information is something that you need to learn.

For Claudia, seeking new information is not enough: she also needs to exchange thoughts on what she has learned. To do this, she actively volunteers and seeks opportunities that allow her to engage with professionals, experts and fellow learners. These activities have not only richened her worldview on sustainable development, but have also allowed her to develop her English, networking and communication skills - all of which are important for working in an increasingly globalized world.

Exchanging thoughts with people who share the same concerns is quite fun and motivates me to continue pursuing my goal. With the skills I have developed, I feel like my opportunities have widened.

Securing your future with the right mindset

During her journey, Claudia has realized that you need to make a decision on when and how to go after your career goals - even if it means having to sit down and ask yourself the hard question: are you happy with where you are right now?

You can do a great job either because people tell you to or because you truly want to - and I want to put my interests at the top of my career goals. I need to do something that I love and this requires me to understand what I want from life.

The decision to make a career change does not mean that all your previous knowledge will go to waste, because you can always apply that knowledge to a new context. In Claudia’s case, her neurobiology background can even be a competitive advantage: encouraging sustainable consumption requires an understanding of human brains and psychology.

Goals can never be reached instantly - there will be many small steps along the way, and I am totally okay with that.

Claudia feels gratitude for having the mindset of a lifelong learner, because she knows that by having it, she will be alright wherever her path is taking her. And, no doubt for Claudia, this will eventually lead to a fulfilling job in the sustainable fashion industry. When asked what words she would give to her younger self and anyone considering a career change, her advice is: stay curious, you never know what you might learn.

Here are Funzi courses that Claudia found most meaningful for her journey:

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