Corinne Grant was a successful comedian and television presenter at the height of her fame when she went on holiday to France in 2010.
During the course of that fateful holiday, she was struck by a surprising realisation.
“While I was away, I didn’t miss performing at all,” she says.
“I realised then that it was time to change careers and set myself a new challenge.”
It would have to be quite a challenge. By then, Ms Grant had been a TV regular for more than a decade, beaming into living rooms around the nation on shows such as Good News Week, Rove and The Glasshouse.
She also had a stand-up comedy career, worked as an MC and writer, and co-hosted national radio shows. She even had a book or two to her name.
On her return to Australia after that fateful France trip, however, Ms Grant began talking with friends about their careers and exploring the idea of different future pathways.
“I didn’t set out to do law,” she says.
“I set out to do something that appealed to what I enjoyed most: Working in a team, working on projects, working on something that I found personally rewarding and intellectually challenging, and doing work that was meaningful to me.
“In the end, and after talking to a number of other lawyers, I decided that law was the right new adventure for me.”
Commitment is key
Ms Grant was 37 when she began thinking about transforming her life, 39 when she took the brave first step towards a Juris Doctor postgraduate law degree.
“I remortgaged my house to pay for some of it,” she says.
“But I had to keep working to pay the bills. It was a very hard three years of sleepless nights and a gruelling work schedule. I hadn’t pulled an all-nighter since I was in my early 20s.”
The hard work more than paid off though. Ms Grant now works at Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions in proceeds of crime, and volunteers at Refugee Legal once a fortnight. She says she loves her new career and all it entails.
“As a performer, I missed a lot of special events with friends and family,” she says.
“I was often travelling alone and working alone. I love that I now have more time for my partner and stepson, my family and friends. And I also love doing a job that serves my community.”
When time’s up
For another high-profile Australian, former AFL footballer Alex Silvagni, the decision to shift careers was, like for many professional football players, somewhat out of his hands.
“It’s a ruthless industry, it’s high performance,” he says.
“You don’t know when it’s going to happen. I had some Achilles issues during the year (2018), and first game back I snapped it and that was it.”
Mr Silvagni was a defender at Carlton when his football career came to an end. He played no games for the Blues in the 2018 season and announced his retirement in August that year – having played just seven games for Carlton in two seasons.
That followed a successful seven years, and 53 games, for Fremantle.
While Mr Silvagni, now 31, found retiring emotional, he says he was always realistic – knowing the average professional footballer has a career of just 3.5 years.
“I didn’t expect to even make the AFL, so each year was something I was grateful for,” he says. “I always had eyes on what was post-football – I had a plan.”
Mr Silvagni’s education history is extensive. After finishing a science degree, he studied physiotherapy during his playing career. But it was his final academic achievement – a master’s of business administration completed in 2015 – that has really held him in good stead.
Mr Silvagni went on to co-found Weststar Football Academy, an off-season development program where teenagers learn from coaches and players. He is also the Western Australian manager for Cookers Bulk Oil Systems and dabbles in property investment.
Making the leap
All great dreams begin with passion, and shifting careers later in life is no different, Ms Grant says.
“If you want to do it, find a job or course that aligns with your values and interests,” she says.
“Pick the brains of other people already working in your chosen field to ensure you’re making the right choice.
“It’s certainly not an easy road going back to study, but all of the hard work is worth it if you find something that you love.”