From Not for Profit Program Manager to End of Life Doula

"Since I took this scary ‘leap of faith’ into the unknown, doors have opened and I’ve ‘randomly’ met people working in my new field."

After 20 diverse and dedicated years in a leading charity organisation, Sascha was ready for a career change. She just didn’t know how to begin.

Here she talks about facing fears, leaping into the unknown, opening doors and synchronising her remarkable skills to launch a new career as an end of life doula, supporting people who are dying and their families.    

What did you do before?

Sascha_career_changer

I worked for 20 years for an organisation in the social justice and international aid and development sector focusing on First Australians. 

I had felt restless and unfulfilled for a while.  Although I’d held a range of very satisfying capacity building roles in the organisation, I felt it was time for something new. Then a change in my family circumstances made it harder to manage the extensive travel linked to my job. It was time to explore new options.

What are you doing now?

In the coming months I’m planning to open my own healing centre offering advocacy and counselling services as well as energetic healing and remedial massage. I’m training to be an end of life doula, a non-medicalised role to support people who are dying and their families through advocacy, counselling, therapies and research so they know their dying and post-death options and choices.  Whilst finishing my studies, I’m combining part-time program support for Red Dust Healing. They facilitate workshops all over Australia to bring long-term sustainable change to address family and community violence, intergenerational trauma, significant mental illnesses and suicide safeguarding. 

What was your biggest career change obstacle?

Fear of failure, and the risk of leaving a secure job I knew inside out, to pursue something completely different. Also missing the many beautiful friends and colleagues I saw on a day to day basis.  The first step is always the hardest.

Where did you start?

I started working with Jo. I knew I needed a change but was not confident in really knowing the next steps. Reflecting on my professional skills was simply our first step on an incredibly thorough process that gave me a deeper understanding of how I tick including my values and belief systems. As I became more confident and self aware I moved naturally towards careers that would match my strengths and fit my values.

Who else helped you?

Jo was so supportive and patient particularly when I wasn’t feeling confident. You also nudged me towards drawing on the expertise of my established networks. To support my quest to be an end of life doula, I contacted people I knew in the health sector, in hospitals and palliative care. Now I’m connected to great organisations working in the areas of death and dying. I’m also doing nonstop research and reading in this area. It’s been all consuming but fascinating.

What has changing careers taught you?

Trust and trust - in myself and in the universe.  OK that might sound a touch ‘woo woo’. However, since I took this scary ‘leap of faith’ into the unknown, doors have opened and I’ve ‘randomly’ met people working in my new field.  

I’d also say that it’s detrimental to stay somewhere simply for security’s sake. There are so many options out there, especially if you demonstrate transferable skills that might not be listed in a position description.  Initially I was very focused on showing my technical skills, but as it turned out my cultural knowledge and relational skills were every bit as sought after and vital.

How are you feeling about the change?

I’m 100% happy. The end of life doula work is where the birth doula industry was twenty years ago. 

So there’s still a lot of work to be done to build awareness of what we do. I’m enjoying having the time to learn as much as I can and to merge this new knowledge with my therapeutic and healing skills because there’s a strong synchronicity there.

What’s the best thing about your new career?

I’ve met the most exceptional people who are working in this area and this has been such a gift in my life. Learning about death and dying is like peeling an onion. Every new thing I learn reveals another layer of knowledge to explore and absorb. Everyone’s experience is unique and extraordinary and it is a privilege to be allowed into someone’s life during these most vulnerable moments.

What are your three top tips for career changers?

Face your fears and back yourself. Although changing careers is challenging, ultimately it’s incredibly rewarding.

See the process as important as the outcome. Take full advantage of career coaching to learn heaps about who you are and what really matters to you in and outside of work.

Once you know where you’d like to go, draw on your networks to help you get there.


Jo Green is a Career Change Coach. Get in touch if you want to talk to Jo about how she can help you to change career.