Duaa: How to combine your different passions into one great career

Blogger image: DuaaDuaa graduated from USQ with a PhD in spatial science in 2015 and runs her own technical editing business, Student Refuel, in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a dreamer with a passion for travel, food, reading and anything sports-related.


Since I can remember, I could never answer the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Not because I didn’t know what I enjoyed, but because I enjoyed so many things that I could never pick just one. So, instead of deciding on a defined career path, I made the decision to learn as much as I could about all the things I enjoyed. If you’re trying to define your career direction or narrow down your options, my advice is to consider diversifying your career strategy and look beyond one role as the be-all and end-all of your future.

My career strategy is to use everything I learn from my degrees and work experiences to decide what to do next. For example, I completed my first bachelor degree in spatial science and specialised in hydrography. After I graduated, I worked in the offshore industry, where I sailed to some of the most remote offshore locations to map the ocean floors, explore for oil and gas, position offshore structures and find missing wrecks.

Duaa blogger image - working off-shore
Just one of the amazing sights I witnessed while working as a Hydrographer.

After three years, I decided it was time to move on to another area of interest, which was photogrammetry. I already knew that I enjoyed photogrammetry as I was introduced to the subject during my undergraduate degree and while working offshore. I found it fascinating how you could apply photography to obtain high accuracy 3-D measurements of an object. Photogrammetry is unique in that it is both an art and a science. You have to be able to capture high quality images using a range of imaging sensors and apply different processing techniques, which are customised for every specific application.

Duaa blog image - working off-shore
I believe your career should include all your passions, not just one!

I was mainly interested in using photogrammetry for medical applications and USQ was one of the very few universities that offered a postgraduate program where I could integrate spatial science with medical research. When I visited the Toowoomba campus, the first thing I noticed was how friendly and helpful the staff at USQ were. There is a sense of community at USQ that you don’t get to experience at larger universities. Another great thing about studying at USQ is the flexibility it provides for anyone who wants to balance work and study. This was one of the main reasons I chose USQ to pursue my PhD, as I wanted to work full-time while studying.

For my PhD research, I developed a photogrammetric measurement technique to accurately and non-invasively model and measure the foot during gait. Current foot measurement techniques are usually invasive, time-consuming and often unreliable. In addition, they can only be performed when the foot is static and do not provide information on dynamic foot changes. The high accuracy measurements that can be obtained from this photogrammetric technique could be applied for studies involving foot abnormalities, planning surgical interventions and designing orthotics and shoes.

I am currently working on applying what I have learned from my PhD to conduct sports performance research as my next career direction. I am interested in finding ways to improve athletic performance through improving the movement of athletes using high-accuracy, non-invasive measurement approaches.

My advice for anyone who is not sure about which career path to choose is to reframe your way of thinking and understand that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single career. Use your different passions as stepping stones along your lifelong career journey, enjoying each one in turn and then moving forward to the next. The world needs unique skills and talents so don’t be afraid to deviate from what are perceived as “normal careers” and share your passions with the world. It might be difficult to navigate at times, but it’s worth it!

Diversifying your strategy is just one way to develop a career you’ll love. You can find even more inspiring words of advice from successful USQ Alumni here.


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