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How and Why This Creative Director Became a Social Worker

After years of working in the creative industry, Travis Lee wanted to make a switch into a more meaningful career. Find out how the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP)* helped him achieve this.

When it comes to mid-career switching, people do it for a variety of reasons. But for Travis Lee, 41, what he wanted was a job that is meaningful and makes a positive impact on the lives of others.

The creative aficionado

Starting his career as a graphic designer more than a decade ago, and after working in various advertising agencies, Travis worked his way up the ladder to the position of senior creative.

His penchant for graphic design saw him take up the Diploma in Visual Arts course at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts right after secondary school. After completing his National Service, Travis worked full-time as a graphic designer while studying part-time for his degree.

The struggle began

After Travis got married and had his first child in 2014, and the second in 2016, he began to feel the pressure of juggling his family and work commitments. He often worked late nights, especially when preparing for creative pitches for clients.

“I realised that I’m often not around to spend quality time with my family. I began to wonder what the consequences would be going forward.”

At the same time, Travis also found himself wanting to do something more meaningful in his life.

“Fatherhood triggered something in me. I realised that I wanted to do something that would enable me to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

The “Eureka!” moment 

The turning point came when he was working on a branding campaign for the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). The project saw him speaking to various people working in the social service sector such as social workers, therapists and the senior management of social work organisations. 

He was inspired by the positive impact they have on the lives of the underprivileged.

“It was truly an eye-opener for me! What they do is really meaningful and at that moment, I knew this is the sector that I wanted to be a part of.”

Want to find your calling in a new career direction? Speak to a WSG Career Coach today for guidance and support.

Career conversion

Travis began to research more about the social service sector and the job opportunities available. It was then that he discovered the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP)* for Social Workers — an annual place-and-train programme by Workforce Singapore in partnership with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). 

“The programme was exactly what I needed. It was an opportunity for a mid-career person like me to acquire knowledge and skills needed to become a qualified Social Worker.”

Part of the PCP requirements was for him to be selected by a social work organisation to be trained as a social work associate, while at the same time doing two years of part-time studies at SUSS to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. 

After successfully enrolling in the programme in 2019, Travis attended a few interviews at various social work organisations before being selected by Kampong Kapor Community Services to work at one of its family service centres, Whampoa Family Service Centre. 

Becoming a full-fledged social worker

After graduating from SUSS two years later, Travis is currently a full-time social worker at Whampoa Family Service Centre.

“It wasn’t an easy journey to finally be where I am right now. Juggling work, part-time studies and my family commitment is no joke. I have to thank my colleagues and my bosses at Whampoa FSC for their unwavering support. My wife too, for being my rock.”

Read More: Making a Career Switch at 40: How to Navigate an Industry Change Well

Currently, his professional responsibilities include case management, community work, group work and spearheading social programmes. His daily work also sees him conducting home visits and meeting clients in the office.

“Every day is a new adventure and I end each day feeling emotionally rewarded, knowing that I played an active role in making a positive difference to the well-being of my clients that day.”

*The Professional Conversion Programme has since been renamed the Career Conversion Programme (CCP). You can explore a full list of industry-specific Career Conversion Programmes here

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