This is another of our occasional articles that track down some of our alumni and see their progress through life and their careers.
by Lillian Leptos
It’s been 10 years since Derya Mirik graduated from secondary school and entered the world of work. Today, Derya works full time as an educational consultant for Tali Health.
“One of the advantages of working for a small company is that you get to experience a wide variety of roles,” she explains.
Tali Health provides pioneering digital therapies that assist parents of children struggling with attention difficulties with early intervention and support.
After Year 12, Derya suffered from the same bewildering choices so many other graduates experience. With her older sister a lawyer, thinking about a legal career was inevitable. Derya launched into a year of studies in legal practice at RMIT. But the fit just wasn’t right and she began to cast about for a course that would better suit.
Curiously, it was an experience all the way back in Year 9 that led Derya into a teaching degree. As a student, Derya at times struggled with mathematics. Elie Sukkar was her Mathematics teacher at the time and Derya fondly remembers the care and persistence Mr Sukkar showed in helping her to develop her understanding.
“He was a great support,” she says. “At the time the school did not have great physical resources but it had great resources in teachers like him who really cared and helped”.
Derya applied to both Victoria University and La Trobe. Accepted by both, she went on to study a four-year teaching degree at La Trobe. From there, she developed her teaching experience through a six-month stint as a casual relief teacher across a range of schools in the northern suburbs. This was followed by a two-year full-time position at Lalor North Secondary College. Derya loved the work with the students, but there was still something niggling away at her, telling her that again this was not quite the right fit.
When the position of educational consultant at Tali Health came up, it seemed to tick all the boxes. It would enable her to use her education studies, and help students who were missing out in a regular educational setting, but also it would be outside the constraints of the school system.
The consultant position at Tali Health allowed Derya to work with health professionals to understand and use the software. It also allowed her the opportunity to work with parents to help them in the assessment phase of their child’s difficulties. It allowed her to work with school based medical staff such as occupational therapists and psychologists. Tali Health’s products are being used in Australia and overseas. Recently, they have launched in India and Derya has been conducting usability interviews with parents and with her colleague. This work identified gaps in previous approaches. Her findings translated back to the Tali team to ensure all users have a seamless experience. Derya has thrived in her latest position as a Customer Success Executive.
When Derya made one bold choice to leave her law studies and another bold choice to leave teaching, the hardest part was telling her parents.
“They had very conservative views about careers and they were concerned for me,” she explains.
Derya is puzzled at the idea that students in years 10, 11 and even 12 need to have a clear idea of where their future lies. She also has a healthy scepticism about getting advice from career professionals. They might have knowledge about courses and careers “but their advice is often very general and they might not know you well enough to know what will be the best fit for you”. The best advice Derya can give to young people is “Listen to your gut. Take a leap and see if your choice feels right”.
It was advice that worked for her.
If you think Derya has a busy life, you are right, but she also edits an Instagram food page.
“It’s something I do for leisure,” she says. “I get invited to cafes and restaurants, take photos of the food, and write a review that I then post on my account.”