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Mapping your career

Podcaster Amelia Travers explains how and why she charts the careers of STEM professionals and showcases some of the maps she’s created. 

What’s the best way to communicate something as abstract as a career? How do you tell a story that encompasses work, education and development through a lifetime?

During the 2020 Melbourne lockdown I started a podcast celebrating the careers of STEM professionals – Avid Research. It’s been inspiring, challenging and a wonderful networking tool that brings together my passion for science communication and careers.

Never linear

During each interview I asked people “How did you get to where you are now? How did you go from high school to this job?” The stories I got were diverse and almost never linear. They were also rich in changes and challenges, and I wanted a way to encapsulate them visually, as they deserved a greater audience than just the podcast listeners. 

As a trained geographer, I love maps and have experimented with different ways to visually communicate journeys. With careers being such clear journeys and having twists and turns, I decided to try my hand at creating maps that tell one windy story on a single page. The first samples were simple, but colourful and met a very warm reception. The audience loved the visuals and the recipients were thrilled to receive personalised art telling their stories. They engage people in ways that the cold linearity of a CV really can’t. 


“It is heartening to know that you aren’t the only person to have quit a job a couple of weeks in”

Affirming experience

For the people who have had their careers mapped, it seems to be an affirming experience, and gives people permission to feel pride in their path. 

I suspect it is especially beneficial for those experiencing imposter syndrome to see all their achievements in one place – being able to see how you got to where you are and why; it’s not sudden success that has come from nowhere! 

They’ve also had very positive reviews from people seeing them in person at the Melbourne City Library, where my career maps are currently being exhibited.

It is heartening to know that you aren’t the only person to have experienced a career change, or to have quit a job a couple of weeks in because things didn’t feel right.

Avid Research fact file

Who is behind Avid Research?

Amelia Travers is a web developer and STEM Educator. She studied Geography, geographic information systems, polar science and teaching.

What is Avid Research?

Avid Research is a passion project, with no sponsorship or payment. It’s a window into different STEM careers and an opportunity for people to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of the world in which we live.

Why does Avid Research exist?

The aim is to help people see what they can do with a STEM career, what the challenges are, what the opportunities are and how experimental you can be while working out what you want to do with your life.

How can I listen to the podcast?

The episodes are released every Friday. To listen, and for more information and resources, visit

Open and honest

If you have the space and time I highly recommend trying to create your own career map – visually documenting where you were, what you wanted to do back in the day, and then the twists and turns that have led you to where you are today. Combining personal and professional information will likely be beneficial in seeing the whole story; often we make decisions for family or other commitments, which may not seem logical or strategic from a pure career perspective. Careers are one part of our lives; they are often very public, but they are influenced by a myriad of personal decisions and situations. 

My hope is that we can move towards a world where we share our careers more visually and in an inspiring way; where we can be open and honest about hardships like failure and redundancies and embrace them as part of the journey. And where we can own our own stories and our paths to where we are now.  

Image credit | Amelia Travers | iStock

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