Well, you have finally graduated from St Edmunds College, after thirteen years of education involving playground politics, study and discipline, the time has come to put your pen down in the final exam and stare down the barrel at the rest of your life. It’s scary, exhilarating and very confusing.
You’ve been to career fairs, had the compulsory chat with the school careers advisors and been weighed down with good advice, leaflets, pamphlets and brochures. But between classes, study, exams, part-time work, Co-curricular commitments, relationship dramas and a busy Year 12 social life, you might not have had time to map out the rest of your life.
Luckily, you don’t have to lock in your entire destiny with only your ATAR mark and a hand full of career pamphlets. You do however have to take that first step into either employment or further education – it’s all about finding out which one suits you best, and hopefully you have taken advantage of the St Edmund’s community to help you prepare.
Fortunately, in this day and age, you have choices in where and what you want to do or go to in the future. Here are some ideas from myself and Helen Isbister at Career FAQs 2018
Go to University
University is a compulsory stepping stone to many careers. Professions such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, architecture, engineering and veterinary practice all require degrees. University graduates tend to be more employable and earn more money in their starting salaries. But the ‘university experience’ isn’t just about attending lectures and writing essays. It is also a rite of passage. University is about social life, societies, political discussions, revues and just having a good time. It’s about finding yourself – what you are passionate about, what you want out of life and as a result what you might like to do as a career.
Go to TAFE/CIT
TAFE (Technical and Further Education) & CIT (Canberra Institute of Technology) colleges generally offer an entirely different set of courses and career outcomes to university. Courses are a lot more industry focused and designed to equip you with what you need to do in any given job. The types of courses are vast so if you want to get a qualification that will allow you to travel the high seas, you can. If you want to cook up a storm for the rest of your life in whatever exotic location you choose, a TAFE/CIT course is a great way to start.
Do an Apprenticeship
The beauty of an apprenticeship is that you can combine work and study. You will sign a contract with your employer who will pay part or all of your education costs for studying a VET course in the area of your apprenticeship. This is a good mixed option if you are interested in trade, administration or retail.
If working with your hands or working outdoors is something you love, an apprenticeship can give you the freedom to do just this. And qualified tradespeople in Australia are in huge demand in Australia and earning good money!
Get a Job
Further education isn’t for everyone and lots of people decide to jump straight into the workforce after school. It might be more difficult to score the job of your dreams without further education behind you, but if you start out young you can build up some amazing experience (and dollars in your bank account) while your friends are still slogging it out over exam papers.
Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs got started early! Tell everyone (friends, family, next-door neighbours) that you are looking for a job. They may be able to give you good advice, or even better, arrange for you to meet people who can help you out in certain industries. Keep a constant eye on job advertisements in newspapers and online. Be proactive. Think about where you would like to work, organise a resume and walk right in and introduce yourself.
Take a year off
After 13 years in a classroom, it’s not surprising that plenty of school leavers opt to take a break from laptops, books and whiteboards. Taking a year off before starting further education is known as a ‘gap year’ and you may use it to work and earn money, do volunteer work or travel.
Doing an international stint can also do wonders for your career options. Working in a pub on London’s River Thames or teaching in China will give you a vast amount of invaluable life experience which most employers look upon highly. A break from the books will give you a fresh perspective on your life and what you want to do with it.
I hope some of this helps in making up your mind on what you want to do in the future. Remember to relax and breathe, it going to be ok. You can still come back and ask for advice, that’s what we’re here for.
Fred Zarb (Assistant Head of House – Mulrooney & Clancy)