Big decisions for an uncertain future

From a young age, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up. But what happens if you have finished growing and still don’t know?

This decision making process might be made more complicated by the Federal Government’s recent decision to restructure fees for tertiary courses in an aim to encourage ‘more job-relevant choices’.

Brisbane high school careers counsellor Tara Franklin says it is common for people to be unsure of what pathway they want to take. She says while it is a possibility the governments ‘job-ready graduates’ plan may heavily influence student’s decision making process when it comes to their future, it has not yet been passed by Senate.

She says the role of a high school careers counsellor is to assist students in making career choices, looking at what pathways are available, subject selection and post school planning. 

“Although the process can sometimes cause stress and anxiety, it is common and it is okay,” she says.

“The reality is that they don’t need to make decisions for the rest of their life. There is a possibility they will engage in multiple careers across their lifetime.”

She says one effective way students can figure out their path is by focussing on their strengths, weakness and where their interests lie.

“it’s important they look into what skills they might want to learn and how they can use them in the future. Some of these skills might then transfer into jobs that we don’t even know exist yet.

“If they start in a base degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Business, they can build on their skills and find their niche later on. That is completely normal and can work for a lot of students,” she says. 

Sarah Maitland, who recently graduated with a marketing and public relations degree from the University of Notre Dame, says she has often changed her mind about her future career.

“Originally, I wanted to be a vet [because] I saw all of the injured and ill animals growing up in the country,” she says. “This changed when I moved to Perth to attend boarding school. I then wanted to become a lawyer, until I did a week of work at a law firm for year 10 work experience. Since discovering I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I half considered becoming a nurse but I was not passionate about that field of work so it has been up for debate since.”

She says despite just graduating university, she is still unsure of what career pathway she wants to take.

Founder and principal consultant at Melbourne-based Sarah Felice Careers Coaching, Sarah Felice, helps people through career change from every sector, either occurring as a result of redundancy or their own will. She says most of the time, people come to her because they want to make a career change but they don’t know what to do, and they don’t know how.

She says career coaching provides people with practical advice, such as how the job market works and how to approach it, as well as guidance on writing resumes and improving interview skills and professional networking profiles.

“Through my coaching, I am an accountability partner for my client and help them to stay on track but I also help people when they don’t know what to do and what is next for them. I help them work that out,” Felice says.

She says many people at least consider a career change. She says one factor causing job change is when people have entered into a course at university they don’t really like, and end up in jobs they don’t love.

“For example, they might’ve been really good at mathematics throughout school. People say, ‘oh you’re really good at math, why don’t you become an accountant?’ So they move into that field, which takes years of specialist study only to figure out at a certain point that they don’t really like it. From there, they have to figure out what they are going to do.”

Value creators director Maree Gooch is a life and business coach. She says everybody is different when it comes to knowing their career pathway.

She says it takes time to figure out which way is up, and what you want to do when you ‘grow up’.

“I’m a prime example, I had a very varied journey to get where I am now. At [the age of] 43 I decided what I wanted to do when I grow up,” she says.

“What that journey gave me was experience of what to do, and what not to do in my current role.

“One of the best things you can do, and the greatest gift you can give yourself, is figure out what you don’t want to do. Because it helps get rid of all the noise.” 

Sarah Felice says although much of her work is with senior executives, she was previously involved with graduate recruiting and it is something she is still passionate about. 

“There is a lot of fear among graduates at the moment in regards to the job market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” she says.

Tara Franklin agrees the pandemic has affected year 12 students.

“I’ve seen quite a change in their thinking,” she says. “A lot of them are trying to distinguish what an essential worker is, and what it will be in the future.” 

She says young people are now focussing more on future job security than their passions.

Felice says despite uncertainty, companies are still recruiting and that there are opportunities across the board in the job market. 

Some steps to take after graduating university. Infographic: Nell Van.

“Most firms are still recruiting graduates. This is due to the belief that if they do not recruit graduates today, they will not have the right mix of people in their workplace 5 years down the track.

“We have just seen a major uplift in the job market in the last couple of weeks. There are definitely opportunities out there.”

She says it is important graduates manage their job search well, regardless of what level they are at at. And if they are uncertain about how to proceed she highly recommends using university career services.

Maree Gooch says it is important people know what they are good at and play to their strengths.

“If people really understand what energises them and brings them joy, magic happens,” she says.  

“The most important thing to remember, is to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. Don’t let your ego get in the way but don’t not make a decision either. Find a happy medium. Find something that will bring you joy and build your resilience.”

For more information on where to get career advice and support, visit here.

Categories: Economy, General, Youth

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