"The belief that you can have a meaningful career is the first step to finding one."
∼ Sean Aiken ∼
In the space of a 20 year period, the percentage of Australians who hold a bachelor degree or above has more than tripled. There is no doubt that the current generation is the most highly educated we have seen.
Interestingly, however, job loyalty has seen a greater shift, with younger people expressing a preference for more frequent job movement.
This is more a reflection on society that on the commitment of school leavers. But it also highlights an increased awareness about the transferability of skills and the knowledge that you can make great use of your degree but don't need to spend your entire working life in the same role.
And therein lies the burning question that many people struggle with — what career path should I follow and what is the best course to support it?
Whether or not you're considering tertiary education, you'll probably be looking for some expert assistance to guide you to make those all-important decisions about your post-school life.
Learn about your options
If you're still at school, you will probably have access to career counselling staff. Their office is well worth several visits throughout the year to get help with career advice, and tips on everything from your subject choices to ATAR and uni admission requirements. Services also often include personal career counselling, resume preparation and interview skills.
Another option, whether you're still a student or have been working for a while and considering alternative career choices, is to undertake a career assessment or quiz.
A quick internet search will reveal a number of career quizzes. While many of these could be entertaining, or could potentially bring up some jobs you hadn't previously considered, how do you know if they will be genuinely useful in helping to make the right career decisions for you?
The results of a reputable assessment or appraisal will always be considered in tandem with your grades or work performance. The idea is to get an overall read of who you are and your strengths and capabilities in order to guide you in the right direction.
A career assessment will consider the following factors:
- Your results — even if your exam or performance review technique isn't the best, your results can give insight into your skills
- Subjects you enjoy — solo versus team work, technology versus hands-on, analysis versus creativity
- Activities enjoyed outside of school or work — online pursuits, outdoor activities, volunteering, personal development
- Your personality — personal attributes often dictate what you want to learn and your career choices
Often, an assessment can provide you with several pages of written analysis to read at your leisure — it is at this point you should be working with a career counsellor whose role is to assist you to navigate the road towards further studies or a new career.
What if you think you've made the wrong choices?
If you change your mind or feel you've chosen unwisely, the best course of action is to do an academic appraisal.
Not only will an appraisal of your academic results provide help with career advice, but it will also identify your unique learning style and aid the development of your study skills, with tips for alternative methods for effective studying.
Of course, the earlier you start working all this out, the more beneficial it will be — but it's never too late to improve your skills and it's always the right time to pursue personal growth.
How can I find out about prerequisite requirements for different courses, degrees and jobs?
Again, if you're at school, your career advisor or counselling centre should be your first stop. However, you can also easily locate all the information you need with an online search where you'll find details on:
- courses of study in senior high school and which ones can help lead to the ATAR score you require to get into your university of choice
- options for post-graduation study, including TAFE, apprenticeships and university degrees
- degrees or equivalent qualifications required for specific career paths.
If you only have a vague idea, or no idea, about what you want to do, you can also search online for advice and tips on career choices based on personal interests or passions. Taking the time to look will often uncover excellent resources that go a long way to helping you make those crucial long-term decisions.
University Admissions Centre (UAC)
This is the primary online source for any student needing information about pathways to tertiary education. In most cases, students must use UAC to apply for all undergraduate and postgraduate degrees throughout Australia.
Search the UAC website to learn about:
- admission criteria
- fees and equity scholarships
- institutions and courses
- key dates
- international applications
- post-school applicants
- assessment services.
National Careers Institute: Your Career
This go-to source has everything you need to know about your desired career, including:
- a detailed description of the role
- study requirements and qualifications
- required skills
- related careers
- application process.
The occupations section is also a comprehensive read if you're not sure what different jobs entail and whether they'd be a good fit for you.
The Your Career website also features a variety of tools, such as a careers quiz, to help you narrow down your preferences, along with information on:
- resume and interview preparation
- work support and employment services
- career development resources
- how to start your own business
- alternative training (VET, apprenticeships, traineeships).
It's like an online academic and career advisor. If you're unsure what to do with your degree, are looking for your first job, exploring options for a career change or hoping to resume work after an extended absence — this site can help.
The last thing you want, when you're studying and trying to focus on passing, is to worry about whether or not you'll be able to secure a job once you graduate.
According to research conducted by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work (CFFW), only 73 per cent of university graduates secure work in their chosen field after graduation. While this number may seem promising, you don't want to be part of the remaining 27 per cent who don't.
This is where the Job Outlook website comes in.
Apart from the handy career quiz and skills match services, Job Outlook's key role is to provide information about the future prospects of different careers. There is a section dedicated to jobs now and in the future where you can read about trends in specific careers and in different industries.
If you want to know more about current and projected growth patterns in your chosen career or field, the explore careers section provides a quick look at salary, future growth and skill level of each job type.
You can also explore projected job opportunities according to:
- state, region or electorate
- labour market
- demand for skills
- largest or growing jobs.
If you're an international student, the Job Outlook site also contains useful resource material about studying and working in Australia on different visas. There are also tips and advice specific to older people and younger people.
Do you have Further Questions about your Career Choices?
Another website designed to provide advice to students and job seekers is the Career One platform. Here, you'll find answers to every question imaginable, as well as handy and Australian-centred resources, such as cover letter and resume templates, interview advice, goal setting and working from home.
This is a lot of information to read and take in!
Moving from full-time secondary school student to independent university student and then to the adult world of work can be a daunting and overwhelming time in your life. But did you realise there are other people out there who can help you through this stage?
The role of private tutors is not always only academic. There are highly skilled tutors out there who specialise in:
- strategies and methods for studying
- time management
- tips for notetaking and research
- exam preparation.
On the Superprof platform you can, of course, find academic subject tutors. But, you can also find tutors who provide career counselling services, life coaches and tutors who can work with you to on the development of your resume and interview technique. In most cases, you can choose between three tutorial types: in person, online or group sessions. Often your budget and your personal goals will inform your choice.
With face-to-face (in person) tutorial sessions, as with one-on-one online sessions, you will be the only student in the class. This means your sessions will be individually tailored to support your needs and goals. The biggest benefit of an online session is the removal of the need to travel, therefore online sessions are usually cheaper. On the negative side, online tutoring is not practical for more hands-on subjects.
A small group tutorial will obviously be cheaper per person than individual sessions but you obviously won't get the individual attention for the whole lesson. The content, while it should be comprehensive, won't be specifically tailored to one person. However, unless you have a niche set of questions, group sessions can be quite useful as you don't only have the tutor as a resource, but the other students are resources as well.
As Sean Aiken said, belief is key to finding a meaningful career — and along with comprehensive and tailored resources, but online and human, you should be able to access all the support you require.