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….and breathe out. Wow, what a year 2021 has been. We’re sure the last thing you expected in your senior years of high school was a global pandemic that flipped the world as we know it upside down.
You deserve a pat on the back, a high five and a big bear hug for surviving the last two years constantly adapting your environment and managing your mental health to deal with increased pressure on final school results.
The final year is, of course, the hardest and while an unprecedented worldwide pandemic is the last thing you needed while juggling exams, part-time work and, ah, a social life, you’ve made it.
If you’re still feeling unsure about your next big move, know that you’re not alone. The leap from high school to your future career is a big decision to be made and you don’t need to know the answer.
Here are some ideas on how to use your 2022 to find your feet, experience new things, uncover your passion and set goals for the future ⚡
Ah, exams. Cramming revision keeps us up late, fuelled by energy drinks and sugary snacks, but once you finish high school you’ll realise that the results matter less than they did in the moment. Of course you need to study hard and do your best, but top exam marks does not equal success.
Some people are garbage at exams. They get nervous and forget things or they’re not academically minded. But they might be resilient, adaptable and business smart. In the real world, these attributes will help them find success in a rapidly changing future. Now, how do you quiz someone on that?
Hungry for fame or money? Think success is about doing what you love so you “never work a day in your life”? Do you feel energised after sharing knowledge with others? Want to travel the world with a laptop? The person who wants to be a high-ticket lawyer values money, while someone who wants to travel the world values freedom. Think about what you value and how your success will be measured.
Here’s the thing: you probably won’t pick the right career pathway for you. And that’s okay. There’s no wrong pathway, just detours and scenic routes. Life is a journey where you set goals, accomplish or change them and then set new ones. Along the way you’ll pick up various experiences.
These days people are landing roles with less traditional route, like building their own pathways with a mix of certificates and microcredentials alongside traditional courses and degrees.
Our friend EJ Willard originally studied law and criminology but ended up quitting to complete a three-month coding bootcamp and is now the Front End Web Developer for music tech company Jaxsta. Now she gets to combine two of her biggest passions: coding and music. The lesson? Focus on you, your personality and what brings you joy.
Do you volunteer at a llama farm on weekends? That’s unique and there are life lessons in that work. Did you get good grades and decide to use them to study law or science? Good for you. Enrol in a free Virtual Work Experience with us? Yassss #powermove
Even if you receive top marks, you don’t need to follow the university track. Take a moment to check in with yourself and ask: are you going to university for yourself and your future or because it’s what your parents want? Are you just following your friends? Have you explored these alternative routes?
Looking around you might find a faster, cheaper and more practical course that will catapult you towards your dreams. And just because university isn’t right for you in 2022, doesn’t mean you won’t enrol someday.
Maybe you dreamed of travelling after high school and that feels a little less possible now thanks to a little something starting with “C” and ending in “virus”. While it might feel hard to plan while things are slowly reopening, taking a gap year in 2022 or 2023 is super possible.
Taking a year off gives you a moment to rest, refresh from senior years, reset and get excited for your next chapter. You could use your 12 months to get to know yourself without the pressure of schoolwork and exams. Try new things, work full-time in an entry-level job, volunteer for something you care about, and – of course – take an amazing trip around Australia or internationally towards the end of the year.
Did you know some 50 percent of first year university students change courses after the first year? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being honest with yourself and deciding something isn’t for you, but you’re going to be paying an extra year of HECS debt. Not ideal, but remember we’re all running our own race.
The most important thing after school is to get to know yourself. Slow down, leap at opportunities and experiences that interest you, and reflect on your journey to discover your passions. You might surprise yourself with what you enjoy so keep an open mind and seek out work experience, internships, short courses and mentors.
Don’t wait for the new year, start looking for opportunities now. Between beach days, barbecues and bonding with mates, squeeze in some work experience to help you stand out from the crowd. Gain new skills with short courses or virtual work experience, add something to resume and LinkedIn profile and start building a network.
Do you feel energised helping others? If you’re still unsure about what you want to do, start with something you are passionate about. Volunteering is an easy way to give back to the community while gaining knowledge and industry intel into a career. You could work with animals at a shelter, volunteer for environmental causes, help at a nursing home or homeless shelter. Plus, you can pop it on your CV.
Prepare for a big 2022 by launching yourself onto LinkedIn and start connecting with professional contacts. Be sure to include a professional looking headshot (a phone photo taken against a white wall works brilliantly). If you are genuinely interested in the field, you can reach out to professionals and get their advice for a starter like yourself.
You’re going to fail, and that’s a good thing! Be brave and stay positive. You have a bright future ahead, but you’re going to make errors and mistakes on the long road to success. A fulfilling career isn’t linear. It will have roadblocks and things getting in your way. It’s easier to take risks when you’re younger and don’t have the responsibility of a mortgage or family. So get out there, dream big, reach for the stars and pick yourself back up when things go sideways.
So, that’s everything we have to tell you dear Class of 2021! We can’t wait to see what you choose to do in the future and we’ll be here cheering you along the whole time. If you want help gaining experiences, new skills and meeting industry mentors, all our free resources will help get your head start in life.
Grandshake and Junior Engineers, a one-stop shop for the industry to support young talent development from school to employment.
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