For any student, deciding what to do after finishing school is one of life’s first tough questions. That’s where Caulfield Grammar School’s Careers Counsellors step in.
Working with students from as early as Year 9, the passion Debbie-Lee Bienert from Caulfield Campus (pictured), and Janelle Hingmann from Wheelers Hill Campus, have for helping students navigate the ever changing world of work is easy to see.
“We open their eyes to the opportunities, to see that there isn’t one path, there are many and they can all get you to where you want to be,” Ms Bienert says.
Some of the first things the Caulfield Grammar School Careers Team offer students is psychometric testing.
This testing helps students to identify not only what their strengths might be, but also their interests. This is used as a conversation starter and as a guide to help students select VCE subjects.
“It’s so important for students to choose subjects they are genuinely interested in, not just those they think they have to do,” Ms Hingmann says.
“Being interested and engaged in a subject will help with their results and their passion for learning.”
Throughout the senior years at Caulfield Grammar, the careers team creates opportunities for students to hear from industry leaders, and experts at seminars and breakfasts.
“We want students to hear from these industry reps, and we try to find alumni and younger speakers to help students connect better with them,” adds Ms Hingmann.
“It’s important for students to hear about all the different paths they can follow, as many will often only know about those that Mum and Dad or family members have taken, for instance.”
The main goal of these industry talks and seminars is for students to understand that it’s also important to develop a network and build transferable and enterprise skills that will aid their future employment prospects.
“It’s not about focusing on a specific career, it’s about acquiring skills. Being career-ready via skills, rather than trying to define as a teenager what they want to do. We want them to be life-long learners,” says Ms Bienert.
She has counselled students who’ve worked as things like car washers and gardeners during school, and has helped them understand that they can talk about the skills they developed, even if they may not recognise them as being relevant.
Skills like communication, teamwork, problem solving, adaptability and a good attitude towards work are the sorts of skills any employer in any industry is keen to see.
As students enter Year 12, the team offers careers fairs – an opportunity for students to come along and meet with representatives from universities, TAFEs, vocational and gap year providers.
“In Year 12, we provide a minimum of two one-on-one meetings with each student, to talk about their goals, passions and next steps to help them navigate the waters beyond school. We’ll help with VTAC applications, as well as interstate and international university applications also,” Ms Hingmann says.
Both say that students can come as many times as they like for support and to ask questions.
“And if a student is interested in engineering for example, we’ll make sure they attend any relevant seminars or networking events,” adds Ms Bienert.
Caulfield Grammar School may have had over
400 Year 12s in 2019 across two campuses, but at its heart, it has always been a boarding school, right back to 1881. Assisting the boarders into their next chapter is also part of Ms Bienert’s role at Caulfield Campus.
“Boarders are just like any other student, we make sure we meet with them, talk them through their options, but we’ll also assist with finding accommodation on campus at their chosen university,” she says.
And regardless of the student being a boarder or not, some have amazing dreams they want
It’s not just pathways into law, medicine and business, many Caulfield Grammar students are incredibly talented artists, musicians, performers and athletes.
“Some of these fields are incredibly competitive, especially getting into the performing arts schools, so we definitely lend our support and advice to students following such pathways,” says Ms Hingmann.
“It’s about persistence, students may have to apply each year, over and over, to get a chance to study somewhere like NIDA,” Ms Bienert says.
And what may come as a surprise is that the services of the Caulfield Grammar School
Careers Team do not come to an end once a student graduates. They’re on-call for the school’s alumni too.
Ms Hingmann and Ms Bienert say they’ve assisted former students years after they’ve graduated. Often, the world of work and adulthood provides different challenges and opportunities than students expect, so the team will be there to help them find a new path.
The team are also passionate about getting students to have a positive outlook about the future of work.
“There’s considerable hype and pessimism in the media about unemployment or job roles and occupations disappearing, but often there are just as many new jobs emerging in both existing and new fields and sectors. This is really exciting for students to see and learn about,” says Ms Hingmann.
They point to the work of the Foundation for Young Australians, which while looking at over 1000 different occupations available, has mapped out seven core skill clusters and how many careers are related through similar skill requirements.
“The informers, the carers, the designers, the technologists, the artisans, the coordinators and the generators. Many occupations are linked by these shared skills. How many jobs today call on one, some or all of these clusters?” says Ms Bienert.
Their final advice is for students to go for everything suitable and not to leave all their eggs in one basket. Make as many different applications as possible, across an array of providers and even states, to see what options they can choose from when accepting a tertiary offer.
“For students who know what their ultimate career goal is, it’s about making sure they’re backed up with multiple pathway options that will still get them to that same career or destination they’re after,” says Ms Hingmann.