All this studying and training is supposed to take you somewhere, right? But where is that? Some courses plug really easily into a job, like Medicine or Hospitality, but others aren't so clear. What kind of work can you get out of a Science degree or a Diploma in multimedia?
And even if your course does have a career path clearly laid out, how do you really know that what you're studying is what you want to do for a job? What if you change your mind halfway through?
These are all completely normal questions. One of the best ways to answer them is to talk to a careers counsellor.
What Does a Career Counsellor Do?
When we start to think about jobs and careers most of us think of what our family and friends do for a living. One of the main things a career counsellor can help you do is ‘broaden your career awareness’. There are so many different studying and training options you might not even know that some of them exist.
Sandra Dickins was an art teacher, administrator and corporate trainer before she discovered what she really loves doing. She had ‘an epiphany’ when she was vacuuming one day and realised that the perfect way to combine her talents was as a career counsellor. After completing a diploma in career education and development Sandra started work as a career counsellor at Fitzroy High School.
Sandra says the best starting point is to think about what subjects you enjoy at school. You might not have a strong interest in a particular area right now but you’ll probably be pretty clear on what you don’t like!
When Should I Speak to a Career Counsellor?
Sandra describes career counsellors as people who can help you ‘manage yourself through periods of transition’ in study, training or work. You might seek help from a career counsellor if you’re planning to do work experience or when thinking about what subjects to study in Year 11 and 12.
Some other times you might speak to a career counsellor include after leaving a job or when re-entering the workforce after a period of unemployment or maternity leave. If your priorities in life are changing it can be helpful to speak to a career counsellor about work/life balance.
How Can I Find a Career Counsellor?
Most schools and education providers have career counsellors you can speak to for free. If you're still at school, book in some time to talk to your careers teacher. If you're at uni or TAFE, visit your student union to see what kind of career counselling services are on offer.
Private career counsellors are available to students and others but they will charge a much higher fee. You can search for a career counsellor on the Career Development Association of Australia website (new window).
Who Else Can I Talk to About My Studying and Training Choices?
Career counsellors aren’t the only ones you can go to for advice about studying and training. You can also talk through your ideas and concerns with a friend or family member, or maybe your teacher or another adult you trust.
What Can I Do if Other People are Pressuring Me to Make a Decision?
1 in 4 university students drop out at the end of their first year and, as Sandra explains, it’s often because they enrolled in a course that somebody else wanted them to do.
The only person who knows what’s right for you is you and it can be really hard when you’re under pressure from your parents or other people in your life to make a particular decision.
If this happens you could ask them to come with you to speak to a career counsellor. Career counsellors can help others to understand the situation from your perspective and educate them on some of the studying and training opportunities they may not know about.
What Other Resources are Available?
The first place you should look when trying to find out what kind of job you want to end up with is our Career profiles page. The searchable database of career profiles lets you select jobs based on areas of interest, industry and even alphabetically!
You should also check out our Planning your career section - it has some good advice on how to start thinking about what kind of work you really want to be doing.
Once you're done with what we've got to offer, here are some other websites you could check out:
- My Future (new window) - A searchable database of career profiles and tertiary courses
- VTAC Guide (new window) - Lists tertiary courses (in Victoria) and their entrance requirements
- John Holland Self Directed Search (new window) - A series of questions about what you’re interested in (rather than your personality or abilities) that will help to determine which types of occupations would suit you
- Career Bullseyes (new window) - A series of charts showing school subjects and relevant studying and training options as well as the jobs and careers they could lead to
Good luck with your search!