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Graduating high school: your next steps

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 13 June 2019


Few emotions match that of handing in your last HSC exam, knowing that those nights of cramming, sleep deprivation and what seemed like perpetual stress over math books and English essays have finally come to its end (at least for now). But with your years of high school study over and done with, what’s next for the road ahead?

There are two common pathways people often take after their Year 12 graduation: finding immediate work, or pursuing collegiate studies. A high school diploma already sways the odds in your favour: students who have successfully completed their secondary education are more likely to succeed in further study, earn higher wages, and are better equipped to take on future challenges.  

So which pathway is the right one for you – and what steps should you take in pursuing each? Here at SkillsTalk, we delve deeper into your best post-graduation options.  

How to get a job after high school

  1. Refining your resume.
  2. Upskill with VET courses.
  3. Getting that entry-level role.

1. Refining your resume.

If you’re ready to jump straight into the workforce, you’ll firstly need a professional, polished resume. For those who feel lacking in their employment history, the key is to spotlight all your valuable skills and work experiences – whether they’re volunteer stints, student organisations, or casual and part-time gigs. 

Ensure you link these to desirable employee skills you’ve since developed, such as leadership skills, effective communication, or the ability to work and collaborate well with others. Also be sure to tailor your accomplishments to fit the role or industry you’re applying for. 

2. Upskill with VET courses.

woman typing on laptop

To further your chances of finding employment, you may want to invest in vocational education and training (VET). These involve studies in a specific career field; often completed in a brief period of time, and designed to equip you with the practical skills required for your industry.  

There are currently over 5,000 registered training organisations (RTOs) offering courses all over Australia.

Unlike higher education, they provide a significantly more “hands-on” approach, rather than theory-based knowledge and studies. This has resulted in a high employability outcome for graduates – with over 78% of them successfully obtaining employment after their training. Additionally, VET studies have shown to contribute to one’s self-confidence, productivity, and independence in the workplace. 

What’s more, is that this form of upskilling can also be easily done while you work, helping you gain the skills required to advance the career ladder. RTOs like Upskilled offer their training online, providing you the flexibility of studying while tending to other work or life commitments.

3. Getting that entry-level role.

Once you’ve developed your skillset and perfected your resume, it’s time to go on that job hunt. It’s important to dive in with a level-headed mindset, however; you’re highly unlikely to get that dream job off the bat, so focus on entry-level positions that’ll get your foot in the door of your desired industry. 

In his interview with Business Insider, Ed Mitzen (founder of the marketing company, Fingerpaint) explains that these starting roles are great opportunities to network and demonstrate your passion for the field – likely opening up doors for further career progression. 

Be willing to start from the bottom, and from there, you can work your way to the top.

A guide to continuing education after high school

  1. Applying for a university.
  2. Pursue internships and out-of-school work experience.
  3. Don’t forget to network.

1. Applying for a university.

If university studies sound like your call, your first step is to apply to the designated tertiary admission centre in your state (ex. UAC for New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory, QTAC for Queensland, etc.). 

These institutions gather information on your existing qualifications, academic credentials, and course preferences, helping you acquire admission offers from participating universities. 

Some universities may also take direct applications – sometimes exclusively, or in addition to your admission centre application. Applicants are recommended to research the specific requirements of their chosen institutions. 

2. Pursue internships and out-of-school work experience.

interns learning from professional

Once you become a university student, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the coursework and assignments on your plate. However, it’s important to avoid closing yourself off from valuable opportunities beyond the campus. 

A 2018 article by News Corp Australia highlighted the growing necessity for university students to seek work, internship or volunteer opportunities while completing their degree. Ideally, you should aim to acquire gigs related to your field or area of study. Such additional experiences have shown to boost future employment prospects, as they often demonstrate initiative and proactiveness – traits highly desirable among employers.

Part-time or volunteer work while studying were reportedly the most beneficial experiences to add on your resume, displaying your commitment and time management abilities. Additionally, these involvements are bound to develop your interpersonal skills, along with an awareness of the workforce or your industry’s culture. 

Internships are also a common way of earning professional experience while studying. These work placements are valuable for gaining insight into your field, familiarizing you with the day-to-day, full-time responsibilities involved. You’ll have the opportunity of applying your degree skills into practice, and acquiring that industry experience will undoubtedly grant your resume the competitive edge it needs. 

3. Don’t forget to network.

In an environment full of aspiring professionals, few places provide better networking opportunities than a university campus. These places often have an endless line-up of social events, so be sure to use them to your advantage.

Casual meet-ups, societies, and formal student parties are productive opportunities for getting to know people in your degree, or others who share your same passions. You may just bump into a future business contact or someone who knows their way around your industry – so get out there and meet new people!

Do your best to also form positive relationships with your tutors or lecturers, as they’re often your best source of industry knowledge and expertise. These people can grant you valuable advice on internship opportunities, professional events, or pathways into your field upon graduation. 

When making these new connections (especially at designated networking affairs), it may help to have your “elevator pitch” ready – an introduction that addresses who you are, your degree, and your career plans after graduation. This immediately gives the other person a clear understanding of you and your goals, and comes in handy under busy circumstances. 

Of course, having work or volunteer experience on the side (as previously discussed) also presents plenty of networking potential, likely from professionals currently working in your field. 

Which path are you headed?

Whether you choose to pursue immediate work or further studies, it helps to have a solid career plan ahead of you. Establishing your next steps will set you on a clear path towards your academic, career, or self-development goals; and with the right amount of hard work and persistence, you’re sure to find the success you’re after.

As mentioned, upskilling is a popular method of acquiring the skills needed for your chosen industry. Plus, it’s something you can do alongside your first full-time job. Here at Upskilled, we offer over 80 qualifications across a wide range of professions; whether you’re a programming whiz or ready to start your first business venture. The best part is, our courses are delivered online – so you can study anytime, anywhere, all according to your schedule.  
 
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