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What should you do after Year 12?

By Ashleigh Ho

Are you a school leaver? A big congratulations! In this new chapter in your life, you’ll discover new experiences, passions and go on so many journeys. But at the same time, graduating high school can be scary.

You need to make some big decisions: including what to do with your future career.

If you're keeping your options open after Year 12, here are some tips to help better guide you during this important life transition.

Why is it important to decide on a career path after year 12?

It’s imperative to start thinking about your career once you finish high school. This is so you can get planning right away – some graduates choose to take a gap year, some go straight into the workforce and others may pursue further study. By having an idea of your future job in mind, you can decide the next step that’s right for you.  

Having a plan in mind can also help you set goals for yourself for where you want to be in three, five and ten years. It also means that you’ll be able to research a variety of careers to find out salary, job satisfaction prospects and security before committing to study or work.  

What are some mistakes to avoid when deciding on a career path?

  1. Rushing in without proper research.
  2. Family and social pressure.
  3. Focusing too much on salary.
  4. Underestimating your abilities.
You may receive unsolicited advice about jobs once you graduate high school. But it’s your own research and feelings that matter. Here are some mistakes to avoid when choosing a career path:

1. Rushing in without proper research.

You may already have a dream job in mind. But it’s important to explore that career before jumping straight in. Taking your time to do research may help you discover other jobs that you might also be interested in.

Many graduates who aren’t sure what to do tend to pick a career at random. But, again, it is very important that you're doing your research properly. Choosing something at random could lead to multiple career changes or you may end up dissatisfied with your job.   

2. Family and social pressure.

Families usually have a lot to say when it comes to picking a career. And while sometimes they do offer great advice, it’s important that you follow your own gut and be the one who has final say on your career path.

You may have made plans to study the same thing as your high school friends or go to the same university. It’s understandable that you would want to be with your friends, especially when you’re taking a huge new step. It’s also vital that you really ask yourself if that is the path that’s right for you.

3. Focusing too much on salary.

It’s tempting to pick the job that makes the most money rather than a career you’ll actually enjoy. Pick something that you’re interested in or passionate about. Look at the other benefits that certain careers may offer like job growth, satisfaction, and work-life balance.  

4. Underestimating your abilities.

Didn’t get the ATAR you hoped for? That doesn’t mean that your dream job has gone down the drain. There are many ways to start your career journey. This could be through apprenticeships or studying a VET course.

How to decide on what you should do after year 12

graduating high school concept

  1. Make a career mind map.
  2. Make a list of careers that interest you.
  3. Figure out what qualifications you need.
  4. Don't stress if you realise a career path isn't for you.
Here are some steps you can take to help you decide what to do after year 12.

1. Make a career mind map.

Create different sections for what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, your aspirations and your personality. You can add notes to each section, connecting them to a job that may suit you. For example, one of your skills may be leadership, so you can say that you may be more suited to a managerial role.

A mind map will help you get a broad overview of what you want out of a career or bring to a job. They can also be really helpful when preparing for a job interview or when making professional goals for yourself.

2. Make a list of careers that interest you.

Don’t overthink it. Jot down any jobs that you even have the slightest interest in. Research each industry to see what fits in with your goals, personality, and interests.

You can narrow down your list from there. You’ll also want to check that the industry offers benefits that fit your lifestyle (e.g. work/life balance).

3. Talk to people who are working the job you want.

Talking to others is one of the best ways to get first hand advice. Chat with someone who is already in the workforce to gauge an understanding of the tasks they do, what qualifications they have, and what they enjoy about their job. LinkedIn is a great place to start if you’re wanting to connect with professionals.  

4. Figure out what qualifications you need.

Some jobs require formal schooling, whether that be a certificate, diploma, or degree. Online courses are a great way to get qualified in an easy and convenient way. They’re also great if you want to pair your study with a job or internship.

5. Don’t stress if you realise a career path isn't for you.

It’s absolutely okay to change careers. In fact, the average Australian switches careers up to 12 times in their lifetime. If you find yourself in this position, there is always the option to switch industries because of your previous work experience.

It’s also optimal to pursue further study. Online study can make the process of changing careers while already in the workforce an easy process.

At Upskilled, we offer online courses that can get you started in your career and help you achieve your goals after Year 12. Have a chat with our education consultants and launch into your new journey today!
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