Karen Lomas
December 31, 2019

A decade of educational and career decision-making

Today as I reflect upon the past decade from 2010 to 2020, I realise that so many educational and career decisions have been made in my family alone, not to mention all of the various career and education decision-making that I have supported in my professional practice.

I have two now adult daughters, both of whom have quite recently completed their primary, secondary and tertiary education. They moved schools due to changes in family location, because of educational concerns and due to personal preferences. Just because they are both girls did not necessarily mean that they thrived in the same educational setting. My eldest daughter was OK at a single-sex school, however my younger daughter did not feel that it was the best fit for her.

Both of my daughters are now in full-time permanent and importantly relevant employment. By relevant I mean that their positions of employment are directly relevant to their tertiary studies. I am so proud of them as this is not easily achieved. As I have referenced in previous blogs, a high percentage of graduates take 5 years or more to find full-time permanent relevant roles. Both girls commenced their tertiary studies at Diploma level. For one this was because at the time of applying my daughter’s course of preference required an ATAR of 96. She may well have been applying to study law! She commenced her studies at the very same institution that was offering the degree course, worked hard and achieved a sufficient grade to articulate into the bachelor degree program.

For my other daughter a Diploma course was a choice as she was looking for a tertiary pathway into a performing arts program in the USA. The Diploma at a local dance school gave her the skills training and the audition experience to help her in the process. She has since completed her conservatorium program as well as her Liberal Arts degree.

Over the past decade my husband has been “retired early” and then he re-joined a company he had previously worked for. The forced early retirement situation was quite confronting for a man of 58 years of age, so much personal reflection and up-skilling took place before then being approached by his previous employer. This last point is a reminder of the importance of active networking and of maintaining business relationships. Not only that, but it is gratifying to know that at age 58 not all employers are age-ist – there are still organisations that are seeking the experience of individuals who are approaching 60!

Meanwhile, over the past decade I have studied for post-graduate qualifications, volunteered in and worked at private secondary schools, and am now running my own business both working privately from home, as well as working in Victorian State secondary schools and at Catholic and other independent schools. The students I counsel and coach range from year 8s, when they re around 13 years of age, through years 10, 11 and year 12, to the age of 30, and over. I have found my work with children and young adults incredibly rewarding and I am impressed by their enthusiasm to learn career development skills. Often they come to me in a state of high anxiety and confusion and it is gratifying to help and see them relax and make sound decisions of their own. I enjoy this work as adolescents tend to be really receptive to advice – they are like sponges; eager to absorb information.

Parents, in particular parents of year 12 school children, can help enormously by supporting their children in their career development. I am in turn keen to support parents, especially if they did not come through the Victorian, or Australian, educational system, or indeed if they have no direct experience of applying for or studying at university level. If you are a migrant you will most likely know about the study options that exist in your country of origin, but not a great deal about the Australian study options. I came from England myself and so I have had to learn all about VCE, VET, VCAL, VETis, Australian apprenticeships and traineeships, as well as IB, not only because my own children were educated here, but because of my work in and for schools, and with private clients, over the years. Equally, if your child is a first in your family to apply to and attend a tertiary institution it can be an overwhelming process, not least because the VTAC application process can involve making a special application using the SEAs and/or scholarship application process.

As we move into the new decade many challenges face all of us and young adults are acutely aware of the significant issue of climate change in particular. The education curriculum appears to be serving them well in this regard. They are receptive to technological advances and are keen to know in which direction they can take their skills and attributes in order to be able to make a difference. I’m excited to be able to support the career development of youth groups, including indigenous students for another decade and more. I am also invested in the delivery of career coaching to primary students and those in their early teens as it is now evident from research that primary school-age students benefit from career education as it helps them to understand their individual interests and preferences. Parents of primary age students will be hearing more about this, if they haven’t already, really soon.

So keep an eye on this website for changes that will reflect the shift in focus and change in emphasis for my professional career development coaching through 2020. I welcome any suggestions and comments and hope to welcome you and your children into the fold of holistic and supportive career coaching that I so love to provide. Contact me at [email protected] for your contributions.

Happy New Year!

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