Vi­tal step into work­ing life

Make the ex­pe­ri­ence work for you, writes Lau­ren Ah­wan

The Advertiser - Careers - - Job -

SCHOOL work ex­pe­ri­ence can pro­vide a com­pet­i­tive edge once stu­dents en­ter the job mar­ket and also help those en­rolling in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion or fur­ther train­ing.

Mel­bourne High School ca­reers and work ex­pe­ri­ence co-or­di­na­tor An­nette Travers firmly be­lieves in stu­dents tak­ing on job place­ments.

This is de­spite many schools mak­ing job place­ments non­com­pul­sory be­cause of oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety reg­u­la­tions and in­creas­ing amounts of pa­per­work.

Travers says work ex­pe­ri­ence can prove a stu­dent’s com­mit­ment to their cho­sen ca­reer path, which comes in handy when ap­ply­ing for jobs.

She says it also can have im­pli­ca­tions for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion en­rol­ments that in­ter­view po­ten­tial stu­dents.

‘‘ It be­comes very im­por­tant in that sense, in that ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions can see your mo­ti­va­tion,’’ she says.

At a ba­sic level, work ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows stu­dents to ce­ment their de­sire to work in a field or to dis­count it.

‘‘ Work ex­pe­ri­ence can help clar­ify your ca­reer goals . . . it can help iden­tify the in­dus­try you want to go into,’’ Travers says. ‘‘ We have a lot of (stu­dents) who are very in­ter­ested in medicine but I say to them that even do­ing work ex­pe­ri­ence in al­lied health can give you an insight into the in­dus­try and clar­ify why you want to do medicine when you can do other things in health.’’

West­min­ster School ca­reers coun­sel­lor Jenny How­land says even place­ments that do not per­mit hands-on du­ties still can be worth­while. ‘‘ A lot of places you go to could be in ar­eas where peo­ple have done a lot of train­ing so you can’t just go and do that hands-on stuff,’’ she says.

‘‘ You might only be able to pho­to­copy and think it’s a bor­ing job but take no­tice of what oth­ers do and what it means. What did you pho­to­copy, who did you do it for.’’

How­land says stu­dents should work the hours ex­pected of the oc­cu­pa­tion, not just school hours or 9 to 5, to get the best feel for the role.

‘‘ In nurs­ing, see if you can do a night shift,’’ she says.

‘‘ In a hospi­tal­ity job, do a shift that in­cludes an evening to see what that’s like.’’

Ju­lia Danger­field, 17, who com­pleted a week of work ex­pe­ri­ence at Ade­laide Zoo, says the place­ment con­firmed her de­sire to work with an­i­mals. ‘‘ I’ve been all across the zoo, look­ing af­ter the hip­pos, the birds, the chil­dren’s zoo with the rab­bits,’’ she says.

Pic­ture: Bren­ton Ed­wards

HANDS-ON: Stu­dent Ju­lia Danger­field gets to know palm cock­a­too Seisa dur­ing re­cent work ex­pe­ri­ence at Ade­laide Zoo.

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