A new approach to career planning

When considering your career options, who better to get information and advice from than someone who has stood in your shoes? And that is just what happened at the Virtual Careers Night for Melbourne Grammar students held in August 2021.

Just on 200 students benefited from the wisdom and experience of around 50 Old Melburnians during the online event. Twenty-six breakout sessions were available, each one bringing together Old Melburnians with common career stories and interested students.

Traditional and emerging careers were available for exploration with Old Melburnian participants including engineers, architects, finance, medical and legal professionals, policy advisers, digital strategists, and entrepreneurs. And being an online event, students and Old Melburnians were able to engage with each other regardless of their location, with Old Melburnians from as far away as Hong Kong and Geneva, Switzerland contributing to the sessions.

“Planning for a career beyond school is a daunting task,” says Year 11 student Ted Perton. “Being offered the chance to gain valuable insights into a variety of careers was fantastic. It opened my mind to exciting possibilities that I would have never otherwise considered.”

In Ted’s case he came to the event thinking almost exclusively about a career in emergency medicine, but he has now expanded his options to include quite a different occupation. “Learning about the field of broadcast journalism has opened my mind to an exciting career in media,” explains Ted. “Without this careers event, I would never have understood the path to reporting from warzones, uncovering hidden information, or even interviewing presidents!”

For Old Melburnian participant, Dr Hamish Brown (OM 2006), it was an important opportunity to ‘pay it forward’. “I always value opportunities to engage with high school students and young adults, as mentorship and just being able to talk to senior people has always helped me throughout my life and career,” he explains.

A research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, Hamish was keen to highlight certain ‘truths’ to the group. “As a Year 10-12 student I would never have foreseen myself being in the career that I am today or the importance of the many ‘soft skills’ that are important, beyond one’s academic achievement,” adds Hamish. “I wanted to communicate this to the students and also to reassure them that, even though your career can be entirely unpredictable, this is something that is actually very exciting and invigorating rather than something to be feared.”

Career strategist, Bill Cowan AM (OM 1962), also provided students with insights into the career discovery and planning process. His tips for them included: try to uncover all your strengths, take your time, build a network, ask for help and advice, and keep going. Moreover, he highlighted the need to keep an open mind saying: “You never know what is possible for you.”