There are an array of career paths available to school leavers these days, so figuring out which direction to take can be overwhelming for some students.
Careers expos like the one being held at Mahurangi College on Thursday, August 11 attempt to help students negotiate the various pathways available.
Getting as broad range of groups to talk to students each year sees Mahurangi College contacting all the universities, polytechnics like North Tec and Unitec, industry training organisations, police and the defence forces and inviting them to set up shop at the college for the evening.
Alumni of the college who work in the area are also invited to put up their hands and share their experiences with students.
One Mahurangi Business Association manager Murray Chapman also does a bit of door-knocking around the town, encouraging local businesses to send representatives to the evening, with the bigger employers such as Mitre10, New World, BP and McDonald’s all invited, too.
There are often some surprises around which industries are not represented. For a rural area and given the sector is calling out for more staff, there has been little interest at the expo from the agricultural sector in the past. Lincoln University, with its primary industries focus, also does not send representatives.
Mahurangi College Gateways coordinator Lori Yau says work options for students not wanting to commute or move away may not be as broad as might be expected closer to the bigger industry and business hubs further south, and this sees getting into the trades a popular option for many young people.
Yau sees first-hand where students see their futures, and sometimes there are some surprising questions for training options. One of the most unusual she has heard of was how to become a luthier.
For the uninformed, this rather obscure job entails the making and repairing of stringed instruments such as violins.
More commonly, students looking at tech jobs such as ethical hacking for big corporations like Microsoft, where they would be testing the security of operating systems, are on the rise.
Moving into a more adult world can be tough on students who are often under pressure from their parents to head into certain jobs or go off to university, when they are often not sure what direction they want to take.
With this mind, if there is one piece of advice Yau would like to give students and parents, it is when looking at careers, have a Plan B in case things don’t go as planned. The results of a student signed up to a degree they’re not genuinely interested in, for instance, may not be very successful.
But there are also unforeseen changes of direction that can crop up. She recalls one student who went into building locally, but who quickly discovered he was afraid of heights – not surprisingly, the job was soon causing him some anxiety. However, while working part-time at a dispensing optician business, he discovered the industry really appealed to him and he is now studying at university to become an optician.