10 career tips for school leavers

For many school leavers, that final ATAR score can mean a seamless leap straight into University. But for many others, the results may be disappointing. What are the options in such a competitive market?

The big question

Knowing which career path to follow in the first place can be pretty confusing. Veterinarian? Personal trainer? MasterChef? Research Assistant? Sparkie? The possibilities are almost endless. It can be a big idea to wrap your head around.

Maybe some advice from a TAFE career counsellor will help. Here's one we prepared earlier. Well, ten to be exact. One from each of the Institutes that make up TAFE NSW. Combined, they've got oodles of experience and knowledge of the job market. So take a couple of minutes to listen to what they have to say. It might be the best thing you do for yourself this year.

Over to you, ladies and gents…

 10 of the best - career tips from TAFE NSW counsellors


  • "Keep your mind open. Talk to as many people as you can including counsellors, teachers, parents, friends and employers. Explore all your options."   -  Hilary Barbour, Hunter TAFE

  • "If doors have shut for you at university, talk to a TAFE counsellor about pathways to uni via TAFE. This pathway gives you hands-on training and practical skills that industry wants and often for a lower cost."    -   Glenn Fairweather, TAFE Illawarra

  • "Have as many options open as possible. Have a Plan A, B and C and seek professional career advice."    -   Sue Bailey, TAFE New England

  • "Get to know yourself – your likes and dislikes, what interests you, what you're passionate about and what factors will affect your work and learning decisions. It's also good to find out about the changing world of work and what skills will be in demand in the future. TAFE NSW has career counsellors available to discuss these steps with you."    -   Hannah Riley, North Coast TAFE

  • "It's important to remember that this is only the first step in your career development. There's no telling which direction your career path will eventually take, but just get started. Do your research, talk to a TAFE counsellor, find out as much as you can about your course/career before you enrol."    -   Verena Rawling, The Northern Sydney Institute

  • "Talk to your TAFE counsellor/career advisor to map your career pathway. Remember, there's more than one path that leads to your goal."    -   Sharee McCormack, Riverina TAFE

  • "ATAR not what you thought? There's more to life than getting a single result and getting into one course. There are many ways to get to the same goal. Universities like successful students with Certificate III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma courses and strong results in TAFE."    -   Kerrin McCormack, South Western Sydney Institute (SWSi)

  • "Check out your options. Think about what you need in a career. Decide on the course that gives you practical work skills and knowledge to prepare you for your future job. If you're uncertain, talk to a TAFE counsellor. Enrol now."    -   Maria Gray, Sydney TAFE

  • "Be open to change and new opportunities. Strive for continuous personal improvement. Stay motivated by developing new skills. Know yourself, believe in yourself and follow your heart. Pursue your passion and discover ways to combine your interests with career opportunities. Access your allies such as family, friends and peers. Career success can be a team effort."    -   Jim Sheedy, TAFE Western

  • "I try to encourage students to determine career goals with careful reflection and research, but to be open to change and recognise that career development will likely be a series of decisions throughout life."    -   Paul Colwell, Western Sydney TAFE

    And a special bonus tip: courtesy of Sharee McCormack from Riverina TAFE who draws inspiration from it...


  • "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
  •    -   Dr Seuss (from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!)

    Next steps?

    Start your journey. Enrol in a TAFE NSW course.