Like us on Facebook

  • 27 June 2019

7 questions to ask at careers day

VET graduates and NSW training Awards Alumni Rose Cox and Shaun Van Uum at the 2018 Skills Show Australia, NSW Government stand

Careers days can be heaps of fun and a great way to get a grip on your future.

Most offer a showcase of apprenticeships and traineeships, tertiary education, employment, volunteering, study advice, and gap year opportunities.

You can also learn about VET fee-free apprenticeships, traineeships and courses from those who really know: employers, group training organisations and training and support providers.

To get the most out of the day, Training Services NSW field staff share some must-ask questions.

It’s important to match the subject areas you’re interested in with future careers pathways. “Find out what subjects you need to study at school next year,” says Wollongong-based Sean.

It’s also worth asking about any VET courses you can do as part of your HSC, as these can give you a head start for the jobs of the future. “You can also ask if they offer work placements for students who do VET subjects,” says Jenny, also in Wollongong.

For post-school qualifications, ask about any entry requirements, course length, costs, how many students complete and what graduates have gone on to do.

Getting realistic entry-level jobs and wages is important information to know. “Ask about the kind of jobs and salaries someone entering the field would most likely expect to find,” says Newcastle-based Ken.

"Finding out the good, the bad and the ugly of a job could help you decide if it’s for you," says Ken. Just remember to be positive and open minded in your approach. These five apprentices demonstrate how different approaches work for them. “No question is a silly question—be open to having conversations,” says Sean.

Match your expectations with careers in your favoured industry and then compare them with some others. “It’s also worth asking about the industry’s projected employment growth in the next 5-10 years,” says Helen, who is based in Newcastle. Make sure you have the full picture about where the jobs are likely to be—at national and state levels and wherever you intend to be living.

Why wait until school’s out to start building your professional, technical and employability skills? Get the competitive edge now. “If you’re really interested in a career in an industry, find out what kind of part-time jobs, internships and other extracurricular activities would best prepare you,” says Jacquie from Orange.

Companies can vary wildly in their makeup, locations, culture, mission and values. What is important to the organisation and what is their vision for the future? “Find out if you feel you’d be a good fit or if you need to keep looking,” suggests Jacquie.

While technical skills and experience are always a given, employability skills are equally important. “Find out what employers in your industry of choice think are the most important qualities when hiring,” says Port Macquarie-based Stacey. “You can also ask them for any tips to improve your employment prospects.

Similarly, ask about the way job vacancies are advertised and what the recruitment processes are, as these can change frequently.

Students learn about VET at the Skills Show Australia

Tips for a great day out

  • “Think about what you want to achieve before you go,” says Stacey.
  • “Go prepared, if you can,” says Jacquie. “Research the speakers, exhibitors and floor plan—you’ll know where to start and who you want to speak to and listen to.” Lookout for demonstrations, interactive displays, industry and celebrity speakers and promotional materials.
  • “Create a list of two or three careers to explore, then prioritise which booths and exhibits you’ll go to on the day,” says Sean.
  • Check your phone notes and reminder apps are ready to go—or go “old school” and get a notebook and a pen to take along. With all the information, leads and connections you’ll make, not even your super-memory has the capacity to take it all in.
  • “Take your parents,” suggest Ken and Jenny. Cool or not, your parents (and caregivers) are your best career supporters, so bring them along if you can.
  • Remember that no question is a silly question. “Be open to having conversations,” says Sean. Learn lots and have fun!

Find out how VET opens doors to opportunities in hundreds of careers.