The IIBT Student Career and Employment Advisory Services empower students to develop
the skills and knowledge to plan for their future career and successfully transition from student to professional.

Choosing a study plan or educational pathway is the first step in defining your future career. However, your education can and will offer you different career paths. Knowing what you like the most about your educational pathway and future degrees or diplomas will help you to choose your subjects wisely and get the skills and experience needed to success in your chosen discipline.

Getting the right information about the potential of your educational pathways and the jobs you can apply for in the future will certainly help you discover where your real passion is and how you can get your dream career and job.


Why Plan for Your Career?

  • Sense of direction and purpose
  • Feel more confident about where your studies could take you.
  • Identify the courses, experiences and clubs that will enhance your future prospects.
  • Don’t just get a job, get a great job!
  • Become the confident, motivated person employers are looking for and market yourself effectively.
  • Develop transferable skills
  • Planning skills are relevant to a host of jobs and careers.

How to Plan for your Future Career

The following steps will help you to make that decision:

Step 1 - Understand yourself

Consider what makes you YOU

  • Values – knowing what is important to you and where work rates in your life will help you assess how different careers match your priorities. Ask yourself how you feel about work, where does it fit in your life, what sort of lifestyle do you want and what rewards are seeking in a job?
  • Interests – understanding what you like and enjoy will give you important clues for other job options, and how you could build your interests into your career. Ask yourself what do you really enjoy doing (eg. hobbies, past times, recreational pursuits, extracurricular activities, things you like to read), and whether you would like to work in an area related to your interests.
  • Personal style and qualities – asking yourself what your strengths are, how you take in information and make decisions, and how you like to work and interact with others will give insight into your personality and the work environments you would find most comfortable
  • Skills – looking at your skills will help you review your suitability for a particular career and in what areas you may need to develop. Ask yourself what you do well and what knowledge and skills have you developed in your life (personal life, study, casual work, extracurricular activities, volunteering) that would be transferable to your work?

Take time to reflect

  • Stop and think – when do you feel happiest? What are you doing or who are you interacting with?
  • Your course selection – what attracted you to choose your current degree?
  • Initial career ideas – did you have any career ideas when you were younger that you may have discounted?
  • A dream job – ever heard of someone’s job and thought you’d love to do that! If there were no limitations, what job would you do?
  • Feedback received – what do others say about your strengths and what you’re good at?

Step 2 - Research your career options

Use your self-assessment to identify and research careers you may be interested in.

What to consider

When researching different careers options you may want to consider the following:

  • Work life balance
  • Qualifications/certifications/registrations
  • Industry culture and players
  • Growth areas
  • Scope for professional development
  • Potential employers
  • Rewards and benefits
  • Career and employment prospects
  • Industry recruitment practices

Finding careers information

  • Keyword searches in Google (ie. ‘research careers’, ‘working with children’)
  • Industry and professional associations
  • Career profiles and fact sheets on various career websites (Graduate Careers, Career FAQs, Job Guide)
  • Employer websites
  • Job ads and job requirements via job search websites (SEEK, My Career, ArtsHub, Vietnam Worksetc)
  • Careers fairs and events
  • Your faculty website
  • The library (local and campus library)
  • Academics and the Career Service
  • Stay open-minded

The key during this stage is to stay objective – don’t rule anything out before you can research it.

Consider the information you’ve gathered
How do you feel about the information you’ve gathered? Note any options that interest you or seem appealing at this stage. Can you see any real opportunities you would like to explore further?

Step 3 - Explore careers in-depth

Pick a few career options that you would like to explore further. The aim is to understand as much as you can, so you can assess if they really are for you.

Ways to learn more about a career

Try it out.

The best way to know if you like something is to experience it. It will help you to develop the skills and experience that employers seek, networking and meeting new people, practice and improve your English language skills and become a balanced graduate – the key to maximising your employability.

There are a variety of opportunities for students to expand their experiences, knowledge and skills both on-campus and off-campus. Opportunities include PACE, volunteering, work experience, unpaid or paid employment, clubs and societies, exchange, become a Macquarie University student representative, internships, summer and vacation programs, cadetships and casual employment.

Talk to someone

Set up a time to talk to an academic or professional in the industry about their experiences and how they got to where they are. Or you may know someone in your network (a family member, friends, fellow student and neighbours) who works in the industry or knows someone in a related field. Information interview and elevator speech are great technics to use.

What is an information interview?

  • A short meeting (maximum 15 minutes) with a person in a job, industry or organisation you are interested in. It is very important to arrive on time
  • You can ask questions and gather helpful information, advice and more contacts by asking about the career knowledge of the other person
  • Possible areas to cover are how that person entered the industry, changes since entering it, what that person likes about the organisation/industry/their role and what not, upcoming challenges, industry trends etc
  • Seek information, but do not ask for a job
  • Ask if there is anyone else you could speak to, and if you could mention your interviewee’s name when contacting the second person
  • Thank the person for his/her time and send a thank you letter or email
  • Understand the skills required
  • Gather insight into the skills, abilities and personal attributes needed to succeed in this role or career through job ads, further research online, the conversations you have with people in the industry or as part of your informational interviews.

Join a professional association or industry body

Check out associations in this field and go to an event. Meet some people who work in the industry and see what it might be like;

  • Country’s Professional Organisations, Associations and Societies (ie. Australia)
  • Graduate Opportunities – Professional Associations Listing

Step 4 - Evaluate and decide

To help you evaluate what you have uncovered, consider some or all of the following:

  • Reflect on your experiences – if you tried it, how did it feel working in the industry? Did it meet your expectations? Are you still interested, based on what you know now? Did your experience raise any problems or issues about this career?
  • Review against your personal knowledge – have another look at what you know about yourself. Does this career/role still fit?
  • Skill gaps – think about the skills you already have from your experience (study, casual jobs, volunteering and extracurricular activities). Compare this to the skills needed for this type of work. What gaps would you need to address? How realistic is this?
  • Your instincts and intuition – what feels right?
  • Pros and Cons – weigh up some of the choices using a written ‘for’ and ‘against’ list so you can see these more clearly
  • Getting more advice – talk over your thoughts and uncertainties with an academic, someone in the industry or the Career Service to help you see things more clearly
  • Testing it further – consider getting more practical experience, to help decide if this is a real option for you

Remember, there are some risks involved in any decision. There is no single perfect decision or only one right career choice for you. Your career is a journey, so you won’t be able to know or meet all your goals at this point.

Deciding on a career to aim for will give you a starting point. Through your planning and the experiences you have along the way, your career priorities and aspirations will unfold, take shape and most likely change over time.

Step 5 - Set some career goals

Making an action plan with some short-term and long-term goals will help keep you focused and moving towards a job in your chosen career. The key to good career planning is SMART objectives:

  • Specific – make your objectives clear and easy to understand
  • Measurable – set time frames for each objective and ensure these are achievable and reasonable
  • Realistic – avoid making your goals too complex or tackling something too big. The simpler and easier they are to understand and follow through, the better
  • Realistic – consider your other commitments and what else you have on. Make sure you’re not expecting too much of yourself, or striving for the impossible
  • Timely – consider short term vs long term goals. Short-term goals should be quick, simple activities (identifying your skills, updating your resume, attending a workshop). Long-term goals are your ultimate career goals and should help give your short to medium term goals direction (to become a business consultant, clinical psychologist etc)

Once you’ve got your action plan – act on it straight away!