Careers panel beamed to hundreds of students

Digital programs are a big growth area for ABCN in 2019, as they allow us to spread our reach to many more students. One exciting new program we piloted at the end of last year was My Career Rules, our first foray into a cross-company digital event.

The program was a series of 45-minute fun and interactive live-streamed careers panels, funded with a grant from Accenture. It reached 275 Years 7 and 8 students in 11 schools across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and involved mentors from 13 ABCN member companies.

The five-week program kicked off in October 2018 at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. It featured a new panel of three mentors each week, from a variety of industries, who were quizzed about their career experiences. A popular game, What Job is That?, asked panellists to describe their job without using any jargon or buzz words. Students then took a guess, interacting via iPads.

One aim of the program was to break down stereotypes and barriers around career paths, gender and ethnicity – and to show students the often non-linear nature of today’s careers. This rang true for mentor panellist Frances Martin, vice president of retail at Optus, who began working as a school teacher before moving into sales. She felt that sales allowed her to pursue a variety of roles. “Sales is a great platform for doing all sorts of things and it allows you to follow your passions, but also have that great customer engagement,” she said.

The program also sought to reinforce messages about the mindsets needed for a successful career path. Steve Farkas, design lead at FjordAccenture, shared some valuable advice about his recipe: “Don’t get too concerned about picking the right jobs straight away; just follow your heart. Work hard, be honest, and have integrity in the workplace. If you combine all this together you’ll find something that you like.”

Fellow panellist Prem Krithivasan, director of business development in telecommunications and media at Tata Consultancy Services, said finding the right career is all about “trying to find a balance between what you’re really passionate about, and also ensuring that it is commercially viable”.

While digital programs allow ABCN and corporate mentors to reach a greater number of students (more than 1200 participated in online programs last year), the pilot was not without its challenges. We gained a considerable amount of constructive feedback from mentors and students about the structure, timing and interactivity of the sessions – as well as learning how to resolve technical challenges around sound and vision!

Tech glitches aside, the program delivered an overall positive impact on students, with 88% feeling confident they would find a career that suited their interests and aspirations, compared with only 59% before the program.

ABCN is continuing to develop its digital programming initiatives and we look forward to sharing the next iteration in the near future. Watch this space.

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