James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Sound advice for a bright future

Deciding on a career can be difficult, but one young school-leaver found plenty of people ready to help

Michael Thomson says the most helpful advice he received on his future came from one of his teachers. Photo / Christine Cornege
Michael Thomson says the most helpful advice he received on his future came from one of his teachers. Photo / Christine Cornege

Michael Thomson says he has received a lot of advice as he leaves secondary school to study for a university degree in social sciences.

The 18-year-old was the dux of Hamilton's Fraser High School last year, earning top places in English, classical studies, media studies and music.

Blessed with intelligence and a $5000 scholarship from the University of Waikato, Michael still sought guidance from the school's career adviser about his future path: "They were showing me the opportunities out there and told me not to rush my decision."

He also got a talking-to from his parents: "My mum sort of tries to push me into thinking about where I'm going and thinking about whether there is a good job at the end whereas my dad is like "if you enjoy it go and do it" so they are kind of at opposite ends."

But Michael believes some of the best advice came from his classics teacher.

The teacher told him to continue his education at university but to do something he loved, rather than taking a degree that would land him a job with a decent pay packet.

"In the end if you love what you are doing then you will make opportunities for yourself whereas if you don't love it and you are just doing it then you will have to struggle to find opportunities," he said.

Results from a Herald-DigiPoll survey suggest Michael is following the advice most would give to a young person who has just left school.

The survey shows 67.3 per cent of those surveyed would recommend youngsters continuing education and getting a qualification first.

This was followed by 17.9 per cent who believed working for a few years before studying or training was the best option. And 13.6 per cent said it was best to travel overseas before even considering studying or training.

Youthline clinical services manager Glenda Schnell said the organisation's helpline received calls from youngsters seeking career advice, although most were likely to seek help about circumstances with their jobs.

She said young people were feeling "quite realistically resigned about the job market" and more were going into tertiary studies because of a lack of employment opportunities.

Asked what advice Youthline would give youngsters leaving school, Ms Schnell said it would work with them to help them make a decision.

"It's a case of looking at their passions and interests and weighing up the young person's long-term goals, empowering them to think about what option is going to serve them best," she said.

"There is no right or wrong choice, but depending on their starting point, we do encourage them to at least get their level 2 NCEA or equivalent."

findmyforte.co.nz co-director Frances Harre said her company took a similar approach in seeking out an individual's interests and needs.

She said that although young people were greatly influenced by their peers many were thinking carefully for themselves about structuring their university degrees.

"More young ones are wanting to think more seriously about what they do because choosing a degree course that hasn't been well thought through leads to a wasted three years and lots of money and so on," she said.

"That is one of the concerns we have, we coach young ones on how to identify what deeply interests them and to think for themselves what is right for them - not just follow what the trends are saying."

Michael said he was considering studying criminology but has decided to take a broader view and look at other options.

"If I keep it broad it will create more opportunities for myself and just have fun in my first year."

- NZ Herald

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