Speaking from the stage they used to grace as teenagers, four ex-Paraparaumu College students took it upon themselves to give back some of what they've learnt since school to 250 Year 12 and 13 wāhine students last week.
Running a panel discussion and mentoring workshops for all wāhine, Laura Powell, Maria Dickie, Hannah Coulson and Tamara Novak shared their stories of how they got from school-leavers to successful businesswomen.
They hope to inspire, empower and offer guidance to students during the decision making process.
"This is something I thought would have been really cool to have when I was back at school," said Tamara Novak, a digital marketing specialist who came up with the idea.
"I think there's a bit of a gap - going from school, to having your whole career figured out when you enter the workforce.
"We want to ease some anxiety around that.
"From what we've heard a lot of the girls are really anxious about making that next step.
"I think if we can give them the power of visualisation by sharing our journeys, it will help to broaden their view on what's possible and educate them that your career isn't always a straight line - it's one with many pivots."
Running a panel talk, the four ex-students shared about their careers journeys and experiences since leaving school.
Following this they ran mentoring sessions which looked at pairing passions with skills and another which offered guidance on how to write CVs, apply for jobs, apply for scholarship applications and how to network.
"These are all things we've talked to them about previously and it's what the girls have asked for."
"There's not the same support for everyone," said Maria Dickie, who works as a recruitment consultant.
"Not everyone has friends and family that they can go to when they leave school to really champion their ideas.
"Catering to those girls and offering them support and guidance is really important."
Seeing a need and aiming to fill the gap, the ex-students offered the students something unique – their personal stories, sharing them based on their experiences rather than coming from the perspective or motives of a recruitment programme.
Doing their research and talking with students before they planned the panel and workshops, it was found that over 50 percent year 12 and 13 female students at Paraparaumu College said they were still unsure about their futures after college, and a lot of them felt the pressure of trying to decide.
Paraparaumu College head of careers and transition Kim Kelly said, "It was a wonderful offer to have women who had once sat in the same place as our girls now share their career journeys so that we might gain inspiration and peace of mind from them.
"It isn't often that we have speakers in this space who are not attached to a tertiary provider and we were thrilled they wanted to give up time in their busy lives to give back to their former college."
"Changing 'I can't' to 'I can' is critical," said primary school teacher and business owner Laura Powell.
"We want to empower the girls to find their voice and see them take control of their own passions and interests."
With each of the ex-students going in different directions, one of their key messages was that your life doesn't have to take a straight line after school to get to where you want, it's a zigzag.
"We want to take the pressure off the girls to decide on their whole life career right now, and let them know that as long as you put in the effort, if you change plans you're still gaining experience," business owner and interior designer Hannah Coulson said.
"You're setting the stepping stones and fundamentals to your career.
"Nothing is lost."
While the panel and workshops were just for wāhine, Kim is looking at how the school can fill the gap for other students and continue to work with the students on their career paths following the workshops.