Still Unsure of Your Dream Career in Year 12? That's Okay!

On the night of the UAC cutoff date I was sitting with my parents trying to...

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Question: Is it okay to still be ‘undecided’ about what direction you want to head in? What made you decide to take the course you are studying now? How did you know you wished to go into that particular path? Year 12 is going to be over soon and I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t have a definitive direction to head in.

Saf Basha – Co-Founder & Director of Project

TL;DR it’s fine to be undecided at this stage, but don’t let that stop you looking into different fields!

Yes! This is not uncommon!

I remember the final cutoff date for choosing uni preferences for me was Jan 4, and there I was on Jan 3 at 10pm with family in the living room trying to figure out wth I should put down for my preferences at uni.

It’s okay to not know, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking into what different degrees offer and seeing if anything seems interesting.

Don’t be worried about making the ‘wrong’ choice either! Trying a degree because it seems interesting and then changing later is also not uncommon - your brain (and sometimes your parents and friends) might tell you if you do something and then change degree that it’s a ‘waste of time’, but its definitely not! Figuring out what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what you do. Plus, one of the biggest things you learn in uni are soft skills — how to work in teams, communication, critical thinking, leadership, work ethic etc — so that time won’t be wasted at all!

Michelle Zhang – HSC 3U Maths Teacher

Fun fact: world famous designer Vera Wang didn’t start her fashion line until she was 40!

I was in the same boat during year 12, and I know so many people (students + staff) who also experienced/are experiencing the same thing. Remember as 16/17 year old it’s really difficult to predict what you might like as an adult 10 years down the line. You might not even like the same things you did 3 years ago LOL, because your perspective, likes/dislikes and experiences changes so rapidly and all play into what career you might enjoy.

TL;DR, don’t feel like you have to figure it all out at this current moment.

Lots of people don’t figure it out until well into their adulthood, and some never really figure it out and that’s okay too, as long as you’re happy and taking active steps to figure out who you are and what you want.

When I didn’t know what to choose for UAC, I went through the guide and crossed off all the stuff I didn’t like, because then that narrows down your selections. Process of elimination to finally decide on a degree was surprisingly super helpful!

Rishabh Jain – Head of Product & Head of Chemistry

For every person that knows exactly where they want to go, there are at least 10 who don’t. You are not alone, you are in the majority!

Those who DO know where they want to go often have their decision founded on false assumptions, or lack of information. Almost no Year 12 student has been exposed to how a law firm works, what designing a full scale bridge is like, or what it’s like to be operating on someone who is dying. It’s ridiculous to think that you’re supposed to have it all worked out by now.

People are always changing fields, even when they are 50 years old. No one ever has it figured out. The most important thing is your underlying skills which will help you in any field you go - communication, team work etc.

The beautiful thing about life is that things are always changing. Nothing is ever set in stone: those who hyperfocused on doing amazingly in academics often struggle in uni because they haven’t learnt how to study, or how to be resilient when they get bad marks, or how to properly communicate with people.

Tom Abbott – HSC 4U & 3U Maths Teacher

I’ve switched my course twice after enrolling in uni. Heaps of people I know have moved between courses. You shouldn’t feel pressure to know what to do now! You’ve got plenty of time, and will have plenty of time for ages (some people change careers at like age 40). If you have genuine interest in something, you’re going to enjoy it enough to put effort into it and thrive in that course. So, when you think about what you want to do, make sure to pick something that seems fun - but also seems like it will be rewarding, and will help you grow.

As you move through Year 12, there will be subjects that you like more than others, I found that using my Year 12 courses and how I enjoyed them as a baseline for what I would like in the future was pretty useful. If you have interests outside of school (i.e. sports, games, maths, design, drawing, etc), use them to inform what you decide! If you need to know where to start, look for courses which might extend on what you are already interested in. Beyond that, there’s also a chance that there’s some course or topic out there that really interests you - you just haven’t really engaged with/experienced it yet.

I initially went into uni doing Engineering/Maths, but when I did a decent amount of coding in my spare time, and I did a software course at uni, I decided to switch over to Comp Sci, because I found something that I find rewarding and fun. To find courses that you might not have heard about yet, I’d really recommend talking to your tutors about what they enjoy(most of us are super passionate/interested in what we are studying and would love to show/talk to you about it!) Also just reading through uni undergraduate guides can be helpful so that you actually know what’s available. You can find them by just googling the uni, then “undergraduate guide 2022.”

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