Considering your career path beyond graduation is a daunting prospect for many students, however, leading Queensland independent school Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim is helping to crystallise the decision-making process for its Year 11 students with a unique dinner event.
The annual Flinders Year 11 Careers Dinner connects Flinders’ 120 Year 11 students with more than 17 industry leaders who act as mentors over a three-hour dinner at Flinders Performance Centre.
The event is designed to help hone career options for the students as they engage in three in-depth conversations with three different professionals working in the students’ top three potential career fields as they move seats from entree to main course and then to dessert.
This year’s event featured Woodford Folk Festival founder and director Bill Haurtiz, a Flinders grandparent; General Manager of Manawee Garden Centre, Simon Van Roy (Flinders Class of 2005); and Mark Paddenburg, CEO of the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre, amongst other industry leaders.
Prior to the event, students are asked to identify their top three potential careers, which for this year’s cohort includes careers in business, finance, medicine, law, arts, technology, the armed forces, sports and exercise science, multimedia and game development, architecture, psychology and the Arts.
The Year 11 Events Committee - led by Head of Business, Susan Lynch and assisted by teacher and Year 11 Co-ordinator, Annie Loock - then source the best industry experts in the students’ chosen fields and invite these leaders to act as mentors for the evening.
Principal Stuart Meade said the annual Careers Dinner challenges students to open their minds to the myriad of ways they can develop their personal character, competencies and leadership skills to make a positive contribution to the world.
“The Year 11 Careers Dinner is one of our most dynamic and constructive events of the school calendar and is well timed as students set their academic goals for Year 12 and look towards tertiary study and work opportunities beyond graduation,” Stuart said.
“We are very fortunate to have industry experts join us for the evening and give their honest and in-depth advice and perspective on their day-to-day role as well as a big-picture view of their industry,” he said.
“It’s also fascinating for students to hear from these leaders about their different career trajectories, which students are amazed to hear hardly ever take a straight line.
“There is a buzz in the air throughout the Flinders Careers Dinner as students begin to realise from their conversations with their mentors that they too can channel their dreams, skills and passions into real prospects to contribute and lead in the wider community.”
Year 11 student Abbie Cousins said her conversations at the Careers Dinner helped her to realise that she had many viable career opportunities to choose from.
“I originally believed that my perfect career was a coder within a team of others, however, chatting with my mentors at the Careers Dinner helped me to realise that I could take on a more managerial role, and even be the project leader rather than just the actual coder,” Abbie said.
“By talking with Mr Sam Milne, a web design expert, I was able to understand the different sides of his self-owned business, and learn more about the different people he employs to develop certain aspects of the code,” she said.
“Also, my conversation with Mr Dean Dunbar helped me realise that different types of engineering are quite similar, and could be applied to all areas around the world. This piqued my interest, as I’ve always wanted to travel to other countries.
“I am still uncertain of my career beyond Year 12, however, the main thing I learned during the evening was that my skills and interests are transferable to many different career paths, which makes me feel more confident that I have strong tertiary options.”
Fellow Year 11 student Fraser McLardy said what resonated from the evening was that all the presenters and mentors loved what they did for a living.
“And that, to me, is the most important thing,” said Fraser. “I do believe in the words of Marc Anthony, that, “If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life”,” Fraser said.
“Ms Tara Osborne gave me great behind-the-scenes information about what it’s really like to be a psychologist and I learned about the different types of psychologists and psychology,” he said.
“Tara has inspired me to aim for the stars and helped me realise that becoming a psychologist is an achievable dream.
“Speaking to Mr Bill Hauritz was also a highlight as I not only gained insight into what being an entrepreneur is like and how to run and organise a music festival but I also learned all about a supercomputer, a career as a musician and the day Mr Hauritz watched the moon landing live on television.
“I am grateful to everyone involved for organising such a great evening.”
Other industry mentors at the Careers Dinner included:
- finance professional, Director at Strategy First, David Price
- medical doctor, Dr Kirsten Hoyle
- senior law associate, Sarah Frost
- engineer, Dean Dunbar
- Flinders Drama teacher, Xanthe Coward
- sports and exercise science mentor, Nathan Martin
- lecturer in photography, University of the Sunshine Coast, Dr Debra Livingstone
- web designer and entrepreneur, Sam Milne
- architect and director of Carma Building Group, Michael Williams
- Sunshine Coast University officers, Naomi Albert and Holly Tompkins
Many Old Flinderians who are achieving remarkable heights in their chosen fields also returned to Flinders to act as mentors during the Careers Dinner, including:
- psychologist, Tara Osborne (Class of 2008)
- member of the Armed Forces, Nick Cramp (Class of 2009)
- nurse, Ashleigh Holmes (Class of 2011)
- nutritionist, Megan Bray (Class of 2008)