'Leave room for changes in direction.' 10 women on their best career advice for Gen Z.

Australian Catholic University
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If you have a teenager in Years 11 or 12, chances are you're both thinking “what comes next?" 

It can feel like so much pressure to make decisions on what direction to take the next path in life. Commonly, these decisions can involve exploring options of further study, and where to actually apply. How do our soon-to-be adults choose a course or industry that could determine the next era of their lives? 

There are so many factors to take into consideration. Study online or on campus? Sign up with a large cohort, or look for somewhere with smaller classes, which can mean more time with your teachers? Or look for a university with support services for students, where you'll be seen as a person and not just a number?

Universities like Australian Catholic University (ACU) might be your 'right fit'. ACU ticks all of these boxes, and is ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide, with a 95 per cent graduate employment rate. The university has a range of admission programs and entry pathways to help you into your dream course so you can develop your skills for an impactful career. Plus, a range of support services designed with a big focus on assisting you throughout your studies.

Landing on an avenue to pursue next after school and making plans for your future self can seem very daunting. It's only once we're through the era of kick-starting our own career, and maybe five, 10 or even 20 years down the track, can we pinpoint in hindsight what advice we wish we had when facing the same post-high school decisions. 

So if that's you, or someone you're supporting right now through their final exams: we spoke to 10 women at various stages in their careers for the best advice they'd give Gen Z right now. 


Here's what they shared.


"My daughter is off to university next semester for the first time. My advice to her has been to ensure you're open to new opportunities both in terms of friendships and subjects to study. Make the most of each day. Create connections with people (especially the ones you least expect)."


"Treat the early years of education, life experience, and work experience as a buffet for lots of opportunity and selection. Do not hold back, choose things that take your fancy, tick a few of the ‘must-do’ criteria boxes, and leave room for a few random changes in direction… if you can be part of a tertiary education that can be as fluid and versatile in its offerings as life tends to be, then it's a great platform to set you up for the journey ahead. An open mind is key."


"I always wanted to be a lawyer, but I didn't make the marks in Year 12. At 25, I realised I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I thought it was too late to do five years of study, but my beloved grandfather said to me, "In five years' time, you'll be 30. You can either be 30 with the degree or 30 without the degree." So, I pursued study again, and graduated with my grandfather in the audience. I've worked overseas and all over Australia since. 

"Sometimes, young people are not ready for their forever job at 18, and your Year 12 results don’t have to define the course of your life."


"Consider opportunities to work full-time and even study part-time. This way you get relevant work experience at the same time, which can give you an edge. It also means you can trial what you like early on, and can pivot in both your career and study to ensure you’ll graduate in an area that you really enjoy."



"Never say no to an opportunity presented to you, as these are usually the monumental stepping stones that start you on your career path to something magnificent! It may be the people you meet, the skills you learn, the wisdom you acquire. It may not make sense now but trust that when you join these dots you suddenly realise the magic that reveals itself at exactly the right moment in time."


"Lean into the things you most enjoy – I did a Commerce/Arts degree with a mixed bag of Accounting, History, French and Politics. Now’s the time to explore some passions. It’s amazing what skills you develop and how they can transfer across industries. 

"Accounting helped me to understand numbers and finances, and the Arts degree helped me to learn how to argue my case. You won’t always love every university subject necessarily, but remember to commit yourself – I found thinking of the bigger picture helped. It's an important foundational part, and it's a step towards your bigger goal."


"Have a really deep think about what you're passionate about: where do you want to help? What do you “nerd out” over? What industry do you want to see changed or improved? Set yourself up for a career that ticks any of those boxes that are important to you, and you’ll never 'work' a day in your life. Very clichéd, but true. Do what makes you happy, not what makes everyone around you happy."


"Know your value and your worth, and don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your achievements."


"My simplified advice to my 18-year-old, who is currently looking at applying to university, is to follow a passion. You may not find it straight away and that's okay, but find the passion and follow that line. You work generally for a long time! So, let it be doing what you love."



"It's easy to forget that often you can make your study path fit you. Sometimes this means choosing a course that gives you flexibility to study remotely, or study part-time to balance your studies and other commitments you have. 

"Find people who have been down the path you are interested in and ask them for advice, just like you would also at university open days.

"There's SO much rich advice to be shared on this topic, but I hope these wise words help Gen Z (and anyone really, navigating the start of their career) to look at the bigger picture when taking into consideration the path forward. 

"If you're helping your young adult in this path, help to relieve them of the pressure they may already be putting on themselves. Help guide them, offer an ear and keep the line of communication open, and ultimately their future and their choices will come to fruition."

Thinking about university? Explore more about Australian Catholic University, and their range of courses on offer starting in 2024.

ACU's ranking in the top 2 per cent of universities worldwide according to Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022. Percentage calculated as ACU’s world rank as a proportion of the total number of universities in the world: International Handbook of Universities 2019, Palgrave MacMillan. 

ACU's 95 per cent graduate employment rate according to Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal 2022, overall employment for domestic undergraduate students.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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