Always keep moving: How to instil a growth mindset for your career

When we’re struggling in our job or career it’s easy to find the people around us who are seemingly flourishing and everything is going their way. By simply observing the outcome of others situation, not the journey, we can fall into the trap of assuming that they encountered no challenges on their way there. The key difference between those who think they can do it (and do) and those you think they cannot (so stop), is mindset. Mindset refers to an established set of attitudes set by an individual. Those with a learning or growth mindset know that with persistence and openness to learning they can tackle any challenges that befall them, those with a fixed mindset see that there’s a stop to their ability no matter how talented they are and are more likely to give up.

According to Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck, the fixed mindset is focussed on proving it’s smart, while the growth mindset wants to get even smarter. Where a fixed mindset is concerned with protecting their image of competence and promoting themselves, a growth or learning mindset is eager to pursue additional learning and happy to be seen growing their skills. These outlooks typecast different people in a workplace very quickly, and while it seems a wise to always know what you’re doing, perhaps conveying you’re always willing to improve is more powerful.

When speaking at the launch of Inspiring the Future Australia, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes gave the young people attending the advice to “always keep moving”. While this might seem circumstantial advice, there seems to be a theme among well-respected people that lifelong learning is the key to overcoming challenges and barriers. So should we be focusing on a learning and growth mindset? And how can we develop this and embrace each new challenge as a learning experience?

Chuck out weaknesses – embrace opportunities to learn 

One of the easiest ways to fall into a fixed mindset when it comes to our job or career planning is when we come across an area we’re weak where we assumed we’d be strong. Finding out a point of struggle or a skill you need to learn in the middle of a task or situation is frustrating and often debilitating. This can spiral us quite quickly into procrastination or even make us give up entirely in favour of something we think we can do easily. In order to start developing a growth mindset, seek contentment in your weaknesses and consciously reframe them as opportunities to learn. When you encounter an opportunity to learn, rather than shying away and feeling unable, you can approach it as a new challenge and develop steps to gain the skills or experience needed to move through.

Just take a baby step

When we come up against a challenge, often the hardest thing is seeing the other side of the giant block we perceive in our way. Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything you need to know or how far you have to go, take one step towards the goal and slowly but surely you’ll get over the hump. Say you want to work in an office in administration or accounting, but your first-day doing work experience or placement you realise you can’t use Excel and its essential! Instead of seeing what your supervisor can do and getting overwhelmed you’ll never have those skills, start small and get used to basic sums before you worry about creating charts or graphs.

Free yourself from ‘limits’, become a lifelong – learner

Within a growth and learning mindset, there is no barrier to success. No matter how long it takes to get somewhere, there is always a path paved by learning that will get you where you want to go. If you’re trying to develop a growth mindset, don’t let others expectations or perceptions box you into what seems doable for them. Work on being happy with the journey and embracing it as a part of the goal. It’s often more valuable than you even thought it could be, and as you learn, may take you in different directions you never thought possible.

Interested in learning more about developing a growth mindset? Take a look at these other resources below!

Inspiring Apprentices pilot success

On the 25th of August 2017, Inspiring the Future Australia held a pilot event called Inspiring Apprentices, that sought to help students connect with potential employers and learn more about apprenticeships, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships from industry professionals and young apprentices. Over 100 students, teachers and volunteers attended the event at the Blacktown RSL, every table was crammed with chairs of eager students hearing about different industries and pathways. Representatives from the automotive industry, hospitality, construction, printing and design, metals and engineering, electrical and plumbing, hair and beauty, business services and schools-based apprenticeships. Students who attended were from a variety of schools in and around the Western Sydney area and were selected to attend due to their interest in a particular industry or interest in alternative pathways in general.

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Overall the event was a huge success, with 100% of teachers and volunteers believing it was a good opportunity to inspire young people. Even better, 87% of students said that the event gave them increased confidence about their future. The event was done in a speed career networking format, where volunteers rotated around the room speaking to different groups of students from Year 9 – Year 12. Following this activity students had the opportunity to talk to presenters that interested them through a mini-career expo. This enabled students to get different information and advice that was relevant to them personally.

83% of students who attended said the event provided useful information to help them decide their next steps after school. This wonderful response reinforces the value of Inspiring the Future as a whole, at inspiring and empowering students around Australia to make educated and informed choices about their futures.


The passion and enthusiasm of the volunteers to share their experience of careers and their industry was commendable to see, as they eagerly answered student questions and asked them questions in return.

We want to express our thanks to Apprenticeships Are Us, Hospitality Training Network, Master Builders Association, Signarama, MIGAS, Hix Electrical and Data Services, Hair & Beauty Australia, NSW Department of Education and TAFE for being a part of the wonderful day and giving up their valuable time to inspire and inform students.

The sub-campaign for Inspiring Apprentices will continue with additional events next year, if you’re interested in being involved in future events or running an ‘Inspiring Apprentices themed’ event yourself, please contact us!  

Gap Years and Why They’re Often a Huge Mistake

“I don’t know what I want to do, so I’m taking a gap year.

This statement and this philosophy is a common experience of many school-leavers, unsure of where to go after school finishes. A gap year without a plan or goal, however, is a dangerous choice. The transition from school to work or study is different for everyone, and an unfocused gap year is often a stumbling block for many. According to research by Year13, many young people take gap years to ‘figure things out’, as they’re overcome with fear and confusion about the transition out of school. One young person surveyed in their research said “at the beginning of the year, I started university, but it turned out that not really assessing what I wanted during school left me in the wrong place afterwards. Now, I’m taking a gap year to figure out what I want to study and do in the future.”

For some young people overwhelmed or under aware of the opportunities, pathways and careers available to them after school, a gap year to take the pressure off and work in different jobs is helpful soul-seeking exercise. Those who take structured gap years with work, travel or gap year programs often enter university, work or other training with more purpose and clarity. For many, however, a year of exploration turns into months of no direction and increasing hopelessness. These young people become more disengaged and often end up long-term unemployed and unhappy, without aspiration or motivation to get onto a sustainable career pathway.

Trying to pursue a path you’re not interested in isn’t a sustainable plan, especially when it comes to University. Due to the pressure from school and parents on University pathways, there are hundreds of students that go into University without drive or desire to be there. 62% of young people have considered dropping out of Uni and 1 in 3 students don’t complete their degrees within 6 years. For the privilege of even a partial Uni degree, young people inherit debt and often more uncertainty. Similar can be said for vocational pathways chosen wrongly, however, the data seems to suggest that more students regret going to Uni as they’re more likely to go unsure of their goals or aspirations.

So how can you make sure a gap year is the right choice?

Gap years can be productive and fulfilling for young people, and ultimately can serve to help determine career direction and find inspiration. But how can you ensure a profitable gap year?

Set goals

Give your gap year strategic purpose by setting a few goals to work towards. Big or small, create goals with a tangible deadline – and make them things that excite you! Plan to buy your own car, travel to Europe for 2 months or complete a marathon. Then look at what you need to do to achieve those goals, such as worth full-time for 6 months or train 3 times a week. Having things you want to do to aim for, makes time spent more focused and feel more worthwhile.

Learn new things

Even if you’re taking a break from study or believe you’re finished with it all together, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue keeping yourself growing by learning! Learn something new during your gap year – you might find something you never knew you had such a passion for! Start a new hobby, learn a language or even learn how to make coffee. No learning is ever worthless, and by exploring something you like, you may discover options you had never thought of before.

Explore different options

Your gap year is for finding out more about career options and exploring your interests to find direction, so go and do! Volunteer at relevant events, do work experience, work in different industries or ask people you know if you can visit their workplace and find out more about their career. Use your gap year to find out more about your own likes and dislikes when it comes to work, so you have the best opportunity to discover your career direction. Don’t be too set on where you should end up at the end, but be open to different pathways and opportunities as they come.

How can we improve career inspiration before the end of school?

The fact that so many young people are leaving school uncertain and uninformed about their options and pathways points to a broader problem. Why aren’t we inspiring and educating teenagers about careers, and how can we serve them better? The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple fix. As a community, as a country and ultimately as a globe, we can all show up to support, empower and teach young people how to forge their own path with resilience and determination. We can be generous in the time and advice we give and seek to provide opportunities where we can. The landscape of careers and job seeking is vastly different to that of yesterday, and tomorrow it will have raced even further ahead. Let’s commit to supporting young people in their future, today.

I’m a student and I want more career and gap year information!

Find career inspiration, information and gap year programs at Year13

Explore careers at Skillsroad

Find career and life advice at the Footnotes

I’m not a student but I want to help young people in my community now!

There are various ways to get involved with young people and share your career experience and passions.

  1. Speak in schools to share about your career and industry with students, help broaden their horizons and make informed subject choices, understand the application of their studies and develop a focus.
  2. Host year 11 and 12 students studying your industry in your business or workplace for week-long blocks and show them your passion! Show them what working in that industry is realistically like and help them improve their skills for the future. Learning hands-on skills help young people concentrate better when learning the theory in the classroom.
  3. Provide work experience or a job for young people who lost their way when leaving school. By taking a chance on a young person trying to create their own future after a hard start, you not only inspire confidence and improve self-esteem, but contribute immeasurable value into a young person’s life and their future.

Want to make an impact for young people today?

I want to speak in schools    I want to host students     I want to give someone a fresh start

AusSip hosts Career Speed Networking for Links to Learning program

“If you can do a job that makes you happy, follow it. People are always trying to steer you where they want, but if you’ve got something you’re passionate about it stick with it.” – ITF Volunteer Charles Galayini

On Wednesday 14th of June, 3 volunteers participated in speed career networking with a small group of students from year 9 – 11 in Parramatta. The students are a part of the links-to-learning initiative run by our Inspiring the Future partner the Australia Schools Industry Partnership (AusSIP) and go through a 6-week 1-day a week course that looks at careers, employability skills and building confidence. The students were encouraged to ask questions and find out about the volunteer’s careers and how school informed where they are now.

DSC_0418.jpgVolunteer Candice from Fitted for Work revealed to one group of students that she “never thought community service was an area to work in because no one ever talked about it.” She had to drop out of school due to family struggles and in turn found it difficult to enter the workforce. Candice volunteered for Fitted to Work, however, and due to her initiative and hard work, was asked to take on a paid position when one became available. Now the assistant manager of the Parramatta store, she was able to share with current students her struggles and how she overcame them. DSC_0428

The conversations between volunteers and students flowed freely, each group speaking for 10-15minutes before the volunteers rotated. Architect Edwin Vanegas shared with students that “the best thing about [his] job is that every day is a different day.” His career did not begin as an architect, and his story of hard work to achieve his goals and change his direction was important for the students, as it demonstrates the flexibility of career within our lives.

Many of the student’s questions centred around school and what the volunteers had enjoyed there. Volunteer Charles Galayini shared that “the subjects I hated, like Maths and English, are actually the ones I most use today.”


This pearl of wisdom is one of the most important things that informal career conversations through ITF can provide students, a connection between their current school learning and their future dreams, goals and aspirations.

Are you interested in hosting your own ITF career event? Or maybe you want to volunteer but need more information? Contact us for help or sign up now!


Make me money or make me happy, tips to being a profitable employee

With a multitude of career advice around and young people more concerned than ever about the job market, some advice and practices cut through the noise and make simple and effective sense. For employers, employees are their assets or their liabilities. Any worker has the ability to exceed the expectations or requirements of their role or decrease company productivity and in turn profit with their work or attitude.

What does a profitable and productive employee look like?

Profitable and Productive employees are 5-star employees, who make their employer money or make them happy! This involves time management, problem-solving taking initiative, as well as working hard within the parameters of the role. In order to better understand the power of a 5-star employee, let’s look at 1-star and 3-star employees as well.

1-star Employees

Employees who do the bare minimum and never step outside their specific task or job description are often 1-star employees. 1-star employees can be seen finishing their task and simply waiting to be asked what they’re doing. They generally don’t ask for clarification, but simply sit quietly without action when they don’t understand something or can’t quite recall the instruction. These employees take more time to do things, simply because they do not begin or move between routine tasks with their own initiative.

3-star Employees

After 1-star employees there are 3-star employees. These are employees with more drive, who seek out the next task once they’ve finished one and always ask questions when they’re unsure. 3-star employees will often ask first, try second, as they’re unsure about their own initiative but know things need to get done! 3-star employees are generally good workers that are solid staples in a workplace and provide good work for their employer.

5-star Employees

The top of the rank is 5-star employees. These people take the time to learn while they’re a 3-star employee and quickly move to taking their own initiative and working outside the box. 5-star employees are the most profitable and productive for their employer, as they require little to no intervention to get the job done – especially when it comes to routine tasks. 5-star employees use problem-solving to move through obstacles or anticipate needs, only needing to consult with the manager or employer once they’ve exhausted their own ideas and options.

Much like many career skills, being a 5-star employee can be learnt! Everyone starts at 1 or 3 stars and it’s up to them to be the best they can be in their role. Want to learn how to be a 5-star employee and make your employer money AND make them happy?

Download our free sheet 5 Actionable Steps to Becoming a 5-star employee.