From the Director of Planning and Organisation, Career Practitioner & VET Coordinator

Last week, I had the privilege of reconnecting with our Old Girls at two very special events.

On Wednesday afternoon, some of our old girls who are currently studying at University came to speak with our Year 12 girls. Off the back of the girls completing Tertiary applications for 2018, we thought it timely for some recent graduates to share their experiences and advice. The Old Girls came from a range of courses and institutes to share stories of transition from St Catherine’s to tertiary study. Some had immediately taken a gap year following Year 12, some integrated them during their degree, some were on internships, and some had done their degree without any planned break. The ladies talked about the structure of their courses, demands, making friends, living at College, being independent, changing pathways, and all the other opportunities that have availed themselves since leaving School. They provided insight and advice on how to get through the next months in Year 12 exams and inspired the girls to look ahead to what the future holds beyond their ATAR score.

That evening, I then had the privilege of attending a SCOGA networking event. This was an incredible opportunity for our Old Girls to return to the School, share stories and form professional connections with other women in two areas; Design and Construction, and Education.

To form connections, share information, gain insights and contacts is invaluable. We often converse with current students about the importance of networking and making connections so it was lovely to see some recent Year 12 graduates, connecting with other women in the SCOGA network at this inspiring networking event.

I moved between both rooms to hear the conversations from those in Design and Construction and Education respectively. A key theme of discussion at the event was the importance of employability and soft skills. The designers and engineers discussed the importance of listening. To hear, acknowledge and respect the client and their ideas being pivotal. Discussions continued, as they emphasised that the qualifications you obtain from studies do help, but professional success relies on a lot more than just technical knowledge and skills. The women also discussed with one another the importance of teamwork and communication skills, failures, making mistakes and seeking advice. The importance of resilience and bouncing back, when things do not work to plan. A quality we encourage in our current students.

There was a lot of encouragement towards upskilling and making professional connections. The valuable lesson the more experienced SCOGA members spoke about, was the importance of making the most of opportunities to forge relationships with both sponsors and mentors. Mentors can be valuable to help point you in the right direction and sponsors will guide you side by side. The message was, ‘these important professional connections are invaluable.’ The women encouraged each other to do this for and with others in the room.

We heard stories of how to juggle personal commitments with professional aspirations. This led to great discussions about diversity of thought, and issues in the workplace around gender and age imbalances. There was discussion about the importance of having a balance in employment teams and how as women we can add value.

I would like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge and congratulate Phoebe Norman(’95) and the Old Girls’ Association for all their hard work in planning and organising the networking series of events. To the SCOGA network, thank you for being wonderful role models as professional women in industry and our community.

On a high from the inspirational connections, inspiring stories and observing the wonderful bond our Old Girl networking events provide, I would like to extend an invitation for to you to make contact with the Careers team at School. We welcome SCOGA members, parents and members of our School community to share their knowledge and expertise within our programs at School. Your current experience in the workplace is something our students would greatly benefit from, as they look to making decisions about their future.

Mrs Pauline van der Poel, Director of Planning and Organisation, Career Practitioner & VET Coordinator