WITH THE VCE results out for last year’s Year 12 students, the task of deciding what to do next is on the minds of many young people, particularly those who hope to pursue a tertiary course at University. Seeing what courses are on offer and what their ATAR will enable them to enrol in, will be their priority, sometimes leading to disappointment.
 For Mildura’s James Pictor and Joel McDonald that isn’t a problem, with both 18-year-olds having already set their future career paths in motion during the VCE year.
The two former Mildura Senior College accounting students actually commenced their degrees at La Trobe University last year, having combined those studies with their VCE subjects and already have jobs lined-up with a local accountancy firm, which they will commence soon.
“In year 11, I found that I really liked accounting and my friend Joel and I worked on the subject studies together and decided we would concentrate on that area of study in Year 12 and we took up the VCE Plus Program with La Trobe,” James said.
“That meant that we basically started our Uni course early in Year 12, and did that alongside our other VCE subjects.
 “As soon as we completed the year we applied for positions with local accountancy firms and were successful in that and both start jobs this year at the same firm.”
Throughout last year, James also worked in the Pro Shop at the Mildura Golf Resort and said he will hopefully continue to do that this year.
 “I will be working five days a week at the accountancy firm until Uni starts up again then it will probably be four days, so I will be busy,” James said.
James and his friend Joel are enrolled in the three year Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting degree at La Trobe, after which they intend to become CPA’s and obtain their Certified Practising Accountant Certificate.
James said being able to complete his degree in Mildura is a great thing, which wasn’t always possible.
 “People would say that I would have to go to Melbourne if I wanted to get into the ‘big-league’, but realistically, I like it here in Mildura and I am happy in the town I am in, and I can see the potential for growth in Mildura, so I thought why not stay here and learn my accountancy here and work here at the same time,” he said.
Joel said that despite the disruption caused to the school year by the coronavirus, he hadn’t found it a burden.
“My experience was pretty tame. A lot people found the online learning a bit hard, but I actually found it easier,” he said. 
“I wasn’t too focused on my ATAR, I was originally going to do law, but switched to accounting, which is actually a lower ATAR and I knew I would achieve that, and so in some ways, it was a very relaxed year for me and by the end of the year, because of the extra courses I did at La Trobe, my ATAR requirement was lowered.
“Because we did two subjects last year at La Trobe, this year we will be doing six subjects, rather than the full eight.”
Joel said that in years to come, he may look at starting his own accountancy firm, but for the next five to 10 years, he hopes to learn as much as he can working locally.
 “I want to do my CPA certificate after I complete my Uni course and develop my skills as an accountant in the industry before I branch out,” he said.
Joel had some words of wisdom for the next crop of VCE students. “I think some people focus too much on the academics. You really need to find the balance between the academics and what you want to do – finding that path and direction of where you want to go,” he said.
 “For a long while I knew I wanted to do law, but then I switched to accounting in early Year 11 and had two years of working toward the new direction in which I wanted to go.
I ended up being Dux in accounting for Years 11 and 12 and that cemented my love of accounting and the path I had chosen and I have ended up where I wanted to be.”
Not all young people fresh out of secondary school have all the ducks- in-a-row like James and Joel, who have set a clear path for what they wish to pursue, showing a maturity well beyond their years.
“Yes, we organised it all, we knew what we wanted to do and how to achieve that and so far we are on track for that,” James said.
James also had this advice for students going into their final years at secondary school. “My best advice would be not to stress too much about your Year 11 and 12, just try and figure out where you want to go,” he said.