By:  STEM Contributor
October 27th, 2017

Find your future

Students competing in the Maker Games build an app to help people transition between careers.

Today’s high school and uni students can expect to have many different jobs in their lifetimes. But switching careers and leaping from one industry to another can be a pretty daunting prospect.

This is where Find Your Future comes in.

It’s a prototype careers app built by UNSW Sydney students Fiona Dao, Oliver Dolk, Evelyn Foster, Zoe Marandos, Gaurav Sapre, and Linda Zhang.

The students were taking part in the Maker Games, a new competition run by the School of Engineering at UNSW. Competing teams linked up with industry partners to solve tricky real world problems.

We talked to the students about the Find Your Future app and their experience of the Maker Games.

What gave you the idea for Find Your Future?

Linda: We accepted a challenge from the Commonwealth Bank to use their data for social good. It was a pretty broad challenge. But we’d seen a report from the Foundation for Young Australians which said that young people are going to have 17 jobs and 5 career changes in their lives. And we thought this was a good problem to tackle.

Zoe: So then we did a lot of market research. We interviewed people from Hays Recruitment and Qantas Human Resources. We also spoke to people at UNSW who’d had a career change and asked what led to that.

Fiona: We realized that existing careers sites don’t acknowledge the huge psychological barriers for moving into new industries. That’s where Find Your Future comes in. It helps build confidence that other careers are possible.

How does the Find Your Future app work?

Evelyn: There are three steps to Find Your Future – Inspire, Explore and Plan. Inspire enables users to find case studies of people like themselves who have successfully moved into a new industry. With Explore you can see occupations related to your existing skills, the number of jobs available, salaries, and how many people have already made that same career jump. Then Plan helps you prioritise your different options. It shows the qualifications and soft skills you would need to transition to each job.

So could Find Your Future be used by high school students too?

Linda: Definitely. As students we get told to study one degree and then go out into the world. It’s such bad advice because sometimes that dream job isn’t there. Find Your Future can help individuals see how their apparent dream career might also be related to other careers as well. So if a student wants to be an engineer they might input “Engineer” and think “Wow, even if I don’t become an engineer, the skills might lead me to other careers like finance or healthcare.”

The Find your Future team at the Maker Games showcase event. Left to right: students Oliver Dolk, Gaurav Sapre, Fiona Dao, Zoe Marandos, Evelyn Foster, Linda Zhang. Credit: Quentin Jones

What were the main differences between working on a real world problem and the kind of assignments you’d typically get at uni?

Oliver: At uni, the teachers tend to give the problem to you on a platter. You have datasets that they know will work and if you do the analyses in a certain way you’ll be able to get results. Whereas the data we had was like higgledy piggledy data from the Commonwealth Bank database. It wasn’t designed to solve our problem. So we had to do a lot of cleaning up of the data before we could even start.

Gaurav: Once we’d done this, we came to realise that the Commonwealth Bank data on its own didn’t provide us with answers to all the questions we had. So we got hold of publically available data – Australian Bureau of Statistics data and job adverts from SEEK – and had to integrate it back in to enhance the data that we already had. So there was a lot more emphasis on actually going out and retrieving the data than we’re used to.

And how did you find working with industry partners?

Linda: Commonwealth Bank were amazing. We’ve had data scientists, people in strategy, people in technology who have been able to mentor us through this process. They let us know what data sources are available, and help us build something that is not only feasible but is also marketable and actually uses their data.

So what’s the future for Find Your Future?

Gaurav: I think it has a really bright future because we’re looking at the data in a new way. For example, with the SEEK adverts we’ve mined, we’re looking for trends appearing in the skills the industry is actually looking for. Find Your Future gives people an extremely up to date insight into what skills they should be developing to be successful. That’s not really something you can obtain by just looking on the internet anywhere else.  

Linda: People in the operations and strategy teams at Commonwealth Bank are really excited by what we’ve built and really supportive. So we definitely hope to continue working with them after the competition.

– Jon Brock

Photos by Quentin Jones

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STEM Contributor

Author: STEM Contributor

This article was written by a STEM Contributor for Careers with STEM. To learn more, please visit our contact page.

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