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The future of work experience

A women using a laptop in a cafe, looking happy

Work experience 2.0 is here – and it’s even more accessible, high-tech and enriching than you’d think

If you’re in Year 10 – or about to be – chances are that organising a week of work experience is up there on your already epic to-do list. And if you don’t live in a major city? Consider it double the mission – with inspiring and willing STEM employers few and far between. 

Enter The Tech Explorer Program, an initiative championed by job simulation company Forage and Commonwealth Bank (CBA) which makes WEFH (work experience from home) a real and very welcome alternative to traditional placements. 

“We realised that there was a win-win model that could have a huge impact on the confidence of students, while also benefitting companies,” explains co-founder Pasha Rayan. 

“And because our mission has always been to reach diverse students from as many different backgrounds as possible, we really wanted it to be open access and free so there were no barriers at all into these really cool careers.” 

​​Working 9ish to 5ish 

The Tech Explorer internships are set up similarly to the old-school model, in that you gain hands-on experience observing how a company such as CBA runs, and tackle real-world tasks that would be required in the role.

The major difference? You can do it in your own time, log in from anywhere and still access what you’ve learnt once the week has wrapped. 

And with tech careers making up 10 of 2023’s most in-demand roles, CBA’s tailored modules in software engineering, data science and cyber security will set you up for the future – the perfect fit for high school students looking to deep dive into highly specialised and employable skill sets. 

“It’s given me practical and realistic expectations as to what it would really be like to work there,” says one student. 

The evolution of work experience

Hunt for a complying employerClick of a button and you’re in
Stress about timingFlexibility to log in any time
Travel into workplace Ability to complete from home
Spend time trying to memorise everything you learntAccess to materials after work experience is over 
Get as participation certificateAdd the qualification to your LinkedIn or CV 

Accessibility perks 

Keen to sign up and see what it’s like to work in tech at a bank? Chat to your careers advisor and express your interest online. One of the major advantages of virtual work experience and internships is that more than one or two students can be hosted at a time, which means less FOMO as placements start to fill up – the more, the merrier.

Work flexibly

Keen to get into tech? Thanks to CBA’s tech hubs, regional applicants are urged to apply.

Gone are the days when tech jobs were exclusively reserved for graduates in capital cities. Thanks to CBA’s tech hubs and flexible work options, students in remote and regional areas now have the same access to work experience, internships and networking opportunities as their city counterparts – which means more exposure to diverse STEM pathways and the confidence to apply for future-focused careers.

“The most exciting thing is that students can study locally in their home states and then go straight into a great technology career,” says CBA’s senior manager of tech hubs Sabina Streatfeild. “We’re helping people build brighter futures without having to move away from their friends and family.”

Geared toward supporting the expansion of Australia’s IT community and skills, tech hub-endorsed gigs include a range of maths and data placements – think: cloud computing, data analytics and software engineering.

And, yep, you can bank on your high school STEM skills helping you out.

Mission possible

With tech careers making up Australia’s most in-demand occupations – over 1.2 million people are expected to be working in the sector by 2030 – it’s no surprise that getting fluent in digital everything is a seriously smart career move.

And the fact that fresh tech is constantly evolving means employers are seeking out diverse teams of experts – skilled in everything from machine learning to the metaverse – to help navigate the inevitable changes.

Bank on it

CBA’s tech hubs are a reaction to industry demand – making next-gen careers accessible
to all through graduate programs and integrated work placements.

A win-win for both employers and fresh grads, CBA has teamed up with major unis and TAFEs to provide on-the-job placements to regional grads who otherwise may have missed out – future engineers, cyber specialists and data scientists.

And, with the Tech Council’s goal of making 170,000 fresh tech hires by 2030 – and upskilling or reskilling 300,000 more – it’s safe to say there’s no shortage of demand.

This article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data . For more on STEM careers, subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up to our e-newsletter.

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