Kyle Breust sees a lot of his younger self in the high schoolers he spends his days working with, facing tough decisions about the future.
Knowing all too well what it is like to feel confused about his future post-school, the former Kooringal High School student is passionate in helping youth discover what it is they might want to do in life.
"I was a lot like a lot of these kids in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do or what direction I wanted to take - I did seek advice from my careers adviser and I did get some advice but ultimately I didn't really end up following any path," M Breust said.
"I graduated high school and bounced around and did lots of different jobs."
Now, he spends his days helping high school students across Wagga and the Riverina get the guidance and direction they need to succeed
The passionate mentor is one of 12 pathways strategy engagement officers employed by the Department of Education as part of a pilot program to help secondary students carve out what comes next after school.
From securing work experience and apprenticeship opportunities to guiding students towards what subjects to pick to help them with their end career goals, Mr Breust's role is broad and of the utmost importance.
Mr Breust works with 14 schools across the Riverina, mentoring students from years 9 to 12 who have been recommended to him by their school.
The role aims to provide support to career advisers and principals.
"We want to nut out what the student's ideal career path is while they're at school so we can continue to aim towards that," Mr Breust said.
"Whether that's working with a Year 10 student now and identifying that their career path is via university, so we can set them up so they make the correct subject selections through Years 11 and 12, maybe get them some work experience in those fields so they can get some exposure.
"Or, you might get students from Years 10, 11 and 12 who may decide an apprenticeship is the right route from them and then it's the same deal, getting them exposure into that workforce so they can then make that decision if it's something they want to do."
IN OTHER NEWS:
While some people find their calling later on in life, Mr Breust said he believes it is important to offer students these opportunities and support while they are in their later schooling years.
"At the moment we are seeing success in them leaving school and being involved in something positive and meaningful, whatever that is to them," he said.
Mr Breust has been working with students at Kooringal High School and said he has been able to get work experience for two of his students which has come as a great success.
The first is currently completing his work experience in a bid to gain exposure to see if that is the career path he wants to take.
The second has completed a week of work experience and will continue doing work experience one day a week for the rest of the term as he hopes to secure an apprenticeship at the end of the year.
Mr Breust said one of the students had no idea what he wanted to do, but after extensive conversations decided he might be interested in becoming an electrician.
KHS deputy principal Bindee Jobe said Mr Breust's work with the students has been hugely noticeable and greatly appreciated.
"From a school's perspective, focus equals success - if a student has focus, particularly in those later years of school, it ensures their success," she said.
"We're taking students that might not necessarily have that focus or the drive that is going to lead them to success and Kyle has been able to give that to them through those conversations we can't necessarily have because we are time-poor."
Ms Jobe said Mr Breust has been able to get students onto a path and give them a sense of direction during what she says is a critical time.
"Any direction at that critical time in their intellectual and academic development is a direction and direction equals success," she said.
With teachers and career advisers dealing with hundreds of students on a daily basis, Ms Jobe said having Mr Breust has been a blessing.
"The program itself fills a hole that we have had since the new rules came in around children having to stay in schools until 17," she said.
"In the old days, kids were able to be more flexible about leaving school when they were ready, whereas, when the government changed it to 17 we have had pathways that haven't necessarily catered for every kid.
"Having someone who is working with the kids who is knowledgeable about industries in a way that teachers aren't and careers advisers don't have the time to drive in some areas, Kyle's position allows for us to cater for kids who don't fit into the other categories and we make sure every kid is backed, that's our job."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: