The best years of your life

Three IGS graduates shared inspiring details of their study and career journeys with senior students and their parents earlier this week.

In keeping with the School’s value of connectedness, IGS hosted the Alumni Panel Breakfast to give students and parents the opportunity to learn more about various pathways students can follow after school.

The exciting panel of speakers included Human Rights Lawyer Ella Kucharova (2003), CHOICE Campaign and Policy Team Lead Katinka Day (2005) and The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Political and Economics Correspondent Eryk Bagshaw (2007).

For students, the forum provided supportive advice for the HSC voyage ahead.

“When you get to university, you don’t have anyone telling you to be on time or do your homework, so the discipline skills you build up now are really key,” Eryk said. “Talk to your teachers because they are here to support you, and then when you leave IGS work hard and take advantage of every opportunity.”

Eryk also encouraged students to enjoy the experiences that emerge, and find their own passions.

“My advice is do the subjects you love, and have fun. Get lost, get found, be a teenager,” he said. “These really are the best years of your life.”

Eryk discussed the competitive Australian employment landscape, and keys to making yourself stand out.

“Get comfortable with being on the phone and call people, because people like talking directly to people,” he said. “Be keen, enthusiastic and driven.”

IGS is a local school with a global perspective. Ella reinforced this as she shared some worldly experiences of her own, and said that students should make the most of the special times with their friends now, while they can.


“IGS is such a diverse school and because when students finish they are fluent in another language, it encourages them to go out and explore the world,” she said. “So make the most of your time seeing your friends each day before you all go out into the world.”

Eryk shared Ella’s view. “This is a globally focused school which teaches you to take advantage of the world, so explore it, but really enjoy the closeness of the school while you’re still in it,” he said.

For parents, the forum created opportunities to gain further insight into an understanding that every young person has a different journey.

“There are so many different universities these days with great offerings, so students shouldn’t feel compelled to study at just the traditionally well-renowned institutions,” Katinka said.

“Be open to a range of opportunities and universities. 

“My advice is if you don’t know what you want to do, just gravitate toward things you like and this will lead you on the right path.”

The speakers reflected on their own HSC experiences, and their journeys beyond the walls of IGS.

“I set my heart on Law School and pursued this goal quite obsessively, terrorising my household in the pursuit of my HSC success,” Ella said.

“I didn’t actually get the marks that I needed, and with that a lot of things came crumbling down,” she said. “I didn’t look at the different ways of getting in. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough.”

For Ella, a backpacking trip around Europe provided some perspective on life.

“Luckily I had a really special group of friends who dragged me on a European adventure and this provided me with some much needed perspective on my life,” she said.

Like Ella, Katinka also explained that she didn’t get the HSC marks to get into the course she had chosen, however both women succeeded in transferring into their desired courses.

After graduating, Katinka began actively seeking internship opportunities to “get her foot in the door”.

“I had no idea which direction to go, so I started directly contacting people for internships, which led to some great jobs,” she said.

During the Q&A that followed, Principal Shauna Colnan asked what advice each panellist would offer to their 17-year-old self, knowing what they know now.

All agreed that they would tell themselves to “enjoy the ride” and know that “everything will be OK”.

“If you have a goal, you will get there eventually,” Eryk said. “Always be honest with yourself.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Katinka said. “Yes, it is stressful, but there are so many pathways if you don’t get the marks that you want.”

“So many people told me to relax, but I didn’t listen,” Ella said. “Just ride it out, keep your goals in perspective but don’t beat yourself up, and definitely enjoy this time with your friends.”