Legal Studies, Chinese –Mandarin, English as an Additional, Humanities
Policy Manager at the Department of Education (Victoria)
My name is Jun Zhang.
I’m from cohort 2014.
My placement school was Charles La Trobe Prep to 12 College
and my subject areas were legal studies, Chinese Mandarin,
English as an additional language and humanities.
And now I am a policy manager
at the Department of Education and Training in Victoria.
I never intended to be a teacher until I found TFA.
So didn’t really choose TFA over other pathways of teaching.
I think if it wasn’t for TFA,
I would’ve never become a teacher.
Prior to joining TFA I studied law at university
and completely clerkships with corporate law firms.
I very quickly realized that corporate law wasn’t for me.
I then moved over to Switzerland
and did an internship
at the United Nations Human Rights Council
and was quite excited about becoming a diplomat,
but then also quite quickly realized
that I would be so far away from on the ground
and having a real impact on real people
and then I found TFA and that was history.
The reason why I applied for Teach For Australia
was because I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful
and impactful with my life and when I found out about TFA
I really liked the fact that it was something
where I could work with children.
It was something that I could work towards a bigger goal
of systemic change and impact
and it was an opportunity for me
to be part of a community of like-minded people.
So the most valuable skill that I developed during TFA
was definitely problem solving in small, big, medium sizes.
Every day as a teacher
I constantly encountered different problems.
It really got me into the habit of actually being able
to stay calm when something goes wrong
and being able to think of different solutions
and different ways of approaching a problem.
So the most challenging aspect of TFA
was probably also the most wonderful bit of TFA
was working with children.
I think young people are so diverse
and especially in the context that we worked in.
They had so many things going on in their lives
and it was both a privilege
to be able to work and help them with those things,
but at the same time,
they were really emotionally challenging for us as well.
Jun wanted to do something meaningful and impactful in his life. Originally from Brisbane, he was considering his career options in law and diplomacy. Teaching wasn’t on his list until he learned about Teach For Australia.
“I never intended to be a teacher until I found Teach For Australia, where I could work towards a bigger goal of systemic change and impact,” he says.
“My placement was in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. My school was very multicultural and diverse which made the place really interesting. I had a wonderful experience at my school and loved working with all the different type of students as well as interacting with the different parents.”
“I learnt that I was quite capable of adapting to situations quickly and that I could lead. It really set up an orientation in myself that I could do anything and helped me to apply for my senior positions after the Leadership Development Program.”
Jun is now a Policy Manager at the Department of Education in Victoria, committed to a vision of an Australia where all children, regardless of background, achieve an excellent education.
“I know that to address educational inequity, it requires multiple players in multiple sectors. But the thing I miss about teaching is interacting with young people each day and helping them grow and learn.”