Encouraging Young People to Find Their Passion

The most dreaded question that any high school student repeatedly gets asked is: “What are you going to do next year?”. If they answer back with “I’m not sure”, the follow-up question is normally – “Well, what are your passions? What do you enjoy doing?”.

The problem with this line of questioning is, however, what happens if the young person doesn’t know what their passion is yet? When you were 17, had you found your passion that was going to “direct” your life? In most cases, we are going to assume the answer to that question is no.

The number one thing that we have found when talking to young people who don’t know what direction to take their next step in life or haven’t discovered their passion yet, is that no one has actually given them a framework for them to find that thing (and we would argue that there are multiple ‘things’!) that they are passionate about.

So with that in mind, here are four steps and frameworks that we can teach to help young people find their passions.

Taste. Taste. Taste. Taste EVERYTHING!

You can’t steer a parked car! And you definitely aren’t going to begin the journey of unlocking your passions without building some momentum. Your NUMBER ONE TASK as a young person is to try, experience, and be involved in as much as you possibly can be.

You’re not going to know what you love, what you’re good at, or even what you don’t like without trying and experiencing things firsthand! Through experience and “tasting”, the opportunities that are out there you will not only learn a range of new skills – you will also begin to understand what makes you come alive.

A couple years ago, our CEO found himself sitting next to the CEO of SuperBowl XLVII and asked him the question “When you hire new staff what is the number one thing that you look for?” His response has vividly stuck with us since. Without hesitation, he replied that the number one thing he looks for when he hires new staff is that they have tried and experienced many jobs and career directions as it shows they will have an invaluable set of skills that sets them apart.

What are your foundations?

When was the last time that you sat down and looked at your values? Most young people that Burn Bright comes across have never really sat down and evaluated the most fundamental thing that makes them, them. Everyone possesses a set of values, all in a unique order and of a unique priority.

For us to begin and look to find what passions we want to follow or the life direction we’d like to take, we need to look at the things that we hold most dear and of most importance to us.

Your values = your foundation.

Take a look at what makes you angry or frustrated.

The number one question that we were asked when trying to figure out what we were passionate about was, “What are your strengths?”. Whilst that question is valuable, the question we often forget to think about is: “What makes you angry or frustrated? What is the thing that makes you think ‘somebody should really do something about that?’ or ‘I could do such a better job at doing that!’.”

Not everything that makes you angry or frustrates you is going to be the answer, but looking at the things that evoke emotion can also be incredibly enlightening.

Know there isn’t just one answer.

Research tells us that the average person by the time they reach the age of 40 will have held between 12-15 jobs and I would argue by the time a young person today reaches 40 that number could even be higher! We now live in a world where you can make a living by having a Youtube channel talking about jelly beans and that reality has only come around in the last 10 years.

You will experience and have the opportunity to create a life of your choosing, and to know that at any point in time you can change direction with endless opportunities should be freeing! We no longer live in a world where we are completely bound by yesterday’s decisions and where we don’t need to have all the answers by tomorrow.

Try everything that you can. Examine your values. Explore what evokes your emotion. Know that if you mess it all up, you can start all over again.

P.s If you’re reading this to find the golden bullet for finding your passion, remember – the questioning process is far more important than having the answer.



Continue your student’s leadership or wellbeing journey with our digital programs. Specifically designed to be flexibly implemented into your wellbeing or leadership programs, these courses can be completed at any time in any place, providing a self-paced option for students to explore in class or on their own. These modules include individual student logins, a teacher dashboard to track student progress and lesson plans with follow up face to face resources.

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Facilitator in Laptop Screen

I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.

Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.

I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we” 

I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’. 

The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.

I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.

Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.

Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.



Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.

When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.

I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.

From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.

Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.

My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.

Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.

I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.

Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.

Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?

I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.











Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.

I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.

I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.

The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.