We talk a lot about how valuable getting work experience is for university students, and how it can set you apart in a sea of people who have completed the same degree. But, we understand that not all university students are in the same position financially, and some have different commitments to others. So, sometimes it can be difficult to take on unpaid work experience alongside a busy lifestyle and studies.
What gets in the way
With the three most common expenses for students being rent/board, car/transport and day-to-day costs, paid work can often take precedence – and that’s totally understandable.
- Some students may also experience a heavy study load alongside part-time/casual employment, therefore they’re restricted on the number of hours they can dedicate to unpaid internships or volunteer work.
- Perhaps you’re on a student visa from overseas and you’re paying your university fees upfront – this can be stressful enough.
- You might have kids, parents, or siblings to look after, limiting any spare time.
- Or, you’re eligible for extra income from Centrelink but the payments just aren’t enough to allow for extra transport, work clothing, and lunch costs.
Below are some alternative ways towards graduate employment:
Focus on your academic results and university/industry networks. Find out as much as you can about specific organisations of interest and take every opportunity to connect with their people.
Create a strong LinkedIn profile that showcases the organisations you are interested in working for and demonstrates your eagerness to enter the industry.
Partner up with a mentor to help guide your understanding of the industry. This could be a lecturer or tutor from your degree, or it could be someone from an organisation you’re interested in working for. Building relationships within industry networks can be really valuable later down the track – especially when it comes to using referees for job applications and you need someone to vouch for your passion and competency. They could also, very well, lead to you to your first graduate role.
Join a student club on campus. This could require as little as an hour of your time per week, and quite possibly be in between classes. You could look to harness opportunities to revamp a club’s website if you’re a creative major, or manage the petty cash and accounts if you’re from a finance background. These experiences will prove invaluable at interview when employers are evaluating you on practical skills.
Connect with your professional association(s). Student fees for joining professional associations are often affordable and sometimes free. You can attend events, seek out mentors, keep up-to-date or even get involved as a student ambassador.
Engage in online webinars within your industry to expand your knowledge in your field. These are opportunities that you can take advantage of whilst at home or in transit on the train. Listen in on lectures given by industry leaders on current trends, and comment your opinions and questions after the live stream. This will give you chance to talk with other like-minded people and later lead to strong working relationships.
Have an interesting start-up idea and thinking about going out on your own? You could look into the Curtin Accelerate program to get your venture off the ground. You’ll get support and mentorship to commercialise your idea during this free ten-week program;with access to key industry contacts and networks, including commercialisation experts, investors and potential partners. All you have to do is pitch your innovative idea online to a panel of judges – Applications are now open for the 2018 program.
In order to give yourself the best possible opportunity of securing a job after graduation, that not only meets your expectations but rewards you for all your hard work at university, you could attend the Graduate Gateway series. This series runs this week, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 November, with repeat sessions on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 December. It’s free for Curtin students, and you can attend the whole series or pick and choose the workshops that suit you.