About Clare - USQ Student Blogger

I am nearing the end of studying my Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting. My study is slotted in around my busy lifestyle. I have 3 beautiful daughters – one was only a week old when I started uni! I always make time to hang out with my family and friends - going camping in the great outdoors and heading to the beach. If I could do anything in the world, I would test out all the greatest tourist destinations around the globe. I admire when people are honest, especially when it would be easier to lie. And I hate neighbours with dogs that bark ALL the time, what it up with that?! Don’t they know my baby is asleep and I am trying to study? Seriously, I love my life, people may call it hectic, I call it being happy.

Keep Calm and Graduate…

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So I am finishing my degree at the end of the year… was supposed to be this semester, however I deferred a subject to balance out my life better. Flexible study is one of the reasons I love studying at USQ.

I can’t help but think about next year. Life without uni? What is that? Lol. Do I stay home? Do I stay at my part time job? Do I look for a full time job? So many options.

The past few months, and many more to come have been filled of time spent applying for graduate positions and full time jobs for after I graduate. A hard truth to swallow, going to working full time, after years of balancing family/uni/work.  I can’t decide if the transition from uni to work is going to give me more time, or take up my time?!  All the same, I am excited at the idea of beginning my career in my chosen field (which for me is accounting). It almost feels as though a job offer will be comparable to winning the lotto, being rewarded for all the hard work I have put in to get my degree.

As I think about the job prospects that may be around the corner, I am also looking forward to the perks that come with it. The opportunities to buy a house and live off a full time wage are definitely worth all the effort and all night assignment writing. So I guess thinking about “what’s next” has assisted in keeping me motivated and on track to finish uni on a high. So much to think about!

Even though there is a whole lot to consider over the next 12 months, USQ have been extremely supportive. Offering avenues to apply for grad jobs, explaining what a grad job is (which is a job in your first year as a graduate by the way – usually with added support and training) and assisting with networking by organising career expos and online forums. There is definitely no excuse to not know what to do, where to apply or what my options are.

If I am honest with myself, I still do not know if I will accept a full time job offer next year. Crazy? No, I still have my youngest to think about, she starts prep in 2014, so another year with her, may not be a bad idea. Nonetheless, she has another 6 months of growing up to do. So to be sure not to miss any opportunity, I have applied (for numerous) jobs, and we will see what happens. Who knows I may even decide to stay at USQ forever and do a masters… Whatever the future brings, I know I’ll be ready. Can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

The A to Z of Inspirational Study

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So Semester 1, has turned out quite busier than I expected.  For those of you that have not had a chance to read my previous blogs, I have now added working part time into my lifestyle equation. Which now means I have to figure out a way to balance my university studies, raising 3 children, being a good wife, running a house and working part time. In an effort to stay motivated to stick to my priorities, I have decided follow the trend of filling my home with motivational signs, reminders and sayings.  You know, those ones you can find with cute little sayings on them, or a list of words that work together to remind you of what’s important. I figure, that if something can help to keep you on track and focused, can’t be a bad thing. I enjoy the way a message can be summed up neatly (and memorably) in a sentence or two. Often, these signs are shared with my friends as they walk around my house, leading to a powerful insight of my ideals or create thought provoking conversations.

I want to share some quotes with you. ‘Study/Work/Life Balance’ is an overused term, and can be challenging for so many of us. Of course, the ideal balance between these important elements in our lives is different for everybody – it depends on what is important to us, and this shifts over time.  But the starting point must be deciding what we want it to be, for us, now. Then we can begin taking positive steps towards making it happen. For some of us, that is to study at university, for others, it may be getting that graduate position you want next year, or it could be as simple as wanting to spend more time with the kids.

Some of these quotes are profound, others just make me smile – I hope you enjoy these too. And do let me know your own favourite ‘Study/Work/life Balance’ quotes – to the comments below, so they’re visible for all to enjoy.  If one of these quotes really helps you, then post it in a place where you can see it every day as a reminder.

  • “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.” – David F. Jakielo              
  • “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it.  Establish your priorities and go   to work.” –  H . L. Hunt
  • “Having children really changes your priorities.”  – Cindy Crawford
  • “Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.”   –  Scott Caan
  • “Nobody can go back  & start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

And my favourite!

  • “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” – Lily Tomlin

Remember to check out USQ on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest) as motivational pictures and quotes are posted on a regular basis. They always help to keep me focused, and give me a laugh.

Can’t wait to hear your inspirational quotes!

The light at the end of the tunnel

It is so close now; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Not that I felt I was in a tunnel really, or a dark place. Just a way to say I have nearly completed my Bachelor of Commerce. The end of 2012 ended with a bang for me at the USQ Springfield’s End of Year Ball.

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What now? I ask myself. I had been concerned with the prospect of applying for graduate jobs, or any job for that matter. Who would want to employ me? A busy Mum of 3, mature aged graduate with no real experience in the workforce…  I had no idea where to go for information.

Knowing that I complete my course midway through 2013, the idea that I may not have work until the beginning of 2014 was a reality for me, but I wanted something straight away!

In an attempt to find some direction, I accessed a number of resources I knew were available to me as student at USQ.  I visited Student Services, learnt about Work Integrated Learning (WIL) – which is a range of work-related activities and experiences I could undertake to better prepare myself for future employment, and checked out the career hub that is only accessible by USQ students.

During my research – which was easier than I thought it would be; just a few phone calls, an internet search and going into uni to visit some people – I was given the heads up on a job that was about to be advertised on the career hub that sounded like it may suit my needs. So I applied and waited.  Next thing I know, I have a flexible part time job in an Auditing firm!  If it were not for the support available to me through USQ I would not have known about this fantastic job opportunity.

All I need to do now is ace my last few courses, and I’ll have a head start on my career with more than 6 months industry experience behind me, and a little extra $$$. What a relief it is to know that when you’re in a pickle, or have no direction, there is someone there who is ready to assist and help you find your next step.

My next step is deciding whether to apply for a full time graduate position, or whether to sit tight and learn what I can where I am now and enjoy the flexibility of the job that I have. I don’t think there is one ‘right’ career path for anybody. You just need to take the opportunities as they come, and get as much information you can, before you make any BIG decisions.

So my Christmas, was a very ‘silly season’ indeed. It consisted of your usual Christmas celebrations, a uni course during semester 3, my family, AND my NEW job!!!

My secret skill: Juggling!

The dictionary definition of juggling is:

  • to perform the tricks of a juggler
  • to engage in manipulation especially in order to achieve a desired end
  • to handle or deal with usually several things (as obligations) at one time so as to satisfy often competing requirements

The latter two relate to me. I have mastered the skill to juggle the responsibilities of family life, my full-time university studies, a casual job and my ‘me’ time. This, at times, leads to feeling like the star attraction in my very own ‘family’ circus, and my 3 girls are the ringmasters  ;)

I am sure that I am not the only one out there who feels this way at times, you long for the mid semester break, to have the chance to catch a breath just in the nick of time, only to start back again and sit through long nights of study before end of semester exams. You take a break and it starts all over again, a constant juggling act.

This mid semester break I had the opportunity to travel interstate for a ‘real’ holiday, at my family reunion.  It was a challenge to prepare my assessment early to ensure the time away was really a holiday. But it definitely paid out in the end. I cannot stress how important it is to ensure a good study/family/work balance together with fun and recreation. I think I had forgotten what it felt like to just sit and do nothing, listen to the waves – we were at the beach – and just spend time with the family. I even got a chance to go quad biking on the largest sand dunes in Australia with some of my family. Best fun I have had in ages!

It can be so easy to get caught up in the stresses and deadlines of uni life. However, by keeping on top of things, or when necessary, knowing when to let things go, we can achieve all we need to without missing out on anything.  There are occasions when I don’t get time to do the housework because an assignment is due. If I work late, I’ll order pizza for dinner, and if I have a kids soccer match to attend, I stay up late and study. It all balances out in the end. A bit of give and take, and a lot of quality time with the family is all it takes for me. My eldest daughter Chloe says she’d much prefer that I spend ½ hr doing something with her, then spending half the day in the same room on the laptop working. Quality time, not quantity. I wish I could say the same for work, lol. But there is nothing I can do about the time spent at work. Having said that, there are times I have to turn down a shift to ensure I am there for my family.

Knowing your priorities and planning your time will help you stay in control. I ask myself, is what I am doing now going to matter in the long run? Is it going to make my life easier or more difficult? Does it really matter if the dishes are not done until morning? When necessary, there are things I need to take out of my ‘juggling’ act to make my time as a uni student more successful without hindering my family, work and recreational time. What are some things you could take out of yours, even if only for a short time, to help you through when needed?

My time

Hi, my name is Clare. I am studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a Major in Accounting at the University of Southern Queensland, Springfield campus. As this is my first blog, I thought I’d start by giving you an insight into my week as a Mum, a student, an employee and a volunteer. So you can see just how much you really can achieve, I think you may be quite surprised!

My days start off with the early morning school rush. If I am organised enough, I am up first to get some washing out and housework done, and maybe even fit in a cuppa before the kids start harassing me to do their hair or yell ‘Mum, where are my shoes?’ If I’m really lucky I may even get a morning shower, ha-ha!  Most mornings I do flying solo, as my awesome hubby [Luke] is a registered nurse and he is in and out with shift work.  But my girls know what they need to do, it is the same everyday! Get dressed, brekkie, teeth, hair, shoes and socks, pack their bags, make beds, and get in the car. Below is photo of my 3 beautiful girls [Jennifer, Chloe and Hannah] on our way to school, and judging by the fact their hair is tied up, and their smiles, this would appear to be a successful morning of getting ready for school on time ;)

Once the 2 oldest girls are dropped at school, Hannah either goes to kindy, travels with me to uni, or hangs with Dad. Hannah is so flexible, and has been coming to uni with me, on occasion, since she was just one week old. The University of Southern Queensland has been great with the need I have to bring her, I just needed to fill out a form and arrange permission with each of my lecturers, easy!

During my day I either attend lectures, study, do assignments or housework, and when I can get it, free time for me!!! Each week I put one whole day aside for housework, you know the boring stuff. I also allocate the day after an assignment is due to do something special for me. There are of course other things that pop up, but the key is to be flexible. Sometimes it’s just a case of day swapping. Like if my girlfriends want to catch up on a study day, but I have a free day tomorrow, I swap them around. Below is picture of a typical day studying at home.

Notice the snacks?! I can’t get by without them :)

At 2pm, I am back in the car picking up kids from school, we get home anytime between 4pm – 6pm depending on which after school activity it is that day, sometimes I think my kids have more of a social life than I do!  Once home we start the homework/bring in the washing/dinner/bath/bed routine, which keeps me busy until 7:30pm. This is probably the busiest time in our household, everyone home together trying to get a million things done.  When Luke [my hubby] is home this time of night is much easier for me.

Once the kids are in bed, and I have had some time hanging out with Luke, if he is home, I catch up on the day’s events via the News or Facebook. At this stage I am usually pretty tired. I find that, for me, this is NOT a great time for me to attempt to study or do readings, having said that, my nights are also really busy. Mondays and Wednesdays I try to go for a run when I can. Thursdays I play netball for the USQ Firebirds in the Springfield Lakes comp., and Fridays I volunteer at Shiloh Rangers [like scouts] where I run the high school girls group.  However, every night, whether I go out or not I aim to print tomorrow’s lectures, make the school lunches for the next day, plan tomorrow night’s dinner and check my calendar for any upcoming assignments or bookings I have to make sure I am still on track with everything.  Here is a picture of the calendar in my kitchen. In a place where I can always see it. For some reason it fills up very fast!!!

This all makes me sound VERY organised, but really, when you add in the odd shift at work, a sick child and weekend get together. Life becomes VERY busy indeed. I feel that as long as I keep grounded and take each day at a time, trying to stick to my schedule, I can get it all done and done well. I’d like to finish by giving you some practical tips of ways you can organise yourself better to get the most out of your day.

  1. Get a calendar and use it. No use getting one, and it just looking pretty on the wall!
  2. Plan ahead of time, look at doing a couple of things the day before, like put the washing on at night ready to hang out in the morning, or make school lunches the night before, or planning tomorrow’s dinner.
  3. Get your kids [if you have some!] into a routine, and then you won’t be wasting your time reminding them what they need to be doing. They will feel a sense of accomplishment when they do it all.
  4. Allocate days to study, shop, do housework etc.
  5. Make sure you know that family comes first. If you support them, they will support you [especially when that assignment is due and you have been ignoring them for the last 24hours!]
  6. Don’t talk about getting organised, DO IT!!! You’ll find you have more free time than it looks on paper, and you’ll LOVE IT!

I hope this gives you some motivation to re-organise your busy schedule to make sure you are excelling in ALL areas of your life, whether that be studies, family, work or whatever it is that makes you, you!

If I can do it, you can. Take Care.