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!

Your Future: Here and Now

By the time you have finished reading this blog, you will know my secret. It’s not a bad secret, or one that is embarrassing. It’s a secret to success. It’s the secret to where I am today, and how I had so much fun getting here. Enjoy :)

It’s coming to that time of year when everything seems to be winding up. It’s nearly the end of semester (or term) and the ties start to get a bit looser, the sun starts to get a bit brighter and you know that the end is in sight. With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, who doesn’t love this time of year?

However it got me thinking, this time last year I was about to take the big leap into the unknown. I was about to finish year 12 and graduate from education as I knew it. I was about to enter a world of freedom, liberty…and working outside the school hours of 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Let’s face it, popular topics among friends included…Will I have a gap year? Will I go straight to uni? Which university will I go to? What do I even want to study? Will I move out of home?

Will I? What if? How come? Huh? Ohh…it’s too hard. What’s on this weekend? :)

However at this point in the year, contrary to my friends, I was hardly stressed at all. I had a little secret up my sleeve! No I wasn’t best friends with the OP fairy, I didn’t have enough money to purchase a degree off eBay, and I didn’t have a double identity known as Miley Cyrus.

Mine was a little secret I like to call…(drumroll)…The USQ Head Start Program.

Ohh, great secret Amanda, how is that meant to help me face life-after-schoolies? Well, I am going to tell you how.

I completed a USQ Head Start program between the summer holidays of year 11 and 12, studying Accounting for Decision making. I chose this semester because it DIDN’T EVEN IMPACT ON MY SCHOOL STUDIES!! (#winningatlife). What else is great is that I ended up getting a High Distinction in the subject!

However I am sure you all want to know why this program is a secret to success. My Head Start course was my secret weapon to my success in three ways:

Number One: Graduating from high-school with a future

At the end of year 12, when my friends were worrying about applying for university and hoping they would get in, I was sitting back and having a nice glass of satisfaction. By completing my Head Start course the year before, I had guaranteed myself entry into my degree (providing I met the pre-requisites), guaranteed myself a place at USQ, knew that I could move out of home and pay pretty cheap rent/expenses (and move back in for the night when I was sick of 2-minute noodles).

For me, this was great. I could graduate from high-school knowing that by putting in a bit of extra effort earlier, it set me up for life in a lot of areas. I even only put one preference on my QTAC application: Bachelor of Business at USQ (Shh don’t tell my guidance officer!).

#beingprepared

Number Two: Bragging rights!

I’m going to be honest with you; it does feel pretty good (even now) to say, “Yeah, you know, I started studying my university degree while I was still in high-school. They paid the fees for me too. What of it?”

Okay, so I may have been a bit more humble in reality. However I’m not just talking about bragging rights to your friends, the completion of a Head Start course looks great on a resume and scholarship application!! So:

  • Bragging rights to friends/ teachers/family (obviously for pure gratification)
  • An awesome point for a resume – shows motivation, dedication and commitment. I always put the completion of Head Start as a key point on my resume. It not only shows that you were able to actually handle the work load, but it shows you took the initiative to do something extra. This could lead to work experience and a potential career. In many cases I have seen it become the foot in the door to the student’s future.
  • Looks amazing on a scholarship application = possible free money. When you apply for a scholarship at USQ, putting the completion of a Head Start course looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! It shows you are interested in studying at USQ, and it proves you are above and beyond others of your grade.

#lookinggoodbecauseyoureworthit

Number Three: It helped me chose my career…in a rather unexpected fashion.

I was very ambitious in high-school (cough cough). I wanted to earn lots of money. I wanted to wear branded business clothes, and perhaps stylish glasses that only actually contained clear lenses. I wanted to own a big house and holiday at lavish islands. I wanted to be able to work anywhere in the world. And I figured the best way to earn money was to work with money. So I wanted to be an accountant. Hence, I decided to study accounting as a Head Start course.

Ohh, was I in for a shock. Apparently (even though accounting and economics are the only business courses offered at school) there are sooooooo many more courses offered at uni. There was marketing, public relations, HR, tourism, events management, GRAPE AND WINE PRODUCTION, etc.! What’s even better is that with a USQ degree, I could be earning lots of money, wearing branded business outfits and work anywhere in the world with any degree!  So I could actually choose a real degree, for me, with real career prospects.

Through doing the Head Start program, it opened my eyes to what the world really has to offer. Amazing lecturers, amazing careers, amazing research, amazing stories and an amazing degree.  In Year 11, I knew I was part of something much bigger than myself, by school, my city and my country. It felt pretty cool :)

#openingdoorstotheworld

So as I reflect on where I was this time last year, and think of all of those battling through your high-school years, I do have some advice:

#beingprepared

#lookinggoodbecauseyoureworthit

#openingdoorstotheworld

These three points sum up what anybody in year 10, 11 and 12 should be doing right now and in the near future. In fact, anyone of any age that can learn from these things:

#beingprepared– it makes everything so much easier and gives you time to enjoy the good things in life.

#lookinggoodbecauseyourworthit – never underestimate yourself because it pays off to look good to the right people.

#openingdoorstotheworld  – possibilities are endless, so why not open the door if there is something great waiting for you on the other side.

For me, these three things are what the Head Start program is aimed at. And for hundreds of students each year, this is what the Head Start program delivers to them.

Don’t wait: your future is here and now.

I didn’t wait: and I can look back and say that I am living my dream.