From Learning to Earning

With the semester three exam block now underway, I thought I’d take a bit of a side-step and follow on from my previous post. On the last instalment, I shared with you my experiences on summer placement and how it was beneficial in making connections between what I’d learned in university and experiencing it in a practical context.

Besides being able to experience the chosen industry in a practical setting, work experience also provides a great platform for professional development and an opportunity to make some connections with people in the industry. Overall, a big part of work experience, and perhaps the main reason, is having a greater chance of securing employment as a result of the practical experience.

Following a much needed rest and relax over the December holidays, I was lucky enough to be offered a full-time position as a result of completing the work experience program! It has been an extremely exciting time adjusting to the new job; a valuable learning experience and has had its fair share of nerve-wrecking moments.

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With two weeks now passing since I started, I thought I’d focus this blog on the main similarities and differences I’ve found between full-time study and full time work.

  1. Meeting Deadlines – just like managing upcoming assignments, work has its deadlines for when tasks are to fall due.
  2. Working independently – just like university studies, this work is self-paced and working independently of others. Luckily, at USQ students have the benefit of supportive lecturers, student relationship officers and student services for extra guidance and support.
  3. Finding the balance – a struggle every student faces once in a while is striking the right balance between study and life. Work is no different and with full-time hours I’ve found there is even less personal time in each day. Needless to say, this factor will be one I’ll need to work on the most once semester one begins!
  4. Hours of work – although on-campus study may involve up to 12 hours per week of face-to-face classes, the time spent on independent study is not necessarily confined to the traditional nine-to-five working hours.
  5. Money – perhaps the most obvious difference between the two, you are paid to work, whereas you pay to study. While many students (myself included) often grow accustomed to living on a shoe-string budget, university study is a long-term investment and can be the key to scoring that full-time position.

With all this said, I wish all the students in summer semester exams the very best and now the countdown has begun until the start of semester one!

My Summer Job

“The only source of knowledge is experience”

Albert Einstein

With the completion of semester two marking and three full years of university study completed, I was now well over half-way through my double-degree program. As the end of my studies was drawing increasingly closer, I have been searching for opportunities to gain practical experience to support the topics and theories discussed in my courses from semesters past.

Unfortunately, the hard part about trying to find a job/intern position in particular industries, is the fact that most employers desire an employee with industry experience. As a student, we are often faced with the age-old dilemma (as pictured below) to get a job we need experience, but to gain experience, we need a job.

Job Experience

To find a resolution to this dilemma, I contacted a Career Learning Consultant on-campus to see if there were any industry experience or volunteer opportunities available during the summer break. From there I was told of a wonderful opportunity to attain practical experience for my marketing studies, through the business component of my program through enrolling in a work integrated learning course.

Work integrated learning is an opportunity to experience applied aspects of working in a particular industry related to a student’s area of study – enhancing learning through the application of concepts, theories and graduate skills to their set workplace activities. Additionally, the benefit of taking this course lies in the fact that the industry experience imparted through this program will also enhance employment opportunities beyond graduation.

So why should students take up work integrated learning during their university studies? Here are the top five reasons why:

1.  Industry contacts

Networking is a great way to help attain a graduate position after completing university studies. Through undertaking work integrated learning, students work in collaboration with real-world businesses and organisations – granting students regular contact with industry leaders and individuals, with a wealth of experience in their particular field. Through establishing positive contacts with these individuals, there is potential for future employment opportunities with the industry leaders or their organisation for students in their graduate years.

2. Your experience looks good on your resume

Ultimately, employers looking to hire university graduates often look toward the student’s experiences beyond their university study in finding a suitable employee. For this reason, a first-hand experience in the industry has the potential to give a student the upper hand in applying for graduate positions in competing for positions with other university graduates state-wide (and sometimes even nation-wide!).

3.Apply your academic knowledge to industry skills

This is the essence of work integrated learning. By providing an opportunity for students to collaborate with real-world organisations to showcase and apply their acquired knowledge, students are able to experience and practice first-hand the relevance of their studies within their prospective industry.

4. The experience will allow you to narrow down your list of potential career.

Work integrated learning allows students to have a taste of the kind of work, duties and responsibilities required of an individual in a particular industry. Through this, students will have a greater understanding of the industry they are placed in and will therefore be better able to make a judgement on whether they would enjoy a career in their particular industry.

5. Unforgettable life experience

In light of the quote by Albert Einstein above, every experience is an opportunity to expand your knowledge and is therefore another reason why work integrated learning is valuable to the student’s learning.

I am now five weeks into my marketing placement where I am working alongside an advertising agency, putting my knowledge into practice in assisting to deliver particular branding materials to specific organisations – including making taglines, creating content for websites and presenting the agencies vision on how promotions should be targeted and coordinated.

I am very appreciative for this opportunity and cannot wait to see what further experiences it may offer.