Why I chose to study my degree

With so many options out there, it can be a little daunting when trying to decide which degree to take on. From philosophy to mechanical engineering, or even baking technology management or puppetry (yes, those are actual degrees!), there’s a multitude of possibilities that can ‘wow’ you about almost anything you might wish to learn more about. If I could impart just one piece of advice though, it would be to choose to study something that you’re truly passionate about. Of course there are other considerations (such as employment prospects and potential salary post-degree), but if you consider all of that and ensure that your chosen degree aligns with something you’re passionate about, you really can’t go wrong.

Read the full article here: http://www.usq.edu.au/SocialHub/study-work/2015/04/jodie-why-i-chose-my-degree

How to overcome a workplace that doesn’t support study

It can be hard enough keeping up with your coursework, let alone trying to juggle work as well. But what do you do if your workplace doesn’t support your study? You may not be able to change the situation completely, but chances are that there’s a couple of things you can do to make life a little bit easier, and that’s what this blog post is all about.

Read the full article here: http://social.usq.edu.au/study-work/2015/03/jodie-support-study

You vs. Your BFFL. Dealing with peer competition: how to maintain friendships when competing for jobs or grades.

Ever since we were little, we’ve been taught that we’re all in competition with each other. In primary school we were given awards for the best macaroni necklace and in high school biology we learned about survival of the fittest.

So naturally, we’re inclined to become jealous of one another if we feel that they’re in the way of what we want.

This is ESPECIALLY not cool if the person in your way is your mate.

The great thing about going to university is that you get to hang out with like-minded people who are working towards the same or similar goals as you. However, this also means you’ll probably be competing against them to get a high grade or, eventually, a job.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

‘Eliza,’ you’re saying. ‘You’re so self-confident and well adjusted, you’d never get jealous of your mates… would you?’

Well guys, this will come as a massive shock to you, but I too have, from time to time, become jealous of my uni mates.

For what it's worth, we're all crazy

No matter what you’re studying, you’re probably going to go through an assignment situation where you have to compete for roles: project manager, group leader etc… In the media program, we have to compete against each other for our desired role when making films.

While this is a fantastic exercise because it’s how job selection usually happens in ‘the real world’, it’s also pretty awful. In the media program, every student has to stand up in front of the class and explain why they’re better than their friends at performing a particular role.


After going through this a few times during my degree, I’ve developed a couple of ways to deal with competing against my mates.

First of all, try to keep the competition as professional as possible.

Remember that your friend is probably feeling just as uncomfortable competing against you as you are competing against them. Try to leave the competing in the classroom or interview room; once you’re outside the situation, try to focus on more positive aspects of your friendship. Also, avoid making personal attacks about your mate and focus more on how well you can do the job.

Keep in mind that if your friend gets the job you wanted, you will have gained an awesome contact in your desired industry, which could come in handy in the future.

The second thing to remember is that you are unique. You are one of a kind and you have different talents and skills to your friends.

you are unique - use this to your advantageGoing back to our high school ‘survival of the fittest’ lessons, we were taught that animals are in constant competition in order to uh… avoid ‘going to the farm’. However, another survival tactic animals have is to adapt and find their niche in order to contribute to the world order in their own special way. You can do this too! You just need to find out what you’re special talent is and how you can contribute to the working world order.
A good way to find out where your talents lie are in your grades; while your mate might get distinctions in the communication subjects, you might be better at research and therefore do better in analysis subjects. This could lead to a career in research. Sometimes our talents surprise us, and if this is the case, you might not be sure how they will help your career.

I’m really bad at most sports and I’m not very academic (seriously, if someone can explain long division to me I’ll give you my first-born), BUT I can talk under wet cement and I love questioning everything. While my skills weren’t appreciated too much at school, once I started studying media and journalism at uni I WAS IN MY ELEMENT.
This was because I had found my niche, my groove.

Once you’ve found your groove you can use this as a selling point when you have to compete against your friends. When you’re in an interview or doing an assignment, focus on your unique skills instead of comparing yourself to your friends.

Competition is a fact of life, but when it comes to competing with your friends try not to take it personally. Remember that you’re all just trying to survive in this sometimes brutal world and in the end your mates will be there to support you and help you out when possible.

To quote that one girl from Mean Girls, ‘I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and we could all eat a piece and be happy’.

But that’s not how the world works unfortunately, so just focus on why you’re awesome and you’ll find that trying to get a job or a good grade won’t be as painful as Year 11 biology class.

Work it! Applying yourself at work

So I was thinking.

Working can be seen as very similar to working out. A job and a workout have some nice similarities.

And I realised that, with semester soon to be finished, some of us might be working a little bit more, especially if we aren’t doing any subjects over Semester 3. So perhaps it would be a good idea to write a blog about how we can try and maintain that work-life balance and apply ourselves a bit more at our jobs.

Probably just like I could apply myself to working out a bit more than I have been.

For example, sometimes you don’t want to work out, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I actually haven’t been to my gym in months and this saddens me. Gym memberships aren’t cheap. And it appears as though I’m working to not work out. Ironic.

I find that work is all about balance. We don’t want to work all day, every day, with no light on the horizon such as a night out with friends or a romantic date with a special friend. Similarly, after a hectic day working on your legs, you don’t want to go back to gym early the next day. Instead, we’d prefer to have a sleep in. Relax a little. We never want to exhaust ourselves, whether at work or at the gym.

It's a balancing act

On the other hand, we do need to workout at least a little bit. We don’t want to finish the semester, with beach season on the horizon, and feel quite lacklustre about the whole thing. We need to make sure we work and have some money coming in so that we can afford the many social endeavours we have to look forward to once semester is over!

keep calm and party

For, you see, I feel as though it’s very difficult to have one without the other. I believe it is quite necessary to push ourselves at our job, so that we can go and enjoy ourselves afterwards. And we make that enjoyment all the sweeter due to the hard effort we put in earlier. That, of course, is not only true for work but for study as well.

But, sometimes it is hard to find that motivation to push ourselves at work, so I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’ve been able to do it in my own workplaces:

  • Stay happy! Everybody enjoys a fun workplace, and none of your co-workers will want to be around you if you constantly complain about your job or other things.
  • Be energetic and upbeat. I find being energetic at work makes me enjoy it more than if I’m being lacklustre.
  • Enjoy the little things. When there is something about your job that you do enjoy, make sure that you savour it and enjoy the moment.
  • Try to have a good relationship with your co-workers. Nothing is worse than working with people you can’t have a conversation with.

What are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated at work?

How my study is like a dinner party

So I feel as though I’m right in the middle of an extravagant dinner party right now and it’s been going on for about a few weeks. Why, you might ask? Well.

  •          I’m currently completing my 3rd year of my psychology (honours) degree. And,
  •          I am doing this full time – so I’m completing 4 subjects. And,
  •          Adding on top of this the 3 casual jobs that I am involved in. And!
  •          I am currently undergoing work placement at Lifeline as a phone crisis supporter (which is the new job name for a phone counsellor).

Pretty cool, right? However, you may ask: ‘Nick, how do you do it? How are you surviving?!’ Well.

It’s not actually all that bad. In fact, I feel as though I’m kind of at a dinner party. I’m really enjoying it all. I’m really enjoying all of the subjects that I am involved in (some of which are actually really, super-duper cool). I enjoy my casual jobs and work placement for lifeline is surreal.

It’s kind of like… I’m at the table, and there is so much awesome food there that I just am not sure how to approach it. A little bit of this, a little bit of that? Or do I grab a great big slab of that delicious looking mud cake? But what if I run out of time/room in my belly? Oh wait a second… maybe I do want to try that octopus over there… Surely it would taste good, right? I am a huge fan of calamari and a bit of an adventure-seeker. Or perhaps the mud cake first…

So there are kind of a lot of different foods to eat. A lot of new food that I haven’t experienced before. A lot of people around me who are interested in how I’m going and what I’m doing. So yeah, there’s a lot. I’m busy, but it’s a good busy. A happy busy.

On top of it all, I try to go to gym, stay healthy, and also maintain a dignified social life instead of becoming a reclusive hermit.

blog 1

No, the other type of hermit…

Blog 2 - a field guide to procrastinators.jpg

Yes, that’s better.

And no. I can’t grow a beard that fabulous. Yet.

I get through it all though (at least I normally do) and I do it with quite a bit of aplomb.

The work placement at Lifeline is pretty much the main course for me right now. It’s the big juicy roast sitting right smack-bang in the middle of the table looking a million dollars. And it is the main reason I’m writing to all my fine readers today, actually. I’m sure some of you have gone through some sort of work placement in your lives, but for those who haven’t (or haven’t done it for uni), I thought I’d give you a run down on how it goes.

The university organised it all for me, which is spectacular. They got me into contact with Lifeline and started the whole process off. I basically walked into the door for the first day of training without having organised a thing. Pretty great.

I went through a few weeks of training (about two days a week) to gain a proper understanding of how to take calls, how to communicate with the callers, and how to relieve their distress. Throughout the training, I got to observe one of my supervisors taking real calls on the phone, which was a great learning experience.

I finished the training, and have now had 3 shifts on the phones talking to anyone who needs help. It’s been a valuable learning experience already and I’ve enjoyed it beyond my 32wildest expectations. Yes, it has been very difficult and challenging for me, but it’s been a good difficult and challenging.

I’ve taken calls about suicide, mental health issues, family and relationship issues and many other difficulties in people’s lives. It’s amazing to be in the human services work place environment – it’s a great experience for me and I know it will be an invaluable experience.

Until next time!

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.


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!

The Facts and Myths about University Life!

Is it true that university lecturers don’t actually mind if you sleep through their lecture? Can university assignments really be handed in at midnight? Is it true that there are different clubs students can be involved in? Is there really such a thing as a 24 hour library? Are all university students poor? Do all first year students gain 15kgs? But most importantly, is university life fun?

All these questions and more will be answered in this mythbusting blog!


Three years of study completed, one more semester to go and then I’m done and dusted! My occupation will no longer be classified as ‘Student’, but as ‘Registered Nurse’. What a roller-coaster ride my university experience has been…there have been lots of ups and downs.

I will start with the ‘downs’, these moments are just like falling from the Giant Drop at Dream World. The first 6 months of my study was completed at a university in Brisbane and I lived on-campus as a college student. It is true that I gained weight in the first 6 months of my degree (fresher spread they call it). I was experiencing ‘culture shock’- Brisbane is very different from Hervey Bay and I missed my family. I comforted myself with chocolate and I always gave in to the yummy desserts that the college’s chef cooked. I would advise all first year students to say NO to that chocolate bar, but YES to going for a run or bike ride! It is surprisingly true that people sleep through their lectures without their lecturer knowing. In large Brisbane universities there are up to 500 students in some lecture theatres. I suggest you find a friend that is studious and will pinch you on the arm if you start to drift off to sleep or daydream. I was studying a science degree and HATED it, so the best suggestion I can give to any uni student is to study something you enjoy! A great thing about studying in the city is that there are over 100 different social clubs to join…from the chess club to the athletics club.

Don’t let my first experience of uni life in Brisbane put you off…I just wasn’t ready to hit the big smoke!

The ‘ups’ to my uni life is just like the Superman ride at Movie World where you’d like to do it again and again. The last 2 ½ years of my study have been at USQ, studying nursing. Moving back to Hervey Bay to study nursing was the best decision I have ever made. USQ Fraser Coast Campus is such a great uni; you can get to know all your peers and your lecturers at a more personal level. The only down side is you can’t sleep through your lectures because the class sizes are a lot smaller and your teacher will hear you snoring. In reality the smaller class sizes are great; you are forced to stay awake and listen to exam content plus you can ask questions without 500 other eyes looking at you!

blog1Most assignments are to be submitted online by midnight (great for all those last minute assignment stress bunnies)! The student library at the Fraser Coast Campus this year underwent a huge refurbishment – it is now such a vibrant, fun place to study. Even better, the library is open to all USQ students 24 hours a day.



blog2Uni students aren’t always poor. We may not be the richest of people, but we learn to manage by applying for scholarships and bursaries. Part-time work is also an option and has been manageable for me personally. It’s always good to earn some extra spending money for those much needed shopping sprees!



blog2Uni isn’t always just about study. The Student Representative Committee (SRC) at the USQ Fraser Coast Campus in 2013 held many fun events. I attended their bowling night which was great fun to interact with new people and to win cool prizes! The SRC finished with a bang this year by holding a Gala Dinner with a 2 course meal, live entertainment and prizes to be won. Goes to show that uni doesn’t have to be about studying 24/7, but about having fun while you are doing it!

All in all, university is a lot better than what I thought it would be. I thought it would be really hard and scary! Thankfully it is nothing like that; with fun people, great job opportunities and more contact with lecturers means you can make friends of all ages. I have made friends for life! All of the staff want to see you do your very best and enjoy every moment…embrace it! I have loved being a university student and would do it again in the blink of an eye.

This blog has officially been busted! Keep an eye out for me in the future, I have thought about starting a new blog in 2014 as a graduate nurse. Thank you for reading my blogs this year, I have enjoyed writing them and sharing my knowledge.


All the best,

Kara :)

Surviving semester, one movie at a time

Have you ever wished life was more like movies? I most definitely have! As a lover of superhero and sci-fi movies, I am envious of the superpowers, magical items and abilities which are used to overcome adversity and save the day. With the semester well past the half-way point, assessments have begun to pile up and time seems to be running ever-shorter. In this week’s blog I’ll be sharing my top five abilities, qualities and materials from movies I’d wish for as a student to survive this semester.

A “pause button” for everyday life

In the movie Click, Adam Sandler buys a universal remote which (to his surprise) can pause time, fast forward and manipulate the universe around him. With many students juggling work, study and a social life, time is scarce. With a “pause button” for life, you’ll be able to get the most out of every moment – adequately prepare for lectures and complete assignments ahead of time whilst being able to go out and work solid hours. While I continue my search for a universal remote, the best thing for students is to become experts in juggling work with study – check out a recent post by USQ Blogger Georgina who shares her experience in finding the work/study balance (https://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/to-work-or-not-to-work/).


The ability to learn really quickly

I can safely say that EVERY student wants to be able to learn really quickly! In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a character who discovers a supplement which allows him to understand and learn quickly with ease. Unfortunately, not everyone has a photographic memory and when it comes to exam study many students spend countless hours cramming. Once again, although this ability is wishful thinking to most, effectively juggling study through building timetables can be an effective way to learn course material in the lead up to exam block.

A cure for indecisiveness

When it comes to university study, many decision are to be made – What degree will I study? Will I study full-time or part-time? Recently a dilemma I’ve been facing is deciding between what electives I will choose for my final year of university. In the first Harry Potter film, students were grouped into houses when the sorting hat was placed on their heads. As an indecisive student, I would love to have something like the sorting hat to help make those tricky decisions.


If, like me, you are having troubles deciding which of the variety of electives available you want to take, check out Georgina’s blogpost on electives within her Psychology Degree (https://usqedu.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/eclectic-electives-why-my-degree-resembles-an-ice-cream-3/).

Time travel

The ability to travel back to the past and see forward into the future has been the subject of many movies, such as the Back to the Future series. As a law student, I would love the ability to go back in time and experience some of the landmark events in Australia’s history – including federation in 1901, to witness the Mabo decision and the removal of the Whitlam government in 1975. On the same token, I would be so amazing to see what developments the future has in store – will Australia become a Republic? Will Australia adopt a Bill of Rights? Will Queensland ever get daylight savings?!?

A Money Tree

Whilst not directly from movies, the number one item on most students’ wish list is for money to grow on trees. Juggling full-time study and an internship quickly fills the calendar and leaves limited time free for work. Although the idea of a money tree is wishful thinking, scholarships are available to university students which can assist by providing financial support. Whether you are a current university student or planning on studying sometime in the future, scholarships are absolutely worth applying for! Check out one of my previous blogs about scholarships, covering how to apply and resolving the many myths associated with eligibility (https://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/scholarship-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow/).

Now that I’ve shared my movie-inspired wish list, what things would you wish for?


On-the-job as a Student Nurse

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion and caring without even a prescription,”
– Val Saintsbury.

Administering medications, giving injections, performing ECGs, caring for people of all ages…the list goes on. This is what I was doing for four weeks last month while I was on my nursing clinical placement at the Emerald Hospital.

I was nine hours away from home, staying in nursing quarters that were old (but free to stay in) and I thought to myself…’oh no what have I gotten myself into?’. However in saying that, my experience at the Emerald Hospital was the best that I have had so far. It was great to perform practical skills that I learnt at university on real patients rather than dummies. I was also given the opportunity to take on a patient load. This means that I develop a plan of care for the shift, write in care plans, write in each patient’s progress notes, administer medications, monitor patient’s vital signs and assist with personal care and mobility if need be. I was always under the supervision of a registered nurse which was great because I was able to ask questions and learn from that nurse all day.

While I was on my placement I was able to attend a careers expo and tell school students that nursing is a fantastic career choice. A picture of me and my clinical facilitator was taken when we were at the careers expo and featured in the region’s health services monthly newsletter.


It was so great to work with such a lovely team of health care workers. I love caring for people and seeing their health improve. It is so rewarding to know that I can make a difference to people’s lives; whether it be at the start or end of someone’s life. After completing my rural clinical placement and being back at uni I have more motivation to try my hardest and achieve good results. I am so excited to graduate and start my career as a registered nurse in the coming year.

To anyone who is wondering if nursing is a good career to study for…my answer to you is YES! There are so many different places to work as a nurse: in doctor’s surgeries, in the hospital, at a blood bank, for the royal flying doctors service and in so many more settings. You do not have to be the smartest person out there, but you do have to enjoy caring for people and looking after others.

Kara :)


To Work or not to Work?

…that is the question. Well it’s one question anyway. Whilst perhaps not as potent as Hamlet’s Act 3, Scene 1 line that weighs up the meaningfulness of life, the question “will I ever cope working and studying?!” is an important question to ask oneself.

If you are looking for a clear answer within this blog then you will probably be thoroughly disappointed. I mean would Hamlet look for an answer to life questions in an online blog? No he would not. Ask me for an answer about who should win Masterchef 2013 (Rishi) or which Disney character you should be for a dress-up party (The Little Mermaid for girls or Aladdin for boys) and expect a straightforward answer. But, unfortunately, whether or not you should aim to simultaneously work and study, and how many hours of work is the ‘right amount’ are questions each man (or woman) must consider for himself.


These things being said, my blog today would be a fairly lame one if I left it at that. What type of fourth-year student would I be if I didn’t impose upon you my own experience and opinions?! So, whilst I think that the take-home message should be that only you can determine what you can and can’t handle in regards to workload and life balance, below are several observations of my own…

In true psychology student style I will first present you with some statistics that someone else came up with after much thought and hard work. A 2008 study (see http://dro.deakin.edu.au/eserv/DU:30006689/Devlin-studyingandworkingjournalarticle.pdf) said that ‘the typical Australian student is a working student who spends substantial time in paid employment’. 72.3% of undergrads were found to be employed during the uni semester, and over 85% of those surveyed said they’d had a job in the last twelve months. On average, full-time undergraduate and postgraduate research students spent between 13 and 17 hours working every week (and 30-40 hours per week for the part-timers). But enough numbers. The gist is that – whether in part-time or full-time study – most students work, and they work a considerable amount. So we aren’t just talking about an hour of lawn-mowing for your parents or a three-hour shift once a week at your local supermarket here…

So, if you are one of the 72.3% that do need to work, my number one tip would be to realise that the most important person is you. Yes jobs are important and you should aim to be a hard-working, successful employee, but I have seen far too many students do backflips for uncompromising employers (in jobs that they will only be in for a year or two whilst finishing a degree). If any of the following is true for you then it’s time to consider whether you’re in the best working environment.

  1. You’re being made to feel guilty because you aren’t able to take last-minute shifts
  2. You are repeatedly rostered on for more hours than was agreed upon
  3. There is no compromise in shift times so that you can attend lectures
  4. Shifts are regularly cancelled when you have made the time to work them

It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Though it may take a while to find a better job (and it’s probably best not to quit until you’ve got something else in line), there are always jobs out there! Don’t be afraid to try something new and improve your working situation. I for one know that I am a lot happier now than I was at the start of my casual employment journey…










The very fancy diagram above also shows that at most times I had two part-time jobs. I was always looking for something a bit better; a bit more flexible or relevant to what I was studying. Having two jobs that both only required a shift or two each week also meant that there was less pressure than one intense job (I’m definitely not recommending two jobs however!). My position as a salesperson at Tree of Life recently ended and so I was really thankful to have my student ambassador position to rely on. In both of these roles I was (and am) able to put myself first. I easily get time off for study and exams, and I have a big say in how often I work – and I enjoy it. I have now even been able to take on a volunteer internship which directly relates to my future career – pretty good deal!


Keep an eye out for my next blog that will appear in the next few days – there I’ll give my two-cents worth in regards to juggling the two seemingly opposing forces that are study and employment. Happy studying!