5 Ways UNSW Prepares you for Work in the Real World

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It can be a little daunting, choosing a career and a degree to get you to where you want to be in life. No one knows this better than our graduates who’ve been in your shoes. We spoke to UNSW Alumni about how studying at UNSW helped them land their dream jobs.

1. Bring Practical Skills to the Table

UNSW Graduate Jason Chan knows prospective employers are on the lookout for practical experience. They want to know you’ve practiced the skills you’ve used day in day out. “I did a course on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and I was able to apply everything I have learnt to my current role. It gave me a competitive advantage during job applications.”

Amanda K Nabila studied Commerce at UNSW. By learning with a tool called SAS, one of the most popular software analytics tools, she had the skills and certification to land her current role. "On my first day of work, I had no difficulties in accessing and using SAS, because I had used it before. My skills and knowledge definitely added value to my current role”.

2. Develop Skills Employers Want from Tomorrow’s Graduates

The economic landscape is changing. Employers need agile graduates who can tackle problems and think outside of the box as the world around them changes.

Suzanne Nieuwenhuizen completed a Bachelor of Social Science and knows a degree is no longer about poring over theories in textbooks: It’s about facing a problem and understanding what’s needed to tackle it individually or as a team. “The best thing UNSW did was helped me think in the ways the working world needs,” she says.

Stephen Chu gained the agile organisational skills employers are looking for in the internship component of his degree. “At uni, we have assignments with long deadlines, but in the placement, I had lots of short-term goals to meet. I learned to meet daily deadlines and had to have really clear communication, so that others in the team could meet their deadlines too.”

As technology has disrupted most industries, incorporating future-focused subjects into your degree can “future-proof” your career. Data analysis is just one of these subjects. Sam Kirshner, a lecturer at UNSW Business School, explains firms want data analysts due to the rapid increase in the availability of data to organisations. “Business analytics is a definite growth area for the future,” he says. “The insights that data analysts can provide businesses are second to none.”

3. Partner with Industry

UNSW’s industry collaborations and partnerships were the first thing that first sparked Jason Chan’s interest in studying at the university. Jason is now an Environmental Planner at the global consultancy organisation WSP. He explains, “UNSW has a strong focus on industry collaborations with plenty of opportunities for students to network and develop essential skills for their career.”

Many UNSW alumni have job offers before they even graduate through industry placements and internship. Zar Ni, who completed a Bachelor of Social Work, explains, “studying Social Work at UNSW opened the door to a range of career options across a multitude of sectors. I learned a lot at the fieldwork placements, I was also employed by both placements.” His final placement at the Department of Communities and Justice ultimately became his current role.

4. Get a Mentor

There are people who have travelled the path you’re on and are positioned where you want to be. Many of these professionals are now paying it forward by mentoring young people just starting their professional journey. Finding a mentor and working with them as part of your degree gives you an edge that other graduates lack.

Charlotte Bekkevold worked with a mentor during her degree. Although initially daunting she quickly bonded with her mentor. “We got along really well and still meet up, even though the program has officially finished,” she says. “I want to get into consulting, so it was great I could speak with my mentor about my previous experience and identify my objectives and career goals.”

Isha Miglani took part in UNSW Business School’s Career Mentoring Program where you’re matched with industry professionals to guide and mentor you during your time at uni. It was in a networking session where her mentor introduced her to the organisation she’s now working with.

5. Keep an Open Mind

As our graduates know your time at uni shapes you in many ways. You discover interests, passions and skills that you never knew you had. Many UNSW graduates came to uni& unsure of what path to take or take a different direction after an unexpected turn of events.

Edith Chow now works for the CSIRO and did two degrees at UNSW. It wasn’t until her second year of Analytical Chemistry she discovered what she wanted to pursue. “My time at UNSW enriched my mind and broadened my horizons. UNSW offers lots of study options through elective and general education courses,” she says. Studying at UNSW Edith learned it’s OK to change your mind or not have made up your mind. Her advice? “Give yourself lots of options and don't be afraid to take on a course or extra-curricular activity that may be a little different or outside your comfort zone.”

Belinda Teh who studied a Bachelor of Computer Science also has some valuable advice. “Be open to opportunities and try as many different things as possible. Don’t worry about figuring out what you want straight away - narrowing out the things you don’t like is still a step in the right direction.”