How to Kickstart Your Career While Studying

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Today's employers have high expectations. Not only do they want to hire graduates who have an excellent education from a reputable university, but they also want you to have experience and passion too.

UNSW blends professional development into your degree. No matter what you study, you'll have access to practical experience and connections to industry. More importantly, we also help you figure out what you're good at and what you enjoy.

For example, Kurt Walkom started university having won a Co-op scholarship to study mechanical engineering. The Co-op scholarship program includes four industry training placements, while regular UNSW undergraduate degrees include up to three internships.

This hands-on experience helped Kurt realise he didn't want to be a traditional mechanical engineer. Luckily, he'd kept his options open by choosing to study a double degree. Kurt was majoring in mechanical engineering and finance in the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce.

UNSW undergraduate degrees include professional development courses and practical experience. Explore the internships, practicums and other industry-relevant programs you can do here or overseas.

Kurt Walkom

Kurt resolved to find at least one job he'd want before graduating. "My strategy was simple: work experience. The more, the better. I knew I was interested in building things and investing, so I lined up an unpaid internship at an investment company that turned into a part-time job."

Kurt found his way into the world of start-ups via UNSW Founders, a program that helps students, staff and alumni build new companies. With their support he co-founded Pearler, a FinTech start-up that helps Aussies achieve financial freedom.

"The entrepreneurship community that UNSW is building is world-class, which means that start-ups like us have better access to mentors, funding and other key resources. It would have been a much harder slog to get to where we are without the Founders team – who are legends."

You could meet your start-up co-founders through Arc UNSW Student Life. Arc membership gives you access to volunteering opportunities and more than 300 clubs and societies to join and find your people.

In contrast with Kurt, Emily Olley's hands-on experience reinforced her ambition. Before starting uni she knew she wanted to do social work. Her Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) / Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice included a lot of practical experience.

"I had to undertake one thousand hours of fieldwork placement," Emily says.

"So, I got to practice the skills and knowledge I had learnt in tutorials with real clients, while also developing new skills and knowledge in the field. I was then able to transfer these skills to other workplaces."

Emily's degree included a capstone subject that helped her prepare a CV and respond well to job advertisements. When she began applying for jobs, she had a well-structured CV and an outline of how to write an appropriate cover letter.

You can sharpen your resume and meet potential employers with UNSW's Student Academic & Career Success career development seminars and industry connections.

Emily Olley

"I had a bit of an advantage as a graduate as I was lucky enough to have been offered a job after my first fieldwork placement, so I had already been working casually in the social work field for two years. It meant that I had experience on top of the degree to demonstrate my suitability for a role."

Emily now works as a MERIT Clinician for Drug Health Services, where she gets to talk to people every day and learn their stories. She considers it a privilege to share their struggles and concerns and to empower them to help themselves.

Whether you want to get your foot in the door of an exciting industry or start building your empire, UNSW has got you covered. Our students are among the most employable in Australia. For more information on the career-kickstarting opportunities available, explore our degrees.