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  • Studying from the Emerald Isle

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Building your resume: how to take the initiative

Studying for your degree is a great time to start gaining industry experience. All the academic concepts you learn shine in practice, and there is no time like the present to bulk up your resume.

So, how do you get experience before finishing your degree? One way is by volunteering.

Close to 40 per cent of Australians volunteer for an assortment of reasons. Not only is it rewarding but it is also an opportunity to get to know different organisations and form professional contacts.

One place to start is SEEK. SEEKvolunteer connects organisations and volunteers. It is a comprehensive listing of different roles around Australia which you can search depending on industry, interest or how much time you have a week to go towards helping others. 

It’s worth browsing what’s available and looking for options that you are interested in or those that align with your career goals. Every relevant volunteer role you take is experience you can put onto your resume and all the people you work with are potential referees.

You can also gain volunteer experience by tapping into your current networks.

Recent Swinburne Online Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary)  graduate Cathy Box gained her role at Brighton Grammar School by taking the initiative and asking if she could stay on as a volunteer at the end of each of her placements.

“It is a requirement as an Education student to undergo teaching placements to finish your degree, and that in itself is great experience for a student. But I wanted to do more.

“After each placement I offered to stay on and volunteer for a few hours a week and each school was more than happy to let me gain that experience. In the end, I got a job out of it.”

By leveraging an existing relationship with a possible employer, Cathy was able to build up enough experience to land a job. This can be easily achieved across any discipline by reaching out to organisations, companies or individuals that you have an interest in.

A good place to start is by researching well-known associations or industry bodies. Here are a few to consider:

·         Business: Australian Chamber of Commerce and industry

·         Marketing: Australian Marketing Institute

·         Public Relations: Public Relations Institute of Australia

·         Design: Design Institute of Australia

·         Psychology: Australian Psychological Society

Organisations like these often list opportunities that range from paid to volunteer work and it is worth getting in contact or searching these sites or others to see what’s on offer.

Remember to put your best professional foot forward whilst volunteering or gaining any form of work experience. Use that time to learn, meet people and refine career goals.

This is part one of a series on how to build your career while studying. Keen for more? Read part two and three.