Becoming career-ready with Deakin
We interviewed Neha Khanna, an international student from India who graduated from Deakin in 2020. She studied the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) and was a Global Citizenship Program awardee. She is currently working full time at Taguchi Marketing.
Why did you choose to study at Deakin?
The flexibility. I feel any course at Deakin is flexible enough for you to explore other interests through electives (optional subjects within a course). I came here for a degree in communications, but I left with having studied drama and anthropology on the side.
There is emphasis on creating original work at Deakin. I truly wanted to study in an environment like this.
As an international student, what was moving to Australia like?
I was definitely culture-shocked in the beginning. But I feel the term ‘culture shock’ gives a negative image of what it means. It is not negative – in fact, it was so interesting to learn about a new place.
When it comes to studies, I would say self-study and independent work is something that was new for me. And I loved it! I truly embraced not being micro-managed or spoon-fed.
How did you make friends in the university?
Group projects, student residences and university clubs were the main paths to interact with students from all over the world. The highlight for me was attending drama classes and spending time at the student residences.
I made friends for a lifetime through these channels. I met so many people through the dance club and the theatre club.
You have had a fascination with the performing arts since you were young. How did taking electives in drama compliment your degree?
While public relations and digital media complement each other, many do not realise how drama can also play a part. Initially, I did not realise it either. I took up drama because of my passion for it. I was always inclined to the performing arts.
But now that I look back, studying drama made me a more confident person and taught me people skills. Two things very important in communication as well.
What was something you liked about studying at Deakin?
The extremely helpful and comfortable to talk to academic staff. Trust, all you have to do is ask. One question can lead to a whole conversation that can help create connections for the future and also help you learn something that you would never learn by just sitting in the lecture/seminar. But you have to put yourself out there. They will always welcome you!
Did you complete any internships during your degree?
I accomplished three internships with the help of DeakinTALENT, Deakin’s job portal, under work in placements (WIL). I was a PR intern at Mango Communications, a Communications intern at Headspace and at Melbourne International Animation Festival 2019 (Bendigo Branch Event).
I took some workshops with DeakinTALENT to help me refine my resume and cover letter. I also got some tips on how to interview well.
“There is emphasis on creating original work at Deakin. I truly wanted to study in an environment like this.”
My internship with Mango Communications and Headspace was possible because these two companies have relationships with Deakin’s WIL team which made these organisations accessible to me.
The third internship with the Melbourne International Animation Festival 2019 (Bendigo) is not something I applied for. A Deakin staff member remembered my name and face, and when the internship showed up on Deakin’s portal she emailed me and told me that she felt that I would be the right fit. That’s how I got it.
This is an actual example of how networking can do wonders for you.
What were the advantages of having the opportunity to do internships?
Internships are definitely advantageous. Goes without saying! They give you exposure to the working world. They help you understand the unsaid rules of a professional environment and implement the established ones.
Interning makes your resume strong. It helps you gain experience in your field and makes you stand out as a potential candidate. They prepare you for an entry-level role.
Internships also teach you soft skills that everyone expects you to have but nobody teaches you. This can be communication skills, problem solving skills, etc. Picking up the culture is something you learn by working in different places. Every organisation has its own way of doing things.
I truly feel my internships and other endeavours helped me get the role I am in today. As of now, I am working as a Campaign Coordinator at Taguchi Marketing.
You won the Global Citizenship Award. What was that like?
The Global Citizenship Award marks one’s capability to engage with and in cultures around the world. Working in different internships, being an international student, working with other international students, mentoring students and internships helped pave my path towards the award.
Where are you currently based, and what is next for you?
I am currently in Melbourne and I aim to stick around. Having said that, I still have a lot more to explore and am open-minded about exploring more options that are best for me.
What advice would you give to students who want to study internationally here at Deakin?
- Everyone has a different path and circumstances in life, and everyone will have a different journey.
- Plan your course, there are course advisors who will help. Make sure you know what you are about to study.
- Find room in your electives for what complements your course and for what you wish to study. Play with your electives smartly.
- Submit on time.
Learn about our media and communication courses here.
Find out about Deakin’s Global Citizenship Program here.
Learn how we support students and graduates to secure employment here.
Find out more about electives here.