Making the most of my Deakin journey and exploring career opportunities
My name is Christian and I am Zimbabwean. I came to Australia in 2017 on a pathway program that started at Deakin College. I studied a Diploma of Commerce at Deakin College then moved to Deakin University where I am currently in my final trimester studying a Bachelor of Business Analytics.
I chose Deakin University because it was one of the few universities offering information systems, which is now called business analytics. The university has a good reputation in providing hands-on work experience and networking opportunities and for 11 consecutive years was the leader in graduate satisfaction in Victoria.
Volunteering for networking opportunities
When I arrived at Deakin, I knew I had to network, make friends and connections. I joined the Business and Law Mentor Program where I joined other volunteer mentors who are driven in their personal lives and volunteer their time to add value to Deakin University and to the students. My role as a volunteer mentor was mostly assisting new students to settle into university life. We assisted in learning how to approach assignments, interpreting assessments instructions and questions, how to join clubs, sports, and showing them the best coffee spots around the university!
Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have. I gave my time and efforts to the volunteer program and the payback was certainly one I desired. I made valuable friends and connections that I will have for life, developed problem solving and time management skills as well as other soft skills such as communication. Most importantly, the volunteer mentor opportunity opened doors for more opportunities. For instance, an opportunity for a paid student mentor role came and I applied for it and became a Drop-In Station Mentor.
Gaining real world work experience
One of the reasons I preferred Deakin over other universities is because of its Work Integrated Learning program (WIL) to develop my employability by giving me experiences in professional environments and working on tasks that are typically assigned to graduates. Options for my work integrated learning program which included doing it locally or overseas. I chose to do it overseas so that I could travel and gain valuable exposure to other parts of the world. I settled on South Korea because I thought I would learn more regarding technology in Korea than other countries since my degree is also a combination of business and IT.
South Korea was amazing! The people were very kind and the food was very delicious. Most of their systems are very advanced, and it was fascinating to see and live life from a different frame of reference. The program lasted for 2 weeks, and I worked as a consultant for a technology company that was considering expanding into Australia. The task for my group was to gather intelligence and present it to the company’s board. This experience taught me to collaborate with colleagues from all walks of life and learn new and efficient ways of working. For instance, Koreans use the word jeong which is difficult to define in one English word but means building rapport by showing sympathy, passion, love, consideration, and concern towards each other. It is a very important part of Korea working culture.
Other than the professional side, I had the opportunity to visit the palace and dress up in the traditional Hanbok which is worn for traditional celebrations, wedding and more in South Korea. I visited a very famous shopping street named Myeongdong where they had street food, restaurants and stores stacked on top of each other in the street. These were beautiful sights. Korean barbecue has become my all-time favourite food ever since then.
Choosing a university that has experience in online learning made the transition to online classes smooth
I have had to do the final quarter of my degree online rather than on-campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not been a terrible experience, really! Since I started in 2017, Deakin University has always had an online platform where classes are recorded and can be watched live. I would resort to these options whenever I missed classes thus the transition from on-campus to online classes during the pandemic was smooth.
To those who may be doing online classes for the first time, it is simple, clear and straightforward and there is constant support from the IT department, lecturers and tutors in case there are some faults. University work has become less burdensome due to every service being online rather than in person.
Securing valuable internships through DeakinTALENT
Now that I am in my final trimester of studying, my focus is on getting as much work experience as possible to make myself more marketable and to be a valuable and skilled graduate. Other than the WIL unit I did in South Korea, I managed to secure a remote internship at a global technology company based in Canada. I also secured another internship with one of the big four banks in Australia. To apply for these internships, I had help from DeakinTALENT, a careers and employment service provided by Deakin University that helps students create better resumes and cover letters and prepare for interviews to secure jobs. This service aided me with the latest information available and helped me improve my soft skills before being employed. There is a sense of peace of mind that comes with knowing that attending Deakin University is not being thrown in the deep end because all the support and resources are provided!
“University work has become less burdensome due to every service being online rather than in person.”
My advice for aspiring international students who are interested in studying at Deakin
- Manage your time well. It is the most expensive resource that can never be recovered.
- Get involved in activities at Uni such as sport, social clubs, cultural clubs and academics to become a well-rounded student/global citizen who can fit into any society and get along with people from all walks of life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that there is nothing called job security. Thus, the best way to secure my future is to own a business. During the last three years, I started businesses in hospitality and entertainment, opened an online store that sells clothes and, when the pandemic hit, I started selling fabric, stylish and reusable face masks online. Deakin has assisted me in my journey by giving me a diploma, a degree (coming soon!), connections, networks, working experience and soft skills.
My definition of success comes when one achieves all these mentioned things and not just one, i.e. success to me is not just about the accolades but also about who you know – which is the networking aspect. And Deakin has surely taught me all of this!