While you're a student

Career Action Plan – for Students

First Year

Focus: Personal management; exploring work interests and expanding your options

Career Development

  • Get started on developing a professional resume and cover letter.  Seek help with this and get feedback from others as simple mistakes in layout or spelling will detract from your job applications.
  • Register online with your University Careers service and start effectively using the huge range of career services, information and advice which is available.  You can attend workshops on career planning, interviews and resumes; have individual career advice appointments, look for casual job vacancies and find out about interesting upcoming events including careers expos on campus.
  • Begin to deepen your research into career options related to your degree.  A couple of places to get started are careers resources such as www.myfuture.edu.au and www.graduatecareers.com.au
  • Investigate early those internship and international exchange programs which are available to students in your field as your eligibility may depend on certain subjects being completed.

Personal Development

  • Establish good time management and study skills (for help see your university counselling service.) These skills will make your progress through Uni a lot easier and will help you to maximise your marks.  Good academic results and excellent time management skills are highly sought after by graduate employers.
  • Look out for a peer mentoring program you could join.  Get into the habit of seeking advice from those who are ahead of you in study or career.
  • Get connected by developing new interests and friendships through joining on-campus activities, clubs and societies. Being involved is great fun and is a good way to make friends from all across the University.  Be aware that most employers will be interested in your non-academic activities as well as in your degree.
  • Consider volunteering for local community projects as well as a way to gain career-related experience.
  • Aim to continually improve your interpersonal skills and written and verbal communication skills and computer skills to make yourself more employable in the Australian workplace as these skills are highly valued by employers.  Push yourself at University to participate, volunteer, engage with others and go beyond your comfort zone. Strengthen your personal qualities (such as dependability, punctuality, getting along with others) which will be needed to get and keep work.
  • Seek a part-time/casual, vacation or volunteer job to begin to gain valuable experience in the workplace.  You can learn a great variety of new skills from any kind of practical work.

Academic Development

  • Begin to track and record your work and study experiences and your development of graduate attributes. What you learn as a tertiary student is not confined to your course material.  You are developing skills for life and work every day through interactions with others and the activities in which you participate.  Graduate employers want to hear about how you have developed, so keeping records makes preparing for job applications and interviews much easier. 
  • Start researching majors and elective courses that interest you while fulfilling your program requirements.  Contact an academic advisor in your faculty to check that you have chosen a program in line with faculty requirements.

The Middle Years

Focus: Understanding your future career options; preparing to meet the requirements of graduate employers – ideally by gaining career-related work experience

Career Development

  • Keep checking with your university Careers service for upcoming events, career panels and guest speakers on campus
  • Attend on-campus employer information sessions. This is where graduate recruiters give a presentation about their organisation and the opportunities available to undergraduates and new graduates.
  • Continue to update your resume, cover letter, portfolio of work and seek feedback on them.
  • Start early to gather information about career-related internships, scholarships and other vacation work opportunities.
  • Attend a Careers Expo (usually held in March each year) to discuss graduate opportunities face-to-face with employers.
  • You may wish to reflect on the career direction you have chosen and consider whether your skills, interests, goals and values have changed.  You may seek out a careers advisor at your University or go through the Career Development Association of Australia www.cdaa.org.au for individual vocational guidance to identify job opportunities which suit your own strengths and values and to identify your transferable skills, knowledge and attitudes.
  • Learn about interview skills, assessment centres and psychometric testing to prepare for internship, vacation and graduate recruitment selection procedures.

Personal Development

  • Join a relevant professional association as a student member and attend events where you can meet professionals in your field of interest with a view to expanding your networks and possibly setting up job-shadowing or mentoring opportunities.
  • Continue to participate in part-time employment, student groups and campus activities to further develop leadership, teamwork, organisational and interpersonal skills, and skills in work/life balance.

Academic Development

  • Check with your academic advisor if you are concerned about being on track with your graduation requirements.  Request a progression check from your faculty if you are concerned.  Finalise your degree major.
  • Concentrate on maintaining a competitive academic record.
  • Consider how international experience will enhance your career prospects.  Investigate study abroad opportunities, as well as summer camps, international volunteering and other overseas programs.
  • Consider approaching those professors, tutors and supervisors from whom you want to request recommendations or references to discuss it with them.

Final Year

Focus: Starting early to refine your search for a graduate job and submitting your job applications on time!

Career Development

  • At the beginning of your final year, click onto Graduate Opportunities www.graduateopportunities.com.au  and www.unigrad.com.au.  These are comprehensive directories of many graduate recruitment programs.  Take note of application deadlines!  The application deadlines are usually March/April/May of the year before the job would commence.
  • Thoroughly research the employers which are of most interest to you.
  • Organise your job search and send out your customised job applications.  Seek information on how to apply and get feedback from others on your responses before you submit them (on or ahead of time).
  • Get familiar with typical interview questions, interview techniques and/or attend a mock interview session.  Familiarise yourself with assessment centre activities and selection testing.
  • Take a proactive approach to finding graduate employment.  Besides graduate programs and other advertised vacancies, you may try a direct approach to employers or use your networks to uncover opportunities.  Learn about how to hone your networking skills.

Personal Development

  • Evaluate job offers and make decisions in terms of working conditions, benefits, training, corporate social responsibility issues etc which are important to you, seeking advice from others as this is a very important decision!
  • You are making the transition from university to work and, like all transitions, this is a hard one and requires a lot of effort.  Seek help along the way from family, friends, professional careers advisers and people in the profession you are seeking to enter.

Academic Development

  • Continue to study hard to maintain grades in order to achieve an impressive academic transcript.
  • If you are considering further study, gather information on TAFE, undergraduate and post-graduate study options.

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