job Tag Archive

Don’t dwell on bad internships

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Australia’s competitive job market has made landing a job after graduation no piece of cake.  As students, we try so hard to have an edge in the job market that we would do anything to gain experience through internships, paid or unpaid. We hope it will result in reference letters and glowing resumes that set us apart from the others.

In recent years, however, there has been heated debate over internship practise, and it remains a controversial issue. Are they exploitative or beneficial?

In the Sydney Morning Herald, Natalie James said that unpaid internships “should not move beyond merely learning and observing”.

But, if that’s the case,  then would we learn anything by doing menial tasks like making coffee or running errands? While internships are still in the grey area, it is made even more confusing due to the lack of regulations. We often find ourselves in a situation where we do not know our rights and are often unsure of what we can reasonably expect or demand from prospective employers.

Then how do we decide if an internship is worth it or not?  Here are some signs to help you identify a ‘bad’ internship opportunity.

Your employer makes you work full-time hours

It is advisable that you are aware that you are an intern. Interns are not supposed to assist with business output and productivity, nor should the employer gain direct advantages from your duties. Collen Chen, co-founder of Interns Australia, said to Right Now that ‘intern’ work should not be integral to the business, and the business should not gain more benefits than the intern.

Your internship is more than three months long

The point is to remember that placement is always a short-term arrangement.

You have not learned a new skill

Remember that internships are meant to give you practical work experience that you can’t learn in classrooms.

You are labelled “the intern”

Interns are at the bottom rank of workplace hierarchy. However, it doesn’t mean that you should not be acknowledged. You have your duties and responsibilities as other employees, just in different ways. Remember, you  deserve to be treated as an equal.

Your internship has no clear goal

For you to develop your skills, your manager needs to discuss and establish clear goals at the beginning of your internship. These goals also need to be reviewed periodically and your performance needs to be reviewed at the end of your internship.

Your manager ignores your feedback

Interns deserve a productive learning environment. When your manager ignores your feedback, that means you are not valued as part of the team.

All you do is fetch coffee and make copies all day

Interns should have real responsibilities. You should not be assigned to only menial tasks that contribute nothing to your learning experience.

You don’t know who to report to

It is true that interns don’t replace regular employees, but you need to work under close supervision of existing staff. You need to know clearly who to report to. Interns need a manager or supervisor to work with closely, answer questions and give real world advice.

If you  see some of these signs in your current internship, please do evaluate the value of your experience. While having an internship is better than none, a bad internship is not worth your time.

If you feel like you’re being exploited as an intern, and you feel like you are facing a problem, you need to stand up for yourself. Talk to your manager, talk to your supervisor, make a conversation with the HR rep or the internship coordinator. If that doesn’t work out, or you feel uncomfortable talking to them, seek assistance from your university’s careers service.

The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

Be it project management, be it barista skills, be it fixing that Xerox photocopy machine, we learn by experiencing them. However, it is our call to put an end to internships that don’t benefit us.

For internships that us unhappy and dread going to work everyday, don’t dwell, but move on.

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A new kid on the block

Written by Student Life, Tech

In my previous article I mentioned various job portals and websites to look for jobs along with some career related advice. Among them I mentioned about a new and amazing website www.comet.is

Comet is a social and professional networking site that acts as a platform for directly connecting students with employers and educators. At Comet students can create their profile which acts as an online CV and can also build up their online work portfolio.(Source: Comet Student Information Guide V2)

An insightful interview with Mr John Collins, Co-Founder and Product Director at CareerLounge, further elaborates about this amazing platform. John preferred to explore few business ideas than getting stuck University and came up with what CareerLounge is today.

About Comet

John describes Comet as, “A community for young and aspiring professionals to share projects, news and stories. Anyone can create a profile and join ‘Villages’ where people, companies and educators from a particular field of interest come together.”

He says that, “Before Comet, the only places you could get information to help you make your decision were government websites (which are usually out of date), careers counsellors (which to be fair can be very helpful but can’t possibly know everything about every industry), or personal contacts you may have.”

According to him, “Comet is a community which provides this kind of information along with giving you opportunity to ask the author further questions or ask an employer what makes their workplace so great to be in.”

John Collins: Co-Founder & Product Director

Practicality of Comet for students

In regards to Comet’s usefulness to students, John says that Comet helps students get a better idea of the kind of roles and Companies they are interested along with getting information about work culture.

He says this while stressing on the fact that getting a job one is not aware of and then leaving the same creates problem for everyone. There are huge sunk costs in terms of employer’s valuable training time, resource time and of course money. “The applicant ends up with perhaps a stressful situation and a weird few months on their resume they need to explain at their next job.” asserts John.

Distinctiveness from other platforms such as spot jobs, LinkedIn and Seek

John considers LinkedIn to be in a different category to Seek and SpotJobs. According to him, “LinkedIn is a traditional social network and was built for senior professionals; while Seek and SpotJobs are both first and foremost jobs boards meaning quite simply, a list of job ads that can be browsed a few different ways”. He considers problem with LinkedIn being young professionals don’t have much “professional contacts” during studies and for SpotJobs and seek one still needs to find what they are looking for.

He believes, “Comet is something different all together and we designed Comet with some of the problems I’ve pointed out in mind. You can create a Comet profile, contribute your stories, learn about different industries and engage with employers without having a single contact or coming up with a keyword that will determine your future”

“Comet is a place for inspiration and exploration to help you discover the next step on your professional journey.”

He further adds, “If you know what you’re looking for, go to Seek. If you have professional contacts, go to LinkedIn. If you have no idea, come to Comet.”

Benefit of Villages to students

John considers Villages to be awesome as they have feeds with all the latest stories and news from other Comet Members, Employers and Educators. He says, “There are over 40 of them to join from Commerce to Design, Building & Construction to Agriculture and in each you’ll find companies looking to hire young professionals”. One can join and leave any number of villages as and whenever they like.

Work culture at comet

Team Comet:

Back row: John Collins, Product Director. Patrick Borgeest, Senior Engineer; Dominique Fisher, Managing Director.; Tom McKenzie, Head Engineer. Nicole Pogue, Operations Director. Georgia Rudin, PA.

Front Row: Zoe Willox, Content Curator; Jenna Murphy, Senior Account Manager; Luke Shillabeer, Web Engineer; Ciaran Nolan, Senior Account Manager.

“We’re very much a family here and everyone is really passionate about creating amazing products that truly make a difference. If I had to sum it up in one sentence; the work is really challenging but with such a great team, it’s all possible and we definitely have a lot of fun along the way. We have a few stress relievers in the office like our table tennis table, foosball table, Nintendo Wii and snack station with everything from fruit to chocolate. ”, John commented.

A word of advice for students

John advises students to not be afraid to take lots of little opportunities such as internships and volunteer roles while emphasizing on the importance of solid foundation of Hands on experience. In his words, “Showing that you’re proactive and hungry for experience indicates to employers that you have initiative and are willing to learn.”

He further adds, “Your Comet Profile can capture all manner of your experiences be it a free seminar you went to or a 2 month internship. It all counts.”

Student Ambassadors for Comet

John says, “ I’ve been working on a Student Partner Program that I’m looking to get underway from January 2016 but if Students are keen to support us or even just find out more about the startup world we’d love to hear from you today.” He says while quoting Immortal words of Bryan Adams, “Our mission is to inspire, empower and connect the world’s young professionals. Everything we do, we do just for you.”

Comet is working on a brand new product that will go a long way to helping students find great opportunities. “Keep an eye out as we’re launching it before the end of the year.”, says John.

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Univative Sydney: A New Beginning

Written by News, Student Life

Univative 2015 is a unique inter-university Consulting competition involving teams of students from Macquarie University, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Wollongong and University of Western Sydney.

The interviews with three respected coordinators from Macquarie University-Vicki George (Central Univative Coordinator), Serene Lin-Stephens and Tyree Barnette provided more valuable insights into the competition.

The Competition

The competition runs from April-July each year, with the active management occurring in June and July. Participating organisations provide a realistic business problem for teams of 4 – 6 students to solve. At the end of July, a final report is produced, followed by a presentation of their proposal to a panel of judges from the host organisation.

“Univative has several unique characteristics such as work-integrated and problem-based learning, and community and industry engagement.  It is designed to provide an environment in which local and international students from different disciplines mix meaningfully and work together for local businesses.”

Students develop cross-cultural communication and cross-discipline project management skills while participating organisations gain the best results by having students’ fresh and outside-of-the-box perspective,” – Serene

Univative Sydney: A New Beginning

Behind-the-scenes

As per coordinators, the competition is an exhaustive process and involves hard work.

  • It begins with a series of planning and meetings to assign tasks, confirm project hosts, decide launch dates, on-site briefing and presentations as well as booking venues on campus, at host employer sites and Study NSW.
  • The meetings run from January to April, followed by advertisements for student applications by participating Universities.
  • The applications will then be screened and final applicants are selected based on specific criteria. At the end of the competition, in August, a debrief session is held to provide certificates and feedback to the students.
  • Planning for next year’s event also starts and the entire process occurs all over again.

Expectations from Students

We welcome international as well as local students, from all faculties and at all stages of their study program – Vicki

Serene expects  students to turn their different backgrounds and perspectives into strengths as a team. Students are trusted with the freedom to innovate, but still need to adhere to clients’ expectation and work within teamwork and professional standards.

Tyree says, “We look for a mix of heavily involved high achievers along with students who haven’t quite figured out what they enjoy yet.  In doing this, we assist the students in improving their employability skills, getting some real-world experience with clients and proposals, and learn valuable lessons about teamwork, project management, presentations, and time management.

Experiences in Univative-2015

In the words of Serene: “The adrenaline roller coaster of the entire process is something I go through every year, which refreshes and energises me. I always feel very humbled to see how the students work things out among themselves, carrying out individual tasks, shaping their work into a cohesive whole, packaging it nicely and delivering it in the reports and presentation.”

She also notes that the precious friendships and networking connections formed between peers and employers typically continue to grow past the competition.

Tyree believes that these projects are even tougher than reality because of limited time and resources.  Students also have to juggle their daily tasks, jobs and study. He thinks that all pupils made incredible strides – especially the quieter students who weren’t accustomed or used to public speaking. He was especially proud of them because he grew up with that same shyness.

Vicki says, “I think this year some of the teams were off to a bit of a slow start, and there were moments when we wondered if the presentations were going to come together in time. But, the surprising thing was that in all cases they did! In particular, I thought the written report from the Salvo’s team was of an exceptionally high standard this year.”

Future Possibilities

The career staff at Macquarie Uni are exploring the possibility of students receiving some sort of additional credit, certification, or other notable academic-related credit for the program. In Tyree’s opinion, Many put in dozens of hours of personal time, and for the students that don’t win or score an internship, we feel that their time still deserves additional recognition.”

Univative Sydney: A New Beginning

A word of advice

Serene advises students to keep growing and nurturing the relationships. According to her, a critical factor in winning in a project competition like this is the ability to communicate one’s work in a simple way and speak directly to the core of the client’s need. She hopes that participants will continue to nurture the skills they have developed throughout the competition for future endeavors.

 “Any line of work will have tight deadlines, complications and conflict. Know that you have been challenged and stretched thin before and you have survived. And if you have any regrets – use it as fuel for the next project.” Tyree

Vicki advises students to start preparing early and do plenty of research before defining their ideas. To deliver a clear message, simplicity and an understanding of the host organisation’s values is always a good idea.

Vicki advises students to “focus on your presenting skills as these are crucial and can make or break the impact of your final presentation. While delivering your presentation, keep in mind that you are being watched even if you are not speaking at the time, and be sure to maintain a professional and engaged ‘stage presence’ at all times.”

The Macquarie career team would love to have participants from Univative 2015 to be student mentors for future competition since their experiences.

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Job Search: A never-ending treasure hunt

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Job Search: A Never – Ending Treasure Hunt

As per forbes.com, “job hunting these days has completely changed, and getting the perfect job is every individual’s dream”. But, it’s an arduous task, and it becomes even more chaotic when you’re on a student visa. Even though it’s difficult, it’s not impossible.

Here’s a few steps to help avoid the confusion of being an ‘alien’ while searching for a job.

Problems encountered

The first problem is restriction on number of hours allowed to work. So, look for casual and part-time jobs. Don’t ever try for a job saying full-time.

Remember, your visa matters more than work experience.

Resume matters

The first thing one should do is to write a resume as per Australian format.

The resume should address the selection criteria given in job description.

Don’t add anything which is irrelevant for the job to be applied. It is advisable to have expert advice over the resume and almost all Universities have a career service or workshops that can help in reviewing resume.

Importance of Volunteer Work

Volunteer work experience is another important aspect of job search today. Companies do hire candidates who have volunteer work experience. Also, it is the best way to have  local experience in your area of expertise.

Volunteer work helps you gain the trust of local employers plus you get local referees for further job search. In some cases, even volunteer work is the first step of employment in the same company.

Job Portals

We live in a digital era full of gigabytes and terabytes. So, the job search and resume has also gone digital. At the beginning of your studies, start creating online profiles so that by the time you graduate you have a fully endorsed and recommended profile. Make sure they are 100% complete.

It is also advisable to follow organizations’ Facebook page. The most preferred way is to apply directly for  jobs advertised on the companys’ websites.

Setting up job alerts is another way to look for jobs in your field.

Above all, your university’s career portal is where you will find the most suitable jobs.

Roles to look for with little or no experience

If you are good at teaching try looking for  jobs as a casual tutor. There are many tutoring academies which recruit university students. In this way you yourself will learn many things.

As per visa conditions, we are permitted to drive on our country’s driving licence with a valid photo ID from RTA (except for few countries), so working as a delivery driver is another role you can look at . All you need is exceptional driving skills. However, a few organizations require an Australian driving Licence and in some cases, a particular Australian state of residence. If you are in NSW, you have to reside continuously in Australia for 6 months to obtain a driving licence.

Looking at retail, it is one of the largest sectors for job search. While most of the companies prefer an online application, there are a few outlets which have a display sign stating the role they require. On such display signs, it may also mention whether to apply online or in person.

Needless to say, in Australia everybody is equal and no work is considered to be small or big. So, grab what you get.

 A word of advice

There is no doubt that getting a job is the first thing on one’s agenda. However, jobs can change, but grades cannot. Even companies prefer candidates with better grades and volunteer work experience.

So, concentrate fully on studies in the first few weeks of your semester, or if possible, for the whole semester. It is also preferable to call via provided contact details before applying for a job. This way you can get an idea of its requirements.

Last but not least, while doing all this, don’t forget to enjoy life since it can only be lived once.

Photos: Youngtae Kim, Jasmine Yu and Tram Bui

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