As final year students, many of you will soon be facing the prospect of finding employment in your chosen field. Some of you came to University with a very specific career in mind and have completed industry placements, practicums and training specifically related to your chosen profession while studying. For others whose studies may have taken a broader and more general focus, you may be deciding exactly which direction you should head in. Your ideas and perhaps even your degree may have changed since you began your course. Regardless of the degree you complete, it is important to have realistic expectations and a good knowledge of the support available to you in relation to career opportunities.
- Support for your Career Development
- Developing a digital identity
- Finding Employment
- Getting your foot in the door
Support for your Career Development
The CSU Careers Service provides a range of services to support your career development, transition to work and success of students generally, including:
- individual career development appointments
- assistance with resumes and job applications
- career planning and job search workshops
- Student Employment Forum –for advertising part time and casual work while at University.
- work experience insurance
- employer liaison
- campus employer visits
- Career Hub an online career site for student and graduate employment
Employment opportunities while studying at CSU (paid and voluntary)
Throughout your University life you should be looking for every opportunity to network and build relationships with employers – particularly in your penultimate and final year of study. Ways that you can do this is include participating in work experience, vacation work, Internships, voluntary work and scholarships. Career Hub is an excellent site to find these opportunities. Closing dates for many of these opportunities can also be found at graduateopportunities.com
As an International Student, your student visa allows you to work 20 hours per week during session (in addition to any practicum or course related work experience) and unlimited hours during holidays and breaks. You have an opportunity to not only earn some extra money but also to gain valuable work experience. See the DIAC website for more information.
Managing the transition from University to the Workplace
Finishing your University degree and entering the workforce is an exciting time. However, the transition from being a student to an employee can be a dramatic shift and one that many students are unprepared for.
According to Peronne and Vickers (2003) the transition “ is one that will affect quality of life, especially in the short term. It can also be a time fraught with stress, anxiety, shock, fear, uncertainty, loss, loneliness, depression and feelings of low self worth. These are feelings not routinely anticipated by students.”
The section of this Guide on staying healthy provides advice on how to address the stressors that may occur during this transition, but one of the best ways to avoid negative outcomes is to have realistic expectations and up to date information about what to expect.
“While it is difficult to generalize about every job, many have strict time schedules, lack constant feedback (like grades for example), and give employees little independence or flexibility as opposed to University life. Experiencing a smooth transition to a work environment can be a struggle if you aren’t prepared to develop a different mind-set.”
Succeeding in a professional environment can be very different to the University environment. It is important to remember not only the discipline knowledge you developed during your course, but also the general graduate attributes. These are skills that will hold you in good stead to enter a professional environment. Skills such as problem solving, team work, and communication skills are highly valued by employers. Think about the ways in which your course has helped you develop these skills and put them to good use.
Reflect on the attributes listed below and evaluate your level of competence in each area.
Can you tick off these skills?
Everyone needs some basic skills to be:
- able to self evaluate
- able to make sound decisions
- able to cope with transition
- able to be flexible
- able to continue learning
Employers want people who have:
- communication skills
- team work skills
- problem-solving skills
- initiative and enterprise skills
- planning and organising skills
- self-management skills
- learning skills
- technology skills that contribute to effective execution of tasks
Everyone wants friends and colleagues who:
- are honest
- are willing to give things a go
- are prepared to see things through to the end
- see unexpected things/events as a challenge to take on
- have a positive sense of self
- have a sense of humour
Reference: Career Industry Council of Australia, National Career Development Week website.
Don't forget, as an International Student (soon to be graduate) you also have additional skills and qualities employers are seeking such as the ability to adapt to another culture, flexibility and adventurousness. You also have knowledge of your home culture and perhaps even ability to speak another language (or two or more). Emphasise your adaptability, experience and cultural knowledge.
Developing a digital identity
An increasingly common way for job seekers to present themselves to employers is through a digital identity. This identity can be as simple as a CV available online or as complex as an eportfolio that you continually update as you develop new skills and gain new experience.
People have used portfolios for many, many years to showcase their experiences and achievements and to assist with personal career development. ePortfolios are bringing this original concept into the 21st century, offering a new kind of portfolio that’s more accessible, more flexible in the type of evidence that can be included and how it can be organised, and easier to manipulate, store, distribute and retrieve by your audience. Not a bad set of advantages!
But what is an ePortfolio? It’s much more that just a CV, allowing you to provide a fuller and more holistic representation of yourself and what you have to offer your new profession. In a nutshell, it is an electronic collection of information about you – who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re heading. It is part mirror (reflecting on your place within your new profession), part map (setting long- and short-term career goals) and part sonnet (telling the story you want to tell to whom you want to tell it).
ePortfolios are usually supported by an ‘archive’ of work samples and other forms of evidence, such as photos, supervisor/peer evaluations and reflective thinking.
What are the benefits?
Portfolios have been popular for some time for a reason – no matter what your profession, more thought is being given to the development of reflective practice, lifelong learning, and the holistic representation of oneself. Also, in a competitive marketplace, more demands are being placed on us to be very articulate about our skills and attributes, and provide evidence to support these.
Constructing a portfolio can also help you:
- enhance your communication, organisational and presentation skills;
- make connections between different aspects of your life, including both formal and informal; and
- understand and become more articulate about your skills and abilities – great for job applications and interviews!
How do I get started?
Start by thinking about why you’re creating your portfolio, in other words: What’s its purpose? In your final year, the most common purpose is usually related to employment, or to gather information for an application for a postgraduate scholarship.
Hand-in-hand with the purpose comes the audience. As with any form of communication, in order to make it work you must first decide with ‘whom’ you are communicating. What are their requirements (if it’s for a job application, what are the selection criteria)? How much evidence will they want to see?
Once you’ve established your purpose and audience, you need to think about the best way to present yourself.
What kind of portfolio is right for me?
There are so many ways of creating a portfolio! Here are just some options – both online and paper-based – and their respective benefits:
- Pebblepad – Pebblepad is CSU’s software-of-choice. It’s more of a personal learning system that just a presentation tool, allowing you to manage your professional identity over a long period of time and including tools for planning and reflection as well as just presentation. It’s also great for quickly developing an ePortfolio if you have no experience in writing html. You can share a Pebblepad with a potential employer by using their email address. An Example of a ePortfolio using Pebblepad.
- Generic software (e.g. Dreamweaver) – great for a very creative presentation that will showcase your web design and development skills (therefore good for graphic designers and web developers). You can share a website with a potential employer by providing them with a weblink or by saving to a CDROM and posting it. View an example site.
- Blog – good for those who want to demonstrate abilities with social software, and provide a constant stream of professional activity. You can share a blog portfolio with a potential employer by providing them with a weblink. View an example blog.
- Wiki – again, good for those who want to demonstrate abilities with social software, but in this case the wiki works more like a simple website, and you don’t need to know html. You can share a wiki portfolio with a potential employer by providing them with a weblink. View an example Wiki.
- Paper - may be more appropriate for very traditional employers or those who have requested physical portfolios. This may be true if you need to include examples of art or designwork, for example, where originals are best.
Each is a valid way of presenting a portfolio. Your choice, once again, depends on what is appropriate for your purpose and audience.
ePortfolio concepts for learners: This brief document, developed by the Australian ePortfolio Project, is designed to inform learners about issues and opportunities associated with ePortfolios.
ePortfolios at CSU: This website talks further about ePortfolios and links to Pebblepad, CSU’s personal learning system.
Remaining in Australia – Visa Options
If you want to stay in Australia after completing your course at the university, you will need to lodge an application for another visa with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
In Australia it is against the law for anyone other than a registered migration agent to give advice on immigration matters. Therefore, this is an issue that you need to discuss with DIAC staff or a registered migration agent. However, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
The following information has all been sourced from the DIAC website.
Employer Sponsored Visas
If you have received an offer of employment by an Australian employer able to sponsor you, you may be eligible to apply for an Employer Sponsored Visa. See the DIAC website for more information.
General Skilled migration
If you have completed one or more Australian degrees which required at least two years of full-time study, you may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Visa in Australia. See the DIAC website for more information or contact DIAC or a registered migrant agent for more information.
Skilled—Graduate (Temporary) visa (subclass 485)
This visa allows overseas students who do not meet the criteria for a permanent General Skilled Migration Visa to remain in Australia for 18 months to gain skilled work experience or improve their English language skills. Holders of this visa may apply for permanent residence at any time if they are able to meet the pass mark on the General Skilled Migration points test. For details visit DIAC’S website.
For more information
You may contact your nearest DIAC office by ringing 131 881 or 131 880 for the cost of a local call (if calling from a landline phone), or by visiting the website.
When to start applying for jobs
As final year students you MUST remember that Graduate programs close early each year for Graduate employment the following year. Valuable Links that will provide you with all the relevant information that you require are;
Where to find jobs
CareerHub is part of the CSU Careers service and is a portal to careers and employment online. CareerHub allows you to search for employment opportunities, upcoming events and find career resources.
Important Links are also available on Career Hub that are full of Graduate information.
Links to employment agencies
Careers information for specific fields/courses
Careers information can be found at the government Job Guide website The Job Guide provides an in-depth look at a range of occupations, and their education and training pathways. It also gives useful information about how to work out what occupations suit you best, based on your interests and abilities.
Getting Your Foot “In The Door”
There are countless strategies and even luck to consider for getting your foot-inside-the-door of some kind of career break.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests there is a “hidden job market”, ie., opportunities which never find there way into mainstream newspapers or online jobs boards. And, if you don’t recognise this, you will probably spend too much time looking for job ads in the media when you should also be searching for a career break elsewhere.
So exactly where is this “elsewhere”? Well, if you search online using the phrase “informational networking” you will discover a whole range of ideas. Essentially, though, it all means getting out and about, meeting people, searching for opportunities yourself and, quite often, putting yourself in the way of “luck”.
Take voluntary work, for example. This too is a form of informational networking: while gaining valuable skills you are demonstrating to a potential employer that you posses certain personal and professional attributes.
Useful link: Career Development eManual
Steps in the job application process:
- Covering Letter: A cover letter is not a job application – it is a short, tailored letter that should always accompany any resume, folio or any other application documents that you send to a prospective employer. For further information on cover letters and the different types go to ‘My Future”.
- Resume - sometimes called a 'Curriculum Vitae' or 'CV' - has certain features that are required which can be used to target an employer, job advertisement and highlight your suitability for that position. The following link to resume articles within CareerHub will take you through these requirements and the reasons why.
- Addressing Selection Criteria: The selection criteria is a list of knowledge, qualifications, skills, abilities and experience that the employer has specifically identified a person requires to do the job proficiently. For further information please refer to the Job Access site.
You will often be required to provide copies of your transcript in job applications. Through my.csu you can download and print an unofficial transcript of your results at any time. Should you require an official copy of your transcript, you can obtain one via the web. Click here to Order an official Student Transcript.
Preparing for interviews
The Careers Service provide workshops and individual appointments to assist you with Interview Techniques. Other avenues for help are to apply for a CSU Internship program which involve excellent work experience and resume and Interview practice. Information is also available at the Careers Service Website and www.bemyinterviewer.co.uk
Charles Sturt University is known as a University for the Professions – and as such CSU graduates are highly regarded and very successful in securing employment. The Graduate Destination Survey (GDS) which is conducted annually CSU in association with Graduate Careers Australia indicated more than 90% of respondents were in full time work in 2008.
However, the transition to employment can sometimes be a daunting one. Approaching this transition from University to employment with realistic expectations can help you avoid some potential pitfalls.
It is also acknowledged that some degree of rejection by potential employers is almost inevitable in today’s economic climate, even for highly qualified individuals. Successful job searchers also experience apprehension and stress related to the uncertainties inherent in the search process. However, for many job searchers (and, in particular, those having difficulty finding a job), these pressures accumulate as the search progresses (Barber et al., 1994). One well established reaction to the stress of search is avoidance or withdrawal. This may occur directly, as the job searcher avoids the possibility of experiencing rejection through not making job applications and succumbing to learned helplessness (Plumly and Oliver, 1987). More indirectly, lowered self-esteem or self-efficacy may result. This, in turn, lowers the motivation to continue the search (Ellis and Taylor, 1983; Kanfer and Hulin, 1985; Eden and Aviram, 1993).
To tell you the truth I was more than a bit apprehensive finishing university and entering the ‘real world’. However, my course at CSU prepared me extremely well for my working life – I knew what to expect. I knew that I would most probably not get a job right away but I knew the process to go through to get work and eventually a full time job.
Stefanie Brown - PDHPE Teacher/Careers Advisor Macquarie Anglican Grammar School
Labour Market Information: Trends, Demands and Opportunities
The labour market you will enter on completion of your CSU degree is significantly different to what it was ten or twenty years ago. The last year in particular has seen many companies restructure, downsize or outsource, making the labour market far more competitive. IT’s important to have an open mind when looking for work after graduation, and to be open to opportunities. It is unlikely that you’ll secure the ‘dream job’ first time around, but each position adds to your experience and employability and is a stepping stone to your ultimate goal. Many graduates find themselves working outside their area of study so don’t be disheartened if the job you had imagined throughout your degree seems illusive at first.
Data concerning the Australian Labour Market can be accessed using the Quicklinks menu on the CSU Careers Service website
Information for the diversity of students and graduates
Labour market information can sometimes be segmented into issues or sources of information relating to, for example, international students or students with disabilities.
Checking out the Australian Government’s Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) is useful for all students, yet it gives further insight into the prevailing labour market for those international students wishing to work in Australia.
Checking out the website of Graduate Careers Australia not only provides a terrific source of data concerning graduate employment (GradStats & GradFiles) it also provides information about the Willing and Able Mentoring (WAM) Program. WAM matches students with disabilities with a mentor in leading organisations.
The Careers Service also has information on other initiatives supporting the diversity of students and graduates of CSU.