The path to completing a university degree usually involves several years’ commitment to study, classes, assessments, exams and hard work.
Faced with such responsibility, you might be wondering, ‘Is university worth it?’ We spoke to two graduates who think a degree is worth it and discovered how you can use yours to your advantage.
Meet the graduates
Gopal Bogati recently graduated from Charles Sturt University Study Centres in Sydney with a Master of Information Technology, specialising in Software Design and Cloud Computing. Born in Nepal, Gopal completed his undergraduate degree in computer engineering at Nepal’s Pokhara University and gained over three years’ experience in software engineering before moving to Australia.
“I chose Australia as a destination for my international education in order to gain international exposure, further my career, follow my passion and get a quality education from a world-class university,” he says.
Gopal is currently undertaking an internship in web development and building a career as a programmer here in Australia.
“I wanted to explore new things and make a change,” she says. “I knew that if I didn’t move from my parents’ house, I would not be independent and confident enough. That’s why I chose to move to Australia and experience new things in life.”
Harpreet finished her accounting degree in 2019 and currently works as a tax accountant.
Here are 10 ways to use your university degree to your advantage!
1. Increased access to job opportunities
The job market can be very competitive, and many employers look for candidates who have a university degree. While some employers view a university degree as an advantage to your application, others consider it a minimum requirement.
“Whenever I was applying for any job, the basic requirement was a degree,” says Harpreet. “It is really important to have an initial understanding of the field you want to work in – even for a graduate or entry-level role. It’s easier to get into the industry when you have a degree and basic knowledge in hand.”
With a university degree, you are qualified for a wider range of job opportunities, meaning you may have more choice throughout your career. In 2019, 87.1 per cent of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher were employed. These people also experienced much lower levels of unemployment compared to the people who did not have a degree.
2. Use your degree to network
A university degree grants you access to an important community of professionals, mentors and peers within your field, and this community can play a crucial role in your success and future career opportunities. Make sure you speak to your lecturers, heads of department and unit coordinators about any contacts and opportunities that they know of. Some universities will run networking events where current students can connect with alumni and professionals working in their industry.
3. Pathways to postgraduate studies
If you complete an undergraduate university degree, you will have the opportunity to further your studies with a postgraduate qualification. A postgraduate qualification deepens your understanding of a subject and builds on the skills you’ve developed during your undergraduate degree.
Usually, postgraduate students specialise in a particular area of interest, which allows them to become experts in that subject. This may lead to more job opportunities, higher salaries and greater career progression.
4. Improved migration prospects
After graduating from an Australian university, you may be eligible for a Temporary Graduate visa, which allows you to temporarily live and work in Australia after graduation.
Harpreet says it’s important that graduates use their working rights to their advantage by gaining valuable experience in their industry.
“When you have full-time working rights, it’s easier to get a job,” she says. “For international students, I would say that you have two years to explore and to look into the industry – that’s an advantage. After that, you might get a job, and then you can apply for permanent residency in Australia. Even if you are going back home, you can take your international work experience with you – and that matters a lot on a resume.”
If your university degree is in an in-demand industry, you might also be eligible for skilled migration opportunities after you graduate. You can find out more about the occupations eligible for skilled migration here.
5. Professional development opportunities
Many universities run professional development workshops and seminars focused on preparing students for the workplace. Harpreet attended some of these workshops at Charles Sturt University Study Centres and recommends that other students seek out similar opportunities.
“There were a lot of events organised on a weekly and sometimes monthly basis, like LinkedIn profile-building seminars,” she says. “I didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile before that, and it’s really important for professionals to have one. There were also resume workshops, networking events, and seminars where you learn how to behave in a professional environment.”
Gopal also attended some of Charles Sturt University Study Centres’ professional development workshops and speaks highly of his experience: “Charles Sturt University Study Centres not only focuses on your academic degree, but also the interpersonal and professional development required for your future career.”
6. Access to exclusive academic resources
At university, you have access to a huge amount of resources – such as library collections, online databases, academic journals and other study tools – that can inspire a life-long love of learning. With these resources, you can learn about different subjects on your own and possibly even find an interest that you’d like to pursue further.
7. Build a global career
Australia has a world-renowned education system. With modern campuses, industry connections, expert lecturers and great employment outcomes, obtaining a degree from an Australian university can be a launchpad for a global career.
Gopal believes that holding an international degree is one of the best ways for candidates to stand out while looking for work.
“An international degree stands out among other local candidates when it comes to the job search, as well as in terms of life skills, knowledge, spiritual growth, independence and being able to handle an unfamiliar situation on your own,” he says. “Students are exposed to different cultures, languages and ethnic groups, which broadens their academic and social experience.”
8. Gain workplace skills
At university, you may have the chance to run a club, edit newspapers and take part in student organisations. These opportunities offer a safe space to learn and practise valuable skills that you will need to use in a real workplace.
During his time at Charles Sturt University Study Centres, Gopal served as president of the Student Representative Council and vice president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) Student Branch, and was a Charles Sturt University Study Centres student ambassador.
“I felt that being actively engaged in these roles sharpened my technical, interpersonal and communication skills, along with growing my leadership skills,” he says. “I think these are the crucial areas that employers want in candidates.”
9. Undertake internships and graduate programs
Universities usually have strong ties with leading industries and can often connect you with internships and graduate programs in their area of study. These opportunities not only give you practical experience in the workplace, but can also lead to job opportunities after graduation.
“Charles Sturt University Study Centres has internship programs,” says Harpreet. “A lot of my friends have done one, and some of them are now working in the same organisation. It’s really hard to step into the industry initially, but when you have an internship and graduate program, it makes it easier.”
10. Confidence in yourself
Completing a degree is a huge achievement that will give you a great sense of confidence in your ability to succeed. For Gopal, completing a degree at Charles Sturt University Study Centres meant he felt much more prepared for the workplace.
“They know exactly what future employers are looking for in the students to be hired, so they have exceptional practical education and competitive assignments,” he says. “Students get flexibility in choosing single or dual specialisations, which provides them with more options for their career.
“I felt that the free resources, as well as the flexibility in choosing subjects and specialisations, prepared me well for my career.”
Eager to start your professional development? You can attend and experience a practical career and internship workshop, delivered by Charles Sturt University Study Centres on 7 April 2021 – register here