How volunteering helped two graduates secure their dream jobs!
As we all know, competition in the workforce is tough. New graduates now have to work harder than ever to differentiate themselves and attract the attention of recruiters and employers. Increasingly, however, canny graduates are recognising there is a sure-fire way to help get an edge in the competitive graduate job market. Here are two unique stories from graduates who used volunteering to help them secure their graduate jobs!
In 2016, Alexa Nguyen completed a Bachelor of Science but lacked direction and didn’t apply for any graduate roles as she wasn’t sure what sort of work was out there. This lead Alexa back to additional study, completing a Bachelor of Computer Science (Advanced) at the University of Adelaide in 2019. This time, however, Alexa was determined to arm herself with some professional experience to help her secure her dream first role! Whilst studying computer science, Alexa applied for volunteer work with Code Like a Girl, a social enterprise providing girls and women with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to thrive in the traditionally male-dominated world of coding.
“I didn’t start volunteering regularly until a friend pointed out that I had skills that an organisation could benefit from and encouraged me to apply for the volunteer position,” says Alexa
“I initially started volunteering for Code Like a Girl because I wanted to contribute to a worthwhile cause and help create a safe space for women in tech in Adelaide however I quickly discovered that it was also a great tool to help me develop important professional experience such as communication, interpersonal and team work skills, time management through balancing volunteering and study, problem solving and adaptability”.
Alexa took her volunteering further and used the tech skills she was learning at university to help other community organisations such as Robogals Adelaide where she worked as a workshop volunteer and also at Adelaide City Library as a Media Lab Volunteer conducting informal training sessions for library patrons in making music, digital photo editing and graphic design. A keen photographer, Alexa also sought out volunteer photography opportunities to cover events such as BiG Day In, the Japanese Film Festival and AVCon. In 2020, Alexa secured her first role out of university and is employed as an Associate Developer with SEEK, one of Australia’s top tech companies.
“I definitely believe that my volunteering experience helped me stand out from among other applicants when applying for competitive graduate programs. I was able to refer to examples from my volunteering when answering interview questions. Volunteering also played a big role in being able to secure internships and paid casual roles during university plus I was able to nominate the people I volunteered for as referees and they were happy to provide references”.