Category Archives: Campus Ambassadors


The LinkedIn bandwagon: should you be on it?

Firstly, what is LinkedIn?

Well, essentially it’s a networking site just like Facebook… only corporate-y. Instead of all your personal information, it’s basically like having an online resume, and instead of friends, you have ‘connections’. These connections are basically your employers (both past and present), colleagues, and lets be honest, you’re probably going to have your friends on there too. Personally, I think it’s an excellent way to stalk people you know (like Facebook), but on LinkedIn, you might just get the opportunity to exploit your connections to get a job. People post their work updates, and you never know, someone you went to high school with might end up working at your dream company before you, and they might be in a position to help you get a job. Even saying you know someone at the company in your cover letter can be beneficial.

What should you be posting?

Past and present work is a yes, your education is also a yes, but anything from your personal life is big a no-no. Anything rude or inappropriate, also a no-no. It might seem funny at the time, but probably won’t be when your boss and/or potential future employer sees it (and then they won’t even be a potential future employer anymore).

Who should you be adding?

If you’re on good terms with your past employers and old colleagues, you should add them as they’ll be valuable references. Potential employers will then see who you know, what they do, and they can contact them. Which is also why you should only add people you a) actually know; and b) want being contacted by potential employers. You don’t want to add someone who you don’t like, or who doesn’t like you, because you might end up missing out on a fabulous opportunity because of a bad reference.


“You said HOW much?!”

One of the most daunting aspects of securing your first job can be negotiating your salary. Many jobs that you see advertised will describe the salary as “negotiable” rather than stating the exact amount. In these cases, the employer is prepared to be flexible with the salary in order to attract the best candidate for the role. However, being fresh out of uni, not many of us know how much money graduates should expect to make in the first job of their career. Many might feel anxious and uncomfortable when the time comes to “negotiate” salaries.

Imagine this: You’ve been to the interview, sat the aptitude test, started to relax a little as you have become acquainted with the company and staff – and you are pretty confident now… surely you’ve got this job! You go to your final interview and BOOM! The dreaded question is asked… “What salary range were you thinking of?”

How should you respond to this question? What’s the right answer?  Unfortunately, there is actually no “correct” answer, as every situation differs. That said, here are some “salary negotiation tips” that MAY make the process a little easier and less stressful!

  • Come prepared by doing some research
  • Show confidence and maintain a positive attitude – know you are worth it!
  • Leave the “serious talk” until later in the recruitment process, as you will be in a stronger position if the employer is keen to employ you
  • Be honest about your skills and experience
  • Request some time to consider a salary offer, maybe a day or two

Once you have successfully agreed on a salary, get it in writing. Good luck!



Make the world a better place!

Volunteering. Whether you’re in pursuit of a new experience, don’t have much money to donate, or just really want to do something to directly help people, volunteering is a pretty noble and rewarding option. Overseas “voluntourism” is a recent fad, but be very careful, as these travel volunteering industries are big business; make sure you know where your efforts are going and what your relationship is with the community. Check out this post for some practical advice.

The good news is, there’s so much you can do to volunteer, without leaving the country!

If you want a challenge and some responsibility, plus practical training opportunities, consider joining a community assistance group. You can help people deal with floods and weather events by joining the State Emergency Service, assist lost and injured animals by helping out at the RSPCA, become a volunteer fire fighter through the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, or save lives at the beach by volunteering in Surf Life Saving. All of these are ways to give straight back to your local community, meet great people, and pick up skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.

There are also tonnes of opportunities to work with children and migrants. For example, you could volunteer as a literacy tutor, or help with rubbish clean-up and gardening at your local primary school.

Charities are fantastic places to volunteer; usually they are well-organised, and are always in need of assistance. The Red Cross, Cure Cancer, St. Vincent de Paul and others need you! You can volunteer in emergency response, administration, or by being an ambassador.

Helping with conservation efforts is another very popular option, and will allow you to get your hands dirty, get some exercise, and save the planet! Conservation projects are always going on, so head here for listings in your area.

To connect with groups looking for volunteers, a few great websites are available. One is Go Volunteer, and another is Seek Volunteer, so get online and start volunteering! I’m sure you’ll have a great time, make friends, learn new things, and be sure in the knowledge that you’re giving something back. Good on ya!


Be a modern-day nomad!

I love travel so, so much. Like actually. I’ve been on my fair share of overseas adventures, including around Europe, Asia and North America. If you want to get a travel fix, now is the perfect time to do it, free from the restrictions of family and a career, plus a strong Aussie dollar! But with so many different options, how do you choose?

Of course, a popular option is exchange or study abroad. Most large Australian unis have exchange partners around the world, so do some research on where you could go. If you’re keen to do some of your degree internationally, start the paperwork very early (i.e. a year in advance!).

Otherwise, you might decide that you don’t want to spend a whole semester or year in a country, and instead think you might just take an overseas jaunt over winter or summer breaks, or maybe after you finish. For students, the opportunities are almost endless, and cater to different budgets.

A popular option is backpacking. This is great for people with a few months to kill, who want to travel at their own pace, often through multiple countries, and take things as they come. Pilgrimages around regions like South-East Asia, Europe, or South America are often undertaken by young students looking to see the world. Backpacking is also very inexpensive, as you avoid paying for organised tours, instead finding your own way and having your own adventures. Youth Hostels are excellent accommodation for the money-conscious, and you can even use CouchSurfing to find people willing to put you up for free. If you need some suggestions for things to do, check out some of these books stocked by the Co-op.

With a bit more funding available, you might consider going on an organised tour, which will give you an in-depth, relatively authentic experience of a country or area. An excellent resource for these is Contiki, which specialises in tours for 18 to 35-year-olds. Tour packages range from about $800 to $4,000. There are many other options for organised tours, just check with a travel agent.

If you have even MORE disposable income (lucky devil), perhaps a shopping trip is the thing for you. Some very popular shopping destinations include Singapore, New York, Hong Kong and Paris. Make sure to take plenty of cash, and an empty suitcase to hold all your purchases!

Whichever of these options you choose, the Co-op is incredibly well-stocked with resources to help you make the most of your trip. This includes phrase books and language-learning packages, as well as a huge range of country guides, maps and travel supplies.

I hope this has given you some idea of potential travel opportunities, and a taste for visiting new places. Bon voyage!


How NOT to end up on Bondi Rescue

Beach safety is very, very important, as Australia appears to have been blessed with a wide variety of things that can harm you (most of the poisonous spiders and snakes on earth can be found here!), and our beaches are no exception. Most locals know the basics of beach safety, but many tourists and exchange students don’t, so here are my top five beach safety tips that will hopefully help you stay safe and healthy.

Swim between the flags! Always, and I mean ALWAYS, swim between the flags. The flags are placed at the safest swimming spot on the beach by the lifeguards, and this is the area you’re least likely to drown in. Anywhere else and you’re at risk of being accidentally hit by surfers, getting caught in a rip, pulled out to sea, or dragged onto the rocks, none of which is fun. Generally lifeguards only keep watch on the spaces in between the flags, so even if you do get in trouble, you’re more likely to be seen.
Wear sunscreen and a hat, and drink lots of water! These tips aren’t necessarily just for the beach, but they are especially important if you’re going to be in the hot sun all day, so you don’t get dehydrated or sunburned, or worse, cop a bad bout of sunstroke.
Listen out for the sirens, and pay attention to what the lifeguards say. If you hear a siren sound, get out of the water ASAP – there may be a shark.
Don’t overestimate your swimming ability. If you aren’t a great swimmer, don’t go out too far, otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll get caught in a rip or simply find yourself out of your depth (literally). There are lifeguards on most beaches who can assist you, but no one wants to be in that situation, so don’t put yourself in it.
If you aren’t a regular, seasoned swimmer, don’t go to the beach alone. Reason being, if something DOES happen, your companion will be able to alert lifeguards and other authorities.

Most of all, have fun – the beaches in Australia are beautiful and should be taken advantage of, especially if you’re only here for a short time. So make the most of it, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!


Creating your own Social Network

As a wise tutor once told me, “you can’t legally own people, but they are an excellent asset.”

Now, he said this in regards to labour, but knowing people is an asset in itself, and one you’ll need when you finish uni and start looking for work. Networking is surprisingly easy, though admittedly a little daunting. It has only two steps: meeting people, and maintaining connections. Seems easy enough, right?

Let’s for a moment go back to the first year of uni. If you are a first year, just think about where you’re at now. You were starting your studies, deciding on a major, and getting used to uni life. You probably weren’t thinking about making connections in your field just yet. Now skip ahead a couple of years to your final year. Suddenly, you’re graduating and looking for a job. This is where knowing people matters. So how do you network and what can it do for you?

First, you need to meet people. I know I sound like a dating coach right now, but that’s kind of what you’re doing. You want to meet as many (relevant) people as possible, and present to them your absolute best self. Why? Because later on, these are the people you’re going to call for references, letters of recommendation, and about internships and job opportunities. So in short, you want them to think you’re the most amazing person on the planet.

So, where can you meet these key influencers? Well, chances are you’ve already met a few! Lecturers and tutors make great academic references, and to get on their good side, make sure that a.) they know your name (and you know theirs), and b.) you participate a lot in class, so later on they can say ‘yep, (insert name) is amazing, you should definitely hire them/let them go on exchange/do honours’.

Need specific locations? Try careers fairs, seminars and talks by guest speakers, workshops, and your workplace. Networking can be strategic, but you don’t want to come across as using people, or being conceited. Just be your amazing self and you’ll be fine.

Secondly, you need to maintain these relationships. You’ve met some very important people by attending careers fairs and company seminars, but now what? Get their emails, phone numbers, whatever you can, and stay in contact. Now, I’m not saying stalk the person (definitely DON’T do that), but drop them the occasional email, and then later on when a position opens up, they might just think of you.

Happy networking!


Passports are a pain in the complicated

Getting a passport is a major hassle – there’s paperwork, photo-taking, standing in queues, and it’s almost guaranteed that the final product will have you looking like a serial killer, thanks to the ‘no smiling’ rule. So why bother?

Well, if you’re planning on never ever ever leaving the country, you probably don’t actually need one. Want to leave Australia, even for a quick trip to New Zealand? You’ll need a passport, because despite being closer to Sydney than Perth is, it’s still a different country, and to go to another country – any other country – you’ll be needing a passport.

A passport is also a useful form of ID, it’s recognized internationally and some jobs will ask you for a copy of your passport during the application process to confirm you’re a citizen of that country.

How to apply for one depends on a) who you are, and b) whether you’re applying for a new one or renewing your old one, so check out the Australian Passport Office to find out which form you need to fill out.

You’ll also be needing several passport sized photos of yourself (no smiling!) to submit, and it’s recommended that you have these taken professionally, as other ones won’t be accepted. It can cost up to $20, but it usually only takes 5 minutes and you’re guaranteed they won’t be rejected by the passport office. One really frustrating downside? No one ever looks good in their passport photo, ever. You will most likely end up looking like a psychopath or serial killer due to the no-fun, no-smiling rule, which means that no matter how nice you try to look (hair, make-up, etc), you will not look like a nice person. The best part about passport photos? Most people will never see it, unless you’re a frequent international traveller, or it’s so funny that everyone has to see it, which has happened to many people, sadly. Much like driver’s license photos, they’re only good if they’re really bad.

One question uni students ask about everything is: is it free? The answer here is no, depressingly. Applying for an adult Australian passport will set you back $238. Ouch.

But the toughest question to answer has got to be: when do you apply for a passport? The day before you want to leave is definitely a no-no. While the form states that it only takes 10 days, it’s a lie, prepare to wait at least a month. There is also a 2 day rush option, available for a hefty fee of $105. To be safe, I say apply well before you want to go anywhere. Adult passports are valid for 10 years, so it probably won’t expire right before you want to go somewhere if you apply now-ish.


Co-op Campus Ambassador Wins Chancellor’s Medal

We are proud to announce that our very own Co-op Campus Ambassador (CCA) from semester one, Iori Forsyth, has taken out the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal for The University of the Sunshine Coast. Recognising high academic achievement and notable contributions to the community and university life, the medal is the USC’s highest award for a graduating student.

Commencing the programme in February this year, Iori joined four other CCAs from around Australia to blog, Tweet, Facebook, create video content for the Co-op YouTube Channel and much more.  The CCA’s role is to help new students ease smoothly into university life by shedding some light on important topics, providing tips, tricks and insight on issues and essentially acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ on everything to do with university and campus life. You can follow the current CCA’s on the Co-op Blog.

Iori is graduating from SCU with a Bachelor of Business, and will receive her award today at the University’s graduation ceremony, along with fellow Chancellor’s Medal winner David Fleischman.

From everyone here at the Co-op – congratulations Iori!


But he’s so FLUFFY!

Speaking as someone who spent the better part of the last 18 years trying to convince my parents to let me get a puppy, I know the pain of wanting a fluffy friend and constantly being told: ‘do you know how much work a dog is, do you??’ Chances are, you too have experienced this, and can relate. But puppies, kittens, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, hamsters, and any other animal friends you can think of, are a LOT of work. Cute and cuddly as they are, pets are expensive , and even the cheap ones like bunny rabbits can end up costing a fortune in veterinary bills.

As a uni student, you’re not quite a kid any more, but let’s be honest, can we really call ourselves adults? I know I certainly can’t say it with a straight face. Being in this funky period means the kid part of you wants the pet, the adult is like, we cannot afford it right now, don’t be ridiculous. My adult side rarely wins any arguments, but it has prevailed in this one, as much as I want a St. Bernard (the dog from the Beethoven movies). The reality is that I can’t even afford to feed him or her, let alone take it to the vet, vaccinate it, and embarrassingly, I wouldn’t be strong enough to walk it.

Let’s break down the biggest responsibilities a pet brings, so that you can make an informed decision. To put it simply, you’re going to be responsible for another LIFE, a living and breathing creature that relies on you for EVERYTHING. Sound a lot like a baby? Well, it is similar…

  • Veterinary needs/bills: animals are just like people, they get sick, they break bones, they get cancer, and the same way we have to go to the doctor, they have to go to the vet. Take Belle as an example. When she was a puppy, she started limping randomly, and my parents took her to all kinds of specialists, costing about $5000. Then the limp magically went away on its own not long after. We all decided she was doing it for attention.
  • Along those lines, pets can’t actually talk, so if there is something wrong, it’s not easy to find out, unless it’s super-visible.
  • Pet food can be expensive, depending on the size of the animal, you could be adding an extra $50 to your weekly groceries.
  • They’re messy. Dogs have to be house trained, and even then, when they poop outside, you’re the one who has to clean it up! And cats: have fun changing a litter box, and paying for kitty litter (woohoo).
  • They need lots of attention. This may not seem like a big deal, but you have to walk dogs every day, you have to play with them, cuddle them, feed them, bathe them, groom them, etc. It all takes a lot of time, which you may not have that much of, especially come exams and assessment periods.
  • This is an obvious, but depressing one: they die. When my dog of 15 years died, it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Let’s just say I didn’t handle it too well. Prepare for your friend to leave you in a few years.

Still want one? Make sure you do your research when it comes to what they need; every animal is different!


Last day of uni

You’re approaching the end of your course. After one, two, or heaven knows how many years it’s been (odds are, uni admin doesn’t know), you’re almost at the end. You may have been hit with the realisation that you are approaching your last day of uni.

There is, of course, the possibility that you might have been completely unaware of this day of impending finality. I trust that the first paragraph has shattered your bubble of blissful ignorance, and that you are now clutching your desk, wide-eyed and white-knuckled. You’re welcome.

A wise old person probably once said that life is a journey, and that every now and then there are safe houses where you can pause and restore your health. Or maybe that was Far Cry 2. Anyway, the last day of uni is one of the points at which it is natural to pause and reflect on what has been, and perhaps wonder about what is to come. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t changed since commencing university, and it can be fascinating and wonderful to compare who you were and how you felt on your first day of university with your last day.

For many people, this reflective pondering is accompanied by huge celebrations, which are undoubtedly well-deserved at the end of course. The only thing of which to be careful is not celebrating so hard that you don’t pass the final assessments which occur in the exam period after the last day of uni. Because that would be awkward.