Category Archives: How I Survived…


Career fairs: not your average carnival

When you hear the words ‘careers fair’, you probably think of a bunch of very serious looking adults in suits with pamphlets and application forms, ready to pounce on unsuspecting undergraduate students at any moment. Well, I’m not going to lie to you, there are pamphlets, and some suits, but they aren’t super-serious people, and they most definitely will not attack or intimidate you.

Careers fairs are actually quite a bit of fun. I’m talking tea cup rides, balloons, and ice cream trucks, freaking fabulous right?! More than that, they’re very useful, and not just for those of us who are (shiver) graduating at the end of the year. So what happens at a careers fair and who should go to them?

The program

There isn’t actually a program, but depending on the set up, you’ll probably receive a map upon entering. On this map are all the companies who are there to see you, yes, you. A lot of people don’t go to these fairs because they think they don’t need them, that they’ll be too intimidating, or that they won’t know what to ask the many, many potential employers that are there. The companies that come to these fairs are here to meet potential employees, and it’s a great opportunity for you to learn about different industries, and different company approaches, values, and business strategies. That way, when it comes time for you to apply, you’ll know exactly what to say when they ask you how you feel you reflect company values, and what you can contribute to the company culture.

The main point of a careers fair is to build industry connections between unis and companies, and companies and students.

Who should go?

Everyone!!! Yes, even the first years! Careers fairs are a great opportunity to learn about different fields that you might be interested in, and you may find that the degree you’re doing isn’t what you need to pursue your dream job, thus giving you the opportunity to transfer before you’ve wasted too much time. They’re also for internship seekers (aka penultimate year students); companies are always on the lookout for go-getters, people who actively seek out opportunities and take advantage of them. Lastly, they are of course for those students graduating at the end of the year, and if I’m going to tell anyone that they absolutely need to go to a careers fair, it’s this group. The company reps will give you any information you ask for, either in verbal or pamphlet form, and can also give you some sneaky tips on the interview process!

So, if there’s one coming up at your uni, schedule that baby in!


What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #3

Tip #3: Ask for things!

 If you’re unsure about whether something is possible, you won’t find out unless you say something. Yet it’s very easy to feel reluctant or daunted, and not say anything. Requesting something harmless can’t hurt anyone. You’ll be surprised what’s possible if you merely go up to someone personally and talk to them about it.

For example, when I started university, I thought that timetables were set in stone, and that I couldn’t change the decisions made by university administration and teachers. At the start of last year, I happened to meet a teacher who was coordinating a subject of mine and I casually mentioned that the only class time offered would result in a clash on my timetable. One day later, I received an email from the teacher notifying me that she had rescheduled the class – something which I had never thought possible, and which never would have happened had I said nothing. Moral of the story: ask for things even if you’re not sure whether they can happen, because the worst that can happen is that you’ll be told “no”. And who knows what good things could be possible?

See here for tips #1 and  #2 (it’ll be worth it).


What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #2

Tip #2: There are HEAPS of people

I mean heaps. HEAPS. Universities are the world’s largest educational institutions, and even a typical small university is much, much bigger than a large school. Most of us who’ve graduated from a typical school on Earth have no idea what it’s like to be part of such a large campus population. While we’re all told the statistics when we start university, the practical consequences of being one of so many students don’t sink in until you’ve been in this situation for a while.

One of the first things you’ll notice are the massive queues, usually outside essential services which everyone needs to use – getting a student card, buying your books, enrolling in subjects. Here at the University of Melbourne, there are more than 50,000 students. That’s 50,000 people who need to do those same basic obligations that are common to all students. If you’ve ever waited in a queue for several hours, you might realise that avoiding peak times – “the rush” – can save you a lot of time and stress.

This also applies to using libraries. It can be easy to be fooled by a large, majestic library that has 50 copies of every book that you need. However, if there are 200 people in your class, 50 copies doesn’t seem like that much. Most people are going to miss out – and that’s why you need to get there early and beat the crowd. This applies to all kinds of things at university with limited supply and massive demand. It could mean applying for a scholarship months in advance, or it could be as simple as waking up early for a morning coffee.

Another result of having heaps (HEAPS) of people in one place means that all kinds of views and interests are represented, and it’s possibly the easiest place in the world to find people who share your interests. For example, if you love ukuleles (if you do, please know that I’m totally not judging you), but only one in every 100 people is interested in ukuleles, it sounds like it might be hard to meet someone who shares your passion. Yet, in a university of 50,000 students, that would make 500 people who love ukuleles. So a Ukulele Appreciation Club could have 500 members – 500 people who could play ukuleles together. (Still not judging.)

Did you know that the Co-op sells ukuleles?

Did you know that the Co-op sells ukuleles?


See here for tips #1 and #3 (yes, you want to).


What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #1

Tip #1: Non-compulsory classes are non-compulsory for a reason

It’s not easy to become a university tutor/lecturer/subject coordinator. It takes years of hard work, undergraduate and postgraduate study, plus original contributions to your field as well as continually having to prove your credibility. In general, teachers at university know what they’re doing.

Yet, as you look at your timetable, you may notice that while some classes have compulsory attendance, others are optional. For those of us who’ve graduated from a typical school on Earth, the idea of not attending a scheduled class is as unthinkable as going back to MySpace. Why would so many teachers choose to give students the option of not attending a class? It’s no less work for them, as they have to turn up and teach the class anyway.

The reason comes from the fact that the vast majority of teachers know that some content is not useful to all students. They carefully choose which lessons are compulsory and which are optional based on what needs to be taught to all students, and what might be prior or unnecessary information for individuals. This is why most subjects have a compulsory component (usually a tutorial or a seminar) and an optional component (usually a lecture).

For example, if you’re taking a subject which has some overlaps with your previous learning, you may find that some lectures will simply be going over content which you already know, for the benefit of others who don’t have your background. However, a lot of students who find themselves in this position and know that they’re about to attend a lecture in which they’ll learn nothing new, will do so anyway, because they feel that it would be bad to miss it.

However, this is not true. In fact, this is exactly why almost all teachers make attendance at particular classes optional. They know that some students could put that time to better use.

Some people allow this new-found liberty to rush to their heads, and don’t attend any classes that are optional, and of course I’m not recommending that. But if you find that you could make better use of your time than attending a class which will cover material that you already know, remember that you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong – rather, that’s what your teachers want you to do. That’s why they make certain classes optional.

See here for tips #2 and #3  (you know you want to).


What you’re not told when starting uni…

A long time ago, a wise old person said, “Always begin a blog post with a quote from a wise old person.” More recently, my boss said, “That’s a really lame way to conceal the fact that you couldn’t write an introduction. Also, I don’t think anyone ever said that.” She’s probably right, but I think that this paragraph successfully demonstrates that starting things can be tricky.

Starting university is probably almost as hard as opening an article – unless the first thing you do at university is writing an article, in which case, RESPECT – and like all new experiences, you learn through experience. It is customary for every community to pass on the wisdom of the elders to the young and inexperienced. I suppose that this sort of happened for me, because my sister started university two years before me. Unfortunately, she was studying veterinary science, so her sagacious guidance, which included, “Don’t stand within kicking range of a horse,” and, “Don’t be fooled by appearances – Chihuahuas are vicious,” has not been particularly helpful to me as an Arts student. Thus, with the bottomless confidence of a fourth-year, I will endeavour to impart my more generally applicable wisdom, as it were. (I don’t think “as it were” contributes any meaning to that sentence – it’s just something I say to appear wise.)

Of course, I, like most students, received heaps of good advice about taking opportunities, staying organised, studying, managing assessments and so on, but there are a few things that academic advisors will never say.

Here are the top three things I wish people had told me before I started university:

1. Non-compulsory classes are non-compulsory for a reason

2. There are heaps of people

3. Ask for things

Now that you’re an expert on starting university, check out my YouTube clip below for a musical version, (let’s face it, everything sounds better in song) then go get ’em, tiger!


How to get a job

So you need to find a job? Whether you’re looking for your first job, moving up or returning to work, we have some good tips and tricks to help you in the quest of gaining employment.

Firstly, the best thing to do is to decide on a job or industry you are skilled for and passionate about. Then start looking, followed by a spit and polish of your resume and some old fashioned knocking on doors to find a job.

Here are a few of our best tips for getting a job:

  • Select a job opening that you are qualified for and outlines qualities/experience you know you have.
  • Update your resume to better reflect your skills and the job you’re applying for.
  • Be prepared to send out a hundred applications. Send your resume high and low and see what responses you get in your job search.
  • Prepare for the interview, making sure you know what your answer will be for those tricky questions and practice with a friend so your presentation will smooth.
  • See what your uni is offering at their careers centre, often you can find some good part time jobs, on or off-campus, that are flexible around your study time if they are advertised on campus job boards.
  • Get work experience by interning at a company or volunteering at events.
  • Cold calling for unadvertised jobs can be daunting but can also pay off if you can make the right connections and impression. Many jobs are not advertised, but make sure you do company and industry research first!
  • Make good use of your business network contacts and see if anyone is able to help you out.

If all else fails, invent your own job and become an entrepreneur!


Drug awareness

Drug abuse is a federal offence in Australia and not only can drugs do internal damage to your organs, brain and mental health, they can also have a deep impact on friends and family, land you in jail or prevent you from travelling to certain countries.

Drug Aware advises “There is no safe level of illicit drug use. The user can never tell exactly what an illegal drug contains, or what effect it will have, and this puts people at serious risk. If you suspect bad effects from drugs every second counts, react fast and call an ambulance. Police will not normally attend unless ambulance officers are threatened or there is a death.” As there is limited regulation on drug sales, you cannot tell what is in the batch or what effect it will have on you. Side effects include anything from anxiety and convulsions to massive hallucinations and internal organs shutting down, resulting in death or serious disability.

To keep yourself safe and informed on drug information,  here is a list of good websites that provide information and support for all drug-related issues. They have great info for youth and parents, as well as councillors and support lines.

Australian Federal Police

National Drugs Campaign

Drug Aware

Life Education Australia


The importance of being healthy

Why is it important to be healthy? Well, of all the things you could do to your body, treating it well and being healthy is probably the best thing.

But why, I hear you ask.

Well, when you’re healthy don’t you just feel better? Your head clears of sluggish fog, you feel like you have more and more energy and suddenly things are looking up, because literally the happy hormones from exercise will turn you into an optimist. Being healthy is a good thing – the healthy body, healthy mind thing and all – and can be quite achievable through regular exercise, good food (veggies and fruit) and tonnes of sleep.

You don’t need a miracle pill if you want to feel better, live longer and stave off advances of debilitating health issues if you take easy steps towards being healthier every day.

Thinking about being healthy is all well and good, but how does one actually be healthy? Here are some of the benefits of good physical health for your brain to get you on track!

  • Get plenty of sleep! It’s vital to help repair the body to help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world.
  • Eat well – 5 veggies, 3 fruit, that kinda thing.
  • Keep good company – catch up with friends or hug a cute puppy dog.
  • Think positive – keep things optimistic and positive, you will feel better for it.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes each day – fitness, illness-fighting and happy endorphins-giving. Swell.

I hate Christmas shopping!!!

Buying Christmas presents for my friends and family is a yearly struggle for me, and it’s far better to do it earlier rather than later, as I was reminded last year when my commitments at work forced me to do my Chrissie shopping last-minute. Figuring out what to get everyone is an even bigger struggle, so here’s my guide for what to get everyone, from the Fitness Freak, to the Sci-Fi Fan, the Beauty Buff, and the Creative Cook.


For the Fitness Freak

Working out has become very fancy over the past few years, and these days everyone seems to be monitoring everything from their daily steps, to their heart rate and quality of sleep. Luckily, this means that every fittie needs their tech. Cue the perfect prezzie opportunity!

If they’re an avid bike rider:

Help them ride in style, with funky helmets by Nutcase. They come in crazy cool colours and prints, including (personal faves) Flyboy, Urban Caution, and Watermelon. Other cute bike accessories can be found here.

If they’re a general fittie:

Opt for the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP to track activity and sleep, including calories burned, steps taken, kilometres travelled. Either is a great fitness buddy, though I personally find the Jawbone UP to be a little more stylish!


For the Sci-fi/Science Fan

A Game of Thrones is HUGE right now, so the book set is a perfect gift for a newbie, as well as a whole range of other themed gifts and gadgets from Doctor Who to The Big Bang Theory and others.


For the Beauty Buff

The Co-op has a fabulous and extensive range of beauty products, from brands like Burt’s Bees, MOR Cosmetics, Karen Murrell, butter LONDON and Perfect Potion. My mum and sister are also big fans (especially of butter LONDON), so they’re definitely going to find some of the following under the tree this year!


For the Creative Cook

Cookbooks have a come a long way, and here are a few that dad will love!

For the baker, hopefully they’ll share their delicious creations!

And for the vegos…

If you really don’t want to head in-store, you can buy everything for everyone online in 10 minutes flat with delivery across Australia – too easy! Plus, check out our online Gift Guide – you’re guaranteed to find what you want for the person who has everything.


Summer boredom busters

Hello summer! Out of cold winter, out of the mood-swinging spring and into a good, blazing Aussie summer!

I’m looking forward to the beach, BBQ’s with mates and surfing these summer months. There are so many cool outdoor activities to do with friends, so here is our complete boredom buster guide to outdoor adventures.

Paintball – It’s like a less violent Hunger Games. Last person standing wins!

Rock Climbing – Whether it’s indoor climbing or out on a mountain, rock climbing is fun and challenging.

Scuba Diving/Snorkelling – The great Barrier Reef is an amazing place to visit, especially as rising sea temperatures and storms are putting considerable strain of the delicate coral. See it while you can and enjoy a day of scuba or snorkelling if you’re in northern Queensland. Australia has some fantastic beaches and reefs, so check out what diving and snorkelling options are near you.

Fishing – I know, I know!!! But seriously, it can be fun and relaxing. Go out on a boat or chill on the pier with friends. Catch ‘em, kiss ‘em and throw ‘em back! (The fish, not your friends.) Or, if you’re into fishing for a feed, enjoy your catch freshly cooked that night.

Surfing, Kayaking or Paddle Boarding – all great beach activities. But be warned, paddle boarding is harder than it looks!

If adventuring isn’t your forte, then a sunny day, good book and picnic at the park or beach is wonderful.

At the Co-op we are so ready for summer, so be sure to visit us in-store or online for some fantastic goodies for summer adventuring!