European Adventures

Do you want to know what I think the best part about finishing Uni and getting a job was – finally having $$$. Not just that but also having time. Sure, I have to work during the day but once that clock hits 5pm I walk away and don’t think about work until I sit down at my desk again the next day.

For me, that time and money means holidays! Not just a weekend you get every now and then between assignment due dates in Uni, or the mid semester break that’s over before it even starts. I am talking about a pack your bags, we are off to see the world, who knows when we will be back kind of holiday.

For 18months I worked and saved, all building up to the dream holiday – several months backpacking around Europe. This was always my motivation for graduating, knowing I would finally have the time I needed to see the world. I set off in July, starting with a Contiki camping tour to get myself orientated before venturing off on my own to explore.

Contiki Map

I had the most incredible time abroad, meeting weird and wonderful people and making memories to last a lifetime. I’ve see the Eiffel Tower,

Eiffel Tower

the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

DSC_0459

I went parasailing and scuba diving in the Greek Islands,

Scubadiving

climbed to the highest peak in Europe in the Swiss Alps,

Swiss Alps

danced on tabletops in Spain (sangria in hand), explored castles and ruins in Slovakia and partied in underground bunkers. I have eaten copious amounts of pizza, pasta, pastries and gelato, played with the high rollers at Monte Carlo Cassino, saw Tom Cruise repelling from a rooftop in Vienna filming a movie, and so much more!

It has been an incredible and life changing experience that challenged me every step of the way. I have battled freezing cold nights and scorching hot days, not to mention the wind and rain while trying to set my tent up, sometimes in the pitch dark. I have dealt with ice cold showers at 5am and many a sleepless night in hostels. Travelling alone in foreign places where no one speaks English can be daunting but I am proud to say I did it and I survived.

After 32 days spent sleeping in a tent and countless more on uncomfortable couches or questionable hostel beds I am finally home. Sick and tired at first (anyone who has ever been on a Contiki will know about the dreaded Contiki cough) and very broke, but also with a strong case of the travel bug. Now to plan my next adventure…

Beyond Graduation- 12 Months in Review Part 2

Part 2 and my third biggest lesson since graduation is here!

My biggest lesson over this last year is don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let anyone discourage you. I am still learning that lesson!

One of my favourite quotes is from Albert Einstein and goes something like this:

Einstein Quote

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid.”

Everyone has their own skills and talents and you need to discover yours. Once you find your niche you will thrive but this can take time so in the meantime expect a few hiccups along the way. I thought I wanted to focus on my writing; I studied journalism and thought this was my strength. Over the last 12 months though I have realised my writing skills have a long way to go, and I don’t really enjoy it as much as I thought. Instead, my talent lies in my people skills and this is where I really thrive. I’ve also realised I am more passionate about events than I am about community engagement for construction and roadworks. Ultimately this was another huge factor in my decision to quit my job. I wanted to refocus my career back towards my passion. At first I felt like a bit of a failure, I couldn’t ‘hack it’ in this industry and I didn’t flourish after Uni as anticipated. However on reflection, I know it was the right decision for me. If you are truly unhappy in your job, then it’s ok to change your mind and decide it’s not the right fit for you.

There are so many people out there who are unhappy with their lives, who hate what they are doing and who are too afraid to try something different. Yes it’s a risk and comes with obstacles but is keeping up the façade of security really worth spending years in a job environment you hate? Take control of your life’s direction with confidence. Even if the transition is tough (which at times it has been for me) a new, better choice will eventually lead to a new, better life. I am finally working for the company I have dreamed of working with for years. No, I don’t know what will happen when my contract runs up but right now it is a foot in the door, its exposure to the right people and my team is so fantastic that it makes everything I went through in the last 12months so worth it!

This leads me to my third and final point….

3. Build your network

Networking Picture

Have you ever heard the saying “Its not what you know, its who you know”? Well in my experience that is very true. I thought if I worked hard to get the perfect grades at Uni that would be enough but sometimes you need that little bit more. I found nearly everyone I worked with got their job because they knew someone else in the company. That’s not to say they didn’t have the necessary skills but that connection gave them an instant advantage. When you graduate, the more connected you are the better your chances will be of thriving in your chosen field. A friend of mine for example sent a ‘connection’ request on LinkedIn to a bunch of people who worked for a company she was applying for a job with. Several of them accepted her and she got the interview. She later found out the reason she got an interview is because they noticed she had several connections to the company (yes they do really look up your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so watch what you post or make sure it’s set to super private!) This got her the opening she needed to then sell herself in the interview and ultimately land the job. My advice, start building your networks now. Sign up for a mentor program, do internships or attend events in your field. I wouldn’t have gotten my current job if it wasn’t for someone I knew putting my name forward so trust me, networks are vital!!

12 months out of Uni and to be honest I still don’t know exactly what I want with my career but that’s ok because right now I am learning, I am trying new things and I am finding where my niche is. My experiences, both good and bad over the last year have helped me to grow as a person, to become stronger, more resilient and determined, and to stop letting other people intimidate, discourage and drag me down. The way I see it is, everyone will have that one job they hate in life right? Well I have already gone through that so it can only go up from here.

Until next time

Alita

Beyond Graduation- 12 Months in Review

Graduation is a huge accomplishment and takes a great amount of devotion, time and effort. However graduation is not the end – it’s just the beginning of the next phase of your life. I remember walking across that stage to collect my piece of paper that said I was ready to go off into the ‘real world’ and thinking “I don’t know anything yet. How am I going to be able to do this?” No matter how much you learn at Uni, I’ve found there are still some life lessons that just can’t be taught in a classroom. It’s been 12 months now since I moved off College and into the ‘real world’ and let me tell you it hasn’t been anything like I anticipated.

graduation-dog

I have laughed, smiled, screamed and cried, sometimes all at once (trust me its possible!).

You have these images in your mind about how your life will turn out after graduation: you will move into a fabulous apartment with your friends, its always going to be fun, you will have a fantastic job, get paid a fortune, fit right in with your team, be great at everything you do and people will be so impressed with you, you will be promoted in no time.

Call me naïve but I actually believed this would be how it worked so you can imagine my shock and dismay when my picture perfect future wasn’t so perfect after all.

Graduate meme

In the last 12 months I have moved into an apartment with friends, had a massive falling out with a roomie and realised that living with friends isn’t always going to be all fun and games, changed roomies twice, started a job in one role, been transferred to another, loved my job then hated my job, felt like part of a team, felt completely isolated from my team, quit my job, moved back home to my parents in Bundaberg, moved back to Toowoomba and now I am working in a temp job that only lasts for another month, uncertain of what my next move will be – not quite the success story I had planned… and yet despite all of that I am probably the happiest I have been in the last 12 months. So based on my experience I thought I would share with you the three biggest lessons I have learnt that I wish I had know 12 months ago.

  1. Its all about hard work and dedication

Your ability to succeed will come down to how hard you are willing to work, how badly you want it and how long you are willing to persevere for. Talent will only get you so far and if you have a tendency to procrastinate I suggest you get over it or else it could be your downfall. In the corporate world, it’s very fast paced and it’s very cut throat. There are no handouts, no short cuts, no one to pick up the slack for you and no one to cover for you when you don’t hold up your end of the bargain. There are hundreds of other graduates out there who will gladly take your spot so if you think you can get by without pulling your weight think again. When I started my first job straight out of Uni, they sat me down and said “This is a sink or swim industry so you’d better hope you can swim. The last girl couldn’t, we got rid of her…”

I stuck it out for 12 months, determined to do my best, to prove my skills, determined not to be put off by office politics and a very prominent pecking order (graduate = personal slave. Think fetching lunches and collecting dry cleaning). Needless to say in the end it wasn’t the right ‘fit’ for me. This leads to point number two.

  1. Its ok to fail

When I quit my job after just 12 months, I felt like I had let myself, my parents and everyone who believed in me down. This wasn’t how things were meant to pan out for me. I was embarrassed to admit that I’d had enough of the grunt work and had quit my job without anything to go to. Then someone helped me see it in another light. They told me it was very brave to be able to say enough was enough and to know when to walk away. They told me that as a graduate, it’s only after you give something a try that you will know if it is the right industry for you.

Stay tuned for part two and my third biggest lesson coming to you next week!

Alita

The next chapter..

Nearing the end of my degree (I finish in February!), I realised I needed to get my name out there if I wanted to get a job. So, back in September, I sent out my resume to every company that I could think of.  After at least 20 rejection letters, and even one phone call to personally tell me that even if they did have a vacant position they still wouldn’t hire me because I’m ONLY a graduate, I have found a job!

Doing what you ask?  I’m working in the Marketing Department at FK Gardner and Sons Group (FKG), a Toowoomba construction company, and I have to say I’m pretty excited. This is the kind of job I had been looking for. I get to wear fancy corporate clothes and heels, work in a nice air-conditioned office and help plan events like the work Christmas Party (my first job was to order $3000 worth of alcohol!).

Oh, and on top of that, I get a work phone, laptop, a company credit card for wining and dining our clients, and when I need, a company car to drive around.

“Not bad for a  graduate right!?”

Here’s the catch, I’m only doing this two days a week. The other three days I have a second role as a Community Liaison Officer working on the Gore Highway Reconstruction Project.  It’s a mouthful I know, but basically it means I have to keep the public updated on what we are doing and if there are any complaints, I get to deal with them. This role is completely different from my Marketing one…

Lets just say wearing a men’s, fluoro yellow, high-visibility shirt, steel capped boots and a hard hat, and working in a donga on the side of the highway with a bunch of male engineers is certainly not what I had in mind. But you know what? I’m actually enjoying it and my team has been fantastic with helping me understand all of the construction terms like Geotechnical Investigation (basically digging a bunch of holes).

Alita Cause Blog 1

It can sometimes be hard keeping track of everything when I’m running back and forth between two different jobs but if there is one thing that I learnt from Uni, internships and being an Resident Advisor (RA) for McGregor College, it’s how to juggle!

As if starting a new job wasn’t enough of a change, I’ve also moved off college now into an amazing 3 bedroom unit with a couple of friends from McGregor College. I have to say, it is so nice having my own lounge room and kitchen and being able to cook what I want, when I want it.  Of course my favourite part of our house is my MASSIVE walk-in-robe!

It’s different living with just two people rather than an entire college. Breakfast is really lonely now since we all have different work schedules, but we always try and have a “family” room-mate dinner together.

Family dinner night!

When I finished my position as RA in December, handed in my master key and left behind my empty college room, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me. For the past three years, it had been my home and my family.

“Every year I have watched friends graduate and move on but I never stopped to think that one day it would be my turn.”

I’m excited to test out my domestic skills, but one thing I know I will miss is the convenience of coming home from work and uni knowing you don’t have to cook or knowing that someone else will be cleaning your bathroom and washing your sheets. Of course there are some things I won’t miss too, like being on RA Duty and getting 3am wake up calls from someone who has locked themselves out of their room.

Looking back at when I first came to McGregor College, I can safely say I am not the same little princess who showed up, never having done laundry a day in her life, and had to call mum three times just to work out how to make the washing machine start. The confidence I have gained and the friends I have made will stay with me as I venture off into the next chapter of my life.