To Gap Year or Not to Gap Year

If you had asked me at the end of Year 12 what it was I hoped to achieve from taking a Gap Year, I, like many students in my position would have shared with you my vision to take a break from study and gain a job in order to support myself at university.  Little did I know I would gain so much more from one single year, out there in the ‘real world’!  As the Year 12 QTAC offers edge closer, I would like to share with you the top three life lessons I gained from taking a Gap Year!

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  1. Gaining a job often isn’t as easy as it sounds

It is so easy to want a job.  At the beginning of my Gap Year, I did not have a job.  Many kids at school had one, so I thought, ‘surely it can’t be that hard to land one myself’!  I was an extremely studious student with the grades to match, participated in many extra-curricular activities and was a proud leader of my school…who wouldn’t want to hire me!  At the beginning of my Gap Year, I was among many unemployed people.  This was magnified by the 2013 Bundaberg flood, the largest in the town’s history since January 1890.  One of the main shopping centres, Hinkler Central, was flooded, forcing many people into the job market around town.  I very quickly learnt not only how to improve my resume in order to make myself look more appealing on paper, but also that it was very much a case of the old saying ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’.  Although all of my wonderful results and extra-curricular activities looked good on paper, it wasn’t until I put myself out there and started following up employers (yes, lots of them don’t send out a rejection letter…they just keep you hanging) and being more proactive in my hunt for employment that I started to receive any response and subsequently land myself a job.

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  1. Maintaining friendships becomes more difficult

Until you leave school, you are unaware of how fortunate you are to be able to see your closest friends every day of the school week!  Life outside of school can become very lonely.  Everyone begins to go their separate ways – working, travelling, moving out of home, going to university and just generally starting a life away from school.  There will be some friends who you lose touch with as the common thread that you had with them, school, is no longer a part of either of your lives.  Your friendship group will reduce, however those friendships that do last are extremely precious and many will last a lifetime.  You may only catch up once a year due to various commitments, but if it feels like your last catch up was only yesterday, you know you are a part of a true friendship.

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  1. A Gap Year gives you headspace

During Year 12, I was so caught up in all of my academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities within the school that when I left school, I felt extremely lost as to who I really was.  My Gap Year provided me with the headspace I required in order to truly find out who I was, what my real pursuits for the rest of my life were and where I wanted to take my life.  It was no longer a case of ‘oh yeah…that sounds pretty good – I could give that a go’ type of attitude, but rather ‘This is reality.  What do I want to do with it and how can I make a difference?’ This led me to make some life changing decisions, such as changing my degree, my university, my college…basically uprooting all of my plans that I thought I wanted, to suit what the more mature and developed, real-world aware Alice wanted to do with herself.  Obviously not everyone can expect to go through such a large life epiphany in their Gap Year, but personally, it was the best decision I possibly could have made for that point in my life.

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Of course, the life lessons I have outlined in this blog are certainly not all-inclusive and will be different for everyone. The point I am trying to make here is that if you are considering a Gap Year, it could very well be the best decision you ever make.  Everyone needs and gets different things out of the year, but I believe it can truly change who we are as people and our outlooks on the rest of our lives.  Please feel free to share your Gap Year experiences in the comments below!

P.S.  As this is my last blog for the year, I would just like to send a great big thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavour throughout the year.  I hope you have found my blogs informative and interesting and wish you all the best for what lies ahead.

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The highs and lows of being a Resident Advisor

This year I am a Resident Advisor (RA) at Steele Rudd College, one of the three Residential Colleges at USQ’s Toowoomba Campus and have often been asked what it is like to be an RA. An RA is a resident and student who is trained to help other residents with academic, social and welfare issues they may be having while living on college. There is always an RA ‘on duty’ outside of business hours at each of the three colleges who assists residents with things such as lock-outs, safety or security and maintenance issues, first aid and the hiring of vacuum cleaners. Being an RA is both a rewarding and challenging experience.

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training with cupcakes

For me, being an RA is rewarding because I get to help people, something I have always enjoyed doing. I have seen first year students grow from being shy and unsure in the college environment, to being an essential vibrant member of the college community. I get to smile with and celebrate the big and small achievements of college residents as they move through their university journey. And it always brings a smile to my face (and makes me feel like a bit of a superhero) when a resident comes up to me with a simple ‘thank you for your support’ or ‘thank you for being there for me when no one else was’.

RARecruitmentApplicationSuperhero

As an RA I even get to plan events for the residents of my block to help foster friendships and create some fun and stress relief in to the chaos that is uni. #winning! I love organising events! Movie nights and block BBQs are always popular events (who doesn’t love free food?)!

Being an RA can also be challenging. Sometimes, other residents think of me as the ‘fun police’ for asking them to turn the music down during quiet hours when other residents are trying to study or sleep. And occasionally my friends shake their heads at me for asking ‘are you sure that is a good idea?’ when they talk about their plans to prank another friend.

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Some nights the phone rings for a lock-out or noise complaint at 3am when I have been up until 1am trying to complete assessment I know I shouldn’t have left to the last minute. And very rarely, it feels like I don’t get any sleep at all.

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Occasionally I will be helping residents through stressful times at uni while also stressing out myself. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being an RA has been one of the best experiences of my life. The skills I have learnt along the way outweigh the occasional night of sleep deprivation by a mile. I have had the opportunity to make friends with people I never thought I would make friends with. Seeing residents overcome the hurdles they face and succeeding on their path to fulfilling their dreams is possibly the best thing I have ever witnessed.

If you have ever thought about applying to be an RA, my advice would be to go for it. There’s no real way you can know what it is like to be an RA until you actually are one, but I’ve never regretted my decision to apply.

It’s all in the preparation- My three tips for balancing Prac and Uni

Practical experiences are a very necessary and exciting part of many university degrees.  Unfortunately this is often the busiest time of the semester. For many of us, whilst on prac our uni subjects continue, content continues to be distributed and assignment due dates loom closer. As I prepare for my next practical experience (woo hoo!), I would like to share with you my top three tips for balancing university studies and practical experience.

  1. Prepare your assessment

Prior to practical experience, prepare to complete as much of your assessment as possible.  Get everything you can to a point that you would be happy to submit.  Prac is an absolutely wonderful experience, one you want to be able to embrace and not be worried about the assignment due the next day which you haven’t started yet and have three lessons to plan for the following day as well!  It is much easier to edit drafted assignments than trying to research, draft and edit an assignment when you are exhausted after spending a week at work.

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  1. Prepare a study plan

Prepare a study schedule to follow during prac. As I found on my first practical experience, completely disregarding all uni work during prac will only come back to bite you later. Prioritise your work. Every little bit that you do during prac is something that you don’t have to worry about later. Write your schedule and stick to it! Everyone has different study patterns and you need to find what works for you.

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  1. Prepare to communicate

Practical experiences are your first glimpse into the big wide world of work that you will be entering into in a few short years. Ensure you contact your practical site as soon as you know where you have been placed to clear up any queries you may have and find out their expectations of you. Once you arrive, be honest and open to your supervisors. They know you are a university student and also have study to complete whilst on prac. They are not mind readers and hence need to be told if you are struggling or have assessment due. They too went to university at some point and know what you are going through! They are there to help you through your practical experience…help them to help you!

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Be true to yourself.  Your practical experience is a very busy, yet exciting time. With sufficient preparation, you will be able to both stay on top of your university studies and enjoy your precious taste of the workforce! Good luck! J

I didn’t succeed the first time, but don’t think that will stop me!

I don’t like to use the word ‘fail’ because you only truly fail when you give up. There will always be an opportunity to try again. This was something that took me a while to understand, particularly in the job market. I had two unsuccessful attempts at a job before I finally landed the role so I thought I would share with you what I learned on my journey and the eight steps that helped me land that job.

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1. Plan
Separate each selection criterion and start to write notes. Plan exactly what you want to say and what examples you are going to use. I used to struggle to complete tasks like job applications and assignments without a plan. Now, my first step is always to create a plan, and that outlines the next steps.

success doens't just happen it is planned for

2. Write
This is where you turn your notes into meaningful sentences and paragraphs. Make sure that all of your responses to the criteria are to the point, that you have given examples of when you have used a certain skill or been in a certain situation, and never ever ramble. Your written application is the first impression you give to the selection panel, make it count!

be so good they can't ignore you

3. Read over and make sure you have addressed all criteria
Once again read over the position description and criteria, then read over the application you have written. This will help to ensure you have addressed the criteria and should help you identify any criterion that you haven’t addressed. This is an important step because the last thing that you want is to send in an application that doesn’t address the criteria or that isn’t relevant to the position you are applying for.

4. Proof-read
Proof-read, proof-read, proof-read! This time when you read through your application, pay attention to your spelling and grammar because spell check won’t find all of your mistakes. Having spelling and grammar mistakes in your application can come across as unprofessional and sloppy and you don’t want to give that impression to your future employer.

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5. Proof-read
Hmm, but haven’t we already proof-read our application? Yes, but we can still make mistakes! Leave your application for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes. You’d be surprised how many mistakes you can find when you come back to your application later. This time when you are proof-reading, check again that you have addressed the selection criteria and that you don’t have any spelling or grammar errors.

6. Ask someone to read over your application
It is sometimes difficult to find mistakes in your own written work. This happens because you know what you were trying to say and so often you fill in the blanks yourself. Asking a friend or family member to read over your application will help to ensure you have addressed the criteria, your application makes sense and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

ask friends to proof read

7. Make changes
Once you’ve had someone else read over your application, ask them for feedback and make any changes you think are necessary.

8. Submit
Read over your application once more and when you are happy with it, submit it to the selection panel.

While the written application is extremely important, it is only the first step in the process. Once you have submitted your application, you should start to prepare for the interview, even if you don’t think you have a shot at landing the job. Here are four tips for preparing for your interview.

1. Know your written application
Know exactly what you said in your written application because the panel may ask questions about it.

2. Practice interview questions with a friend
Ask a friend to help you prepare for your interview and run through questions and scenarios you think the panel may ask you. Practicing before your interview will make the real thing seem a lot less daunting.

3. Plan what you are going to wear
Make sure you dress appropriately for your interview because first impressions count. Wearing business/corporate clothing will go a long way to show that you are professional.

Job interviews quote

4. Remain calm
Nerves are completely understandable. Take a deep breath, remain calm and remember to talk clearly and at a reasonable pace.

keep calm and ace your interview

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t land the job or if your interview doesn’t go as well as you expected. Ask for feedback- yep, you can do that! You should always ask for feedback on your application and interview. Apply that feedback to all future job applications and interviews- Who knows, you might just be successful next time.

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Who are Surveyors?

Hey guys today’s blog was inspired by my friends and family who seem to know little about my career of choice, Surveying.  When people ask what I do, they often respond like “oh, you’re one of those guys that looks into those funny instruments“ or “yeah, you’re one of those guys on the side of the road that checks the level and stuff“ though these statements aren’t entirely untrue  I’d like to share with you the basics about what we really do. For this blog I thought I would briefly explain what we do, enjoy.

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What Are Surveyors??

Surveyors are essentially expert’s at measurements with the help of mathematics and specialised equipment (like the one you see in this picture above). We analyse the data which presents information about the land. Surveyors are capable of measuring just about anything whether it be on land, in the sky or under the ocean.

How we obtain data to produce maps varies with the type of instruments we use, the precision or landscape. Traditionally, surveyors used modified chain linked together that once stretched would equal a set distance to measure land. Thankfully, with passing years we have obtained instruments that make our job a little easier, these instruments include Total station, GPS and Laser scanner.

Total Station: These are operated wirelessly by a control

Total Station: These are operated wirelessly by a control

Laser Scanner: These instruments operate independently to produce data

Laser Scanner: These instruments operate independently to produce data

Laser Scanner: these instruments operate independently to produce this type of data

Laser Scanner: these instruments operate independently to produce this type of data

GPS: operate like a total station but uses satellites to obtain data. They can be used anywhere

GPS: operate like a total station but uses satellites to obtain data. They can be used anywhere

GPS: operate like a total station but uses satellites to obtain data. They can be used anywhere

GPS: operate like a total station but uses satellites to obtain data. They can be used anywhere

A diagram of old school survey (note the chain used by the surveyor in the blue shirt

A diagram of old school survey (note the chain used by the surveyor in the blue shirt

Depending on the work you’re doing different instruments are chosen due to their accuracy and convenience while there are many instruments can be used by surveyors, these are the most common.

Where can our job take us??

Now that we have a fairly good idea on what surveyors are let’s have a look at areas that surveyors can become involved in. Like some specialized careers the sky is the limit, however there are generally three main areas common to surveyors.

Cadastral Surveying:

A cadastral surveyor is responsible for accurately defining property boundaries and understanding the laws of land and ownership. This job may include the identification of residential or rural boundaries, re-establishing boundaries that have been previously surveyed or creating new boundaries as part of a land subdivision process.  A cadastral surveyor has the skill and knowledge to interpret and advise on the location of boundaries and if there are any rights or restrictions relating to the property. Only a registered cadastral surveyor can certify survey plans for lodgment with the government.

An example of a Cadastral Survey Plan

An example of a Cadastral Survey Plan

Engineering Surveyor:

Engineering surveyors are generally associated with the design and construction of new infrastructure projects. These may include high-rise buildings, road freeway systems, road tunnels, airports etc. to ensure they are built in accordance with the design criteria with regards to location, size and shape.

Just another day in the office for an Engineering Surveyor

Just another day in the office for an Engineering Surveyor

Mining surveyors

Mining surveyors work in both open cut and underground mines for minerals mining industries.  Mine surveyors will basically have responsibility for surface and underground plans of the mine site doing activities that include for an open cut mine identification the extent on the resource for excavation purposes or marking the drill patterns for blasting coal. In underground mines surveyor will determine and control the location and direction of tunnels as well as the mapping of all underground tunnels. In both open cut and underground mines, the surveyor will prepare mine plans and calculate the volume of materials moved or mined.

A surveyor at an open cut mine

A surveyor at an open cut mine

A surveyor at an underground mine

A surveyor at an underground mine

Do not be fooled in thinking that these are strictly the areas we are kept to they are merely the areas that make up the majority of the work force. We’ll now take a sneak peek into speclised area of surveying to keep it interesting I’ve posted a video of each area which you are welcome to watch if such an area fascinates you.

Hydrographic surveyors

Surveyors who measure and map the location and shape of the land under the oceans, rivers and lakes are called hydrographic surveyors. They use specialized technology to identify underwater hazards, look for oil, guide dredging projects and measure erosion.

Forensic surveyors

Forensic surveyors map, analyze and collect data used as evidence during court cases. They testify in lawsuits over automobile wrecks, industrial accidents and boundary disputes. Forensic surveyors are good communicators since they need to share technical information in a way that’s easy to understand – especially by people who know nothing about surveying. These specialists must be very precise since their evidence is scrutinized by other forensic surveyors hired by the opposing side.

Archeological surveyors

Surveyors work with archaeologists to define the parameters of an archaeological search area. They also map out locations to identify points to excavate for particular objects, artifacts, human remains and cultural heritage land.

Ok, that’s pretty much the bread and butter of what surveying is all about while it only scratching the surface I hope it helped educate you on what we really do. Like any job there are very generic parts to it that even I find boring however, I hope I’ve shown you that it does obtain exciting combination of both indoor and outdoor activity that continues to grow and revolutionize as technology advances. I hope you’ve found Surveying as exciting as I do and as a reward I’ve posted some pretty funny video relating to surveying, enjoy.

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

Second Semester Studies

Hey again everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays, even though they are over now and exams aren’t just around the corner – they are right next door to us. It wasn’t really that much of a holiday for me, as I took it as a chance to take up extra hours at work. So, I had been working every day of the holidays, what a way to make a living! (You can call me Dolly Parton). Apart from working and study, I also celebrated my 20th Birthday.

I still have mixed feelings about turning 20. On one hand, I am less than a year away from my 21st, which I am excited about. However, on the other, I am no longer a teenager, which frightens the living daylights out of me. My mum said to me on my birthday, “Nicky, with great age comes great responsibility” EEEEEEKKKK *Red alert!*. I chose to ignore her.

On a lighter note, the Gatsby Gala was a success. After many hours and hours of hard work from the executive and charity committee, we managed to put on a great evening which was well enjoyed by all who attended. With many attractions such as Casino Tables, Live Band and Dancing, as well as a charity auction on the night..However, it is safe to say the highlight for many was the photobooth. Here are some photos from some of the awesome people who attended.

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We also raised $5000 for the Pajama Foundation and the AEIOU Foundation, which makes all of the hard work and stress worth it. If you would like more information on these charities and what they do, you can simply google them.

As well as charity ball, all of residential colleges also celebrated the ending of the Residential Shield. One of the best things about college, Res Shield brings the colleges together throughout the year, with their eyes on the prize. Unfortunately for me and the rest of Concannon, McGregor came out on top and took the shield this year for the second year in a row. Steele Rudd won the College Spirit Cup, which was well deserved.
Anyway, I better get back to my studying. Thanks again for reading, I will talk to you once exams are over.

38 Things I did not expect on Election Day

I was hired as a ‘Polling Assistant’ for the 2013 federal election.  In a nutshell, my duties were to:

  • Search through the electorate roll at least twice per person because our Australian accents are not designed for clarity.

 “It’s the alternative spelling of O’Brian”

“You should have told me that when I was O’Tryin to find your name the first time”

  • Answer repetitive conversational topics with the same answer, resisting the urge to make bad jokes.  For example:

Voter: “Wow, I didn’t realize there were so many O’Brian’s in Toowoomba”

Generic Response: “There sure is quite a few”

What I wanted to say: “If you guys had a family reunion the police would probably show up”

Voter: “My Son’s wedding is in half an hour, can I skip the queue?”

Generic Response:  “Please do”

What I wanted to say:  “Is this is an elaborate ruse to save yourself twenty minutes? Maybe I should do that next year and ask all my mates to go with me as a fake wedding party.”

Voter: “I just could not be bothered getting out of my pajamas to vote”

Generic Response:  “That’s quite alright”

What I wanted to say:  “I’m not sure whether to be offended at your lack of dignity or jealous at your obvious comfort”

Voter: “Why do you need to ask if I’ve voted in this election before?”

Generic Response: “Because some people do not realise it is an offence to vote multiple times”

What I wanted to say: “I know what you’re planning.  I am also a member of the illuminati and will support your endeavors.”

Voter: “Why do I have to vote using the booth pencils?”

Generic Response: “It assists in the counting process”

What I wanted to say: “The Government requires proof that you have a valid pen license.  If you are not qualified for pen usage, you will be fined for using a pen in a public place.”

  • As well as marking names off the role, I had to explain how to vote and I estimated that I said the same explanation phrase at least two hundred and fifty times that day.  However, what I would have liked my explanation to be was:

“The green ballot paper is the house of representatives.  You will need to place a 1 next to the candidate you hate the least and number the rest in order of preference.  The toilet paper ballot paper is the Senate, and you can choose to vote above or below the line.  If you choose to vote above the line, you can only choose one party to vote for.  If you vote below the line, you will need to number the candidates in order of preference from 1-82 which will take a long time.  Try not to be overwhelmed by how large this piece of paper is, or get frustrated because it will not fit inside the voting booth, or think about how awesome a paper aeroplane made out of this would be.”

After the voting booth closed at 6.00 we were required to count the votes.  I was also able to view the fabulous array of donkey votes casted, which I classify under the following headings:

The Angry Citizen:  Vote is fully completed but an angry rant fills any empty space.  Must be read out loud for the other counters to hear in a ‘capslock’ voice without moving your lower jaw.  Common phrases include:

“TONY ABBOT IS THE SCUM OF THE EARTH AND KEVIN RUDD IS A CHINESE SPY”

“WHAT HAS AUSTRALIA COME TO? WHERE IS THE DEMOCRACY?”

“THE GOVERNMENT IS RUN BY SLIMY FISH POLITICIANS WHO DO NOT ENJOY VEGEMITE”

The Undecided Citizen: First preference goes to someone written by the voter.  Popular choices include Donald Duck, Jesus, Reece Mastin and Stewie Griffin.

The Offensive Citizen: An offensive, yet very artistic picture is drawn.  Much time and talent is poured into this uncounted vote.

If you are allured to the glorious prospect of working on an election day, it is easy to apply.  I simply went to the Australian Electoral Commission’s website and put my contact details and experience online.  It’s paid great money (a polling assistant makes ~$380 for the day) and they are often short of staff.  My mother applied a few days before the election and added this in the details space:  “My computer is playing up and I am unable to fill out the application properly.  I am contactable on the number provided”.  She was called up a day before the election and offered a position.

I’d like to conclude with a picture of Kevin Rudd showcasing his selfie-taking skills.

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The Final Countdown

The countdown begins. Only one month until college formals begin, two and a half months until mid-semester break and then four months until I finish my degree. Then it will all be over. No more uni. No more college.

A lot has changed since I made the big leap to move out of home to a different town in order to create something of my own. And you know what? It paid off. I have spent the last three years living with some of the best, and sometimes the worst people I have met. In the process I have learnt a lot about myself as well. I think it’s only fitting that I share some of the major experiences I have had since living on college and some things you should probably know before taking this massive step.

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Experience #1

Working two jobs while studying full-time and living on college is difficult, yes, but not impossible.

Having been fortunate enough to get a transfer with my Christmas casual job and stay on as a casual retail person, I was also lucky enough to land a role as the first digital intern for Residential Colleges – a role exclusive to college kids. Yay! Not only will this job look awesome on my resume but also made me learn a few things about what I want to do with my future career. It’s a massive opportunity to develop myself and learn what I really want.

In saying this, it’s not always easy. There are those nights when it feels like the whole college is out having fun except for me. Just remember, you will feel better off the next day at work and you will also save your money. But do remember to have a break sometime, or you will probably crash at the worst time.

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Experience #2

Do not eat ice cream out of a cone at the dinner table, or sit next to someone eating an ice cream cone.

There is such thing as ‘coning’. It’s not fun when it happens to you because BAM! There goes your ice cream. It’s also not fun when it happens to the person next to you because BAM! There goes your clean shirt. If you want to eat at the table I suggest getting a bowl or even styrofoam cup. Otherwise take the ice cream cone and leg it! Bowls and cups also allow you to add toppings.

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Experience #3

You may have close friends at other colleges but as soon as Res Shield starts, it’s war.

As soon as you put on your red, green or blue, it’s game on. You’re fighting for the shield and you’re either with your college or against it. When you’re standing on the field or on the stage ready to perform, there’s no right or wrong so long as you give it everything you have and you’re not fraternising with the enemy.

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While everyone will have their own experience of college, I hope these tips and tricks will inspire you to share your own story.