Amanda Wang, a postgraduate international student in her final Session of a Master of Actuarial Practice.
Like many of you I’m sure, I find it is very challenging to find and apply for internships and volunteering positions. However, in completing the Cross Cultural Practicum component of the GLP, I learnt some valuable tips that I would like to share with you.
At the beginning of the GLP, I joined a number of student societies to gain volunteering experience. For example, I worked as an Ambassador for TEDxMacquarieUniversity and I worked as an intern for Enactus Macquarie’s Mini Money Matters (MMM) project.
Unfortunately, my volunteering couldn’t count towards my Practicum as the positions did not have a significant cross-cultural focus, a requirement of the Practicum. My first tip: it is very important to read the GLP guidebook carefully before you start your program. It is also sensible to make an appointment with a GLP Advisor once you have planned your program. They can help you save time and make the right decisions about which activity to undertake. After talking with an Advisor, I’m sure you will be more confident with your plan and more successful in completing the Program.
When I met with my Advisor, I felt disappointed with my progress in the GLP. However, she was very helpful and provided me with useful information and suggestions for the Practicum. At the beginning, I felt unsure of asking for help since I had so many questions and I did not want to trouble her too much. I felt that it was impolite for me to ask for help from her frequently in finding a cross-cultural volunteering opportunities. However, I overcame my difficulty in asking for help by considering her perspective, along with mine. From my Advisor’s perspective, she is there to help GLP participants get the most out of their Program. Asking questions helps her get to know GLP participants better and improve her ability in helping participants. From our perspective as students, we should be clear about what challenges we have and try our best to solve these before asking for help.
Although my Advisor provided me with useful suggestions, it did not mean I could find a volunteering opportunity immediately. At first I thought it would be very easy to find opportunities as I am providing my time for free. However, I found the process similar to the process of finding a paid job. It was challenging and at times overwhelming. I was both enthusiastic and doubtful in my ability. However, I overcame my doubts and learnt to approach the process objectively. I used the time to better my resume writing and interview skills. I was very lucky to gain my Advisor’s support and understanding for this whole process, and because of her trust, I did not give up myself and actually enjoyed the process. Throughout the process, I observed all the organizations’ recruitment processes and I imaged that if I became a HR manager one day, how could I organize and improve recruitment processes in order to find the most suitable workers for the company.
My GLP Advisor introduced me to Belinda Bean who works with Macquarie University Sustainability. Belinda is very kind and good at communicating with others, finding others’ strengths and making good use of them. My role with Sustainability was to help promote and facilitate events in the Permaculture Demonstration Garden, including promoting events via social media and the official Macquarie University communications channels, and helping with event set up, pack down and registration. My role was specifically focused on bolstering international student engagement with the Garden. At the beginning, I lacked confidence and was afraid of making mistakes. However, the comfortable and flexible volunteering environment at Sustainability made me feel more confident. I found my value in this volunteering opportunity and found that working could be a very enjoyable process, when you make use of your strengths.
If you are struggling to find volunteering or internship opportunities, Amanda has a couple of tips:
Look on campus. Volunteering for the cultural societies, such as the French Society, Australia China Youth Association or Korean Students Association, are likely to be applicable for GLP. Volunteering with other societies, such as the Macquarie United Nations Society, Amnesty International or the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, may also be applicable if your particular role is cross-cultural in focus.
Look off campus. Make good use of Google, Newspapers and websites, like GoVolunteer.
Connect with your networks. Your friends may come in good use!
Never give up and keep on trying, success comes to those who persevere!
The GLP team would also recommend keeping a close eye on the GLP Facebook group. You can find out if the activity is applicable at the bottom of the post. For other ideas, look at the resources section in your GLP guidebook and our weekly edition of Upcoming Opportunities, sent to your student email. Not sure if your activity will count? Contact your GLP Advisor.