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Being a postgraduate student means that you have chosen to commit yourself to an academic lifestyle that has no doubt involved making some significant changes. These may include giving up the opportunity of full-time work, working and studying part-time or squeezing study in around full-time work. It almost certainly means that you have less time to waste.
However, it is likely that you have chosen to do this because a postgraduate degree will benefit you personally, satisfying interests and enhancing your confidence, but also professionally, establishing your high level of expertise and opening up many more and different employment possibilities.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be clear about what you really want to achieve. Some people hope that studying will enable a complete change of direction and a new career. Others hope that a postgraduate qualification will solve all problems and magically transform their lives. International students may have other needs, some of which are addressed in Deakin International. Some may have taken on postgraduate study because their current employer requires it. This can make it hard to actively engage in the process of making study meaningful.
Whatever your initial motivation, if you struggle to see beyond the present to how your studies will help you, try looking at life as being a dynamic whole rather than consisting of various compartments. Don't relegate study to being something you do when your real life is on hold. Rather, treat study as integral to enabling your desired career outcome, and therefore as a vital and exciting part of your life.
Remind yourself about your goals or if they are not clear, actually set them. Identify the steps you need to take to achieve goals, including the skills you must acquire, and clarify where your studies fit. Aim to begin the process with a clear understanding of why you are studying and what it will accomplish.
Become actively involved in making your studies produce desired outcomes. Instead of taking action towards using your qualifications only when you have finished studying, begin the process while still at university. Talk to academics and guest speakers, attend events such as conferences and read about activities in your field to start making connections between what you are learning and its real world applications. This may alert you to exciting opportunities that you would like to explore. Take up any offers of industry experience and opportunities to network within your area as these can lead to employment. Engage in career exploration as part of your program of postgraduate study to make it work for you.
Think beyond your current career. Postgraduate study can help you think beyond your current career and a fixed way of seeing yourself regarding work. In thinking about your next career step, be flexible and experiment while enjoying the safety of university. Move out of your comfort zone, consciously trying different roles and tasks during group activities and in your choice of projects and topics. This will suggest new directions to pursue. Be open to all possibilities. Some might not work out positively but they will all be learning experiences that can help identify what will work better.
Think creatively about the skills and experiences you are learning during your studies. Ask yourself how you wish to use the skills and experiences you are learning and where they might be applied. This is making your study work for your career. It is worthwhile developing a series of goals, rather than being focused too narrowly, as this provides several options to try. Try taking small steps and making small changes, such as moving slightly sideways or into a related field to test for prospects rather than making a huge leap from one career into a completely different one.
Remind yourself of what you have already achieved. Your previous studies and employment experience can provide relevant and meaningful examples for assignments requiring real life situations and solutions. This will help establish connections between what you have done in the past, even if it has been in a slightly different field, what you are doing in your course and what you might do in the future. You will start to see that you are involved in a process of learning and career preparation that is organic and evolving, not simply a series of unrelated steps.
Engage actively in making connections between what you learn and your goals. The truth is that no course of study is going to be specifically targeted to you and your ideal career outcomes. Beginning postgraduate study is a little like beginning a new job. You must gather as much information as possible about what is required of you and what opportunities are available. You may not 'get it' all immediately, but you will eventually by actively asking questions and being focused on moving yourself constructively through the process.
Strike a balance in reaching for your dreams. On one hand you need to be clear about what you want and how you might attain it. This means working consistently towards gaining the knowledge, skills and experiences that position you best. On the other hand you need to remain open-minded and receptive to various possibilities, not letting rules and established ways of doing things discourage you from trying new things and making changes. Through your activities as a postgraduate student you should aim to develop a belief in yourself, a clear set of goals and openness to all opportunities to make study truly work for you.