Chart your own career path at the Student Leadership Conference

The CQUni Aspire Student Leadership Conference is a highlight of the annual CQUni events calendar. With the shift to online as a result of COVID-19, this will be the first year the conference is run in a virtual format, making it more accessible and flexible than ever before!

To find out more about this year’s conference, we asked organiser and host Tanya Rutherford to explain how it will work and what to expect.

What do you have planned for this year’s conference?

Knowing what a tough year this has been for so many of our students, we have really tried to deliver something that will not only motivate and inspire from a personal perspective, but also from a professional perspective as well. Whilst it might be easy to assume that everyone is stuck at home with nothing to do, we know that many will be busy with work and other commitments making attending our usual style of conference difficult. 

As a result, we have both gone bigger (with the program extending over a full week) and smaller (with the program being broken up into separate streams) for greater flexibility. 

Our morning Social Change stream extends the full week and will involve exploring complex community issues in teams and creating innovative solutions – with our Social Innovation team and Change Champs. Friday will be an opportunity to share or “pitch” ideas to our guest judges and new friends.

Lunchtimes are spent with some amazing guest speakers like Margaret O’Brien from Young Change Agents and Yasmin Grigaliunas from World’s Biggest Garage Sale – along with other Entrepreneurs and Changemakers!

Our Afternoon Career Preparation stream is an amazing opportunity to understand and take advantage of recruitment changes in our new world. It’s also a great chance to clarify your future direction and refine the development you need to focus on to stand out from the crowd. It’s hosted by our amazing Career Development team, so you are working with the experts!

What can I expect to gain from the conference?

Like any of our leadership events – what you put in, you get out. Interaction is key to making the most of this program, regardless of which stream (or all) that you choose. 

From the Social Change sessions, you will gain some great experience working in teams, using a human centered design process, creating and innovating, addressing complex issues, and of course, building an amazing network of like-minded people! We are even adding a bit of a “cheat sheet” this year. On the final program we will be clearly identifying key skills and employability attributes you will be demonstrating in each day’s workshop. It can’t get easier to update your resume than that! 

And speaking of resumes, the Career Preparation sessions are going to help you to stand out when it comes to recruitment. As well as touching on existing resources (available to you all right now, on CareerHub – check them out) you will have the opportunity to dive deep and to experience virtual recruitment without the pressure to “succeed”. 

I’m a first-year student, will I benefit from attending this event?

This will be our sixth conference, and we have had a wide range of students attend before, including first-year, final year, research, TAFE, and international. Majority of past participants have said the conference motivated and inspired them in various aspects of their life. Participants also notice they see an improvement in their confidence, resilience, and self-awareness.

The variety and flexibility of the program this year is only going to make it easier for everyone to benefit in a way that works for them.

With the conference moving online, will there be opportunities to network and interact with others?

Absolutely! Apart from forming teams and working in breakout groups, I’ve taken a lot of learnings from different (some amazing) online conferences this year to see what works and what does not. This is why we are going to use a combined Teams/Zoom platform approach for the conference this year. Teams is our “chat space”, our “can we catch up and talk more” space, and our co-working space. Zoom enables us to all be in the same “room” together for our workshops and guest speakers, and there will be a group of us working hard behind the scenes to make sure it’s as smooth (and as magic) as possible. No doubt, it will be different. That doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing and we will possibly get to know a lot more people a lot faster than face-to-face. And for those of you more introverted than others, this is going to be much more relaxing. 

I’m definitely excited (can you tell) and I cannot wait to see you all there!

How to get involved

The CQUni Aspire Student Leadership Conference will be held online from 2 – 6 November 2020. The full conference program is available to view on the MyCQU Student Portal.

Register via CareerHub today to secure your spot! Registrations will close on Monday, 19 October. If you have a social challenge related to Bright Youth Futures or Healthy and Connected Communities, be sure to include that in your application.

Tanya Rutherford oversees CQUniversity’s Student Leadership Development and Student Mentor programs. In her spare time, Tanya is a leadership and business coach, facilitator, and a social entrepreneur. Connect with Tanya on LinkedIn!

Leave a Reply