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It’s Fast Mentoring Month – meet the alumni mentors!

There are currently over 450 alumni mentors in the CQUni Career Connection Program, ready to help you prepare for your career, gain industry insights, and develop personal networks in your field.

Some mentors have been a part of the program since the beginning, while others only joined in the last couple of months.

Why did they decide to become a mentor? What do they enjoy about mentoring? Is there anything they have learnt from their mentees or the process of being a mentor? Meet some alumni mentors and learn more about their experiences as mentors.

Sanjeewa Gunasekara

Sanjeewa graduated with a Master of Information Systems in 2006. He joined the mentoring platform only a couple of months ago but has already completed his first consultation with a mentee.

Sanjeewa works as an Information Systems Security Specialist. With over 20 years of experience in his field, he offers advice on a wide range of services, including resume and cover letter checks, career conversations, transitioning from school to work, and re-entering the workforce.

Sanjeewa enjoys helping others in many ways, and mentoring is another way for him to help people. He finds that mentoring is a great way to give back to current students and enjoys providing them with strategies to work on their challenges.

Sanjeewa believes that not everyone needs a mentor but working with the right mentor can be a gamechanger. He compares having a mentor to driving on a fast, smooth highway, while not having a mentor can be like driving on a slow, bumpy gravel road.

Watch Sanjeewa’s Q&A video to learn more about him as a mentor.

Annette Sommerville

Annette has completed two degrees with CQU – a Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety in 2010 and a Master of Engineering in 2021. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from James Cook University, making her a knowledgeable mentor in various fields and disciplines.  

Annette works as a Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager in the construction industry and was the winner of the Master Builders Queensland Women in Building Award in 2019. The award gives Annette a lot of confidence, and she uses this recognition to encourage her mentees to keep moving forward.

Annette didn’t enter the occupational health and safety industry straight out of school but had a couple of other careers before that. She believes in ongoing education and sets a prime example for women looking to enter a male-dominated field and those looking to change career paths later in life.

Watch Annette’s Q&A video to learn more about her as a mentor.

Mohamed Siddiq

Mohamed has completed two degrees at CQUniversity – a Master of Information Systems in 2005, and Master of Business Administration in 2007.

Mohamed is a teacher with management skills and over 20 years of experience. He has worked in educational institutions in Australia and overseas and is currently the Head of the School of Business and Law at a private business school in Singapore.

Although his teaching experience can be an asset in mentoring, Mohamed regards the two as entirely different fields. Whilst teaching is more limited and ‘by the book’, mentoring allows more flexibility for guidance and exchanging ideas and thoughts.

Mohamed has completed several consultations over the years and even made friends along the way. He helped one of his mentees to start a teaching career, however, the two now keep in touch to discuss teaching methodologies and exchange ideas.

Read Mohamed’s interview below to learn more about him as a mentor.

I can see that you’ve been a teacher for more than 20 years. What do you think are the main differences between mentoring and teaching, in your experience?

With teaching, it is a little bit more limited. You deliver the content according to the curriculum and explain the concepts further when prompted by the student. Mentoring is more in free form and allows you to guide the mentees towards their goals. Mentees aren’t necessarily young students; some can be older, even in their 40s or 50s. You can see that you create an impact, as they appreciate what you do for them. You can exchange ideas and thoughts with mentees, guide them, and reassure them that there is “light at the end of the path”.

I can also see that you’ve been an alumni mentor with us since 2015 and have completed a number of consultations over the years. What are some of the things you’ve learnt from being a mentor?

You need to listen very carefully to what the mentee has to say without any pre-judgement. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they’re experiencing.

You have worked in educational institutions in Australia and overseas. Do students in different countries have similar queries, or do they ask completely different questions? How do you prepare for your consultations?

I’ve had mentees from all over the world, including Japan, Russia, South Korea and Pakistan. They all face the same situations as students and have similar issues regardless of their geographical location. You can’t really prepare for consultations based on their location. Instead, I go with free flow and deal with each question as it comes.

You have received some great reviews from your mentees. Without naming any names, can you tell me about some of your most memorable consultations/mentees?

I had a senior student mentee who now owns an eco-agriculture business in Queensland. We started off as mentor and mentee but later exchanged details and became friends. He initially approached me for advice on how to get into teaching. I suggested volunteering to start with. Students can be the toughest crowd; they can form a judgement before you even start presenting. So, I provided strategies to break the ice and get over cold feet for his first day of teaching. We now catch up frequently to chat about teaching methodologies, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

What is the best advice you could give to someone considering becoming a mentor?

The golden rule is to be patient. Being patient and empathetic with your mentees is crucial as they are totally lost and need guidance. It is important to understand where they stand and why they seek advice. Take time to break the ice and develop a relationship. I do wish that mentees would come to the sessions more prepared. I don’t want the session to be wasted, so it would help if they prepared questions and had a purpose and an idea of what they would like to get out of the session.

Read our blog post about how to set SMART goals and prepare for a mentoring session HERE.

Urusha Kansakar

Urusha graduated in 2018 with a Master of Professional Accounting and now works as a Financial Accountant. As an international student from Nepal, Urusha uses her “go-getter” mentality to make the most of every opportunity that comes her way. During her studies, she was involved in a number of student activities, including being an international student ambassador, a member of the campus life committee, and a presenter and interviewee for iChange.

Urusha calls Australia the ‘land of opportunities’ and encourages her mentees to network and make connections where they can.

She has had mentors throughout her life who have helped her not only with her career goals but also in her personal life. To pay it forward, Urusha shares her experience, skills and knowledge in her career mentoring blog called Urusha inspires.

Watch Urusha’s Q&A video to learn more about her as a mentor.

Peter McLarty

Peter graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Information Technology. He currently works as a Data and Information Technology Security Manager. With over 20 years of experience in his field, Peter is one of the most experienced mentors and has provided support to over 30 mentees.

Although Peter encourages both of his kids to choose their own paths, his daughter is inspired to pursue a similar STEM-oriented career. As a person who works in a fairly “privileged position”, Peter is working towards bringing more women into roles where they are underrepresented, in particular STEM and IT fields, but also other areas.

Peter finds it extremely important to give back a bit of his time to find ‘rough diamonds’ out there and guide them into the industry a bit more ‘polished’. He finds mentoring a rewarding experience that helps him realise how much he has to offer to other people.

Watch Peter’s Q&A video to learn more about him as a mentor.

In addition to Sanjeewa, Annette, Mohamed, Urusha and Peter, there is a pool of alumni mentors from various fields and disciplines, eager to share their experiences and knowledge with others.

Students can sign up as mentees, and past graduates have an opportunity to sign up and mentor students, or fellow alumni.

To connect with a mentor, sign up to the CQUni Career Connection Program and fast-track your career today!

How to set SMART goals before connecting with a mentor?

August is Fast Mentoring Month, so there is no better time to connect with an alumni mentor for a one-on-one career conversation.

To get the most out of your mentoring session, it is important to prepare and set goals before getting in touch with a mentor. If you have a purpose for the meeting, your mentor will be able to provide you with advice that is most valuable to you.

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Picking the right mentor is the first step in preparing for a successful consultation. A great thing about the CQUni Career Connection is that mentors highlight the areas they offer support in when they register. This allows the system to suggest mentors to you as a mentee, based on what you want to learn when you fill in that part of your profile. You can select mentors not only based on the support areas they offer, but also on discipline, work field, experience, target organisation or the Mentoring Groups they are a part of.

After picking a mentor, you will be able to plan for your session based on their areas of support, and what you want to get out of the session. Creating SMART goals is a great way to have a clear vision of what advice you are seeking from your mentor.

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What are SMART goals, and how to set them?

Look at where you currently are, and where you want to be in the future – whether it be a month from now, a year from now or three years from now. Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

An example of a SMART goal:

By 31st of August 2022 (time-bound) I will identify and connect with 3 (measurable) mentors from my industry who have highlighted they are able to offer resume feedback (specific).  I will arrange and attend a meeting with at least one (achievable and measurable) of the mentors to receive feedback on my resume which I will action to improve my resume (relevant).

Keeping your SMART goals simple for one-off meetings is important. It avoids you getting confused and mixing up what you already know, and what you need to know.  Consolidate and action what you have learnt from the mentor before moving on to your next topic or requesting another session.

Breaking your goals down into smaller bites and keeping them simple for the first couple of times that you meet a mentor will also allow you to test the water before you get too far down the relationship. It is important to make sure the mentor is the right person to help you with what you need. 

Let’s look at each section of a SMART goal more closely.

Specific

A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. A general goal would be “get a job”, whilst a specific goal would say “get a job at a marketing firm in Sydney in the next 6 months”.

To set a specific goal, you must answer the six “W” questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Which:  Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose, or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
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Measurable

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:

  • How much? How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?
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Achievable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable. You will develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them, and eventually, you begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

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Relevant

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective towards which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic – you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be – just ensure it also aligns with other relevant goals. If your goal is not realistic, you will find it difficult to stay on track.

Consider the following questions when considering if your goal is relevant:

  • Does it seem worthwhile?
  • Is it the right time?
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Time-bound

A goal should be grounded within a timeframe. With no timeframe tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to find a job, when do you want to find it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, for example, “by the end of August”, then you have set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

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There are over 450 mentors waiting to give you their best advice, and they are all big fans of mentees who come to mentoring sessions prepared. Here is an example of feedback that a mentee received from one of our mentors:

“I really appreciated that you had a clear idea of what you wanted advice about from our consultation, and that you were ready to provide me with some background information to help me determine what advice might be most valuable to you. That was extremely helpful.”

If you’re a student looking to fast-track your career, or a past graduate considering a career change, set your SMART goals and join the mentoring program now!

May Pen Pal Ambassadors!

We are very excited to announce our May Pen Pal Ambassadors! Our ambassadors are active conversation starters on the Facebook group who aim to build and promote connections between students. We would like to share a little bit about the ambassadors and their experiences so far.

Jessie Oszlovits

I joined the Pen Pal Project back in 2020 when it was first announced. I was super excited to get involved, because pen-palling has always been a hobby of mine on and off, and I was thrilled at the prospect of being involved in a Uni based Pen Pal Project. 

I have made a couple of great pen pals out of the project so far, including one that I consider to be a good friend now. I absolutely love getting mail from her, it brightens my day! We try to outdo each other with decoration and creative flair each time we write! We also swap fun stationery items and playlist suggestions. 

I would recommend the Pen Pal Project to anyone currently studying, honestly! It is a fantastic way to make connections, especially if you are an online student or maybe relocated to study and don’t know anyone. It really helped me to feel like a “real” Uni student and part of CQU. No matter your age or walk of life, everybody needs and craves connection. Who knows, you might make a lifelong friendship! 

Khalid Hasan Seum

Hello fellow students! My name is Khalid, and I am currently studying cyber security on the Sydney campus. When I joined CQUniversity, I had hardly any friends and I didn’t know anyone on campus either. I was looking to see if CQUniversity had any programs that could help me connect with other students and turning those connections into new friendships.

Through the MyCQU support page, I found out about the pen pal project. I joined about 7 months ago. My experience with the pen pal project so far has been one I will never forget. One of my close friends I have made through the project is studying their Masters in Public Health and we chat regularly. Personally, I encourage you to join the Pen Pal project so you can have a similar experience as me.

My favourite thing about connecting with other students is how you learn about their culture, find out about their hobbies and have someone to share your thoughts with. I know how stressful university studies can be and we all need that support from a friend to help through when times are tough. Come and give it a go, you never know who might meet.

Who to ask for help when feeling stressed?

The end of the term can inevitably cause stress for many students. Although preparing for exams and assignments is extremely important, it is also important to take a step back and know who you can turn to when feeling overwhelmed.

We asked our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants to share the go-to people they used to reach out to when feeling stressed about their studies. More than anyone, they know how important it is to surround yourself with the right people and ask for help if you need it.

Jessica Small (Bachelor of Business, 2021) used to turn to anyone who would listen:

“I turned to many people for help when I was stressed about an upcoming assessment. I turned to my lecturers for guidance if I did not understand the assessment or had questions. I turned to my university friends to see how they were coping with the assessment and if they had any tips they could pass on. I turned to my boss to ask for time off or a study day in the lead up to an assessment. I also turned to my partner to ask him to take on some of the extra responsibilities around the house if I had a time-consuming assessment due soon. Basically, I relied on many people in the University and outside of the University to assist me with managing my time, which helped me with managing my stress levels.“

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Karen Howard (Bachelor of Accounting, 2021) was never afraid to ask questions from her lecturers:

“I would always ask my lecturers if I had any questions, felt like I didn’t understand something or was getting lost in an assignment. Studiosity was also a great help as I had no idea about referencing and assignment layout when I started my studies. Never shy away from asking questions; if you don’t want to do it in front of the class, send your lecturer an email, explain your issues and ask your questions. I found that most are happy to complete a Zoom call or stay after class for a short time to help you. They want you to do well and succeed as well!”

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Michael Lane (Graduate Diploma of Management, 2015) would turn to friends to had been in his shoes before:  

“I turned to my friends who were or had been in similar situations. They can always shed light or point you in the right direction. The hardest step is always the first; after that, it’s just a matter of taking comfort from your previous achievements and keeping it going.”

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Sharon Dekkers (Doctor of Philosophy, 2001) relied on herself to deal with stressful situations:

“If stressed about an upcoming assessment, I would first turn to myself and plant my ideas in my subconscious. After a good night’s sleep, many of the perceived stresses are rationalised, and then I am able to prioritise and deal with the issues in a more logical and manageable way. Stress can be a positive invigorating force or one which can debilitate you. You need to use stress to motivate you and push you forward. Once it no longer does this, it is time to reassess your goals, values and work life.”

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Theresa Grinstead (Graduate Certificate in Maintenance Management, 2007) approached her partner or other students for support:

“Get online; there is an endless supply of information, techniques, and other stuff to help out with stress. But if all else fails, just talk to someone. My partner was my rock at all stages of my study, but I also had contact with other students studying the same course. These are valuable contacts to make and really do help.”

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Best of luck to all students with upcoming exams and assignments! A well-deserved break is on the horizon; you just have to push through the last couple of weeks! Remember to look after yourself and ask for support if you need it. Whether approaching a lecturer, University support staff, other students, your friends, partner or parents – they all want you to succeed.

If you are a graduate, you can join our 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program to earn rewards while sharing your study experiences and advice with current students.

Tips to prepare for exams and assignments

Assignment and exam periods can be one of the most stressful times for university students. Some prepare for these for the whole term, while others cram the entire term’s content the week before. Regardless of the method, most students are familiar with feeling overwhelmed and could use any help they can get.

Our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants have been in those shoes and know the struggle all too well. We asked them to share their best tips and tricks to prepare for the end of term exam and assignment period.

Stay organised

Staying organised is extremely important during exam and assignment periods. Whether using a planner, collating to-do lists or colour coding, every little bit will help – you just have to take the first step.

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“Write to-do lists and schedule time in your calendar to complete different tasks. Try to be realistic with allocating a suitable amount of time to tasks, and don’t get too concerned if it takes longer than the time you set aside. It’s also helpful to track the due dates for all your tasks so that you can prioritise your time and have a good idea of how much work is involved in each task. For example, compared to writing a long essay, preparing for a quiz will only need a short amount of time.”
– Luke Giles (Bachelor of Health Promotion, 2010)

“Make lists, colour code tasks or themes. I also have lists of lists. Create a plan from your tasks and themes, use a diary, notebook, or both. Make sure to create your plan at the beginning of the semester and factor in known family events, appointments, and social activities. Break your tasks into smaller chunks and use a diary, coloured post-it notes and flags in your diary so tasks and themes can be easily rearranged.”
– Janey Kyle-Scott (Graduate Certificate in Tertiary and Adult Education, 2021)

“Write a list, even if you’ve already completed some tasks, add them in and cross them off for some quick wins and to remind you how far you’ve come. Set goals, break assignments into smaller pieces and give yourself targets to reach in small, achievable chunks. Just suck it up and get it done.”
– Tenille Dittman (Bachelor of Business, 2018)

Plan ahead

Use the resources available to you, and plan ahead where you can. Managing your tasks ahead of time can save you from feeling overwhelmed towards the end of the term.

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“It was my first time studying in a distance format. To get things organised, I found I needed to do a lot more planning than I had in the past in face-to-face formats. I think the three most important things in my planning were:

  1. When planning a particular activity, dedicating a specific time I wanted to spend on that activity really helped with prioritising.
  2. I also set some specific time in my weekly schedule dedicated to planning. This allowed me to plan generally in the long term and more detailed in the short term. It also allowed me to re-plan any activities I had not finished, and it allowed me to plan for specific items like assignments. This was very useful when trying to fit in my placements as I could not study as much for several weeks.
  3. Plan in my social time like exercise, time with friends, and recovery time from catching up with friends the night before!”

– James Brown (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2019)

“Start revision for your exams early and start researching for your assessments early, take notes. Keep a wall planner and a diary to help prioritise your work, for example, assessments, exam due dates, lectures etc.”
– Yashna Lal (Bachelor of Nursing, 2021)

“I actively plan ahead so that I have time to complete planned activities and a few pockets available each week to deal with the inevitable unplanned ones. I set a few hours each week of focus time to focus on any high priority tasks or regular tasks that would otherwise be pushed back.”
– Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

Manage your time effectively

Developing the correct time management techniques during your university studies can set you up to complete your tasks on time for the rest of your life.

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“Starting prep for exams as soon as all content is known, breaking small chunks off for study periods, for example, weekly content. For assignments, I set tasks for myself, starting with an overall plan for the assignment, maybe the outline or structure of how I plan to write it, and set myself only one topic/paragraph/small section to research and write about per day or a set period of time. I am less likely to get overwhelmed and give up this way than staring at a WHOLE assignment and trying to background research every area at once. Also, get someone to read over your assignments to check for grammar and whether things actually make sense! If that’s not possible, give yourself time to go back a day or so after finishing to read over it with a clear mind.”
– Naomi Robinson (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2018)

“Make sure to have good time management. Record when things are due using colour coding on a calendar or post-it notes. Use reminders on your phone and computer and post-it notes on colour coded packs.”
– Kellie Wellard (Bachelor of Learning Management (Secondary and Vocational Education and Training), 2011)

“I like breaking up my study with sessions of computer games. So, I simply factor in game time with my study plan. This way, I know how much time it will realistically take to complete my study goals, e.g., assignments and preparing for exams while having a few game sessions in between. Who says I have to choose one or another, provided I plan ahead!”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself

Although your studies are important, there is nothing more important than staying kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself of the end goal and why you are studying. Sometimes a change of perspective is all you need.

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“The day I had a light-bulb moment about exam stress was pretty memorable! I was always stressed to the eyeballs, to the point that I performed really poorly because my brain was too soaked in stress hormones to remember a thing. But one day, a friend pointed out how pointless stress was at that point. I had already learned everything I would learn; I had either put in the work, or I hadn’t. Either way, stress would only turn my brain to mush, so I just had to have faith that the work I’d done was enough. I also reminded myself that no exam was ever written to try and trick me. The university, my lecturers, and everybody preferred that I passed, and the only way I wasn’t going to pass was if I didn’t have a satisfactory level of knowledge or understanding, in which case, I didn’t really want to pass anyway because I would be unsafe in my practice. Although this is all very obvious, the way it occurred to me that day was an instant weight lifted from my shoulders.”
– Michelle Goldenberg (Bachelor of Nursing, 2021)

“Always back yourself.  Never forget why you began studying. Always be kind to yourself.”
– Edmond D’Albret (Diploma of Human Resources Management, 2022)

“Try not to compare yourself to your peers. While it can be great to encourage yourself to study just that bit more, you may find yourself thinking, “oh my god, I’m only 250 words into my assessment, and this person is almost finished!” or “my assignment isn’t nearly as good as theirs, am I even going to pass this one?”. When you realise that other people’s progress or success is not a reasonable measure of where you should be in your studies, it can help tone down those stress levels.”
– Kodi Warner-Magnussen (Bachelor of Environmental Science, 2021)

Even though the end of term can creep up within a blink of an eye, remember, it will also be over just as fast, so keep going. Exam and assignment periods are only temporary, but your health and well-being are not. Above anything, it is important to look after yourself and ask for help if you need it.

Stay tuned for next week, as our alumni will share who they used to ask for help when they were feeling overwhelmed about their studies. If you’re an alumnus and are interested in sharing your experience with current students, join the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program.

Benefits of applying for a Scholarship – in the words of Arrow Energy Go Further Scholarship recipient, Jorja Wem

Hi, my name is Jorja Wem, and I am a proud Wakka Wakka and Wulli Wulli women. I am a full-time, second year student at CQUniversity studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science.

My career aspirations:

My career aspirations involve being apart of environmental circumstances among companies that do a great deal of impact. I am inspired to support the growth and development within these companies to sustain environmental matters and be included in decision-making processes.  

How my scholarship is helping:

My Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Scholarship has allowed me to balance my study-load, compared to my personal workload. Unfortunately, I will face financial struggles within myself, especially once vocational professional placement comes around. However, the benefit of this scholarship will immensely support myself during times of need, like completing placement or enrolling in more units in a term, allowing me to cut back my work hours. 

Thank you to Arrow Energy for selecting me as a successful recipient for 2022.

My advice to other students:

When applying for scholarships, don’t consider it, do it. It changed my life in a way that I never knew it would. It will only take a short amount of your time. Scholarships will assist you with any financial responsibilities so that you can focus on your future as a student.” 

The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQUni is grateful to partner with Arrow Energy who share the University’s passion for making a difference in the lives of our remote students, their families and our communities.

Applications for Term 2 Scholarships close on Friday, 3 June. For individual scholarship opportunities, including eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply, visit www.cqu.edu.au/scholarships.

Techniques to help deal with stress

Everyone knows that in some cases, stress is unavoidable. Although many stressful situations may not seem that significant looking back, it is often not the case when you are in the moment, stressing over upcoming assignments, exams, and deadlines.

Our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants know first-hand what it’s like to face stressful situations. We asked them to share some of the techniques they use now or have worked for them in the past.

Take a break

Taking a short break – either going for a walk, cooking something tasty or grabbing a coffee with a friend – can be precisely what you need to return to your commitments with a fresh mindset.

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“Get out and step away from what you’re doing; sometimes it just takes a moment away to be able to refocus and see something that you were previously missing.”
– Tenille Dittman (Bachelor of Business, 2018)

“If the stressor is short-term, for example, just needing time to complete a high priority task, I find that a short walk helps. It only needs to be a few minutes in the fresh air. I may go and get a takeaway coffee. The walk and fresh air together outweigh the effects of the stress.”
Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

“If I feel I’m getting too stressed with a situation, I take a break. The more I stayed in a stressful study situation, the less I actually achieved, so I taught myself to take a break, either go for a walk or watch an episode on Netflix and then go back to it once I was feeling better.”
Karen Howard (Bachelor of Accounting, 2021)

“Taking a walk or making lunch. Anything really that I enjoyed and gave my brain a break from the stresses I had at the time. I kept these breaks to 30 minutes so that I didn’t feel like I was avoiding my stress rather than taking a break from it.”
Belinda Donaldson (Bachelor of Property, 2021)

“Reading a good book, going for a walk on the beach and coffee catch-ups with friends.”
Peta Bosomworth (Bachelor of Education (Primary), 2000)

Exercise

Put some healthy stress on your body whilst giving your brain a break. Any form of exercise can be good for the body and the mind.
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“My biggest stress reduction is exercise. Doesn’t really matter if it is going out for a walk in nature or going to the gym. The important thing about it for me was to make sure that I had dedicated time for it where I could focus on myself and not think about how much I had to catch up or what I was worried about. It was important to exercise the body and give the mind a break!”
James Brown (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2019)

“Having a daily exercise regime. I swim each morning before work. I also do sit-ups and stretches, which help me mentally prepare for the day ahead. If I’ve had a stressful day, I also take a walk and swim at night.”
Sharon Dekkers (Doctor of Philosophy, 2001)

“Yoga and deep breathing. I find that doing even 10 minutes of “surya namaskar” in intervals, or when you just roll out of bed, greatly helps with the physical stress of constantly sitting down, cramping muscles and backaches that in turn lead to emotional stress. I recommend doing stretches every 10 minutes, such as rolling the shoulders or neck to help increase blood flow, improve concentration, and alleviate accumulating stress.”
– Maria Cabral Fernandes (Certificate III in Business Administration, 2022)

Breathe

When people are under stress, their breathing pattern changes. This can lead to many complications that can take your situation from bad to worse. Sometimes all you need to reduce stress levels is to take a big, deep breath.

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“Catch a moment to slow down your thinking and take a few deep breaths (literally). When I feel calmer, I start assessing the situations and identify stressors as well as possible solutions.”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

“I use a breathing app on my watch, which helps me relax.”
Edmond D’Albret (Diploma of Human Resources Management, 2022)

“Deep breathing is my go-to stress management technique, not just in a moment of stress but also when I’m calm or need to refocus. If your body knows what it’s like to feel calm, it will do a better job when you’re stressed.”
Jessica Wright (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2016)

“Box breathing can be really helpful and contextualising why you are stressed may open ideas of how to reduce the precipitating factors.”
Joshua Corbett (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2021)

Plan ahead if possible

Being organised and planning ahead can reduce the workload piling up. It can also help you have a clear picture of what needs to be done and help manage your tasks effectively.
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“Planning small steps works well for me as it makes me feel less overwhelmed. Besides, small wins help boost confidence! I also remind myself often that giving in to feeling stressed only makes matters worse, and that being solution-focused is more productive.”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

“If the stressor is medium to long term, I concentrate on clearing the decks to make sure that I have time to work on the task.  Preferably spread over several days.”
Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

“Take time to plan your time. I ensure to make time for healthy meal prep and exercise, especially a walk in the evening. I make a to-do list before bed so I can sleep without stressing.”
– Tammy Hope (Bachelor of Medical Science (Specialisation), 2021)

Stressful situations can often be tricky to deal with, but they will eventually pass and can be managed using the techniques listed above. Make sure not to let stress get the best of you and ask for help if you need it.

Next week our alumni will be sharing their best tips and tricks for exam and assignment preparation and time management. If you’re an alumnus and want to give advice to current students, you can sign up to the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program.

Stressful situations – Been there, done that

With the end of term fast approaching, it is quite common for students to get stressed. However, it is important to remember that these stressful times will pass. Often people laugh about the things they were stressing over whilst at uni, and most problems don’t seem that significant in hindsight.

We asked our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants to share some stories from their uni days, especially when they were stressed about something that worked out in the end.

Philippa Rumble (Bachelor of Education (Primary), 2021) said it’s easy to look back and laugh, but there were many times during her degree when things seemed out of control:

“I’ll always remember the time I had 4 assessments due over 3 days. I was getting ready to run a community event for 2500 people at the same time, and my computer died. That was the time I realised that saving to a cloud drive wasn’t something that lecturers advised just for fun. While it was a really stressful time, I was incredibly lucky to get my laptop fixed and some of the assessment documents recovered 48 hours before my first assessment was due. It took several looong nights of work, but I managed to submit all my assessments, get HDs for all of them, and pull off the community event successfully. However, the moral of the story is to submit early if you can and ALWAYS back your notes and assessments up to an online server, or just email them to yourself!”

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Kodi Warner-Magnussen (Bachelor of Environmental Science, 2021) shared a story from his first-year biology exam:

“In my first year, I had a biology exam coming up that I felt I really was not prepared for. In the two weeks leading up to the exam, my peers and I held a handful of study groups to go over the term’s content. I felt that my peers were way more prepared than I was, so I was extremely stressed. I was only hoping to pass by the time I walked into the exam. I was so worked up that I even felt sick. In the end, I walked out thinking I could have done way better and had absolutely no idea what my grade was going to be. When our grades were finally released, I just grazed my way into a High Distinction with an 86%. A great result, I would say! It just goes to show that we can often severely underestimate ourselves, and it can take a toll on our health.”

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Jessica Wright (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2016) told a story from her honours year when she had to take six weeks off her studies:

“In my honours year, I had to have major surgery. It meant taking about six weeks off my project and studies to recover, and I felt like I would never finish it. I was able to get an extension, enlisted the help of a close friend and mentor to help guide me through, and managed a score I was pretty proud of, given the circumstances!”

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Jessica Small (Bachelor of Business, 2021) shared a story where a delayed train made her miss her exam:

“In the first semester of my second year of university, the train I was catching to Brisbane for my final exam was delayed. I did the calculations in my head and knew that a 45-minute delay would mean that I wouldn’t make it to the city in time for the exam that I had been studying for. I felt my stomach drop. I remember almost bursting into tears at the thought of missing my exam and failing the unit I had been studying for the past 12 weeks. I decided to hop on the train anyway for the one-hour journey and hoped that my calculations were incorrect, but as we got closer to the exam’s start time, I knew I would miss it. I emailed my lecturer, who was very comforting and told me to apply for another exam sitting. I even contacted Translink to support my claim that the trains were delayed. My application got accepted, and thankfully, I ended up sitting the exam a few weeks later. Once the results were released, I received a message from my lecturer saying that I had the best results out of all the students in the unit. She had also nominated me for the Financial Planning Association’s Student of the Year award. I added that award to my resume, which was the reason I got an admin job in the industry one year before graduating. I guess you could say that missing that train really worked in my favour and opened some doors.”

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Belinda Donaldson (Bachelor of Property, 2021) shared her experience in dealing with unexpected situations:

“One time, I had misread a due date on an assignment, and it was due three days earlier than I had planned. I also had a second assignment due the day after. Life was throwing up challenges as well – I had work, parenting commitments, and my husband was working away. Whenever I sat down to do my assignment, something interfered, requiring my attention. Somehow, I got both assignments submitted on time. After a couple of late nights, early mornings, some quick-fix dinners and TV babysitting, I managed to get the work done. From that moment, I always built contingencies into my planning and aimed to get my assignments done ahead of schedule.”

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Based on these stories, stressful situations are often only temporary. The assignment and exam period will be over in no time, and you’ll be able to look forward to new opportunities. Meanwhile, it is important to look after yourself and your friends. Stay tuned for next week’s post where our graduates share techniques to deal with stress.

Are you a graduate and want to share your experience with students? Join the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program to earn rewards while assisting students in their learning journey.

Speech pathologists not all ‘talk’

By Speech Pathology students Anna Ferguson and Leonie Fishburn

It’s as vital as breathing and you do it around 700 times each day, but unless something goes awry, you probably don’t give swallowing much thought.

Swallowing Awareness Day on Wednesday 16 March 2022 shines a spotlight on the swallowing issues affecting more than one million Australians, and the vital role speech pathologists play in supporting these individuals.

Continue reading Speech pathologists not all ‘talk’

Applying for a scholarship the second time around

Have you applied for a scholarship in the past and been unsuccessful? Don’t be discouraged! Scholarships are highly competitive, but there are opportunities to reapply. Term 1 2022 Scholarships are open now. Don’t miss out, apply today! 

Our tips on how to prepare a stellar scholarship application are a great place to start when applying for a scholarship for the first time, but if you’ve been knocked back before, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

Keep reading for our advice on how to make your application stand out, the second time around…

Continue reading Applying for a scholarship the second time around