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How to kick-start your career while you’re still at university

How to nail your cover letter and impress in an interview
Whether you’re itching to start your future career or still not sure where you’re going, we’ve gathered some expert advice from employers to help you put yourself in good stead for life after uni.

It's never too early to start thinking about your career. Regardless of where you are in your degree, these steps will set you up for wherever you’re headed. 


Think of your resume as your first impression with a potential employer. It should clearly convey your skills, experience and any other relevant information that makes it clear that you would be a good fit for the job. Remember your employer may be looking at hundreds of resumes at a time, so try and make yours stand out.

“Your resume should just be an overview of your education, your capabilities and skills, any recognitions you’ve received and a brief overview of your employment history so an employer can say ‘yes I’ve got a good picture of this person and now I want to find out more.’” – Erin Burke, People Development Program Manager at Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

Want more tips on how to write a competitive resume? Check out the Careers Centre's guide.

Cover letters

Cover letters are your way to tell an employer exactly why you’re suitable for the job, so it’s important that they are tailored to each position you apply for. From reading your cover letter it should be clear not only why they should pick you, but also why you’ve picked them – tell them why you’re interested in the role. 

“Your cover letter needs to be succinct, say exactly why you want to work for that company, a brief summary of who you are and where you want to be and what kind of roles you’re looking for. It doesn’t need to be anything too complicated or an exact break down of everything you’ve ever done.” - Hannah Dewar, Recruitment Lead Australia at FDM Group

Need some help? Check out the Careers Centre's cover letter template


An interview is your opportunity to show off your personality – if you’re genuine, honest and confident, you’re sure to leave a lasting impression. While it’s not always easy to stay on top of the nerves, if you do your research and get prepared you’ll have nothing to be worried about.

“Show some personality, try not to be too stiff and rehearsed, if you’re coming from a place of genuine interest and involvement then that will show. It’s definitely important to do some back ground research into the company, there are often some technical or contextual questions asked.”- Josh Mar, People & Culture Team Assistant at Evans Dixon

Not sure what kind of questions you'll be asked? The Careers Centre has got you covered.

Extracurricular activities

If you’re looking to beef up your resume then look no further than extracurricular activities. That’s right, you can impress potential employers just by getting involved in clubs and societies. It shows that you’re motivated and willing to put in extra effort, even if the clubs don’t directly relate to the role, but of course bonus points if they do. 

“Demonstrate that you’ve got some of the qualities we’re looking for, and you can do that by telling us about times you’ve done some mentoring, coaching or been part of social clubs and activities. It shows motivation, and commitment and reliability.” - Lieutenant Paul Coughlan, Aerospace Engineering Officer at Royal Australian Navy MIEAust CPENG NER and part of the Specialist Recruitment Team

Check out the full list of USU clubs and societies that are available to get involved with. 


Put all that theory into practice by getting out of the library and into an internship. Not only do internships look amazing on your resume, they're set up to give you lots of support without the scary expectation of already being an expert.

“Internship give you invaluable experience and a taste for what kind of career you’d have in a certain work place. They give you exposure to senior leaders and a network of communities and people that are really passionate about the early career space and watching people evolve in their careers.”- Angela Leslie - Senior Early Career Specialist at Telstra

Check out the CareersHub to search for internships and part time work opportunities.

30 August 2019

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