Navigating the road from student to practitioner can be daunting. Student Comms Chat’s Ross Monaghan spoke with Pragya Singh—a Bachelor of Communications 2018 graduate passionate about empowerment, to discuss her journey to become a working professional and got her thoughts on inclusiveness.
Read my recap of the three biggest takeaways from Pragya’s chat, or watch the full talk at this link here!
Acknowledge your privileges, be proud of them, and make use of them.
“Ever since I was a little girl it’s been very important for me to take any platform that I have and acknowledge privilege that I have and speak about issues that are dear to my heart,” Pragya told us. She was particularly speaking about the opportunity she was given of making the student’s response speech at her graduation ceremony, during which she promoted an all-around theme of ‘girl power’, and of acknowledging the immensely privileged position every student is in.
In a country like Australia, and particularly for people who have always been in Australia, getting a university education can quickly seem like a standard, rather than a privilege worth acknowledging—around the world, people don’t have access to a basic education, let alone a university one.
For Pragya, being an only Indian child with the honour of studying abroad on a scholarship, the privilege of attaining even a basic education has been impossible to ignore. So, she encourages every student, and graduate, to acknowledge how much of a privilege it truly is, and to celebrate it! Celebrate that you’re able to study, and celebrate the fact that you have. It’s an accomplishment to be proud of and a privilege to be honoured by.
“Especially during graduation, people are questioning what to do with their future, and it’s really easy to forget the privilege of graduating. I wanted to get that focus back; be proud of yourself and really happy that you’re living this moment, because not a lot of people get to do that.”
There’s an abundance of opportunity in Australia
When Pragya arrived in Australia, she faced many of the same fears and barriers as other international students—the toughness of the initial months, homesickness, worrying about what to do. Her big advice? To know that once you’ve centred yourself and decided on the space that you want to be in, you will find opportunities. This is true for domestic students just as much international students!
“I just believe that as long as you have the skills and you keep working on the skills and networking with the right people, you will get the opportunities.”
Drawing on her personal experience, she found her first trimester to be the toughest for those initial barriers as she was adapting to the way things worked in Australia while dealing with homesickness. After that challenging first trimester, she reframed how she was approaching her time, and endeavoured to get involved in things she was interested in and things that would make her happy.
This led her to volunteer at her university’s student union, which provided her with food, friends, contacts, and experiences that she credits as being the best of her university life. From there, she volunteered outside of uni at One Girl Australia—an organisation for educating girls in Africa, which broadened her horizons and allowed her to interact with a space she was passionate about.
These opportunities enriched Pragya’s time at university, and they’ve been pivotal in her professional life. She credits her previous volunteer work for helping her secure her current job, as they proved her work ethic, her interest, and her ability.
“Just go out there and keep networking with the right people and you’ll genuinely find opportunities coming your way. This is a great country to do that, there’s no dearth of opportunities here.”
Include initiative in your degree
Pragya’s final, and most important, bit of advice for every student is to take initiative!
“It’s not just about studies and academics, you need to go out—whether it’s sports, whether it’s debating, whether it’s anything else just take part in as many activities and network with as many people as you can because you don’t know where and who your next opportunity is going to come from.”
Throughout her degree Pragya was proactive, taking on everything she could—like those wonderful volunteer opportunities from above. She was a member of her university’s debating club, she was a dedicated student, networked whenever she saw the chance, and she scored an amazing internship!
During a networking event for communications students at Deakin University, Pragya walked up to two people from Vice Australia. She introduced herself, and expressed an interest in gaining experience with them. This simple show of initiative impressed them so much that Pragya landed an internship at Vice Australia within a week, even though they hadn’t previously offered internships.
“If you take initiative and don’t doubt yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? They say no, we don’t have an internship program but at least you know, you’ve put yourself out there and more than that- that person will remember you in the future. If they have an opportunity they will think of you.”
Being a student is an amazing time, because you can make use of all of Pragya’s advice. Think about what you want to do, and what makes you happy, then go out there and make those opportunities happen. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, if you keep trying you will get the experience and the doors will open.
Grasp on to everything that comes your way, and be proud of everything you’re able to do.