My name is Joshua Evans and I am a first-year Bachelor of Business (Finance) student. I have been asked to write about the story of my unorthodox journey whilst at QUT. I have told this story briefly at the 2016 Senior Leadership Group Conference earlier this year in May in support of the Students As Partners initiative. This blog post will aim to re-tell that story with some additional information.
It all started in Townsville, where I attended Ignatius Park College for my high school years. I was by no means a star student, although I worked hard in my final year to obtain a slightly above average OP. I moved from the so-called capital of North Queensland to the city of Brisbane to accept my offer in the Bachelor of Exercise Science at QUT. At this point, I wasn’t very ambitious with my studies as I was focusing on my ventures with the Gold Coast Suns Australian Football talent academy. I hadn’t given much thought to my life post-university as the only passion I had found thus far was Australian Football. I figured that if I didn’t end up playing in the Australian Football League (AFL), I’d just become a trainer for an AFL team.
Upon starting at QUT, I didn’t know many people in Brisbane and no one attending QUT. So when I stumbled upon the various and abundant challenges at university, I struggled. I considered myself an introvert and I rarely spoke to anyone on campus. I had no interest in the social side of tertiary education and I had no intentions of giving back to the community via a student society. I maintained this attitude for the first two years of my time at QUT.
During the first year of my studies in Exercise Science, my only goal was to pass all of my units. I finished my first year with a GPA of slightly above 4 and no subjects failed – ‘success’. At the time, I was of the belief that I just needed to pass the degree and I’d be okay. I clearly wasn’t striving, I was settling. In the second year in this degree, my attitude towards study improved as I came to the realisation that there are thousands of Exercise Science graduates out there and thousands to come. So why would an elite AFL team choose me? I had to differentiate myself from the rest.
I was lucky enough to know a PhD student studying hamstring injuries in sport, who aspired to the same career as I did. After speaking with this student, I discovered that the path to becoming a trainer in an elite sporting club was less attractive than I originally expected for a career that I didn’t really have a passion for.
Throughout 2015, I made the decision that a change was needed, so I re-evaluated my career aspirations. By this point, I was placing less importance on my original dream of playing in the AFL and more on a realistic career. However, I tend to be a bit of a dreamer, so these ‘realistic’ careers I had in mind were some of the most successful, respected and fulfilling careers that exist; clearly out of my reach at this point. Towards the end of 2015, based on a friend’s advice, I met with a QUT career counsellor to discuss my options and interests heading into 2016. This counsellor helped me to identify what I want in a career and provided some pathways to gain employment in these desirable industries. She also spoke about how extra-curricular activities can improve a student’s employability, something which I had never tried.
At the end of 2015, I decided that a course change was due. I enrolled into a Bachelor of Business for 2016, with prospects of working in the finance industry.
To begin 2016, I set myself some goals based on the counsellor’s advice. I aimed to become more involved in the QUT community through volunteering, to establish a network and attend many professional events, and to dedicate the required time and effort to achieve academic results that met my renewed standards. All of these aims were established as methods to achieve my end goal of being among the top prospects for employers upon graduation.
Throughout the early months of 2016, I found myself taking a proactive approach to semester one. Before orientation week, I was trying to learn some basic economics and accounting whilst brushing up on my mathematics in preparation for my semester one units. I also downloaded apps such as Bloomberg, Reuters and MarketWatch so I could keep up with business news as well as Eventbrite and OrgSync so I could browse events. I registered for and attended many events before and during semester one, with the first being the 2016 PwC/ QUT Student Design Jam.
Before the event took place, I had no idea what it was or where this event would take me. I registered because I was eager to begin this new chapter of my student life. It turns out that the Student Design Jam is an innovation competition, where teams are required to attempt to either solve a problem or exploit an opportunity for the attending company, which was Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) this year. After a day of learning about innovation, ideation and QUU, ten teams of students competed and presented novel ideas to QUU executives. After a successful presentation, our team was declared as the winners. As a result of this victory, our team has continued to work on the idea, pitched the project to the CEO and other board members of QUU, and received an internship at QUU over the second half of 2016 to develop this idea. The early success that I experienced at the design jam provided more direction, allowed me to discover my interest in innovation and gave me exposure to the first connections in my newly established network.
Once the semester started, I quickly realised that the content was much harder than my previous degree and that I’d need to work a lot harder to achieve my goals. I decided not to play AFL for the first time since I was five and I stopped most of my hobbies. I switched on the productivity switch. I spent the vast majority of my time studying and I have been rewarded accordingly with encouraging results. I was also lucky enough to secure a volunteering position in the QUT Economics and Finance Society, which was something completely new to me, although I have really enjoyed it thus far.
After being involved in the QUT and wider community, staying up to date with business news and events, and studying business units, I have uncovered my passion for finance. I believe that having a passion in what I study and taking part in the community makes university much more enjoyable and easier to succeed.
If there is anything I want any readers to take away from my story, it is that a student who is disengaged should not discount themselves or be condemned to mediocrity. This student may just require guidance and direction to find their passion and establish their potential to be a significant contributor to the community and industry. If you are a student who is in the same position as I was in 2015, I would advise you to take a leap of faith and try to find your passion.