Business Advantage

How I gave myself the advantage

I am a third-year student at Queensland University of Technology, studying a Bachelor in Engineering (Civil) and Bachelor of Business (Accounting). Prior to university, I was heavily involved in my school community, volunteered regularly in my local community and was the crew leader at my local venturer group (within Scouts). I had always been comfortable with meeting new people and participating in new opportunities and experiences, however, when starting university, something changed. I became a very nervous person who was terrified to participate in extra-curricular activities and didn’t know how to overcome it.

Before starting my third-year in 2020, I made a pledge to myself to use this year to push myself out of my comfort zone, take advantage (no pun intended) of the opportunities offered to me and use this time to make genuine connections with my fellow peers and industry professionals. I did the same thing as I usually did at the beginning of each semester; I logged into QUT Blackboard and enrolled to a variety of different sessions, however, this year I did something different. Instead of logging in a few days later and cancelling my bookings, I wrote all the sessions into a diary and finally felt ready to conquer my fears.

My first ever session with QUT was held by Business Advantage, where I met the amazing Jess Kelly (QUT Business Advantage coordinator), who always greeted me with a smile, motivated me to be my best self and created environments where students truly felt comfortable being themselves.

Business Advantage is a program, run by the QUT Business School, which allows business students to select sessions that assist in developing themselves and their skills. Throughout the program, there are a large variety of sessions provided, ranging from public speaking to video skills, designing your life to business etiquette.

The time came when my first session was on. I made my usual commute into QUT (2 hours from the Gold Coast) and walked into the first session, with a lot of nerves. While entering the room, I was having an internal battle as to whether I REALLY wanted this. I instantly searched for the empty table so I could avoid conversations. I then started approaching the table with the most people (What was I doing!?). I sat at one of the last free seats at the table, and immediately started engaging with my peers and started to feel relaxed. I knew that this was going to be the start of something amazing. I was finally feeling myself at Uni.

The first session I attended was run by Sally Prosser, a charismatic and powerful vocal and presentation coach. Sally taught me the importance of my voice and how to effectively use my voice to engage with others. From this session I learnt:

  • Treat speaking as an act of service
  • You need to have a strong wifi signal, so be the energy setter not energy getter
  • People are not only influenced by the words that you speak, but by the way you use effective body language and an engaging voice.

I walked out of this room, feeling the happiest I had felt at university, and knew that this was something I was definitely going to continue. My poor family had to listen to me rave about my first session for hours, but I think they could tell that I had found a really amazing opportunity.

From this moment, I was hooked. I was starting to use my LinkedIn profile, catching up with friends in different sessions and looked out for different events that were popping up that I could attend. I had finally found a place where I felt I belonged, and where I would thrive.

The best bit of advice I can give to any student, in any year at University, is to burst that bubble, ASAP! Business Advantage is a welcoming environment to develop yourself, and really give yourself that ADVANTAGE in the REAL WORLD (Oh no! The puns!) As quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”. I made the conscious decision to attend a Business Advantage workshop and I do not regret one second of it. I have found my happy place and I know you will too!

Elise Watkins

Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) and Bachelor of Business (Accounting)

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