From participating in the Advantage Award, I gained a much better understanding of what is possible after graduating.
In my discipline, it sometimes seems like academia is the only real option for your career after you graduate. But the range of activities in the Advantage Award program and the different sets of skills and experiences I gained have now set me up for a whole range of graduate possibilities. Extra-curricular activities and involvement are things that employers are really looking for in a graduate, and I feel like I can now demonstrate that I'm versatile, engaged and a leader.
I think my favourite experience overall were the two archaeological digs I went on last year, in Turkey and in Italy. Being able to put all my academic knowledge about archaeology into practise in the field was amazing, and I learned new skills and techniques every day. It was also really valuable in that I had the chance to go to places I'd never been before - living in a tiny Turkish village for a month was pretty different! I also made a lot of really valuable contacts, all the way from other students in the UK and Germany to professional archaeologists and researchers in Australia, Turkey, Italy and the UK.
Another highlight was my presentation at the UQ Undergraduate Research Conference. I had been working on a project on empresses in the Roman Empire as part of one of my courses, and the conference really challenged me to think about my project in new ways. Often, ancient history seems really detached from issues in the modern world - but preparing for the conference, I realised that there are actually still a lot of parallels between the way ancient Roman empresses were treated and the way female politicians are treated in politics today! Finding those parallels was what made it much easier to present my research in a way that was accessible to people outside my field, and that's a skill that I've used many times since.
Getting recognition for those smaller extra-curricular activities and roles are really valuable, and the breadth of experiences you'll be able to draw on is really useful when it comes to interviewing for jobs.