Being a professional

There are challenges that you’ll face in the workplace which are different to those you may have experienced at Uni. Working in an office or clinical setting is very different to working at home or working in a library. Unlike university assignments and assessment, you’ll be expected to complete different styles of tasks, with different people, for clients or other professionals, which requires a totally different set of skills to university work. 

Some students may be worried that because they’re not actually industry professionals, they may get judged for not knowing things or you might just find the whole thing very daunting. Your course has provided you with procedural and theoretical information about what to do when you get into the workforce. However, being put into the workplace is different entirely; there are expectations that your supervisors will have about your work and that can be intimidating.

It’s important to listen to your supervisor’s advice, as they’re the professional and know what is expected in terms of the quality of your work. If you’re worried at all about your performance, talk to your supervisor about what you can do to improve. Discussing your work with your peers who are also participating in WIL is important too, as they will likely have advice too. Be open and ready for criticism, this can be hard, but it is critical for professional improvement.


Industry professionals throw about the term ‘networking’ all the time, but what does it really mean? Networking doesn’t mean pitching your skills, resume or even asking for jobs. Networking isn’t even about handing out business cards and drinking coffee. Networking is simply about meeting people, having conversations and forming relationships, often in a professional context. Simply having a friendly and professional conversation with someone can be networking. There’s no need to feel like you have to extract commitments from everyone you talk to. All you have to do is to be authentic and genuine in all your conversations with people and let relationships grow naturally; this is networking.

Networking provides an invaluable tool in your career: connections. It involves developing relationships and rapport with professionals, and mutually benefitting from these relationships. Networking is important because it gives you the opportunity to gain valuable insight into your desired career path through speaking with professionals in that field; it allows you to gain ‘insider information’ on your field of interest about things that aren’t talked about as much, such as the downsides of the field, and gives you an increased chance of getting a job that hasn’t been advertised.

Networking Events

Go to networking events! Be the person that makes the rounds in the room and has meaningful conversations with the professionals in attendance. All you need to do is to introduce yourself, mention that you are a student. Remember: everyone loves to be an expert! Ask for some advice and soon you will know a room full of people!

Keep In Contact with Your Network

For the professionals that you have met, if you feel it’s appropriate, make sure you grab their details and add them on LinkedIn – it’s always a good idea to ask them in person before you send them an invitation, but either way is fine. If that’s something that you don’t feel comfortable doing, professionals that you have worked with in a WIL or similar experience or professionals that you’ve networked with will usually have either given you their emails as part of the job or given you their business card, which will usually have their contact information on it. It’s important to keep in touch with these people; when you’re eventually looking for a professional position, people tend to be a lot more generous if they know who you are.

Network Online

Networking online is great because you can connect with people you may not have otherwise met where you live. LinkedIn and Facebook are two sites that are great for networking as they allow you to get in touch with other professionals, and particularly recruiters — these sites can provide the opportunity for professional contacts you might find useful to have later in your career. If you’re graduating soon, resources such as the UQ Alumni Facebook page are invaluable for networking as they put you in contact with other graduates from years past who may have flourishing careers already. Additionally, many companies have career oriented Facebook pages that you can access which are perfect places to start networking online, and LinkedIn provides the opportunity for companies to create groups which students can join for networking purposes. Be careful to read the situation if you use Facebook though, as it can often be a very casual site and may not always be appropriate for networking.