Graduates continue to secure jobs despite COVID-19

Griffith alumnus Ben Harden scored his dream job as a journalist in the beef capital of Australia, Rockhampton.

Newly minted Griffith graduates are defying the tough COVID-19 job market and scoring their dream jobs.

At a time when unemployment levels are in sharp focus, Ben Harden (B/Journalism), Lachlan Weber (B/Engineering (Honours), Olivia Hicks (B/Education) and Gemma Pol (B/Public Relations and Communication and B/Business) are shining examples of Griffith University graduates kicking goals straight after graduation.

Ben grew up in rural Queensland and distinctly remembers the important role publication Queensland Country Life played in his community.

Now he is a full-time journalist at the publication, based in Rockhampton.

Ben Harden (centre) gained journalism experience through being a digital media and student ambassador.

“I grew up reading the Queensland Country Life paper in my household and sometimes I would have my photo in the paper from the regional shows in Far North Queensland,” Ben said.

“Rural news and agriculture are passions of mine and now I’m either on the road heading to a cattle sale or covering the news in central Queensland.”

The journalist said he credited his experiences at Griffith — from a trip to Vanuatu for a New Colombo Plan funded climate change communication study tour, to industry mentors and guest lecturers, to internships and work as a Griffith University student and digital media ambassador — for preparing him for the jump from university to his career.

“The experiences I had at Griffith prepared me for this job and I couldn’t have done it without my journalism lecturers and tutors who pushed me the pursue a career I was passionate about,” he said.

Lachlan Weber found work in his chosen field after graduation, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Lachlan also credited Work Integrated Learning for helping him gain employment in his chosen industry, as a permanent way engineer designing rail alignments at Arup.

“During my third year at Griffith I undertook an overseas internship that was offered as a subject,” Lachlan said.

“This internship involved spending 14 days on the Coral Coast of Fiji, performing research within villages on the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.

“This international experience was something that stood out during my (Arup) internship application and interview.”

In the second half of 2020, Lachlan was successful in securing an internship at Arup and on its completion he was offered a permanent position.

Olivia Hicks fielded three job offers in as many days.

The alumnus said COVID-19 put “significant strain” on the engineering firm but was relieved his skills and the connections he built while interning there allowed him to gain secure employment.

Olivia fielded three job offers in just three days after her conferral and has already started as an English and HPE Teacher at Ferny Grove State High School.

“Initially I was concerned that a reduction in teachers taking leave may impact job opportunities, however, the pandemic has highlighted the profession’s job security and adaptability,” Olivia said.

“I am very fortunate to have secured a full-time position in my teaching areas during a time of great economic uncertainty.”

Gemma Pol said her diverse skillset made her attractive to small organisations.

Gemma said her double degree helped her gain a diverse skillset, which became crucial when applying to work in small businesses like NATSIC Transport and Community Services, where she found employment as a communications coordinator before even graduating.

“Studying at Griffith has equipped me with many skills that made me stand out to employers, because I completed a vast range of courses from economics and accounting, to public writing and crisis communication,” Gemma said.

“Because NATSIC is a small organisation, they value people that can wear many hats.”

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Debra Henly said it was wonderful to see many graduates being employed in their chosen profession despite COVID-19.

“Preparing students well for the workforce is critical,” Professor Henly said.

“Griffith’s degree programs include many opportunities for students to gain job-relevant skills, both in the classroom and through internships, placements and projects with industry partners.

“These industry partnerships give students the opportunity to practice the skills they have acquired at university in the workplace, learn from industry mentors and form networks that will help them progress throughout their career.”