Pooja Shahi might be enrolled in an IT degree, but she’s doing a lot more than just going to class. The Nepalese student, who’s now in her final year of study, isn’t wasting any of the opportunities available at ACU – or beyond.
She’s studying a range of subjects, both in and beyond the Faculty of IT. One subject, Community Engagement, gave her the opportunity to volunteer with two organisations: one that provided support services to people with disabilities and another that delivered online sessions to high school students to prepare them for their future workplaces.
Another, from the Faculty of Business, included a 105-hour internship component, which showed her what working for an Australian company was really all about.
“My teacher told me about this opportunity at the Australian International Sports Organisation, and then she also helped me with the application,” Pooja says.
“I just wrote my CV and cover letter, and then I also got it reviewed at ACU’s CareerHub, and then I applied for the internship and I got it.”
While both internships included a broad range of skills development opportunities, Pooja says the most important outcome was the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections and hone her communication skills.
“I was dealing with a wide range of people from different backgrounds, so that really helped me to develop my networking skills. I also had to adjust my communication to make sure these different people understood me,” she says.
“I learnt to liaise with people from all these backgrounds, and I think that’s the most helpful thing.”
The combination of studying and volunteering might sound like a full-time job, but Pooja still finds time to sign up for a range of extracurricular programs. In 2018, she completed Study NSW program’s Interchange, which helps international students build their entrepreneurship skills. Her involvement led to her becoming an Interchange peer advisor last year.
This year, she got involved with Univative, a student employability program which brings together students from nine Australian universities to develop solutions for real-world interdisciplinary problems.
In response to COVID-19, this year’s Univative was run online; Pooja was part of a small group of students from Sydney and Melbourne who worked together on a brief from Dell Technologies.
“They gave us a challenge, which was to develop a predictive model to show how one city could be completely based on renewable energy by 2030,” she says.
“One thing that attracted me to Univative was a lot of students had got internships out of it and some of them had also been offered jobs – that was part of why I wanted to be involved.
“But it was more so because it was something new and exciting and challenging, and I really love to take part in extracurricular activities, especially if I don’t know what I’m doing!”
These programs are just a snapshot of the opportunities on offer for international students at ACU. In addition to preparing students for career success, we also provides a range of support services to help international students make the most of their time in Australia.
Key support services include International student advisors, the Campus Ministry, and health and counselling for all students. On the academic side of things, students can also contact their course advisors and coordinators with questions about their studies.
ACU’s commitment to supporting international students was particularly important in 2020 during COVID-19 shutdowns. Pooja says the university – particularly ACU International – kept students well informed and offered a range of financial and other support services for students who were struggling.
“ACU has a wonderful support system for new students, for students with disabilities, for students who might be facing mental health issues or for international students like myself, so there are always people there you can talk to,” she says.
“If in doubt about whom to contact, you can always contact Ask ACU and they will direct you to the right person.”