Five things that are more impressive than graduating with a distinction

October 28, 2016
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Don’t be disappointed if your goal of graduating with a distinction has fallen flat. Real talk: there’s a handful of things that are way more impressive than simply being good at taking exams and writing assignments.

Graduating with distinction is kind of like showing up to uni post-HSC and boasting about your ATAR – no one gives a damn. Here’s five things that an employer will value more than whether you can do a decent job on an annotated bibliography or not.

Being able to speak a second language

Being bilingual is a huge asset to any industry. It means that you’ll be able to communicate with a larger audience of people and bring a world-wise perspective to your workspace that other applicants can’t. 

Aside from being able to watch quirky foreign films with no subtitles, the perks of knowing a second language include sitting first on the list of people that a company is willing to send overseas. You’ll be globetrotting in no time.

And at the very least, it’s something that sets you apart and makes you memorable. Way to smash that watercooler talk!

Having a shit ton of relevant work experience on your CV

Often the reason why you’re not absolutely killing it academic-wise is because you’ve been dividing your focus on gaining work experience, a part-time job and uni. Then there’s the rest of your time spent clawing onto the hope that you still have a social life.

The reality is that you simply can’t turn up to an interview and hand a potential employer a resume with only your uni marks. They’ll assume that you’ve got about as much personality as a cactus.

Demonstrating that you’ve gained relevant experience while balancing uni at the same time speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. To ignore every facet of your professional life aside from uni would be a true rookie error.

Having heaps of volunteering under your belt

Having great marks is fantastic, but it’s a really self-orientated pursuit and doesn’t allow you to give back to your community.

Often the most inspiring person isn’t the smartest but the most selfless, generous and kind. By volunteering you’re given the chance to develop your character and the opportunity to gain empathy – two amazing qualities that’ll make you super employable.

It’s all about karma, friends.

Being able to put a student exchange on your resume

If you’ve chosen to do exchange, this will not only broaden your mind and allow you to see the world, but it’s also beneficial for gaining a totally unique academic experience.

Living away from home and acclimatising to an entirely new environment is no easy feat. It shows you’re mature, self-sufficient and makes you a little bit mysterious and interesting.

Bonus points if you’ve spent your exchange in a non-English speaking country and made an effort to throw yourself out of your comfort zone. You might not be Bear Grylls exactly, but you’ve definitely shown your drive for adventure and the ability to adapt and be flexible. Go team!

Having a portfolio of your own work to show in an interview

When you graduate you want to be able to hand your potential employers more than just your academic statement. You should be able to show your professional growth, which is especially important if you’re after a career in the media or creative industry.

Graduating with a distinction is merely the cherry on top of your experience when applying for a job. Like a young Rory Gilmore applying for Harvard learned back in season three, outstanding marks aren’t enough to stand out.

Start working towards more important things, so that when the scary time comes for you to apply for jobs, you’ll nail the interview.

Eden Gillespie        

Eden Gillespie is an International Studies/ Media student at UNSW with a love for breakfast bagels and Louis Theroux.