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Reflections of a University Graduate — A Real Skills Perspective

Choosing how to reach success and what you will do with it will determine that kind of professional and person you become.

By Juwin Lee

Students face an array of challenges during their studies at university from choosing subjects in their course to honing particular skills they value for their career and overall fulfilment. These challenges and the competitive university environment can prove too great as a fifth of first-year university students drop out of their degrees every year in Australia.

A key part of university that can be underappreciated is the fact students aren’t just competing against one another, but also learning together. Collaboration across small teams and large cohorts can pave a steady path to success. A university graduate who is a counsellor for the Real Skills team has agreed to share their reflections on tertiary education and the responsibility of passing on what you have learned.


Ricky Chen, Human Capital Analyst at Deloitte Australia

“My name is Ricky, and I graduated about a year ago in 2019 after pursuing studies in Psychology, Information Systems and Finance. Reflecting on this major life milestone, it’s now my pleasure to share with you a retrospective of everything that I’m grateful for — the fortune of support others afforded me and the mindset I adopted to explore and shape the best experiences out of each opportunity I took upon.”

“The new responsibilities which accompanied each opportunity not only allowed me to develop personally, but also hold myself accountable for the development of those around me. My role with Real Skills Education embodied this perfectly, with a lasting legacy and impact which I continue carrying forward in my career as a HR Technology Analyst at Deloitte.”

Unravelling the Uncertainty

“My journey as an undergraduate was far from what I expected it to be — my first few years were particularly challenging. I didn’t have a decisive game-plan or an extravagant purpose that I was striving towards. However, in our path as university students, there’s one shared purpose which can be ascertained to all of us — that we’re all striving to craft our highest skill. The difficult part is discovering exactly what this is and what steps we can take to achieve this purpose.”

“As undergraduates, you’re suddenly thrust into an environment where you’re for the most part, self-directed. You’re given almost complete independence in discovering your passions, exploring new communities and dedicating yourself to paving a fulfilling career path — all at the same time. This almost seemed insurmountable and it’s no wonder why many undergraduates, myself included, felt so overwhelmed.”

Ricky (right) jumping in at the 2018 Summer STEM Leaders Program Expo Night

“While difficult at first, I eventually discovered a newfound mindset — that independence is exactly what makes this pursuit so worthwhile. Would there be another time in my life where I’d have complete freedom to practice personal responsibility and autonomy — to steer my own ship, develop my character and make an impact in any way which I see fit. When would I ever have the chance to exercise such liberty? So how was I going to make the most of it?”

Granted opportunities — Not taken for granted

“An often underappreciated aspect of the university experience is that you’re surrounded by others who provide near unconditional support towards your maximal development. Upon discovering this, I made sure that if I was ever afforded an opportunity, I would not let it pass me by.”

Ricky (second from the left) with the Real Skills team at the 2018 Summer STEM Leaders Program Expo Night

“By appreciating the opportunities which stood around every corner, I began to experience the vibrance of university life at its fullest — exploring new passion projects such as social impact, student counselling and entrepreneurship. Being able to practice new skill-sets and engage communities of like-minded people is what defined the best of my university experience. Each endeavour came with their own triumphs, failures and valuable lessons — lessons which I used to structure new goals and pursue other purposes which I was passionate about.”

“This eventually led me to the doorstep of Real Skills Education (RSE) — a turning point in my development. At this point, I held an immense amount of gratitude to the privilege which my community, peers and mentors had gifted me. It was now my opportunity to put everything I’ve learnt into practice, to work alongside a dedicated student-led organisation who were just as passionate as I was. We dedicated ourselves to help uplift others — just like others who’d helped uplift me. With a supportive fellowship of peers, all united under one purpose, I knew my best experiences would be right ahead of me.”

A privilege paid forward

“Why would anyone go out of their way to share their influence and dedicate such effort into uplifting those around them? From my perspective — there’s very few things in life which are more compelling or meaningful than the part you play in helping someone overcome their personal challenges. Having emerged through the worst of my own struggles as an undergraduate, I was only a few steps ahead in my own journey of development relative to my peers. Also having experienced the fortune of unconditional support from my mentors, I was prepared to begin emulating their best virtues — their empathy, generosity and compassion, to support the next generation of aspiring undergraduates.”

Ricky talking to students at the 2018 Summer STEM Leaders Program Networking Night

“Real Skills Education was my platform to practice and establish a sense of responsibility. Encountering new demands and skill-sets helped strengthen my model of personal responsibility; testing my capability to put my best foot forward, to continuously challenge myself and ensuring that any effort I contributed was carried out to the best of my ability. Expanding my domain of influence from a coordinator role to managing my own team as a manager and executive also helped reinforce a far more valuable lesson. Importantly, I learnt the value of responsibility which I had for my community; being able to dedicate myself to a purpose outside of my own personal domain. I realised my contributions were directly benefiting the welfare of those in my team, my organisation and everyone around me.”

“One of the great pleasures in my life has been extending my privilege to those around me — cultivating individuals to become competent in their own respect and imbuing within them the confidence to also inspire others. During my time with RSE, I’ve encountered so many aspiring members in my community who’ve leveraged our guidance to do great things for their own respective communities. The impact you make will cascade for many generations to come.”

Ricky helping out at the 2020 Summer STEM Leaders Program Intro Night

“Your peers will begin to perceive you differently — as a capable leader who can be relied upon to guide them through uncertainty. The abundance of personal satisfaction which accompanies this endeavour is priceless. It’s a pathway which will garner you respect, authority and influence of the highest magnitude.”

Main takeaways from beyond the summit

“I understand that everyone’s journey is different and that your ideals of virtue may be different to mine. The takeaway here is to reflect upon what you personally find meaningful. Whatever you may find interest in, adopt as much responsibility as you can handle in pursuit of that purpose. It will lead you on a path of discovery to find where your true passions reside. Each opportunity given to you will bring you one step closer to your destination. Once you’ve reached the summit, seek out others who stride the same path and to lift them up so that they can stand beside you. The impact you make on their lives will never be forgotten.”

“That’s how you make your mark…that’s how you establish your legacy.”

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Offering professional development and a mission to cultivate self-sufficient and confident young individuals who in turn will lead and teach future generations.

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Real Skills Education

Real Skills Education

Offering professional development and a mission to cultivate self-sufficient and confident young individuals who in turn will lead and teach future generations.

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