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Staying Ahead of the Game — A Real Skills Perspective

The amount of success you want to achieve is attainable through the amount of failures that you are willing to endure.

by Cynthia Huynh

Amidst continuous but necessary failure, it is not uncommon that students perceive their version of success as impossible. University students face a plethora of challenges as it has been found that 24% of first years fail a subject at University and 44% fail all their subjects. Following disappointment after disappointment, taking up responsibility becomes unappealing.

However, whether or not you reach a goal largely depends on how you handle rejection and your own limitations. Juwin Lee, a Real Skills marketing coordinator and recent university graduate has shared his experience of attaining a graduate position whilst balancing his career and volunteering.


Juwin Lee, KPMG Audit & Assurance Graduate

“My name is Juwin and I’ve spent the last couple of years working a full-time job in accounting while completing my business degree with majors in accounting and finance. I graduated from The University of Technology Sydney in 2020 while the world went into quarantine and faced movement restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19. In a post-COVID-19 world, I hope to upskill and provide quality financial services that can lift businesses and individuals up from the economic tribulations of the pandemic. I plan to start that journey at KPMG in 2021 as a graduate in the Audit, Assurance and Risk Consulting division.”

Applying for Graduate Roles During a Pandemic

“Over the year in 2020, I have strived to balance and achieve concurrent goals for my professional career. As a university business graduate, I had the immediate goal to transition from my cadet role in a boutique accounting firm into a graduate role that complimented my career path in financial services. Having learnt from my job application mistakes in 2019, I took an active effort to schedule each job application into my calendar in between working my full-time job in accounting. Fitting in job applications and interviews into an already busy schedule required appropriate prioritisation, and time efficiency. Making time for everything required discipline to fill my day hour by hour with activities essential to my career or my personal wellbeing so as little time as possible was spent being idle. In effect, staying organised and planning ahead meant I could apply for as many jobs as available while keeping up at work with minimal stress.”

Juwin with fellow Real Skills coordinators at the Summer 2020 Real Skills STEM Leaders Program Expo Night

“In terms of working out what employers were looking for, I reached out to my network of friends from university who had already begun working in graduate roles for advice on passing the stages of recruitment from perfecting your resume to interview performance. I was also aware this time around that applying and getting rejected from roles after long nights of filling out applications or completing video interviews could easily wear you down. So I reached out to fellow alumni and final year students in my network also looking for graduate roles to support and assist in each other.”

Here’s three top tips to stay on top of graduate role applications

  1. Research when your relevant job applications open and put this information into a spreadsheet to prevent yourself from missing opportunities.
  2. Use a calendar and/or a to-do list can help you prioritise applications among your other commitments.
  3. Reach out to friends in your network for a chance to support and assist each other through the stages of recruitment.

The Added Value of Volunteering at Real Skills

“I believe Real Skills has been an important anchor for me over a year in which I faced significant upheaval at work and job-seeking demands. Knowing that I was volunteering my time a few hours a week to an organisation working for a social purpose kept me tethered to my core desire to help others rather than get lost in the struggle of facing yet another job application rejection in my email.”

Juwin and fellow Reals Skills volunteers on a road trip to Kiama

“I am proud to be part of the marketing team that launched and coordinated the most successful campaign to date for the Real Skills STEM Leaders Program recording over 250 student registrations. I worked with my team on an effective cross-university marketing strategy to promote a new online format of the program and expand the program’s reach in UNSW, USYD, UTS and Macquarie University. As a UTS alumni, I used my knowledge of UTS online communities to push out our marketing content in ways to grab the attention of STEM students. Admittedly, the campaign coincided with my successful application process to KPMG leading to a very hectic few weeks. That said, I wouldn’t take a moment of that time back.”

Balancing Volunteering with your Career

“As a corporate appeals marketing coordinator at Real Skills, I wanted to grow the presence of Real Skills on LinkedIn over the year as a cross-uni organisation dedicated to the professional development of university students. I needed to balance this commitment with my workload in a full-time job by volunteering my spare time on weekdays, and contributing my time on weekends. While this sometimes required hitting a “second wind” of energy, I didn’t see Real Skills as work requiring compensation but as a passion project that tied in with my personal values of experimentation and team collaboration. Holding this particular outlook was crucial to staying motivated in tough and busy periods.”

Juwin (first row, third from the left) with the Real Skills team at the 2019 November Induction Day

“Clashes between work and volunteering were inevitable as it did happen a few times due to the Covid-19 impact on my clients at my accounting firm. The best way to handle these clashes was setting expectations both ways for my manager at work and my team at Real Skills. Based on deadlines at Real Skills, I could set expectations for when things could be done and coordinate with team members for assistance and guidance.”

What can you take away from Juwin’s experience

Juwin’s attainment of success can be attributed to his pursuit of responsibilities and responding to obstacles with a “how can this be solved” attitude. A major component that allowed him to do this with success was his ability to manage time through prioritising and scheduling. Concurrently, we should all recognise that pursuing a good job should not be your only concern. The decision for Juwin to volunteer at Real Skills is not exclusive to building up his resume, as through this volunteer work he can find personal fulfilment. Success requires taking responsibility for both our own professional and personal development. Our mission at Real Skills to assist the upskilling of university students has coincided with Juwin’s inclination to help others.

If you’d like to contact us or join our team, check out our website and check out our socials!




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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