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Volunteering sets student on pathway to success

University of Southern Queensland student recognises the reward of volunteer work.
For University of Southern Queensland psychology graduate Kirstie Daken, volunteering has proved invaluable.

She is one of thousands of Queenslanders who have lent a hand in the community – an activity linked to brighter employment outcomes.

Ms Daken started volunteering at the local drug awareness, rehabilitation and management centre (Drug ARM) while studying for her honours degree.

“I wanted to get some experience and Associate Professor Amy Mullens, my research supervisor, suggested I volunteer there,” Ms Daken said. 

“Counselling often pairs with drug and alcohol recovery, and it was one of the areas I was interested in.

“It was great to get some experience with clients and, as the degree at the University of Southern Queensland is a lot more practical than others, it worked in well with what I was learning.”

Now, a few years on, she is working as a Clinical Psychology Registrar at The Rosy Room in Springfield while completing her PhD. 

“Volunteering with the Drug ARM helped me get into the Clinical Master’s program, which is quite competitive,” she said. 

“It also taught me important time management skills and prepared me for what to expect in the real world. 

“The University has been great in letting me know which options were available – there has always been plenty of opportunities.”

When it comes to beating the competition, volunteering can make all the difference, according to University of Southern Queensland career development specialist Dr Jennifer Luke.

“Not only is it important for the community, but it also builds experience and confidence,” Dr Luke said. 

“Experience is something employers look for and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a related field – it helps to create a well-rounded resume. 

“Look at the core skills you have developed while volunteering and then make mention of them in your job application.”

Dr Luke said she recommended volunteering to all. 

“Should you find yourself out of work, volunteering can help you to avoid job gaps on your resume,” she said. 

“Connecting with other volunteers can also help to expand your network, and you never know – they could be a potential future employer.”

Have a passion for human behaviour? At the University of Southern Queensland, our Psychology degrees are designed with a predominant focus on practitioner skills. This means you’re skills are aligned with the industry needs practically, as well as the latest research and academic insight. 

Find out more about studying Psychology.
dr jennifer luke smiling outside next to building
University of Southern Queensland career development specialist Dr Jennifer Luke.