Where can a science degree take you? Careers in Science Week (Monday 17 – Thursday 20 October) answered just that question, inviting UNSW Science undergraduates to explore their career options and develop the skills for excelling in whichever career they choose – broadening mindsets and dispelling a few misconceptions along the way. 

Welcome event

To kick off the week, keynote speakers, UNSW Science alumni Nicola Warton and Arsh Sahid, delivered captivating presentations about their respective career journeys. 

Nicola spoke about her journey from Honours student researching the TV show Bondi Rescue, to Environmental Scientist working on contaminated lands, to now at the NSW Government where she gets to exercise her project management and science communication skills. While Experimentalist and Neuropharmacologist Arsh reflected on the value of volunteering and extra-curricular activities, encouraged work-life balance, and wisely advised that ‘your career is not a destination, it’s a journey’.  

Afterwards, they were joined by fellow alumni Sarah Lugay, Anthony Morris and Paulette Barahona for a lively Q&A session.

Alumni panel at Careers in Science Week Welcome Event 2022

Stay curious; always be willing to learn

Across the week, students heard from 28 alumni speakers covering Research and Development, Science Communication, Healthcare and Wellbeing, Commerce and Analytics, and Consulting and Advisory roles. Though coming from a diverse range of careers and degrees, alumni and their advice converged on some common themes:

  • Stay curious, ask questions and always be willing to learn.  

  • Transferable skills are your superpower. These can include both hard skills (e.g. data analysis) and soft ones (e.g. problem solving, critical thinking, communication). Your science degree will have equipped you with many of these and they are valuable across many roles and industries. 

  • Be open to opportunities – don’t underestimate or limit yourself (e.g. just because you majored in ‘x’ doesn’t mean that only ‘x’ related careers are available to you). 

  • Practice networking – you never know what opportunities may come from it.

  • Seek out a mentor – someone who can support and guide you along your journey. 

Skill-building and professional development

Students could take part in various skill-building workshops presented by UNSW Employability and UNSW Founders on topics such as interviews, networking, pitching ideas, developing resumes and cover letters. Courses were also available to help students choose a major and prepare for their careers while at university.

WIL showcase and industry networking

Finally, to cap off the week, a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) showcase and lunchtime networking event was held on campus at Leighton Hall. Eight students who recently took part in the UNSW Science WIL Program gave impressive presentations about their industry placements, highlighting both the challenges and rewards of gaining real-life work experience. Dozens of industry partners (including several UNSW alumni) then joined students for a final lunch and networking session, allowing them to practice the skills they’d learnt throughout the week and further explore their career opportunities. 

Find out more about the UNSW Science Work Integrated Learning Program here: https://unsw.to/engage-science

And if you’re an alumni interested in sharing your expertise with students at similar career-related events, please email: scialumni@unsw.edu.au