Raz: How living at Residential Colleges improved my résumé

Blogger: Asraz Aslam Cassim (Raz)
At time of writing, Raz was studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at USQ and was living on-campus in Concannon College. Raz came all the way from Qatar to study at USQ’s Toowoomba campus and was well known in the Colleges for his outgoing personality. Raz took every opportunity to make the most of his time at uni, including taking on leadership roles such as President of the Resident Student Club and providing support to his college peers as a Resident Advisor.

If you think packing your life into two bags and flying across the oceans to live in a foreign country (that’s also home to dozens of deadly animal species) sounds like a great adventure, then you too might be in for a roller coaster ride of opportunities at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

My ride began in 2015 when I landed in Australia from Qatar as a fresh-faced Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student. Now nearing the end of my degree, I can say that residing at USQ Residential Colleges during my time in Australia has pushed me in ways that I never thought possible, allowing me to conquer feats that would have previously seen me seize up in fear. I’ve had a range of experiences and opportunities as a college resident that have all added valuable skills to my professional résumé.

One example of this is communication skills. Whether you thrive off it or it makes your knees weak, there’s no denying that public speaking is a vital professional skill that can only be developed with practise. What better way to practise my presentation skills than to take on a role that had ‘public speaking’ and ‘being social and approachable’ in its job description? This is what I signed on for as President of the Steele Rudd College Resident Student Club (RSC).

Raz with Res College friends

The RSC is responsible for organising the College’s Orientation activities and various other social events with the intent of creating an environment where college ‘freshers’ (new college residents) can meet and mingle. However, when you put 150 freshers together and expect them to start socialising without a bit of a nudge, you’re in for a bad time.

At my first RSC event, palms sweaty, I approached a sheepish group of students standing awkwardly in the corner and avoiding eye contact with everyone (including each other!). It soon dawned on me that they were just as nervous as I was. A deep breath, a leap of faith and a couple of introductions later, the tension in the air around the group had vanished.

Raz with Res College friends

That first crash course in communication skills has helped me to take any other social or public speaking challenge within my stride, and I now have examples of my communication abilities that I can list on my résumé. In the workforce, meeting new clients is an everyday occurrence and being able to confidently start conversations with new people and present ideas and information to groups is something I know will benefit me in my career.

The natural progression from the RSC, in my opinion, was to move into the role of a Resident Advisor (RA). However, when I was offered this exact role at Concannon College, I felt that familiar rollercoaster ride of opportunity begin again. At first I was daunted by the thought of managing all the additional responsibilities with my study, but I decided the leadership skills and experience I’d gain would be worth it in the long run.

Raz with Res College friends

Cutting my three-month holiday back in Qatar short, I embarked on the 24-hour journey to fly back and arrived off the plane two weeks ahead of Orientation to commence training for my new RA role. In that fortnight I received as much leadership training as they could jam into the short period of time. This training got the cogs turning for me and had me thinking, ‘what is it that makes a good leader?’

Raz with Res College friends

Months later and now with more experience, I think I might be close to discovering the answer. I believe a good leader is someone who has the ability to ask for help when required. Sometimes the situation might be out of your depth, and knowing when to reach-out to either a superior or a colleague, rather than harbouring questions that could lead to errors or issues down the track, speaks volumes about your capability and character.

This knowledge and experience translates directly to professional skills I can put into use in my career. By learning to rely on my collegiate team and reach out when needed, I can be a stronger and more effective leader in the workplace.

These skills are just a small snapshot of what I have gained through my years of residence at USQ’s Residential Colleges. By being open to opportunities, I have been able to learn practical professional and leadership skills and build my résumé while completing my studies. If you’re a current college resident or are considering living at a USQ Residential College while you study, I encourage you to make the most of the rollercoaster ride and look for opportunities like the RSC or becoming an RA to develop your professional skills.

If you’re interested in living at a USQ Residential College or would like to know more about collegiate leadership opportunities, contact the USQ Res Colleges team today to explore your options.


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Ashleigh: The 3 leadership roles that enhanced my uni life

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