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How I secured work experience during my undergraduate degree

Written by Master of Science by Research (Health Sciences) candidate Neil Josen Delos Reyes. 

I’m Neil, a full-time student working through my Master of Science by Research (Health Sciences) degree at Bond, and a casual laboratory assistant at ScienTEST Analytical Services. This is the story of how I graduated from my undergraduate degree with work experience to keep up with the changing demands of the modern workplace.

The mid-degree crisis

As someone went straight to university after finishing high school, I thought that all I needed to do to succeed in life was study, study, study. However, just before I entered my final year of undergraduate studies, I had the feeling I’d forgotten something. Then, it hit me – I can’t be a student forever!

The stairway to Bond’s work experience heaven

Realising that I might finish my undergraduate degree without any work experience was pretty daunting. After all, most industries emphasise work experience in their job advertisements, even for entry-level roles. Determined to get job-ready before graduation, I turned to the Career Development Centre (CDC) to ask for help. I enquired about potential work experience opportunities that I could do alongside my full-time study load, and crossed my fingers they’d find me something! While they contacted their industry partners, some career advisors at the CDC also helped me with refining my job application documents, especially my resume, which clearly needed a lot of edits at the time!

Neil's Bond experience

The Internship – Part 1: Research, remote work and getting published

After my documents had received a rigorous makeover thanks to the CDC, and they’d reached out to their contacts, I was finally connected to my first internship employer. The mental health and specialist services departments at Gold Coast Health had recently opened a research internship position. My undergraduate degree major was Laboratory/Research, which made me keen to investigate the world of health research, especially as most of my study up to that point had been focused on the laboratory aspect.

Throughout my time interning at Gold Coast Health, I gained useful research skills such as data analysis and database creation and management. On top of this, I had the chance to cultivate my communication and teamworking skills, and my independence, especially as I worked remotely at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The icing on this beautiful work experience cake was the opportunity to co-author and present a paper about the database that I created (and is being used to this day!).

The Internship – Part 2: Laboratory work, industrial work and employment

After interning at Gold Coast Health for seven months, I decided it was time to try and find work experience in a laboratory setting. I met up with my career advisers at the CDC again, and they helped me scout for a lab nearby that would be willing to give me an internship. After weeks of searching, I met up with the Managing Director of ScienTEST Analytical Services to discuss an internship opportunity!

Throughout my experience at ScienTEST, I gained useful laboratory skills like equipment maintenance and calibration, and quick turnaround experimentation following standard operating procedures. The grand finale to this era of internships was a job offer for a casual laboratory assistant position at ScienTEST, which I happily accepted and am still at today.

Neil gained work experience in the labs at ScienTEST, where he still works today

Graduating with work experience

Undertaking internships while you’re pursuing your undergraduate degree may seem daunting at first, but they’re ultimately very valuable – they give you work experience before you finish your degree, and let you dip your feet into the massive pool that is the workforce. Some internship experiences feel so right that you decide to swim along that stream for a while, or for your entire career. This experience might even help you stay afloat in the big ocean that is life beyond education.

Bond's Career Development Centre

Get help with finding internships and work experience, refining your application documents and more at the CDC.

Learn more

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