Miss Caitlyn Dexter1
1Queensland University Of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Universities in Australia have undergone rapid change in response to the highly competitive job market that awaits graduates. No longer is a degree considered enough to make a graduate stand-out from the crowd. Instead, employers are seeking confident graduates who can embrace innovation and change and possess high-level, transferable skills beyond discipline alone. In response to this demand, initiatives to embed employability skills in the classroom have grown in popularity, including the successful initiatives of student partnerships and integration of discipline based peer programs. However, little focus has been placed on non-discipline or university wide peer programs that offer additional work-related experience and development in these key skills areas. It is in fact, these programs that offer a unique and under-acknowledged pathway that provide students to on-campus opportunities and employment which achieves greater outcomes for students and the university. This paper presents a university-wide peer program at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) that focuses on building a community of highly skilled student leaders that are capable of taking on higher-level roles at the university through following pathways the program facilitates. It is this focus that allows students to gain transferable skills beyond discipline and contributes to building students’ sense of purpose and professional identity; ultimately enhancing graduate outcomes. While students gain a significant step into the competitive graduate job market, the university gains access to highly skilled employees with a broad understanding of the university context and operation.
Caitlyn Dexter is the coordinator of QUT Connect, a university-wide peer program at the Queensland University of Technology that assist first year student’s transition to tertiary education. It is Caitlyn’s own experience as a volunteer in this program during her undergraduate degree that has directed her passion and career in Student Engagement and Affairs.