Suriyna Sivashanker studied a three year Bachelor of Media at the University of Adelaide. Originally she studied a combined degree of Bachelor of Media and a Bachelor of Arts, but after some introspection she decided to drop the Arts degree to specialize in media.
Originally she chose the Bachelor of to learn the art of script writing, but that no longer had the flair compared to her interest in CGI visual effects used in Televisions and Film. Her love of media came from her love for Televisions serials.
Suriyna knew there was going to be more graduates that jobs available and she wanted to get into the industry anyway possible, so she started to identify and seek out skill that would be valuable and make the transition from graduation to professional easier.
One of these first things she did was join the Adelaide University Media Association and the Adelaide University Film Society in her first year of study. Students further along in their degrees gave her some valuable advice. Once of the most memorable pieces was to be proactive and do not wait till her last year. Their advice had weight; they were in their last year and were desperate and not qualified enough for graduation.
At a careers night, Suriyna got the similar advice about gaining as much work experience as possible to get her foot in the door of the industry. Realising that her degree was more focused on critical thinking skills rather than hands on film production skills needed in the industry, Suriyna contacted the relevant industry support organisations including the Media Resource Centre to volunteering as a production runner on the set of a short film where she learnt key skills involved on the set of a film.
Suriyna tried cold calling like any graduates do for paid work related to her degree, but after a few weeks she got no response. Instead of flogging a dead horse, she did what most graduates do not do and that was to start doing volunteer work to experience and network.
A large Australian news channel contacted the university asking for volunteers for a campaign they were running and Suriyna saw the opportunity to build her resume where most other did not. Again another local service provider in her industry contacted the Association asking for interns and decided to contact the service provider herself. She was offered a 1 month unpaid internship, and then was offered a paid assistant role because the service provider was impressed by work ethic.
Suriyna treated all her volunteer work differently than others; she put in 110% effort, whereas others do not because they are not getting paid. The more volunteering she did, the more responsibilities she received and the more experience she got. The lesson is; if you put effort into everything you do, do not know what will come out of it. It does not hurt to put in effort as you do not know what opportunities will present in the future. Based on this attitude Suriyna is now the president of Adelaide University Media Association and a committee member of Adelaide University Film Society.
Suriyna feels like she is in much better place career-wise than if she had not done any of this. She has got paid work related to her degree, responsibilities, a portfolio, contacts and network and referrals. Most importantly, she is doing real hands on work such as writing transcripts, mock scripts, short films and going to client meetings that could never be learnt during a degree.
In Suriyna’s words “it may not be glamourous, but if you know where want to go and are determined to get there, taking an alternative approach to graduate job hunting is well worth the effort.”