From DECV/VSV to Degree: A Past Student Shares his Experiences

Like many students before and after me, I completed my secondary education at what was formerly known as the DECV (Distance Education Centre Victoria). Afterwards, I completed an Advanced Diploma and Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering at RMIT.

If you want to be successful at university and land that dream job, there are a few things I discovered that I wanted to share with you.

Firstly, the level of discipline, independence and reliability you are developing while studying at the VSV will set you apart. If you’re planning on going to university, those skills will put you ahead of the pack.

Secondly, if you decide to study engineering like I did, the most central skills you will continue to develop relate to English and Mathematics. In spite of the physical sciences involved, further developing language skills caused myself and others the most trouble. As the consequences of miscommunication in engineering can be enormous, these skills needed to be focused on. Your best bet to keeping on track in this area is to keep reading – and it doesn’t matter what you read! Attending classes won’t be enough, so be sure to consult textbooks wherever possible, as they are often the most reliable way to develop your understanding of a subject.

Another great way to add depth to your abilities and skillset is to study abroad or take part in international volunteering. Universities often provide funding to students wishing to do this. Be mindful that the engineering job market is awfully competitive. Recruiters will take your university results into consideration when deciding on successful applicants.

You may have heard that university lecturers take little interest in their students. This was not my experience. I encourage you to develop relationships with your lecturers and tutors wherever possible. Ask every question you can think of, even the simple ones. Your keen interest will be appreciated and will not go unnoticed or unrewarded.

Now for the dream job.

I’ve always had an interest in cars. With that in mind, my dream job naturally laid in the automotive industry and I gained the relevant work experience needed to chase it. In fact, I gained enough experience to realise that my dream in the automotive industry was actually a nightmare! This led me to spending hours polishing job applications and attending networking events in the search for something else.

Following a comically disastrous video interview, I found myself working for a global engineering firm. It was a temporary position and unlike anything I had done before. It was here that I came to realise my dream job may not be in a specific industry, but instead within an organisation that shared my passions and values.

Over a period of four years I attended at least a dozen interviews and completed a laughable amount of online assessments. I also took part in four assessment centres. The jobs at stake ranged from those at multibillion-dollar organisations to small start-ups. Through all this, I was only ever successful on three occasions. Thankfully, my elusive dream job was one of them. I am now a Graduate Consultant at one of Australia’s largest engineering consultancy firms.

What I learned throughout my experience that I ultimately want to share with you is this: your communication skills will set you apart. You will need to be resourceful, competitive and hard working. Your dreams and motivations may continue to change, but know that some nightmares can paint the clearest road ahead.


About the Author

Paul was a student at the VSV from 2009 to 2013, during which time he completed VCE whilst pursuing a career in tennis. Since his time at VSV, Paul has graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering with First Class Honours. Paul has recently begun his new role as a Graduate Consultant at one of Australia’s largest engineering consultancy firms.

*Image taken by the author atop the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge during an RMIT sponsored Summer School held by Kobe University.


Across the Distance enews is the Distance Education Centre Victoria's weekly publication which is sent to all currently enrolled students, their parents and supervisors. Current edition articles can be found on the DECV website home page. Please contact the publisher by email if you would like access to articles from previous enews publications.