Extracurricular activities at university led to my arts career
How Bachelor of Arts student Darby Jones made the most of his time at UQ
Published 15 Sep, 2023 · 4-minute read
Your undergraduate studies are about so much more than just coursework – especially when there are so many fantastic opportunities for personal and professional development right here on campus.
At the end of 2020, I was 27 years old and I’d just finished my first semester at UQ. I was juggling a part-time study load and a part-time job as a hair colourist. When I told people in my life that I’d decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, a common response I received was:
“An Arts degree? What are you going to do with an Arts degree? Where will that lead?”
I didn’t have the answer. All I knew was that I loved writing and that it was something I’d always wanted to do. I spent many nights during that first semester worrying about what kind of career prospects I’d have and whether all my hard work would eventually pay off.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the opportunities that would present themselves. Here are just a few of the things I was pleasantly surprised to discover at UQ.
I quickly learned that there was far more to life at UQ than classes and coursework. UQ has over 220 different clubs and societies so, when it comes to events and extracurriculars, there really is something for everybody. A few of the events that I’ve attended during my time here include:
It was at events such as these that I connected with new people, grew my network, and honed my writing craft. I also had frequent opportunities to share my work and practice the art of presentation, which has proven to be extremely valuable.
Upskill through paid employment
There are countless opportunities to gain long-term and short-term paid employment on campus. During my time here, I’ve worked across the following organisations:
The UQ Art Museum- I’ve always loved visiting museums and galleries. I’ve always been an art lover but assumed that—without a background in Art History—I’d never gain employment in the gallery or museum sector. Thanks to the team at UQ Art Museum, I’ve received first-class training in the art of cultural mediation—a mediation practice that makes art accessible for every visitor by centralising their perspectives and lived experiences.
Summer Research Program- During the summer of 2022, I had the pleasure of undertaking a paid summer scholarship at the Institute for Social Science Research where my passions for literature, gender theory, and research intersected. I worked closely with Dr. Alice Campbell, a sociologist of gender and sexuality who was researching potential interventions for disrupting cycles of domestic and family violence that impact the lives of women and children. Using Dr. Campbell’s research, I contributed a “Domestic and Family Violence” reading list to AustLit’s Necessary Conversations series.
UQ Art Museum at St Lucia campus offers internship and employment opportunities to students
Ready for anything
The things I’ve learned and the network I’ve nurtured through extracurriculars at UQ has led to some amazing opportunities. At the end of 2022, I started a 12-month paid internship with black&write! at the State Library of Queensland. For the past 10 months, I’ve been working closely with industry professionals who have been teaching me everything there is to know about the Australian publishing industry.
I’ve also launched my own business as a freelance writer and editor. Working for myself has been a dream come true; it never would have been possible if it weren’t for the people I’ve met and the things that I’ve learned at UQ. As graduation day approaches, I’m still not certain what the future holds, but one thing I do know for sure is that it’s looking bright.
If you come to UQ with an open mind and a hunger for self-improvement, you will be amazed at the number of people you meet who are prepared to help you succeed. The skills you gain and the network you nurture could really take you anywhere.
Every time I walk into work at the State Library of Queensland, every time my inbox lights up with freelance enquiries, I think back to my 27-year-old self. I think of that boy who lost sleep over whether an Arts degree was right for him and whether he would make anything of himself afterwards. I can’t go back in time, so I’ll tell you what I wish I could tell him:
“Don’t let anyone underestimate the power of an Arts degree. Yours will change your life.”