Family celebration: Naomi Smith shares her graduation day with her daughters, Chiara (5), and Allegra (2).
Family celebration: Naomi Smith shares her graduation day with her daughters, Chiara (5), and Allegra (2).
22 July 2011

In an age where employers are increasingly looking for staff with postgraduate level professional qualifications, Naomi Smith, is giving herself the best chance for a successful career.

Ms Smith graduates from The University of Queensland (UQ) today with a Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy, which builds on her Masters by Research in Anthropology.

Not only has she completed two postgraduate degrees, she has done it between working almost-full time and caring for two young children under the age of five.

“The reason I decided to study a Graduate Certificate was to enhance my understanding of the policy process and to compliment my Masters by Research in Anthropology,” Ms Smith said.

“When I began the Graduate Certificate I was working as a senior manager for a social research, communication and community engagement consulting firm that provided advice to all levels of government on how indigenous and multicultural audiences interpreted and took up government policies.

“I am currently enjoying my working life at UQ's School of Political Science and International Studies, which provides me with a good work/life balance, but the Graduate Certificate will allow me to pursue opportunities in the future in the area of community engagement, policy and social science research either at UQ or looking further afield.”

Ms Smith said UQ courses offered externally or delivered in an intensive mode allowed her to balance study with work and childcare.

“I loved being able to engage with other students through online discussions, but also have the opportunity to meet at an intensive weekend,” she said.

“These delivery modes were a god-send without which I could not have completed my degree.

“Other things that helped maintain my juggling act of study, work and childcare responsibilities were an employer with family friendly policies and good childcare on the UQ campus, which both my children attended up until Kindergarten.

“It certainly does help to have a passion for your area of interest and to keep active in your area of interest while you are studying. I was able to take advantage of a number of consulting opportunities while I studied that were related to community engagement and public policy.

“I really think people should consider study at any age - you are never too old to learn new things and I think university provides a stimulating, engaging and social environment in which to learn and develop.

“If you are considering further study there are so many ways that you can make it work for you - either part time, external or intensive mode - there is something for everyone with university study options now being much more flexible.”