Thien is a Vietnamese student who dreams of a starting a career in software development or human computer interaction. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Creative and Interactive Media at the Gold Coast Campus.
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What made you want to study abroad?
Growing up, my parents instilled in me the importance of having an education from an early age. This influenced my eventual decision to go abroad to study. Since then, the schools I have attended, the courses I studied, and the extracurricular activities that I partook in were collectively to best prepare myself to study abroad.
As I grew older, I started to make friends and speak with people from different nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds. This allowed me to get a more realistic outlook on the world, especially the idea of independently studying abroad, pursuing and fulfilling my professional aspirations.
After completing secondary school in Vietnam, I researched about the quality of Australia’s education system, different bachelor degrees and career path options, and the universities that would match my criteria and align with my ambitions for studying abroad.
Why did you choose Griffith University?
There were many universities in Australia to choose from, but Griffith University offered a world-class education with its advantages compared to other universities. Griffith strives for its students to become an active, creative, and remarkable learner. This was evident through the degree that I chose at the university, being the Bachelor of Creative and Interactive Media.
The bachelor challenges students to be creative and innovative thinkers, where it recognises and encourages students to step out of their comfort zone to contribute meaningful impacts globally. This is done through the program’s structure, where courses are split into software development and graphic design. The course aims to produce a well-rounded individual, with the capacity to have profound creative impact on any professional areas they might work in. Outside of academics, Griffith’s staff and academic team are phenomenal people.
I’ve been fortunate enough to study and work alongside academics who helped me to become a better person, through projects and professional development that enhances the end-users’ experience. Staff and academics at Griffith take on regular student feedback, where they reflect and improve on themselves and their services regularly. This isn’t always the case at other universities.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
Living on the Gold Coast is very convenient. The sights are breathtaking, the transportation is easily accessible, and the work environment and culture are professional.
What was your biggest fear about starting your student journey?
Before arriving to Australia, being able to adapt to the university’s fast-paced environment was a large concern. Because universities are a larger ecosystem with a wider proportion of different walks of life, this is a different environment than what I was comfortable with in secondary school. Outside of the changes in the environment, adapting to the culture, the society, and the rules were also concerns.
Having lived in Vietnam for 18 years, there is a different way of life and approaches to certain obligations that I was accustomed to. Transitioning to Australia, the different perceptions and outlooks on certain lifestyles and obligations were foreign for me.
How did you overcome your fear?
Arriving in Australia, I realised the importance of establishing professional connections and making friendships. That way, my fears would be minimised and through the connections, I would be able to construct a good and friendly support group that could help me to navigate any potential obstacles that I might encounter.
Since arriving I’ve been fortunate enough to establish and work with remarkable academics and industry professionals, where they have graciously taught me the Australian ways of working and living, and shared with me their experiences in their industries.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Never back down from a challenge, always keep pushing to achieve the end-goal, and never be afraid to ask for help from those who care about you and want you to do your best along the way.’
This is the advice I got from my parents, when they were advising me on how to approach life and its potential obstacles.
Who in your life has had the most influence on you?
It’s a bit cliche, but my parents are the ones who have greatly influenced my career and life choices. Despite doing different jobs, they started at the very bottom of the society, worked incredibly hard to support the family and my education.
Their work ethic, professionalism, courage, and ability to adapt to foreign circumstances influenced on how I perceive life. It’s also their strive for an education that instilled the importance of an securing a good education in me and greatly influenced my life choices.
In terms of my career, aspiring to be in the Design and IT industry, especially in software development with UI/UX knowledge, has always been the discussion at the dinner table with my parents. This has been the case since secondary school, as my parents have always viewed the Design and IT industry to be a never-ending advancing field, and having a career in the industry will allow many new innovations and products that could solve current global issues. Their support and decisions eventually guided me to study graphic design and programming.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
A key moment as an international student was when I got my first job. Fortunately for me, money and getting paid as a student isn’t a pressing concern, which allowed me to fully focus on my studies, and resulted in a high GPA. After getting noticed for my efforts by one of the academic staff, she invited me to become a research and teaching assistant for an ICT course.
My primary roles were to oversee weekly workshops and helping students to fully understand the course content, as I’d previously taken the course before. This assistant role became my first job in life, which also happened to be during my time as an international student at the university.
Do you do any volunteer or extra-curricular activities?
During Trimester 2 of 2021, I hosted weekly coffee catch ups with international Queensland College of Art (QCA) students. These coffee catch ups were to keep up-to-date with how the students were progressing in their studies, any unwanted pain points or setbacks that they might encounter, and opportunities for students to establish professional connections between each other and academic staff, to further help them in their professional development.
In Trimester 1 of 2022, following the successes and guidelines of the weekly coffee catch ups, I’m planning to start a club for QCA international students upon arriving into Australia, now that the borders are reopening. I’m hoping this will help international students to be able to have an easier transition from their home country into the university, regardless of their QCA program, backgrounds, practices, or amount of industry knowledge.
This is important, as the majority of international students might have just started university or spent the last 2 years studying online, where transitioning to university and leaving their comfort zone will be difficult for many – similar to what I went through when I first came.
Are you a member of any uni clubs?
At the moment I’m a member of the Griffith University Engineers Australia Student Society. As a member, I’m able to attend their events, most notably industry related events. During these events, I’ve met industry professionals, and heard how they went from being university graduates to landing their dream job.
Also, I get to ask them questions about their journey, how to ace interviews, and how valuable it is to have a polished LinkedIn profile and professional connections. I’ve had the opportunity to become more mature, and develop the know-how to professionally develop my mindset.
Where can we find you at the weekend?
Due to the nature of my chosen professional field, I’m quite occupied with multiple clients and personal projects. Therefore, you will most likely find me either at the Gold Coast Campus library or at home, when I’m on work hangouts with my friends or discussing the progress of a project with clients.
However, if I’m not occupied with projects or assessments, you will most likely find me at the nearest Boba tea store – yes I’m a Boba tea connoisseur, because it can take a miracle to clear the eye bags!
What are your dreams after graduating?
I have a few plans that stretch over 7 years after graduating, and it would really depend on certain PESTLE factors. In terms of my immediate plan, I hope to work at a Gold Coast design or IT business, where there are either software development or human computer interaction roles.
These roles would align very well with the nature of my degree – creative roles which align well with what I want to do. This immediate plan would be my golden plan after graduating.
What is your favorite quote?
‘Của cho không bằng cách cho.’
It roughly translates to ‘a gift only has value through the way that it is being gifted’. This is arguably one of my most favourite and valued quotes, and I try to reflect that in everything I do.
Hear more from Thien:
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/donnytran2702/
Instagram – @quick.apps
Student Blog – How to get your first job in Australia, even before graduating.
HUMANS OF GRIFFITH INTERNATIONAL
At Griffith University, we celebrate diversity and difference. Our community is made up of students from around the globe, all with a unique story to tell.
In this Humans of Griffith series, a selection of our international students have chosen to share their experiences, unedited in their own words – from the challenges of studying abroad, to building community and independence, and their dreams after graduation and beyond.
No matter who you are, or where you are in the world, whatever your study journey, Griffith University is with you all the way. Find out more at griffith.edu.au/international.
Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational.
View more Humans of Griffith student stories here.