April 21, 2020
How graduate found joy in giving back
Law, business student used time at university to forge her own path
Like many students leaving high school for the wide world, Anna Tomlin wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her life.
The University of Wollongong (UOW) graduate was good at, and most importantly enjoyed, business studies and legal studies, but she didn’t know exactly what career path she wanted to follow.
So, she used these two areas as the threads of her future, deciding to study both and see where they would lead.
Now, Anna, who received Early Entry to UOW, has graduated with a double degree Bachelor of Laws (Distinction) and Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction), majoring in Human Resource Management.
Looking back, she said her decision to pursue law and business simultaneously gave her the greatest career options but also enabled her to try new things and take on new challenges.
“I didn’t really choose law with the end goal of being a lawyer, nor did I choose commerce with the end goal of being in human resources. I was interested in both these areas and they put me on a path with a diverse range of options,” Anna said.
“I thought, ‘how can I give myself the most opportunity to discover what I want to do?’”
Part of Anna’s plan to discover her dream career was to explore as many different avenues of the university experience as she could.
Throughout her degree, she had five different jobs and took on three internships, all of which provided her with unique skills and a chance to understand how industries work.
Early on in her degree, Anna became a mentor for AIME (the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience), a role that had a major impact on her decision to focus on social justice but also forced her to push past her comfort zone.
Anna said volunteering for AIME meant she had to show up and make things happen, even if that meant getting uncomfortable and trying something new.
“When you’re volunteering with AIME, you have to get out of your comfort zone, you don’t have a lot of choice. You have to do that so you can help the students you are mentoring to move out of their comfort zones.”
Anna’s role with AIME was the catalyst for her decision to pursue internships at the Aboriginal Legal Service in Wollongong, and Tranby National Indigenous Education and Training in Glebe.
Both roles gave her the chance to recognise how her law and business skills could be used to help underprivileged communities or people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Giving back to others is a big part of Anna’s character and she tried to embed that as much as possible into her degree.
Anna spent more than 500 hours volunteering throughout her time at UOW and contributed to student life on campus through her role as Student Leader for UniLife’s Wellness program.
In 2018, she was the recipient of the annual Jack Goldring Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the School of Law to a law student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and a strong commitment to social justice.
Her passion for giving back is, in part, inspired by her mother, who still volunteers in her local community and who, as a GP, spent a lot of time working in remote Indigenous communities when Anna was growing up.
“I feel very lucky that I am able to be in the position where I have the time and skills to volunteer. I have learnt the most from those experiences, from being involved in the things that fall outside my degree. It is a great feeling to be able to have an impact in a tangible way.
“The university setting is unique in that you have a sense of flexibility. You can try different things and use that to your advantage to explore what you want to do and where you want to go.”
Anna’s third and final internship, undertaken in the summer break leading into her final year, was with Ernst & Young in its People Advisory Services team.
She really enjoyed the experience and in February commenced a Graduate position in the firm’s Sydney office. She is also studying her Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice so she can be admitted as a lawyer by the end of the year.
Anna said all the different paths she took at university were so important in helping her to figure out where her interests lie and a career path to fit those interests.
“I haven’t really had a goal, but I’ve simply tried to take every opportunity that has come my way. I loved university and I have gained so much from my experiences.”