The Great Debate: do better grades get better jobs?

August 14 / 142

Alumnus and comedian Ronny Chieng hosted The Great Debate, pictured here with the event organisers from Careers and Employment and Student Connect. Photo: Sarah Cox.
Alumnus and comedian Ronny Chieng hosted The Great Debate, pictured here with the event organisers from Careers and Employment and Student Connect. Photo: Sarah Cox.

Students, staff, employers and alumni brought their wit and wisdom to the Experience Matters keynote event The Great Debate: “Top Grades Get Top Jobs” on Wednesday 6 August.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Sue Elliott welcomed over 400 students to the event and introduced the host, alumnus and comedian Ronny Chieng.  

Mr Chieng graduated in 2009 with degrees in Commerce and Law but said he turned to comedy when he couldn’t get a job.  

He generously donated his time to host the debate in exchange for an official Melbourne Law School hoodie.

The affirmative team included Professor Jeff Borland, lecturer in Economics, Telstra Data Centre Services Manager Iain Hebden and first year Arts undergraduate Zoe Brown from the Melbourne University Debating Society (MUDS).  

They argued that to achieve high grades students need soft skills such as time management, organisation, teamwork and independent learning which are directly transferable to the workforce.

Dr Sigfredo Fuentes, lecturer in MSLE, GlaxoSmithKline Careers Manager Dave Fitz-Gerald and second year Biomedicine student Mikaela Brusasco from MUDS argued for the negative.  

Their rebuttal was that students are more likely to find work via networks and that interview and relationship building skills are more important for success than simply high marks.

While the debate ended in a draw, during Q&A time both employers stressed the need for students to build their skills and experience outside the classroom.  

Zoe Brown said the key message for students was to get involved in events around the University.

“Obviously for me getting involved in the event gave me the opportunity to build my skills,” she said.

“Take as many opportunities as you can to get that experience and get those skills to help you in the workforce and in life.”

Experience Matters was a fortnight of over 50 events to increase student participation and exploration of volunteering, leadership, work experience and networking opportunities. 

Along with the Debate, students attended workshops, employer presentations and networking nights.  

The Internships and Employment Fair on Tuesday 12 August saw over 2000 students meet organisations offering internships, volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities. 

Listen to the Debate highlights below.

 

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