Arvind Nagarajan (TCFS 2013) studied Arts at university and, like many students, didn't think about his career while at university. Ahead of our Arts-focused Career Connect event on 7 October, he shares with us his journey from Trinity to Australian skincare brand frank body.
Where did you grow up?
I moved to Melbourne from Singapore in 2013. My upbringing was normal. I never had to worry about anything other than being a good student and a good person. I studied in the local education system up until having to do my two years of service as part of mandatory conscription for men. This forced me to take a two-year break from studies after completing my 12 years of basic education. The military came with its ups and downs, but it did lead me to the epiphany that I needed a change in scenery.
What attracted you to Melbourne?
Choosing Melbourne was easy. My sister lived here and it wasn’t too far from home, time difference wise. The tough part was picking where to go. Having gone through IDP in Singapore, they offered me several pathways. Of them, Trinity was the most attractive as it offered a short course (July Fast Track) that I could take as a prelude to both get used to the education system used at the University of Melbourne, while also giving me a chance to get accommodated to life in Melbourne itself.
What did you study at university?
I chose to major in Criminology and Sociology in Arts. I wasn’t really sure, but I chose something fairly general to study that I could adopt some transferable skills from. Initially I had wanted to become a lawyer through the University of Melbourne’s Juris Doctor program, but the length of study put me off towards the end of my bachelor’s degree.
Tell us about your experience at Trinity and the University of Melbourne.
Trinity fostered a close bond between myself and the rest of the students in my intake. We were part of a fairly small intake of around 70 people, so it was easy to get to know everyone. I chose to do Psychology, Media and Biology as my electives at Trinity, which was a fairly random selection, but at the time, these were the subjects I was most interested in.
At uni, I was part of the Singapore Students’ Society, getting a chance to meet and get to know the other Singaporeans at Melbourne. I was also very involved in the Friday evening futsal league at the University.
Being one of the more outgoing students at Trinity, I really found my voice there and improved as a public speaker as well as getting rid of my fear of having open discourse with fellow students and teachers within the classroom setting. This was extremely useful, as most of the locals at university come from this style of learning. It helped me both make friends in my tutorial classes as well as make sure that I left classes with the satisfaction of having both learned and contributed something.
How did you prepare for the Australian workforce?
I never really thought about my career during my time at university. I was always in the mind of leaving after my degree and going back home. It was only towards the end of my degree that I decided to stay.
However, I did have mentors and other people I could rely on for advice with regards to getting a role.
One thing I did do to get work experience was take up a casual role as a student host at Trinity College, both giving back to TC for all they did for me and helping young students like myself, stepping into a new country for the first time, by sharing my experience.
What was it like when looking for your first job?
The beginning was filled with applying for random roles and having an email inbox full of rejection letters. Some after a single interview, some without an interview at all. When speaking to someone in the recruitment industry, she told me to drop my resume with recruitment agencies and let them know in detail what I was looking for in my first role. The agencies would then push me towards any job opening that came to them that suited my skill profile.
In terms of what I was looking for, I was fairly open to the idea of working in almost any corporate setting regardless of the industry. I simply wanted an office job that had the prospect of career progression and development.
Tell us a bit about your first job.
Originally, I joined tutoring start-up Crimson Education as an event marketer. However, within a couple months, I got the opportunity to move into a role as a marketing automation specialist. This role involved being the person who managed the organisation’s customer relationship management tool (CRM). The CRM is responsible for collecting data of any potential customer and the communication that happens with them throughout their lifetime with the organisation, pre and post-sale. This involved handling emails, sales journeys and all the technical integrations of the system.
What is your perception of the Australian workplace culture?
I’ve been fortunate that in all three of my workplaces, I’ve been in cultures that weren’t too corporate and rather easy going. I was in open-plan offices where everyone got the chance to mingle. I’ve also been lucky to be part of workplaces where the average age was around 25-30 years, so there were a lot of likeminded and fun individuals I got to meet and make lifelong friends with.
The workplaces I’ve been a part of promote open discourse, and had very understanding management/HR teams that were always willing to hear out your grievances. They also prioritised our mental health just as much as our work output, by giving us what we needed to make sure we stayed motivated and healthy.
Tell us a bit about your current role.
I currently work as the email marketing specialist at frank body. Frank body is an Australian-owned skincare brand that specialises in coffee-based skincare, but have since branched out to being an all rounded skincare brand.
My role involves handling all the emails that a customer or potential customer will receive from start to finish, including welcome emails, transactional-based emails and the standard marketing emails.
Any advice for our young alumni?
Keep an open mind. Don’t silo yourself into wanting to work for specific organisations. Not everyone will get the chance to start off at a Big 4 and not everyone will enjoy the culture that comes with it. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to take risks by sending your resume to as many people out there as you can. You just never know when the right opportunity will knock.
If you are a Trinity student or alum studying Arts or are a fresh graduate looking for inspiration, join us on Thursday 7 October at 7.30pm at our Career Connect event (via Zoom). Hear from a panel of Trinity Arts alumni who will share with you their career journeys in policy and government, advertising and marketing, teaching, research and publishing, consulting and the non-profit sector. Registration is via My Trinity Connect.