Janelle Montu Veresa -  USP Alumni Network

Name            : Janelle Montu Veresa
Country         : Fiji
Programme   : Bachelor of Arts (2002)

Why did you choose your field of study? To be honest, Economics was definitely not my first choice. Boring as it may sound, I loved History. However, after some discussion with my Aunty Mary, who was a Counselor at the University back then, she advised that I try Economics and Management instead. I very hesitantly did, but it has truly paid off. Come to think of it, I could have been a great historian by now, or not. I guess that was the opportunity cost of choosing Economics.
Briefly reflect on your student life at USP? Greatest achievement[s] as a student
Finally graduating, that was a huge achievement in itself. Although I don’t have any gold medals with my name on it, what I do have is a BA with my name on it, a simple piece of paper that took years of hard work, sweat, and determination to obtain.
Career Highlights since Graduation I got my first job after my first ever job interview, at the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, within a month after graduating. I wouldn’t call myself lucky, but blessed. I’m sure the reputable name of the ‘University of the South Pacific’ and ‘Yat Sen Secondary School’ had a lot to do with it as well.
I began my career as an Economic Planning Officer in the Asset Management Unit of the Ministry, and later moved to Budget Policy then Budget Expenditure where we prepared, monitored and managed the National Budget. Within my 6 years at the Ministry, I had the opportunity to travel to workshops and attend courses all over the world. I will forever be indebted to the Ministry of Finance in Fiji for the depth of knowledge, experience, good work ethics, the wonderful team spirit and for all that I learnt during my time there. It was indeed my foundation and the stepping stone to greater things.
In June 2009 I left Fiji and migrated to the United States, where I reside today. After taking a short break to settle in, the job search began and I was successful in securing employment at the City of Oakland’s budget office in January 2010. Yes, they did recognize my University of the South Pacific degree and I was fortunate enough to not have to take any additional tests or exams. The exceptional resumes from my bosses at the Ministry of Finance and my years of work experience definitely helped.
I had to start at the entry level again as an Assistant Budget Analyst and work my way up. Within only 4 years and a couple of promotions, I was fortunate to obtain the position of Budget and Operations Analyst III, a title that I also currently hold today. I reached my 5 year anniversary with the City of Oakland last month and continue to work in the City’s budget office.
Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you? First and foremost, I give all glory to God. I wouldn’t be where I am today without His guidance, direction and wisdom. I am nothing without God, all I am and all I will ever be is because of Him.
My parents are my inspiration. They encouraged me to continue on with my studies and sacrificed so much to pay for my University tuition. My father, Lynn, only reached form 2 and cried when he had to drop out because they could not afford school fees. He started his career very young washing cars and driving trucks in a company he later spent more than 30 years in. He put himself through night classes at the Fiji Institute of Technology and advanced in his career from driving trucks to being the first local Engineering/General Manager in the foreign owned mutli million dollar company.
My parents both grew up very poor, but they worked so hard and achieved so much. To me that’s success, and that’s what inspires me. Although my dad is no longer with us, the lessons he taught me and his prayers helped make me the person I am today. I still hear him saying ‘if you’re going to do something, do it nicely and to the best of your ability’ no short cuts. My mum, Karen, is my rock, she runs our small family business and has being both mum and dad to my siblings and I since my dad was called to eternal rest 7 years ago. I was and am blessed with amazing, loving, supportive, God fearing parents. They inspire me and I credit my success to them.
How do you think USP helped you in your career? I have my degree because of USP. The highly qualified lecturers and the support they offered was extraordinary. I thank them for the huge impact they have had on my career.  A degree from a small island nation in the South Pacific that's recognized all over the world; now that speaks volumes.
Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges? I think my biggest challenge would be moving to a new country, leaving a good secure job and my family and loved ones behind and starting again from scratch. I am truly thankful to my sister Lynette and her family who supported me, while embarking on my job search in a new and foreign land. Those 5 months before I got my job was stressful, I almost gave up and thought about returning to Fiji.
Faith in God, perseverance and a positive mind and spirit kept me going. I was blessed with an amazing job, almost identical to my job back in Fiji and they recognized my University degree. I couldn’t ask for any better. God always gives His children the best!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)? Let me start with my short term personal goals, since my family comes before my career. I recently married my long time sweetheart and the love of my life, Inoke, a year ago. So making babies is high up there on my to do list. We would also like to travel and see the world together. Good health and happiness - wealth would be a bonus!
My long term career goals, well I would like to be retired in 10 years with $50 million in the bank. I guess that would count as a wish, not a goal. Having my bosses’ job, that’s where I see myself.
What advice would you give to current and future students of USP? Never give up. Work hard and persevere. You will need a lot of commitment, determination and you will have to make a lot of sacrifices, but the end results are well worth it. Only 3 to 4 years of schooling for a life-long career path that will reap tremendous benefits, not only for you and your family, but for society and the economy as well.
Please share top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.

•    Attend career expos and evaluate the job market. Think of the current or possible future job opportunities when choosing what program to major in.
•    Get involved in extra curricula activities offered at the University. Employers aren’t interested in grades alone. Sometimes being an all round student displays social skills and the ability to work in a team and multi task.
•    Choose a job that you love and you can picture yourself in long-term. When you’re in a job that you love efficiency and productivity will come automatically. Having to live with all the negative energy and stress of a job that you hate is not good for you or the people you have to work with.
•    The job market is very competitive – be confident and prepared. Be marketable and start applying for jobs as soon as you find out that you will be graduating. Study and prepare well for job interviews. Learn about the organization you are going to interview at before attending the interview.

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