Indigenous UTS interns get a big head start

7 March 2018

Career Trackers gala dinner

Photo: CareerTrackers gala dinner

CareerTrackers leadership conference gives Indigenous UTS interns a wider perspective of their potential in the workforce.

Indigenous students from UTS are better prepared than ever to take on the professional world, thanks to the internships that have been made available through the CareerTrackers Leadership Development Institute (LDI).

On January 31, the LDI held an ambitious three-day conference in the largest known professional gathering of Indigenous university students in Australia’s history. Offering workshops, keynote speeches and networking opportunities with CEOs and community leaders, the conference was the first opportunity for many of the 802 students and alumni to compare notes and take stock of their professional development.

“I’ve learned countless things interning at the Commonwealth Bank,” says Jemma Ibbotsen-Hansen, a communications and law student at UTS. “My soft skills have improved, whether it be for presenting, time management, or just conducting myself in a professional manner. My academic skills have improved too, so I’ve been able to transfer those skills into university.”

The workshops at the conference provided students with an opportunity for additional growth.

“The LDI definitely helped me with my confidence,” says Molly Wallace, an environmental science student at UTS. “The most enjoyable part was a workshop held by NIDA [National Institute of Dramatic Art] where they went through a few confidence-boosting things to do before you go into an interview.”

"CareerTrackers has had a ripple effect on my family. My little sister now understands there’s a bigger world out there with endless opportunities if you apply yourself and work hard at your studies.”

Importantly, students were given access to community leaders and company CEOs who could provide inspiration and insight into professional life.

For UTS communications student Grayson McCarthy-Grogan, the greatest inspiration came from AFL legend Michael O’Loughlin.

“He’s helped his family and other Indigenous people through his AFL career,” recalls McCarthy-Grogan. “Just listening to him, it made me want to do more.”

For Wallace, the biggest impression was made by Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer. “He told us to just give it a go and be genuine and to be yourself. That really inspired me.”

For students who are nearing graduation, the LDI offers a significant head start for entering the workforce.

“A lot of the companies I was interning with have an assessment centre that we need to complete if we are to get into their graduate program,” explains Ibbotsen-Hansen. “I wasn’t even aware graduate programs had an assessment that you had to complete. So now I feel extremely prepared.”

This year, more than 650 students participated in workshops with a mind to seeking that level of preparation – but there’s more to entering the workforce than completing assessments.

“It definitely helps, bringing in people from all over Australia with the same interests and background as you. You make friends for life,” says McCarthy-Grogan.

Wallace agrees, adding, “CareerTrackers has helped me so much with getting into contact with people in the area that I study.”

Ibbotsen-Hansen sees the impact of the LDI reaching far beyond her career. “Networking at these events is really important. I have friends who work in Qantas, another at Westpac, and another at the Commonwealth Bank. I’ve now been exposed to a corporate environment that I didn’t even know was possible,” she says.

For her, CareerTrackers “has had a ripple effect on my family. My little sister now understands there’s a bigger world out there with endless opportunities if you apply yourself and work hard at your studies.”

“UTS is proud to be involved with CareerTrackers LDI, and particularly to see its Indigenous students find new and innovative pathways for their future careers,” says Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement), Professor Michael McDaniel. “This conference has shown that role models can be found everywhere, and that leadership can start with the simplest, smallest actions like strategic thinking and small acts of kindness.”

In 2017/18, there were 50 UTS CareerTrackers interns and 23 alumni. CareerTrackers has held a 10x10 partnership with UTS since 2016, in which UTS is one of 10 universities to have signed a 10-year agreement with CareerTrackers to formalise pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students into experiential learning opportunities, and to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students.

Byline: Kevin Cheung