Amrita Kharel was a recipient of Swinburne's Welcome Scholarship in 2017

Nathan Bickerdike

Scholarships enable 'strategic' choices

Final year Swinburne business student Nathan Bickerdike is part of the recruitment team for a summer internship program at Tennis Australia that gives students a prized stepping stone into the wider IT industry.

Mr Bickerdike works four days a week for Tennis Australia as an IT support analyst, combining business analysis and project management skills while he completes his Swinburne Bachelor of Business Information Systems degree part-time.

The initiative has been made possible after the Victorian country student's academic performance and volunteering commitments were recognised in the form of an $18,000 George Alexander Foundation Scholarship.

"My parents couldn't fund me 100 per cent at Swinburne and I had to start working at Target. But I won the scholarship after about a month of being there."

Revealing just how enabling a scholarship can be, Mr Bickerdike said the time saved by not having to work the usual low-skilled student support job meant he was able to get into a Tennis Australia trial one summer.

"Because I had the flexibility with my funds at that point, I could make more strategic decisions about what sort of job I would go for. I wouldn't have been able to get the Tennis Australia job without the scholarship basically."

Other students have entered through the program and stayed on with Tennis Australia after their three-month summer jobs. Others have proven they can work within a large organisation with complex demands and have gone on to work for multinationals in IT, business and accounting, he said.

Mr Bickerdike's career ambition is to be a chief information officer.

"I like being the middle man between the technical and the business side. I really enjoy breaking down the 'us versus them' culture. IT is there to help the business be more effective. We aren't just the geek police as such," he said.

Nathan Bickerdike, George Alexander Foundation Scholarship winner

I wouldn't have been able to get the Tennis Australia job without the scholarship

Nathan Bickerdike, George Alexander Foundation Scholarship winner