Swinburne graduate Zoë Warne, co-founder of August, shares how she seeks to provide students with a valuable experience during their placements – and how the benefits go both ways.
"August delivers meaningful change, for business and for cause, by creating and executing evidence-based strategies and technology solutions spanning digital design, campaigns, website and product development, and brand communications.
August was founded in 2005 by myself, Daniel Banik and Matt Agar. Matt and I both completed Swinburne’s multimedia technology degree back in 2004 – and we both completed a placement during our studies. We came together with a drive to help organisations do digital better. That has now evolved into a global design and technology company with full-time staff in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.
We’re a team of digital specialists and practitioners, driven by our values. We don’t just write them in a document or file them away; we live them every day. We’re also a Certified B Corporation and an active member of the globally recognised SoDA (formerly The Society of Digital Agencies).
We have placed many students over the years as part of the professional placements program. Many placement students go on to become full-time August employees and have stayed with us for many years, further developing their careers and craft.
Placement students make a valuable contribution to the August team – often having a way of looking at things that we haven’t thought of, or an approach to using new technology to solve a problem that is unique. They can frame a question in a way that gets to the heart of a problem more directly and we greatly value their input and insights. This perspective and great attitude is also really refreshing to be around, and they are valued members of the team from the start. There’s no “go and make coffee” or “do some photocopying” – we want each student to immerse themselves in the work and be respected for their contributions from day one.
For the August staff who train the students and welcome them into the team, the benefit is twofold – they get to take on a mentoring role and often learn a lot about themselves in the process. I think it is also humbling in many ways because the quality of the students makes them think on their toes and really push to create great opportunities for them.
I have one big tip for our industry peers considering becoming involved in Swinburne’s professional placements program – for your benefit and for the students, always be clear about how you will on-board placement students and what your organisation will ‘allow’ them to do. For example, at August we have a culture of innovation, encouragement and creating value, and a detailed onboarding process that helps the students feel and be valued from their first day on the job. In order to provide a good experience for you and for your student, it takes work to create this system. But once some of the foundation work is done, it becomes easier and easier every time, and the students thrive in the framework and structure that a good process provides. You will gain more from them and they will make an even bigger impact if you can provide the right foundation."