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.
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I wouldn't have been able to get the Tennis Australia job without the scholarship
Nathan Bickerdike, George Alexander Foundation Scholarship winner