I was halfway through my degree when I decided to take on a professional placement. As a mature age student with a diverse career background, I thought it was important to have work experience in a business field so that I have a competitive edge when I complete my degree.

As a Workshop Associate with Design Factory Melbourne (DFM), I facilitated workshops in design thinking and creating conditions for innovation. I got to run these sessions for staff within Swinburne and industry partners. The idea behind these workshops us to help inspire staff to be more innovative and creative in their roles. We help workshop participants to build new skills and tools in ideation methodologies, creativity exercises, prototyping and communicating their ideas to test for better outcomes.

Amelia completed her placement at Design Factory Melbourne, Swinburne.

When we aren’t busy running workshops, we are managing the workshop calendar, organizing scoping meetings with clients for early inquiries for workshops, booking space to house the workshops, managing materials and workshop assets, building slides and searching for new material to use.

One of the greatest rewards of this role has been the feedback at the end of the workshops. There is no requirement for people to come up to you at the end of a session and tell you how much they enjoyed themselves or how much the learned, and at least a hand full of people come up at the end of every workshop. That kind of response is both good validation of the work you’re doing, and an indicator that you’re on the right track.

Being a mature age student, I think my time in this role will be another pillar for me in the experiences that will amount to my future career. I have a background in professional dance and performance art, as well as in dog training, which give me a wide variety of experiences in different industries.

My placement has solidified that I love working with people and I love working in a job that looks to inspire, regardless of the topic or industry. Learning so much about how to facilitate workshops in design thinking is going to be a skill that I can translate into any field.

The company culture is built on the framework of the Design Factory Global Network. There is a strong emphasis on collaborative teamwork and the team are incredibly supportive, building everyone up in their role and are supportive of your well-being as a person.

We work in an open space collaborative office with the flexibility of moving around the building or the campus if we can work remotely on a task. There is individual responsibility to manage your time and the work that you do, and we have weekly meetings to report back to the team.

I have built up my confidence, communication skills and now have experience in facilitation and presentation which will be great for pitching ideas, sharing knowledge and communicating between different departments wherever I work. 

  • "The support I have gotten from both my industry and academic supervisors has been instrumental in my development, and as a student I know I have the license to ask questions and learn as much as I can about how to be a professional in the industry."

    Amelia , Bachelor of Business

My ultimate career goal is to work and develop a business entity that supports, and fosters the arts, both professionally and recreationally. The emerging artist community struggles in a world that doesn’t support the arts well financially. We have advancing technologies which are both beneficial and detrimental to the sharing and creation of art, and most artists must manage themselves as though they are a small business with limited business skills as most of their training is in the craft. I’d love to be able to develop a course or curriculum that is specific to arts management and relevant to the current economic environment or events series that offers support to emerging artists. I want to continue my work and try to make a difference.

I would recommend students undertake a professional placement because it gives you industry experience with the cushion of learning how to be a professional in the workplace. As a student, you learn a lot of theory and guess how to apply that in a professional setting as a professional. However, theory is very different in practice. The support I have gotten from both my industry and academic supervisors has been instrumental in my development, and as a student I know I have the license to ask questions and learn as much as I can about how to be a professional in the industry.

I have watched a lot of my friends and peers who have graduated struggle to find relevant work because they don’t have industry experience. I know this 12-month placement will give me a competitive advantage against other graduates who don’t yet have industry experience. When I have interviews in the future, I know I will be able to call on different events from this placement which will demonstrate how I’ve handled situations in the past and how I may handle them in the future.

Regardless of how old you are or where you are in your studies, it is worth adding the extra 6-12 months on to your degree to do work integrated learning and give you that advantage over other graduate in the job market. Swinburne is known for its close partnership with industries and student experience, and other students should look to harness that opportunity themselves.

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