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UC students turn internships into full-time positions

Antony Perry

5 July 2017: University of Canberra communications students Natalie van Dartel and Cassandra Matthews will spend the final months of their degrees juggling full-time work with their studies after securing contracts in the Australian Public Service (APS) on the back of successful internships.

Ms van Dartel and Ms Matthews recently undertook paid internships at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and each secured a non-ongoing contract role in the APS at the end of the three-month program.

Ms van Dartel is now employed by the department with which she undertook her internship, while Ms Matthews has secured a position at the Department of Education and Training.

Both students expect to finish their degrees later this year.

Ms van Dartel, who is studying a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies/Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations, said she benefited from being able to apply her skills in the workplace.

“I was finally able to apply my classroom knowledge to real projects,” the 21-year-old said.

“Being exposed to real-life scenarios really puts the theory into context and helps you understand what you learnt in the classroom. My communication skills improved as a result and so did my grades.”

The students undertook their internships within the department’s communications branch, where they gained valuable insight into how a Federal Government department communicates internally and externally.

They were given the chance to polish their skills by drafting social media posts, media releases and newsletters, and through observing and contributing to the development of wider strategies and projects.

Ms Matthews, a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing Communication student, said the internship was a great way to start building her professional network.

“I think in today's job market work experience is so valuable because it gives you a chance to see what you like and don’t like before entering the workforce,” Ms Matthews said.

“I wanted to undertake the internship to build on my experience and gain an understanding of what it’s like to work in the public service. It was a fantastic opportunity and I was able to meet wonderful people and build a great professional network.”

In addition to being paid, the students received credit points towards their degrees.

Ms van Dartel said: “Being a paid internship, it was a lot easier to juggle with uni as I didn’t need to undertake another casual job to support myself financially.”

The General Manager of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science's communications branch, Virginia Cook, said Ms van Dartel and Ms Matthews made a real difference to the work of the group.

“Having Cassandra and Natalie working in the branch has been wonderful,” Ms Cook said.

“They [brought] a youthful enthusiasm, an awareness of emerging trends and insights into digital media and, of course, a fresh outlook to some of our communications challenges.”

The internship program is the first of its kind between the University and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

It is just one of a number of initiatives offered by Careers UC, which supports students in developing their employability skills and securing employment on and off campus.

“UC places a large emphasis on practical experiences,” Ms van Dartel said. “This internship program offered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is exclusively for UC students and is a massive advantage.”

The program is being run again in Semester Two. Check the Career Hub for more information.