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Partnership between UC’s Ngunnawal Centre and CareerTrackers provides First Nations students with diverse career pathways

Mike Verzosa

1 May 2024: Over the past decade, the University of Canberra, through the Ngunnawal Centre, has partnered with CareerTrackers, a national not-for-profit organisation, to provide the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with opportunities to participate in paid internships.

These opportunities have helped numerous First Nations students gain valuable field experience in their interest areas and assisted in transitioning them from student life to professional life.

Internships through the CareerTrackers program run over a 12-week period during the Summer and Winter Terms, and are closely aligned with a student’s field of study. The program focuses on giving the student hands-on work experience in one of over 250 host organisations nationwide that partner with CareerTrackers.

“We’re really focused on getting to know the student and matching their skillset and interests with the right host organisation,” said Maddy Towler Lovell, South Region Lead and Student Advisor at CareerTrackers.

“Once we find a suitable match, we work with the student throughout the process – we help them with their CV and preparing for their interview. We support them in terms of goal setting and expectations, and have regular check-ins to ensure that they’re tracking well.”

To date, CareerTrackers has provided internship opportunities to 73 UC students from Indigenous backgrounds. Collectively, these students have completed 170 internships – and counting.

Chris Breen with his Gold Diary Award

One student who has benefited from the program is Bachelor of Creative Industries (Visual Arts) and Bachelor of Digital Design (Digital Media) student Christopher Breen, who completed his summer internship with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).

Mr Breen, who is based in Brisbane and is completing his double degree through UC’s partnership with TAFE Queensland , has worked on various communications and creative content projects during his internship with QFES.

“I currently work with the Strategic Content Services team and I’ve been able to work on a variety of projects such as live streaming events, press conferences for natural disasters, and working on video content that we’ve pitched to media,” said Mr Breen.

“There’s also a cool project where I was involved in the production of a short video for Road Safety Week, for which we visited a fire station and watched the crew execute a mock motor vehicle accident rescue situation.

“The diversity of the work has allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I have learned in my studies in a practical setting.”

The CareerTrackers program ensures that students placed in internships are well-supported throughout their time with their host organisation. Student interns receive regular support from their  CareerTrackers advisors to help them navigate the internships and achieve their goals.

CareerTrackers also emphasises the social aspect of the program, offering networking events, professional development workshops, and other community building activities.

“We have a strong focus on connecting students with other interns and program alumni of the program. While some organisations can take in multiple interns at a time, making it easier for them to get settled, we do work with a number of partners that will only take one intern per round,” said Ms Towler Lovell.

“In those cases, we work with the student to ensure that they’re supported and connect them with peers in other organisations, as well as encourage them to build and foster those networks.”

Mr Breen speaks highly of the opportunities provided by CareerTrackers, indicating that the support with the initial goal setting, the weekly check-ins, and the chance to connect with other interns has been vital in his professional development.

For his efforts, Mr Breen was awarded a Gold Diary at the annual CareerTrackers gala dinner in January, a recognition given to interns who achieve an average mark of a Distinction and above in their studies.

“The program has given me the confidence in my abilities and that is something I will carry with me wherever I go moving forward – whether it’s with QFES or anywhere else. The entire opportunity has been a blessing, and the support I’ve gotten from UC and the Ngunnawal Centre, CareerTrackers, and within QFES has been nothing short of exceptional,” said Mr Breen.

“In just a short amount of time, this program has allowed me to grow individually. Being around other people in the program that have also achieved great things with their internships has inspired me to keep pushing harder to achieve my goals.”

Image supplied.

Are you a First Nations student interested in paid internships that will empower you to grow personally, professionally and meet like-minded mob?

Register your interest for a Winter or Summer internship here.