Industry placements in Australia – your studies with a work component
澳洲留學-在澳洲的工作實習 – 學以致用
If you are considering a course that includes a period of work experience, there are some important things to consider. Next we pick up on a few key points as an overview of industry placements in Australian higher education.
Your time in the workplace
Many Australian university courses will give you the opportunity for an industry placement. This is where you could spend time getting valuable experience, completing tasks and fulfilling duties in the workplace.
The work you do will be highly relevant to your university studies. However, while some programs are designed with an industry placement as a constitutive and compulsory part of the degree, other courses are designed to keep it optional – letting you choose whether or not to include work-experience.
How long you will spend on a work placement depends on several things – on your field of study, on the university course design and teaching strategy, and on the university policy – which means you could be in your placement for a year, or for much shorter periods like a few weeks or even days. But if you select a course with a compulsory 12 month placement, it’ll typically be a longer degree than other similar programs which are purely campus-based.
And where you complete this kind of placement depends on factors connected to your field, and it can depend on your university’s connections with different organisations. The organisations you’ll join will vary – most often they will be commercial, but they could be not-for-profit or non-profit.
Advantages to students
So now that we have an overview of these placements, let’s ask why they are beneficial for students. Why, for example, have so many prestigious education providers embraced work experience and integrated it within their courses? The answers are actually rather straightforward, but it’s still important that you think carefully about the detail when you plan your career trajectory – your path towards the top job you have in mind.
Industry placements provide students with opportunities to learn in ways that can be missed in the classroom. By tackling situations they’ll never encounter through academic work, students gain a new dimension to their knowledge. Placements are certainly about providing opportunities for you to apply what you know – and to bridge the gap between concept and practice. All university degrees will require a grasp of the theory which has developed around your subject. For many fields – especially the more vocational ones – it’s not enough to understand theory as something pure and abstract. What you know at a distance from the real-world may be less important to an employer – the boss who may need your solution to a supply problem in their hotel restaurant. On the other hand, it could be your grasp of marketing theory that lets you speculate usefully on why a promotional campaign isn’t getting positive results. And if you can turn around a failing campaign, what boss wouldn’t be impressed!
How a work placement will boost your resume
First, demonstrating that the conceptual side to learning at university can be applied to real-world situations is the reason that industry experience helps graduates find employment. Employers value practical experience.
As well as this, students who have applied themselves tend to leave work placements with a very marketable skill-set. Skills that promise to be transferrable in different working environments will improve your employability.
Industrial placements help you find out what kind of jobs you enjoy. When they are successful they can also improve your motivation and increase your enthusiasm for your course.
But of course, through work experience you see the kind of challenges that you’ll face in the workplace. There is no better way to learn about the pressure of meeting targets and deadlines.
Arranging and managing your industry placement
Industry experience offered in connection with your course will be closely aligned with the university – together with the organisation, your university will have the resources to plan and coordinate placements. That means there will be a designated member of university staff to deal with this, and typically they will make frequent visits to your organisation while you work. It’s also common for the company to employ its own member of staff to supervise work placements and possibly to provide limited support.
That said, you shouldn’t assume every university will take the same approach to organising work placements. Occasionally this duty falls to the student, who must do their own searching and applying – a process which has its own value.
And even without the option being offered where you go to study, students can still get a lot from exploiting opportunities to enter the workplace locally during scheduled breaks from study. Where there’s a will to do it, there tends to be a way.
As we mentioned earlier, your placement could be part of your assessed course. To facilitate this, you’ll most likely have special tasks to complete – such as keeping a working diary to record your progress, log feedback and show you have the ability to reflect on areas where your skills need some improvement. And obviously, you’ll also want to note down positive feedback! Courses at higher levels may require a longer thesis to draw more extensively from your experiences. Last of all, the placement stage is likely to contribute to development of a portfolio – a vital resource for you as an interviewee in the months following your graduation.
International placements – the chance to complete work experience abroad
Your work placement could also be a great opportunity to travel overseas. Be sure to check what options for international work experience there are, on offer within your faculty.
Alternatively, come and see us at YEC for a chat about your best options.