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Students employing a degree of skill

7 April 2017
Industry internships are paving pathways for employment

Food and Agribusiness students are proving their worth before they receive their qualification – securing jobs, developing real-world skills and making important connections within their chosen industry.

Undergraduate students in their third year of a Food and Agribusiness degree complete a 12-week industry internship. Multinational corporations to boutique enterprises are involved in providing internship opportunities to students, and the placement is designed to be beneficial for both the students and host companies.  

Students have found the compulsory internship an incredibly valuable experience and are proving themselves to be highly employable. More than one quarter of the students that completed their internship are already engaged in casual or part-time work with their host organisation as they enter the fourth and final year of their degree. The skills development and insights into the operations of companies are also placing these students a step ahead for career readiness post-graduation.   

“The internship aims to better prepare students for the challenges facing the agri-food sector, now and into the future, by immersing them in the real-life operations of a business,” said degree coordinator, Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien.

Our students have gained confidence, built on their technical skills, and have made vital professional connections within industry.
Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien
Ashleigh James at PwC

Ashleigh James at PwC

Ashleigh James interned with PPB Advisory. The real-world projects she worked on were a highlight of the experience.

“I undertook research projects relating to investment opportunities within various sectors of the Australian agricultural industry. The diversity kept me really motivated and I was able to learn about industries I hadn’t even considered before,” she said.

Subsequent to Ashleigh’s internship, the agribusiness team of PPB Advisory merged with PwC. Ashleigh certainly made an impression and she was asked to join their team.

But PwC can’t steal her away on a full-time basis just yet.

“This year I’ll be focusing on my research project, which is looking at Chinese investment into Australia, but I’ve also secured part-time work with the PwC Agribusiness and Food advisory team. I’ll be able to finish my degree and continue learning on the job.”

The topic of Georgia Campbell’s fourth-year research project was directed by her internship experience at boutique, sustainable butchery, Feather and Bone.

“My placement helped me realise that I wanted to embark upon a research project looking at different egg production systems, such as caged, barn-raised or free-range and whether this influences the quality of eggs, both physically and nutritionally,” said the Food and Agribusiness student.

Georgia was offered a summer job after completing her three-month placement.  

“I was really glad to continue on with the company because it meant I could resume with my own projects that I started during my internship, such as working to install solar panels and minimising the company’s waste,” she said.

Karl Sternberg interned with Perfection Fresh Australia

Karl Sternberg interned with Perfection Fresh Australia

Karl Sternberg worked with Perfection Fresh Australia, putting the knowledge he has acquired throughout studying Food and Agribusiness into context.

“I was able to apply the skills I have gained over the past few years to benefit not only myself, but the business that I worked for.

“I learnt that no matter what level of skills you think you have, businesses appreciate someone who can work within their organisational culture, and are open to any ideas you may have. I had the opportunity to offer my opinion on many occasions. I initially thought that my ideas and opinions were menial, however many have been taken on board, and I had input into a number of future business decisions for the company,” Karl said.

Food and Agribusiness student Yi Ling Ng

Yi Ling Ng completed her internship with Directus

Yi Ling Ng impressed her host organisation and is working casually with global food and beverage product developer and supplier, Directus.

“The internship experience has given me the confidence to work effectively and communicate with my fellow professionals in a fast-paced work environment. My internship enabled me to gain confidence in my abilities and translate my academic knowledge from university into industry skills and practical knowledge to solve real work problems and challenges,” she said.

“I had marketing, research and sales projects to work on. I developed a cake mix, formulated clean energy drinks and analysed the market to advertise a microbial brewery testing kit.

“The internship helped me determine that a career in new product development is of great interest to me, and I’d like to explore the food industry in Asia, and how Australian enterprises can interlink,” Ms Ng said.

“The uptake of students into these businesses on a part-time and casual basis is a good indicator of graduate employment prospects and is a great credit to the students’ enthusiasm, hard work and ability to apply knowledge gained throughout their degree,” said Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien.

“Employability is interpreted differently for each company, and the skills and qualities the companies are seeking vary greatly, so choosing the right fit for students and organisations is crucial.

“Our students have gained confidence, built on their technical skills, and have made vital professional connections within industry. Many feel better prepared for future job opportunities,” Kim-Yen said.

Get the full story of each of these interns over the coming weeks.

Current third-year students recently had the privilege of hearing from some of these interns, and also from a host of companies that will engage students in placements this year. AgriDigital, Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Arnott’s, Colmar Brunton, Cotton Australia, Feather and Bone, Fresh Produce Group, GHD, Harris Farm Markets, Life Health Foods, Marley Spoon, Perfection Fresh Australia, PwC, Rocks Brewing Co and Sprout Stack all spoke about the internship opportunities available at their organisations and inspired the students about their prospects in the industry.