What is Work Integrated Learning (WIL)?
As a student, are you becoming increasingly apprehensive as you approach your final semesters of study? Nervous to be pushed into the big wide world of career and responsibilities? But that is why you are at uni, right? Putting in the hard yards to come out with a career at the end. Even so, diving headfirst into industry can still be an extremely nerve-wracking experience when you don’t feel fully prepared. Luckily for us, however, this is exactly where ‘the university for the real world’ thrives by providing a myriad of opportunities that allow us to be industry and career ready upon graduation.
Opportunities I recommend taking advantage of include internships linked to Work Integrated Learning (WIL) units, and Experiential Learning units linked to a range of projects, including entrepreneurial activities. Both are offered as elective units by QUT Business School. Undertaking these units is a chance for you to dedicate yourself to an internship or approved experiential learning activity without having to increase your normal study load. Not only will you gain valuable ‘real world’ experience through one of the many internship opportunities that you can apply for, but the units are also heavily focused on helping you to grow and market yourself as a professional – a skill that may very well be the difference between a rejection email and a job offer.
My Experience in AMB310 Real World Internships and Projects
Transitioning from a Classroom to the Workplace
In Semester 1 of 2020, I completed the unit Real World Internships and Projects (AMB310) with an internship at the Buckner Group, a print management and marketing strategy agency. Founded in 1926, the Buckner Group has generations of experience and the team has honed its strengths in marketing and logistics strategy. Throughout the time spent at my internship I was lucky enough to receive invaluable real-world experience through exposure to a variety of business practices and processes.
My first project from day one was to formulate an operational LinkedIn strategy for the coming months. In order to do this effectively I collated a report analysing market and stakeholder research, LinkedIn effectiveness, competitors use of LinkedIn, and industry standard practice. My supervisor actively supported and mentored me through this process, but ultimately gave me directional freedom in this project. It was a great opportunity to put everything I had learned throughout my degree in business and public relations into practice. I was given my first taste of ‘the real world’ and with the support and feedback from the Buckner team I was able to take that very important first step in applying theoretical knowledge through practical experience.
Working in a Team
Buckner’s single level business model was also the perfect environment for teamwork and collaboration. The open floor office gave me direct access to all of my supervisors and colleagues which allowed me to ask them any questions that I had. Because of this I was also exposed to many other learning opportunities that though did not relate to my main project, were extremely insightful, and are something that I otherwise would not have experienced. These include advice about securing a job after graduation from a member of the marketing team who had recently graduated himself, full access to my supervisor who gave me endless career and life advice, and I even spoke to the CEO who was in the office while I was working one day. In addition, I also shared my experience at Buckner with a second intern who collaborated with me on the project, and as a team we produced polished and well-regarded outputs.
Interning Amidst a Pandemic
In the grand scheme of things, I am definitely one of many people who can say their internship was disrupted by a global pandemic earlier this year. I had been working in the office for less than a month when the stay at home order was instated which definitely placed some challenges on my supervisor, myself, and the QUT Business School teaching team. However, due to great planning and fast action, the transition to interning at home was as smooth as you would hope it could be. Through a dedicated workspace at home and great tools such as Zoom, teamwork was made surprisingly easy. Therefore, when you really think about it, something that would usually be considered a hindrance was actually a great opportunity to experience how workplaces adapt in times of crisis and the role you can play in doing so.
Why Choose Work Integrated Learning?
So, why choose WIL? What’s that extra special advantage you get in return for your investment? Well the thing is, that’s nearly impossible to answer. Whether it’s personal growth, points on your resume, or simply taking that first step beyond the bounds of university, it’s different for everybody. Do you remember that saying we used to hear all the time in high school, “You get out what you put in”? Well, as corny as it sounds, it’s true. Participating in WIL is a very personalised experience based on your interests, your effort, and the goals you wish to achieve – with the teaching team there to guide your way of course. Personally, I had a mixture of goals including obtaining useful and practical experience in a professional setting, learning more about graphic design, and obtaining a reference for my resume. I’m happy to report that I achieved all of these as well as receiving an overall confidence boost in my abilities as a marketer and PR specialist. So much so that I recently went for a job interview for a part-time communications role, and although I am still waiting to hear back I know that the confidence that I gained from my internship was extremely impactful in the success of my interview. So, let’s ask again. What can WIL offer you? The great thing is that it’s entirely up to you and what you want to get out of it based on the effort you put into your own experience – it is what you make it.