Bachelor of Arts student, Emma Peake, at home

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Industry and Community Project unit leads to internship with Randstad

14 July 2020
Project unit opens the door to valuable professional experience
The opportunity to work on a real-world problem alongside the HR giant via our Industry and Community Project unit (ICPU) turned into an official internship for Bachelor of Arts student, Emma Peake, and some serious professional development.

“I would recommend an ICPU to anyone, but especially students who are uncertain about their path post-graduation,” says the Honours student (and History/English major), Emma Peake.

“I was hoping to get some travelling done after graduation but that's obviously been put on hold with everything that's happening in the world. Right now, I'm looking into Masters programs in communications, PR and advertising because these were some of my favourite things I got to do during my time working at Randstad. I guess that goes to show how much an ICPU can change the course you're on!”

Emma's top 3 learnings

During a meeting with Randstad I made a joke about being prepared for unemployment because I'm an arts student. I was met with laughter and a round of protestations - I thought 'well they have to say that.'

Throughout the course of the ICPU and the internship I learnt that I was very wrong.

Employers are actively seeking out arts students because our ability to think and write critically is a transferable skill that will remain invaluable no matter how much the world of work changes. This is really important as workplaces become increasingly digitised and tech reliant.

On the one hand it's something that looks great on your resume and your coordinator will be happy to act as a reference for future job hunts. The same goes for your team-members, who might become crucial parts of your network if you keep in touch with them.

On the other hand, you'll learn about how you work beyond a university setting and into a professional one, both individually and as part of a collaborative team. For me personally, I discovered the career course I want to take in the future.

I was on exchange when I read about ICPUs in a USYD newsletter, halfway through my degree and a little bit nervous about what I was going to do afterwards.

Sometimes, it seems impossible to escape that catch-22, 'You need experience to get work and work to get experience.' If you take a little time to read your faculty newsletters and simply stay up to date there's a load of opportunities on offer that we as USYD students have access too.

So one of the biggest things I've learnt from the ICPU is to keep an eye out for these and to keep building upon my experience!

What was the Industry and Community Project unit (ICPU) like?

It was a whole lot of fun! I did an Industry and Community Project unit with Randstad Australia – one of the world’s leading global recruitment companies.

I worked in a team of 6 people - we had arts students like me, cognitive scientists, designers, pharmacists etc  - a really diverse group in terms of majors and schools, domestic, exchange and international students.

Working in an interdisciplinary team was challenging: we had so many different ideas and opinions on everything but it was so rewarding in terms of professional experience. I really valued getting to work with people all across the university that I normally would’ve never even met!

What was the real-world challenge you tackled?

Together we worked on the question ‘can AI compute a match between a resume and a job?’

Because this is a real issue, we really treated it like a problem we’d been contracted to solve by a company. This meant working towards a final solution outlined in an extensive written proposal that we could present to Randstad.

I chose to work on this issue because, I think like a lot of students, I was a bit nervous about entering the job market and wanted to learn as much as I could about recruitment and the world of work.

I actually found in during my ICPU and internship, that the whole ‘arts students can’t get a job’ myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Knowing what I know now - that arts degrees are among the most employable - has been a massive weight off my shoulders for post-graduation.
Emma Peake, Bachelor of Arts Honours student

What was it like to work with Randstad? How involved were they?

Coming into the ICPU, I won’t lie, I thought maybe we’d meet with Randstad once for a couple of minutes and then be sent off on our own. What happened was actually the opposite, they were very involved.

From the very first time we got to meet them, we were in their office, talking with their senior leaders (including the CEO!). I was surprised by how much they wanted to know about us as students and what our opinions were, and not just on the issue we’d been tasked with solving. After that initial meeting we caught up with them again and were encouraged to get in touch whenever we wanted.

The final meeting where we got to present our solution was amazing, not just because we got to see all our hard work coming together but because our insights were treated as legitimate and valuable.
Emma Peake, Bachelor of Arts Honours student

The CEO was there again, along with marketing and tech department leaders (the same leaders who'd checked in with us throughout the whole ICPU) to ask us questions and just generally prompt our own self-reflection. It was like a much friendlier version of Shark Tank.

You were offered an internship after the ICPU - how did that come about?

I actually got invited to apply for my internship at the last meeting with Randstad when we presented our solution.

One of my team members was talking to the Head of Communications at Randstad and recommended me and I got in on the conversation. I sent through my resume, had an interview, used my ICPU coordinator Mel as a reference and got it.

I was a bit unsure coming in because I'd never had any strict communications experience, but the effort I put into the ICPU helped me get through. Knowing how to write, as an arts student, didn't hurt either.

Part of the work I did was internal comms and other parts were external comms. I worked on building content planners, writing content (mostly blogs and video interviews), copy-writing company-wide content, managing Randstad's social media channels, reviewing SEO reports and creating content performance reviews, among many other things.

Industry and Community Project Units (ICPUs) are units that provide you with the opportunity to work on authentic problems and issues set out by industry, community and government organisations. Click here to find out more.

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