Work integrated learning (WIL) is now a common component of university curriculum design for many disciplines. Encompassing a range of approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work, WIL is described as ‘experiential learning’ and provides students with the opportunity to be ‘work-ready’, with real-world industry experience upon graduation.
Host organisations also benefit greatly. Industry supervisors frequently acknowledge the benefits of the WIL partnership to their organisation and the opportunity is enriching for both the participant and the provider. WIL provides a source of highly motivated potential employees who possess a broad range of business skills and competencies. Organisations can tap into language and cross-cultural skills of talented multilingual students who can assist with inside advice on targeting key international markets. Many industry partners are enthusiastic in playing a key role in fostering and developing future industry professionals.
Southern Cross University’s School of Business and Tourism places a high value on the workplace component of a student’s education and includes a structured WIL program in many degrees. The WIL program consists of a preparation unit of professional development and an internship placement in a suitable workplace. As part of their WIL program, students generally complete an internship between 7-14 weeks, full-time, dependent on their course and industry requirements.
Students seek internship placements in a range of areas including conferences, events, sport management, finance and accounting, human resources, hotels and resorts, marketing, tourism planning and research, and information technology. SCU’s School of Business and Tourism has developed strong internship partnerships over the past 20 years including many in the Southern Gold Coast footprint. These relationships underpin the success of WIL, ensuring benefits not just for the students but also the partners and the wider University community.
One such successful partnership was evident when Max Irvine recently undertook his 14 week internship with Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as an Event Assistant. Michael Kelly, General Manager – Commercial Revenue at Currumbin and Max’s internship supervisor noted that ‘Max provided great support to the rest of the supervisory team, including myself. He has been given a number of projects that he has worked on that have provided value to the business and cost saving initiatives”. Another positive outcome of participating in SCU’s WIL program for many students and industry partners is the ability for students to stay with the organisation at the end of their placement if a position exists. Max has now secured a role with Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as the Visitor and Membership Services Team Leader.
Further information regarding SCU’s School of Business and Tourism’s WIL program can be found here.
By Julia Caldicott, Work Integrated Learning Coordinator, School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross University
Max Irvine (pictured) completed his Southern Cross University WIL placement with Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (photo courtesy of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary).