Students and alumni get connected
In 2011, the Student and Industry Program (SIP) events attracted over 500 University of Adelaide students keen to learn from the experiences of alumni.
Coordinated by Development and Alumni, the program brings graduates and students together at "speed networking" events, giving practical advice on how to build a professional network and understand the reality of working in their particular industries.
The SIP program, now in its fourth year, consistently attracts high calibre guest speakers and industry representatives.
The record attendance at this year's events shows that students are realising the importance of networking, according to Kim Harvey, Manager of Alumni Relations.
"Some degrees − for example Arts, Psychology or Science − can lead to such broad career opportunities in so many industries and it can be really daunting and overwhelming for our current students," Kim said.
"Jobs are not advertised as "3-year Psychology Graduate Wanted" but instead employers will seek project officers, case workers, research assistants or market researchers.
"The SIP events help students learn about the real jobs available to graduates with their skills."
Catriona Standfield, a final-year Development Studies student, benefited from her participation at the SIP event for the Discipline of Politics in August.
A passionate promoter of leadership and empowerment of young people, Catriona recently represented young Australian women at the United Nations in New York as UN Women Australia's Youth Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women. She is also a keen advocate for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
"I was looking forward to meeting interesting people at the SIP event and hearing about how they ended up in their current roles," said Catriona.
"I enjoyed talking to Wayne Hobbs about his Master's thesis on nuclear disarmament. I also talked to Rhodes Scholar the Hon. Ian Wilson AM about studying at Oxford and I found Natasha Stott-Despoja's advice very helpful.
"I learned on the night that many people had found their current jobs because they had been willing to network with others and be creative."
During the event, Catriona met Ministerial Adviser Dr Paul Tsoundarou who proved to be a worthwhile connection.
In the last semester of 2011 Catriona undertook an Arts Internship with former Foreign Affairs Minister and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus, the Hon. Alexander Downer.
As part of this internship, Catriona is researching how women can become more actively involved in the Cyprus peace process.
"I later interviewed Dr Tsoundarou about the Cyprus conflict as his family are Greek Cypriots and he has specialised knowledge in this topic through his studies. He was able to help me a lot with my research."
Dr Tsoundarou has a PhD in Politics from the University of Adelaide and was invited to attend the Politics SIP event in his role as the State Government Ministerial Adviser for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food and Wine and also Ministerial Adviser for the Northern Suburbs.
"It is a great initiative to give students a bit of a broader perspective on what's available out there and I was pleased to help Catriona by giving her some solid background on the Cyprus problem."
Apart from contributing to the SIP event in this way, Dr Tsoundarou's office maintains strong links with the School of History and Politics by taking on a parliamentary intern from the University each year. Paul also stays in touch with many of the students he taught during his time as Associate Lecturer and Tutor for the Department of Politics.
"I've always felt that I was contributing in some way but when they tell you how much they appreciate your help and that you're an inspiration, it makes you realise what an important role you can play."
Alumni Relations Manager Kim Harvey is pleased to see the student-focused program providing some tangible benefits for students around career pathways and networking opportunities.
"At the University, students are included in our definition of alumni and are an important and increasingly engaged group within our alumni community," Kim said.
"We also recognise that our graduates have an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience and are often looking for meaningful ways to reconnect with their alma mater." ■
For more information about SIP and its 2012 events, please visit: www.alumni.adelaide.edu.au/sip
Story by Genevieve Sanchez