Employers value academic achievements, but they are also looking for graduates with the necessary interpersonal skills to be effective in the workplace. For UNSW students Rian Wollstein and Bryan Teo, an internship with UNSW’s IT department has allowed them to build these important skills.

“Doing an internship helps you become aware of the other skills you need in the workplace. Teamwork and leadership skills are important because in your working life you are not always going to work independently, especially in areas like coding and IT,” says Bryan, who is undertaking the Diploma of Professional Practice (DPP) course together with his Information Systems degree.

The DPP is a separate qualification available for students to take alongside their degree, however individual courses can also be taken as ‘general education’ subjects, providing credit toward a degree program as well as workplace experience.

I’m actually very technologically challenged. I have no real background in IT. Luckily the programs I’ve been working on don’t involve technical IT issues.

“My friends suggested I pick an online course or something easy for my general education courses, however my parents gave me the idea of doing work experience,” says Bryan.

In the DPP program students complete a prerequisite course – Introduction to the workplace – before undertaking a work placement.

“This course was useful because it provides good advice about resume writing and interview tips. It also helped me to discover my career aspirations, goals and values. It was a really positive experience,” says Rian.

And when it came to a work placement they didn’t have to go far, with UNSW IT offering an internship on campus. UNSW IT project manager Anatoli Kovalev says the program allows students to experience meaningful work integrated learning through opportunities across the IT Service Delivery unit.

“The program provides professional development opportunities to help improve job readiness. This includes training and learning components to improve both work skills and soft skills and the opportunity to apply these skills to work integrated learning projects,” says Kovalev.

For Rian, who is completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology, the internship was a chance to undertake projects connected to his interest in organisational psychology.

“I’m actually very technologically challenged. I have no real background in IT. Luckily the programs I’ve been working on don’t involve technical IT issues. Instead I’ve been looking at service delivery and conducting focus groups in these areas,” says Rian.

He says the placement not only provides work experience but also the opportunity to reflect on that experience throughout the program.

“There is a placement plan and I have to write down the goals I hope to achieve as well as the skills I want to improve. At the end of the program we create a portfolio and give a presentation. So it is not just a placement, there are other aspects to it as well,” he says.

Bryan says internships are important not only to develop workplace skills but also to “try out” potential career options and get a better idea of the skills needed before committing to further study.

“Before this internship I wasn’t good at talking to people, now my public speaking skills are heading in the right direction,” he says.

Along with the DPP, the UNSW Careers and Employment Office and the Professional Development Program for International Students also offer internships at UNSW. Careers and Employment manager Taye Morris says more than 550 students have completed placements within UNSW since 2009.

Some of the areas offering placements include New South Innovations, Graduate Research School, Confucius Institute, Faculty of Science Marketing, and Alumni and Community Engagement.