14 April 2016

Industry Placement Program - Australian National Committee for UN Women

At the beginning of this year I participated in the Business School’s Industry Placement Program. As part of this program, I had the opportunity to move down to Canberra for six weeks to intern with the Australian National Committee for UN Women.  The Australian National Committee for UN Women is a non-profit organisation that raises both awareness and funds for the work that UN Women undertakes in the Pacific region. During the time that I was on placement, the primary fundraising focus was on the elimination of violence against women in the Pacific region, an area where gender-based violence is prevalent.

I arrived at the Australian National Committee for UN Women at an exciting time. When I first began the placement, it was a mere two months before the biggest fundraising campaign of the year, International Women’s Day. As the weeks went by and the campaign day grew closer, the office became busier and I found that I had a broad variety of tasks to complete. No day was the same – I experienced everything from managing the marketing strategy for merchandise through to helping sell tickets for the upcoming events. It was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in the development of a nation-wide campaign, as well as gaining an understanding of the specifics of marketing in a non-profit environment. The program provided me with a chance to put the theory that I had learnt in the classroom into practice by working at the heart of a large campaign. 

I also had the chance to meet a variety of people from the non-profit industry throughout the six weeks that I was there. One of the highlights was talking to Ellie van Baaren, Regional Communications and Media Specialist at UN Women Pacific, who told us of the programs that were currently underway in the Pacific region. It was exciting to hear about the work being done on the Markets for Change program, which encourages women in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to become involved in local marketplace leadership and provides them with safe spaces to sell their produce. It was after hearing Ellie speak that I realised that the work I was assisting with was making an actual difference to the lives of women living in the Pacific region.

During the internship, I also had the opportunity to conduct a research project. This was an exciting chance to explore an area I was personally interested in within the organisation. I had the freedom to choose both the question and the research methods I was to use, which was something I hadn’t experienced before in my degree. I developed a set of recommendations which I provided to the organisation at the conclusion of my placement. It was fantastic to realise that I was making a genuine, lasting impact on the organisation through these recommendations.

The Industry Placement Program was a great opportunity to gain industry experience in an organisation and to explore the practical side of marketing in an office environment. It was often challenging, but always exciting, and over the six weeks I spent in Canberra, I developed both personally and professionally in ways I could never have imagined before I began the placement. The skills and the contacts that I gained will be invaluable in the future as I move into a professional career, and the experience I had working on the International Women’s Day campaign is one that I don’t think I will ever forget.  
Rebecca Smith
Current student in the Master of Commerce program at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Canberra

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