In the lead up to La Trobe’s 2020 Careers Showcase event, MyLaTrobe reached out to students who successfully secured internships and graduate roles to discover their recipes for success.
We spoke Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) graduate Erin Lack, she is now part of the MTIA – Major Transport Infrastructure Authority Grad Program.
You’ve just completed your Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) at La Trobe, can you tell me why you chose this course and how the course and your time at La Trobe prepared you for the workplace?
I chose Human Resources as my major as I’d touched on different aspects of it in previous roles, and found that the part of my job that gave me the most satisfaction was seeing the development and achievements that my employees made with the proper guidance and training.
This made me want to pursue this as a career. Studying at La Trobe gave me a greater understanding of the theory and practice behind how employees behave in a workplace and what drives behaviours. It’s made me more confident in my ability to lead and manage a strong team.
This degree challenged my rigidity of thinking, and allowed me to build on others’ experiences.
Are there any aspects of your degree that will prove particularly important in the workplace?
Coming from a background in the retail management sector, I was used to policies and procedures being very black and white. Addressing theories and analysing why procedures are put in place and how they drive behaviours makes me better understand how to not only to communicate within a team, but how to motivate and drive results. This degree challenged my rigidity of thinking, and allowed me to build on others’ experiences.
You’ve landed a role with in the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) Grad Program, can you tell me about the steps that you took to land this role?
It started on campus, when the MTIA came in and did a presentation on the 2020 Grad Program. I had a vested interest – having been born and bred in the Banyule area – towards the North East Link Project, so I went along to see what the MTIA had to offer, and if I would be a suitable match for the program.
I was on a farm in rural QLD with limited to no mobile service, when I got an email saying I’d progressed to the next stage and they required me to submit a video interview, by 5pm that day.
I remember feeling pretty inspired afterwards and thinking that I could use my degree to make a difference for others. The only thing was, so did the hundred or so other students at the presentation. So I made up a whole bunch of long winded and very vague questions to ask the MTIA staff, hoping that it would give me an excuse to write down my name and contact details and introduce myself – and it worked.
Early on in the application process there was an aptitude test which I was sure I failed, so I (preemptively) hung up my hat and bowed out, thinking that there was no way I could have passed that. A couple of weeks later I was on a farm in rural QLD with limited to no mobile service, when I got an email saying I’d progressed to the next stage and they required me to submit a video interview, by 5pm that day.
This resulted in driving to the middle of a paddock in 35 degree heat to get the best 3G signal we could, and for me to record a 5 minute interview inside the cab wearing the most professional collared shirt I could find (wasn’t very professional, or clean), while my partner stood on the roof of the truck holding the phone up as high as he could so the signal didn’t drop out.
It was important to remain authentic throughout the whole process, even if it meant making up a bunch of long-winded, vague questions and wearing an Akubra to a job interview.
I only had one chance to submit the video, so I was talking as fast as I could before we lost reception. Again, I thought it would be a miracle if they’d take me seriously enough after that. Amazingly enough, I got invited along to the group interview stage, where we worked in groups and had one-on-one chats with different partners within the MTIA.
Part of the interview was to bring something along that reflected part of your own identity, and so I took along my Akubra, paying a small homage to my sub-par bush interview. I was over the moon when they called me with a job offer, the recruiter even mentioned that she had really enjoyed speaking to me at the La Trobe presentation.
At the end of the day, I think it’s just so important to stay genuine; the recruiters were looking to see what personalities were going to fit within their teams, and so it was important to remain authentic throughout the whole process, even if it meant making up a bunch of long-winded, vague questions and wearing an Akubra to a job interview.
What additional steps, outside of the classroom, can our current students take to enhance their employability?
Just get involved. Show passion for the field you’re in, and remember why you chose it. I became a student ambassador for the Australian Human Resource Institute in 2019.
Liz from the Career Ready team spent more than a few sessions with me, writing and re-writing my resume, and helping me prepare for daunting aptitude tests and group interviews.
I realised that HR can be considered a rather dry subject, and between myself and Pooja, the other La Trobe Ambassador, we sought to engage with our peers in a manner where they could see the benefits of joining these events, networking with others, and even just coming along to see what options were available for them at the completion of their studies. It didn’t take hours out of my schedule, it was just about bringing AHRI up during class discussions and spreading awareness to our peers.
On top of that, Liz from the Career Ready team spent more than a few sessions with me, writing and re-writing my resume, and helping me prepare for daunting aptitude tests and group interviews. She provided invaluable knowledge and sound advice around what to expect and I am so appreciative to her for letting me come back day after day. The Career Ready team is truly is such an essential resource, especially in your third year.
How important is getting involved in activities outside of the classroom when you’re student?
For me, being time poor was my biggest barrier to getting involved. I realised I had to become creative with working around a full time job and ensuring that I was really making the most of not only the facilities, but of the wealth of knowledge from my tutors during my time at La Trobe.
I joined online groups, hassled my tutors, and engaged with others at every opportunity, attending events and networking as much as I could. I believe this had a really positive impact on my studies, alongside giving me a better understanding of the path I wanted to take after I finished.
There are so many people that are willing to help you and challenge your thinking and push you to be better, supporting you to achieve your goals.
My favourite thing about studying at La Trobe was…
My favourite part of La Trobe was finding out just how many resources were available to me when I actually went looking and sought them out. There are so many people that are willing to help you and challenge your thinking and push you to be better, supporting you to achieve your goals. Also, Eagle Bar on a sunny afternoon.