Kirsten is a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science student who completed the Industry Placement Minor of 400 hours at Threatened Species Conservancy in 2022 and was later successful in becoming a New Columbo Plan Scholar. In 2023, Kirsten will travel to Hong Kong to study and undertake a further placement overseas.
In our interview with Kirsten, we asked her why a longer placement was beneficial to her, what she got out of the placement experience and the process that she worked through to realise her true potential and career path.
Undertaking longer placements, as part of the Industry Placement Minor, offers students many benefits:
- subject curriculum that compliments and supports learning in the workplace
- practical experiences, opportunities to develop discipline-specific industry networks and a chance to evolve as an emerging professional
- ability to build trust in yourself to do the things you find most challenging
- support whilst you practice your skills in a professional environment and identify what you really want to do in your career
Find out more about the Industry Placement Minor at La Trobe University.
How has the Industry Placement Minor contributed to your learning in the workplace?
Completing a longer placement has allowed me to not only learn new skills but polish them and improve them. The work I completed as tasks for TSC and the assignments within the minor itself tied my learning and self-growth together amazingly. Placement gave me the skills I needed for a future career, and my subject assignments allowed me to reflect and actually think on my learning.
A great example would be, setting the goals over the 4 placement subjects. I was able to see how the work I was doing was evolving, the new tasks opening up to me and my progress. The reflective work also gave me time to evaluate what I was getting out the placement and how much simple things like my essay writing and public speaking was improving.
How has the Industry Placement Minor contributed to your professional experiences and networking opportunities with discipline specific people?
The biggest benefit of my placement was the experience itself. I have learnt so many new skills, took part in exciting opportunities and had the chance to truly develop personally and professionally to such an extent that a short placement (100 hours or less) would not have given. I have been able to increase my confidence in myself and my capabilities which gave me the courage to apply for other opportunities and reach outside my comfort zone.
My placement has set up a stable network for me in the field of conservation and entomology and has already assisted me in finding paid work within the field. The friends I have made along the way have also been a great benefit from my placement.
I have had the chance to learn not just the basic skills involved in the field but also a chance to evolve these and engage in new activities that I never knew would be such a large part of the job and had the chance to essentially run my own project and fieldwork.
How has your confidence evolved during your placement experience and whilst completing the Industry Placement Minor?
A really big challenge for me during placement was developing my inter-personal skills like presenting, starting conversations and having important meetings. I struggled with this so much due to my lack of self-confidence. I was able to deal with this and in a way overcome it to an extent through taking any opportunities I was given to do these tasks and familiarize myself with them. For example, presenting at community events or just going to listen and learn, I took part in student panels for the minor, got involved in meetings on the ant-blue butterfly project to teach people and lots of team meetings to ensure I became comfortable with the other staff members.
While this is something I will always struggle with to some degree, taking that leap to do the placement and get involved has really helped me trust in my ability to discuss what I am passionate about and know that I have put the effort in.
How has the Industry Placement Minor helped you to decide on the career path that you really want to undertake?
My placement experience has really opened my eye to the kind of work I wish to be doing in my future. I have always wanted to be an Entomologist, but I had originally planned to work in a museum or perhaps the big collections.
Seeing and experiencing what a fieldwork-based job would be like made me realize just how much I love being outdoors and finding the insects myself. I have been able to learn so many aspects of the job from the fun parts but also the possible struggles I may face in the future when deciding on jobs.
Kirsten Boehm, Bachelor of Science