Connecting students with small business program success

The Connecting Students with Small Business Program delivered by Greater Shepparton Business Centre and La Trobe University has provided social media assistance to small businesses.

The pilot program partnered six local businesses with second and third year university students to assist with developing professional experience in operating social media channels and marketing activities. This involved creating compelling content and scheduling posts for optimal engagement.

Greater Shepparton City Council Director Sustainable Development Geraldine Christou said the past weeks would have been a great learning curve for both students and businesses.

“As we know it has been a really challenging time and our local businesses have been working harder than ever to navigate their practices to align with the current COVID-19 climate,” Ms Christou said.

“This was truly a unique opportunity for local businesses to receive additional resources and for our university students to gain valuable experience through this pilot program. This partnership opportunity further demonstrates the important role that universities play in regional areas, and the success that comes from innovative interventions.  Council is very grateful to both the businesses and students for their input into the program, both parties have gained valuable skills and experience that will no doubt be utilised well past the conclusion of this round of the program.

“We hope to continue these partnerships with La Trobe University and our Greater Shepparton Business Centre to grow and strengthen the local industries.”

Head of La Trobe Shepparton Campus Elizabeth Capp said the program has seen positive impacts for both the students and businesses.

“We are grateful to Council and the Greater Shepparton Business Centre for partnering with us to provide several of our students, like Marion, with these internships. The training, hands-on business experience, and opportunity to collaborate with mentors, peers, and business owners has offered valuable mutual benefits during these challenging times,” Ms Capp said.

Owner of DOTZ for Kidz children store Katrina Mills was paired with La Trobe student Marion Scanlon and said being a part of the program was beneficial to her business.

“The program is a really good initiative for both businesses and students, allowing them to have hands on experience and be involved in the daily practices of a business,” Ms Mills said.

“I really appreciated having an extra hand to help me out and focus on social media, this gave me extra time to work on other areas of the business while also learning a new thing or two about Facebook. Being able to work with Marion gave me a fresh pair of eyes and together we worked on new content to put out on Facebook.

“During this time we’ve had more posts on Facebook which has increased our engagement and interactions between customers and sales which has been a wonderful and valuable experience.”

Latrobe University student, Marian Scanlan said the internships had developed great relationships.

“The one thing that I love about being a part of this Business Internship is that everyone helps each other. Working with Katrina has been great as we both have been learning from each other along the way,” Ms Scanlon said.

“I have enjoyed my engagement with my Business Mentors, Lisa Kubeil and Ailsa Page who have been helping me, as well as my peers who also give me great advice on content strategy plans, demographics, business goals etc.

“This experience will give me skills required to help with my future goals and give me the skills so I can teach others too.”

The internship will be completed this month and will be evaluated by both Council and La Trobe Shepparton Campus to be considered for future years.

This article first appeared in Greater Shepparton City Council News, 6th October 2020