Updating Results

Laura Fernandez

What’s your job about?

The University of Melbourne’s Graduate Program comprises three eight-month rotations across the entire organisation, so I’ve been fortunate to have not one, but three job experiences to draw upon at the University.

In my first rotation, I gained an understanding of the University’s recruitment and selection processes through my role as a Human Resources Advisor in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. On a day-to-day basis, I issued contracts and facilitated visa applications, and by the end of the rotation, had developed a comprehensive training manual for new starters and provided a report on the effectiveness of recruitment agencies in securing talent.

My second rotation was based in the University’s External Relations team. As Recruitment Marketing and Communications Officer, I contributed to marketing and communications efforts to recruit potential students to study at the University of Melbourne. This included proofreading and developing content for a suite of publications (such as faculty course brochures and undergraduate and postgraduate prospectuses), sourcing and coordinating talent for film and photography projects, and managing recruitment campaigns. My last few months in the team were spent managing the marketing and communications for the Graduate Study Expo, a cross-faculty event for undergraduate students/alumni to learn about postgraduate study options. This process gave me a great insight into a number of marketing channels, as I utilised web, social media, and print. The event’s attendance increased by 39% from the previous year despite higher education reform announcements from the Federal Government.      

For my final rotation, I returned to the Faculty of Business and Economics, where I had studied a few years prior. The Student Employability and Enrichment team provides opportunities for students to enrich their degrees and enhance their employment prospects through extra and co-curricular activities, such as internships, in-company consulting subjects, career mentoring, skills workshops, and leadership events. I work in the ‘enrichment’ side of the team, and am responsible for the management of events and programs for Bachelor of Commerce students. This includes the BCom Case Competition, International Case Competitions, events for scholarship recipients, large-scale cohort events such as orientation and graduation celebrations, and supporting the Faculty’s affiliated clubs and societies. When I’m not organising the logistical side of events, I’m working on the marketing side of them! It’s fantastic to be able to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve gained to the team that provides so many opportunities for students.

What’s your background?

My life began in Adelaide, but I’ve spent most of it in Melbourne. After finishing high school in Melbourne, I moved to the Gold Coast to undertake my undergraduate degree at Bond University. I learnt a lot and had a fantastic time, but decided to take a gap year halfway through to go on an even bigger adventure… to Walt Disney World, Florida! I completed a six-month internship at Disney World, where I got to create magic for guests every day on the attractions. Living and working overseas for such an amazing company was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had – how many people can genuinely say that they love going to work every day?

After returning to Australia, I worked in tourism and marketing roles and finished my undergraduate degree. I wasn’t quite ready for full-time work, and still had plenty more travel and study to get out of my system, so I commenced my master’s degree at the University of Melbourne the following year. The Master of Management allowed me to study across the fields of marketing, management, human resources, and international business. I liked the idea of keeping my study and work options broad, so I applied for the University of Melbourne’s Graduate Program. The rotations across three different business areas have enabled me to gain a better understanding of what I enjoy most and where my skills are best matched. I’ve been at the University for nearly two years now, and plan on staying! The benefit of working for such a big organisation is the breadth of job opportunities available.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, although I think having the right mix of skills would help. My current role doesn’t require specific technical knowledge or experience in one area or program, but rather a basic understanding of a range of tools, including web editing, graphic design (using the Adobe suite of programs), and Microsoft Excel. Strong written and verbal communication skills are handy, since the student audience can be difficult to reach and comprises many international students. Organisational ability is critical in my job, as I’m often managing several major events at once – there are only so many weeks in a semester. Finally, the ability to manage stress and deal with change is useful, not just because of the guaranteed role rotations, but also because there are so many variables involved in event management.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

I love being able to work with current students and see the positive impact that my work has on their development and future careers. Having personally benefited from being involved in student clubs and events at uni, it feels great to share those opportunities with the next generation of students. I’m also able to vicariously relive my own uni days by attending fun events such as balls and graduation dinners, which were some of the highlights of my uni experience.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working in events comes with a fair amount of work after business hours. This can result in long days, because I still have plenty of desk work to do beforehand, but to be honest, executing the event is fun and rewarding… not to mention the University has a generous overtime pay policy. Event management also demands high levels of energy and a willingness to take on other tasks when necessary. For my first event, the room had not been set up as I had requested, and the guest speakers were running late – I had to use my (small) muscles to physically move the furniture myself, and nearly ended up having to do some impromptu public speaking.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student…

  • Get involved - Taking part in student clubs was one of the highlights of my uni experience. I met my best friends through activities outside of the classroom.
  • Following on from point 1, get involved early! Uni is over far too quickly, so don’t leave it until the end. I was reluctant to put my hand up for anything unless I knew a friend would be doing it with me, but I would have developed many more friendships by taking the plunge earlier. Everyone’s in the same boat.
  • Travel far and often. Lack of money isn’t a very good excuse when you’re young, because it will never be easier to travel on a budget than when you’re a thrifty student! Plus, it’s far easier to save up money as a student than it is to get the time off when you’re working full-time. I took a half-year gap year before starting my Grad role, and it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about myself and the world.