Southern Cross University Student Janice is completing her degree with on-the-job experience at Bellingen Shire Council, on the NSW north coast. Offering flexibility and variety, her internship has given Janice a wealth of experience.
I primarily work with Bellingen Shire Council's tourism manager dealing with media briefings, development applications (we are getting a new visitor information centre), and grant applications. I also do some work at the visitor information centre and for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, carrying out marketing and developing surveys. Recently I have worked with the coordinator for the Bellingen Jazz Festival helping with marketing and sponsorship.
I used to work in hospitality and wanted to move to a field that had better working conditions but still had a strong customer service aspect to it. Tourism seemed like the logical choice.
I chose Southern Cross University because they offered an external study program and have great support systems for external students.
I did go to uni straight from school and started a Bachelor of Science. But I was studying my degree externally and found it hard to stay focused, so I gained full-time employment in the hospitality industry. Later, after I had my children, I started looking at study options to allow me to have a good job by the time the kids started school. I wanted to get out of hospitality because the hours weren't mum-friendly!
After I moved to Bellingen from Western Australia, I decided to try and find a placement that would allow me to do my internship part time over a year while I was studying. This is most convenient for me as neither of my children is at school yet. I called the tourism manager at the Bellingen Shire Council and approached him with the proposition to start an internship with the council. He seemed very keen, an invited me in for an interview. The manager was happy for me to carry out my internship on a part-time basis and is very flexible, which is fantastic.
I've learnt about the politics of working in the tourism industry, especially with committees and different community groups. I've also come to understand how to interact in a business environment.
Everyone treats me politely. I am only there two days a week and sometimes I work out of the office, which means I might not be there for a few weeks at a time, so at times I find it hard to feel like I belong.
The best things about my job so far have been the chance to work with the team at the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and having a fantastic mentor.