During her studies, mature-aged student Kerry Orro said she had a concentrated introduction to her goal of becoming an accountant with local firm Concord Tax Kirwan.
Ms Orro undertook one of her subjects in block mode at the business, where training was more concise and the practical skills were easier to acquire with intense application, as opposed to sporadic, once-a-week contact.
“I was able to work in a very hands-on role from the start, which gave me an honest reflection of the tasks and workload that I would encounter as an accountant in a smaller practice,” she said.
“As I started employment at Concord throughout the third year of my degree, there were so many relevant and direct correlations between my work and studies.
“At work, I was learning the ‘how’ and at JCU, I was learning the ‘why.’ This was very beneficial when it came to having real life examples with which to connect and helped with greater understanding.”
For the past three years, the refreshed Bachelor of Business degree has included a work integrated learning (WIL) program where students complete one of three capstone WIL subjects in the final year of their degree.
One of the capstone subjects on offer is a professional internship, which involves 100 hours of workplace experience.
Three years later, many students are finding work, either in their place of internship or through contacts they’ve made during their internship.
As of November 7, 121 students have participated in the WIL program in Townsville in 2016.
JCU Lecturer in the WIL Program Dr Alf Kuilboer said WIL was a crucial link between graduates and employment as it takes theory into practice, enhancing learning and employability prospects of students.
“It’s helping them prepare for the workplace,” he said. “As part of their assessment, students collect evidence to develop individual ePortfolios to demonstrate their skills and proficiency.
“It’s a tight employment market and you are going to have to have a competitive edge, or advantage over others looking for work. We are wanting students to achieve a certain standard, to be continually thinking about their potential future employer.”
More than 300 businesses across North Queensland and beyond are registered as either having already hosted students or have expressed interest in hosting students through the WIL program.