This post profiles one of our recent iPREP graduates, Katharina Bense.

Katharina was immediately employed as a Research Scientist by CingleVue International after her 6 week iPREP placement. As part of her role, Katharina uses applied research to inform the continued evolution and innovation of software products. The role has inter-disciplinary functions, helping to bridge the gaps between her colleagues various areas of expertise and contributing to the development and strategic marketing of Cinglevue’s products.

CingleVue are long term supporters of the iPREP program and have employed 3 iPREP PhD graduates from Edith Cowan University, University of Western Australia and Curtin University. CingleVue are a global company who provide innovative ICT solutions for improving business growth and performance within the Health, Education and Resources sectors.

What is your area of expertise?

I have a strong educational background with 10 years’ experience in various educational roles. I just completed my PhD in Humanities at UWA, which explored the issue of international teacher mobility and migration. I also hold a teaching qualification from Germany and have worked as a secondary teacher at various schools in Western Australia. Other industry experience, locally and overseas, includes lecturing and tutoring roles within the University and adult education sector.

What did you consider to be your career options with a PhD, before commencing?

Did your placement change your perception?

I started my PhD hoping to get a position in academia afterwards. I had worked as a university lecturer and tutor for a number of years, but always on a casual contract. However, the year I graduated many universities across WA restructured and changed their organisations and as a result there were not many employment opportunities. Doing the iPREP program showed me that there are fields outside of academia where I can also apply my research skills and professional experience.

What skills do you possess that were required for your industry project?

My research, analytical, and problem solving skills that I developed over the course of my PhD and the ability to extract and synthesise data from diverse sources were essential for the iPREP project. Verbal and written communication skills were also helpful, when preparing the project report and final presentations to the clients and other stakeholders. Finally, abilities to plan and manage a project within a specified timeframe and to work both, independently and collaboratively within a team were crucial.

Did you develop any new skills during your placement?

The placement allowed me to further develop my ability to work collaboratively as part of a project team, to cooperate, share tasks and responsibilities, and to work together towards a common goal.

Has participating in iPREP created new career opportunities?

Yes, participating in iPREP introduced me to a completely new field of work and some career opportunities that I would not have considered without the placement.

Having participated in an industry engagement program, do you think you are more open to a career in industry as opposed to academia?

Yes, I am working in industry now and cannot see myself going back to academia any time soon. However, I still conduct research, analyse data, and write papers for presentations and publication in my new position.

How do you think researchers working in industry can positively impact businesses?

In my current position, my primary responsibility is the use of applied research to inform the evolution and innovation of software products. As such, I conduct research to help the company make better business decisions.

What would you say to students considering applying for iPREP?

DO IT! The experience might open the door to completely new career opportunities and/or a new field of work for you!