STUDENT EXPERIENCE

MIRIAM BROOKER

ECU PhD Graduate

iPREP WA alumni

The opportunity to participate in the iPREP WA program was very timely for me. I was able to begin my placement soon after submitting my PhD. This helped me to avoid the ‘post-completion blues’ and I was also ably supported in translating the skills that I had developed during my candidature into an industry context. I was pleasantly surprised that the skills and experiences that I had developed prior to and during my PhD were so relevant to my placement at CingleVue International. I would not have considered applying for work as a Research Analyst helping to develop educational software prior to my participation in the iPREP WA program. However, I soon realised that there was an 100% fit for me in terms of expertise and interest. I fully engaged with my placement opportunity.  

 

During the placement we were asked to identify key factors impacting educational attainment from within a large multidisciplinary and longitudinal health and development study. My prior experience as a school psychologist, my academic training as a social psychology specialist and the experience that I had built up as a university Research Assistant was highly relevant to the successful completion of the assigned task. My PhD thesis was on a topic with no direct relevance to my industry placement. However, it involved the development of skills such as project management, multi-faceted communication skills, leadership and self-directed learning, which are all sought after in an industry context. These skills were invaluable in successfully carrying out the project that CingleVue assigned us, in a timely and effective way. I am grateful that my participation in the iPREP WA program led to an offer of full-time employment before my PhD degree was even conferred. I could not have envisaged a more positive outcome for myself. The iPrepWA program meets an important need for students completing their PhD degree. That is, it supports them to translate their PhD research into successful participation in the job market.

I am forever grateful that I participated in the iPREP WA program. The iPREP WA program taught me that the skills learnt during my PhD, can be applied in any industry and to any field, even if that field is outside your PhD’s specific area of study. Moreover, it has showed me that there are more career opportunities outside the common but incredibly competitive academic track and that I should actively seek out these opportunities. My specific iPREP experience involved a 6 week placement with the WA Department of Health and the WA Health Translational Network (WAHTN), to work on a project to implement a Research Education and Training Program.

 

My mentors at the WA Department of Health and the WAHTN not only worked hard to help me during the iPREP project, but also helped make a number of introductions with key people within the Health industry, contacts I would have not been able to make on my own. My mentors were very pleased with the work I performed and offered me part time employment to help continue on with the work began within the 6 week iPREP program and are actively seeking out further work for me through their contacts, until I find full time employment in my chosen field or until another opportunity arises.   

 

I wish to thank Natasha Ayers and everyone involved in the iPREP WA program, for providing this opportunity and for their continued, tireless work. I would also like to thank WA Department of Health’s, Sharyn Rodger, Babu Simon, and Neil Lynch; and in particular Sue Skull and Rashmi Watson for the opportunity, mentorship, and for the continued employment.

CRAIG RIVE

Murdoch PhD Graduate

iPREP WA alumni

BEN YEE

Curtin PhD Graduate

iPREP WA alumni

An increasing number of PhD completions in recent times has had the unfortunate consequence of rendering the academic tenure track a fleeting hope for many of these aspiring academics. A resulting career in industry often then becomes the unexpected reality. As it stands, doctoral candidature often does little to impress the image of readiness for the rigours of industry. The iPREP program plays an important role in addressing this misconception by its work connecting newly minted researchers with issues faced in industry. Additionally, this serves as a vital networking opportunity for researchers from traditionally ‘pure’ fields which tend to be more insular towards industry and applications.

My participation in the iPREP program was borne partly of its ideal timing as an undertaking suited to the period following thesis submission and from a desire to experience firsthand the problems that arise in an industry context. The field of research in which I am involved, financial mathematics, tends to have a disconnect between academia and the work done by practitioners. Learning that I would be working with CBH Group, WA’s largest grain bulk handler, was initially somewhat of a disappointment. I had expected such an industry to pose a supply chain problem more suited to the mathematics of optimization.

Meeting with the project sponsor to get the actual details of the project instead uncovered the ubiquitous role of various financial markets and derivatives pertaining to grain pricing and marketing. Needless to say, this was an enlightening turn of events being that the problem was perfectly matched to my area of expertise yet originated from an entirely unexpected setting. The initial serendipity of a somewhat familiar subject aside, the allotted six weeks was a whirlwind of novel experiences. I had the opportunity to engage with the different facets of the business via stakeholder meetings, consultations, discussion and presentations. Picking up on the use of new tools and technologies under the guidance of the resident data scientist provided valuable insights into some of the more contemporary developments in the emerging field of data analytics, in particular as framed within the specific context of the business’ operations.

Beyond working on the project itself, I enjoyed the opportunity mingle with the other researchers during the weekly workshops and seminars and thereby keep abreast of current fields of research across various academic disciplines. Many thanks to all the people without whom this program would not have been possible and whose continuing work ensures that this remains so.

My name is Patrick Fritz, I completed my PhD in Analytical and Forensic Chemistry and I am fortunate to be a 2015 alumni of the iPREP WA program. After submitting my PhD thesis in, I was unsure on how on to proceed with employment whilst waiting for my dissertation to be reviewed and approved. The iPREP WA opportunity came at this crucial time, allowing me to build my experience within industry and to further develop key skills, most notably communication, expertise in research proficiency, and critical thinking. These aspects stood out as skills which we encounter in both the academic and industry environments, and have been beneficial in obtaining employment since. I worked on a project for the Fortescue Metals Group, and the combination of an excellent mentor and great course design have led to an appreciation of employment outside of academia and contributed to both personal and professional development in that period. My participation with this program was seen as very positive by potential employers in university sector.

 

Six months after the program, I am still in contact with my mentor, have had the opportunity to host the Inspire Conference at Curtin University, and presented at numerous events as a direct result of this course. Furthermore, two other iPREP WA alumni and I have started a collaborative initiative aimed at facilitating and fostering scientific research and commercialization in Western Australia. The vision is to provide a state of the art facility, complete with office and wet laboratory space, for innovative researchers, existing industry and academia to have a central hub to promote research, collaborations and the development of IP. This will help to promote Western Australia’s scientific profile on a state, national and international level. This initiative was conceived out of an idea we encountered during the iPREP WA program, and has since led to meeting and collaborating with senior members within the local and state government, universities, and industry on various aspects of the Science Innovation Hub.

 

I wish to thank the iPREP WA team and the 5 WA universities, in particular Tash Ayers, Kiah Evans and Steph Delaporte from Edith Cowan University, for making this excellent opportunity possible.

PATRICK FRITZ

Curtin PhD Graduate

iPREP WA alumni

BEATRIZ OLIVEIRA

Curtin PhD Graduate

iPREP WA alumni

The iPREP program exceeded my expectations and I am very happy to have been a part of it. The workshops provided were very valuable in preparing me for the work environment and I was able to realise that my research skills were transferrable to business endeavours. I was assigned to work with Southern Cross Care Inc., an aged care provider that has been in business for almost 50 years. I was given the task to research more about the new national aged care system and develop innovative services that would place Southern Cross Care as one of the leading services in community care. Fortunately, I had a great mentor who showed me the ropes and I learned a great deal about aged care in a short time frame. Working closely with the Head of Residential Care, we understood the challenges faced by Southern Cross Care and their vision in growing and adapting under the new system.

 

The project that we worked on together is now being used to guide the development of services in their new hospital in East Fremantle. In addition to making a contribution to the community, this opportunity also opened the doors for me to work in aged care system, consultancy business, and as a project officer. I thank iPREP for the experience!