2nd year Indigenous Commerce/Arts student at UNSW. Interned at Advisian consulting company as part of Co-NNECTIONS in 2018.

Ariel, why did you decide to take part in Co-NNECTIONS last year?

I decided to take part in the Co-NNECTIONS program last year in the hope of being able to improve my self-confidence and gain industry experience. I had just transferred from Science to Commerce/Arts after my first year and was confused about where I wanted to go into the future and thought something like this would give me more of an insight.

Tell us about your experience of the program, what did it involve?

The program overall has been a great experience. Firstly, I applied for the program online and went through an interview process which was really straightforward. After being accepted, Co-NNECTIONS ran a leadership camp in the Southern Highlands with the other students who were in the program. This camp was a great way to identify my strengths and weaknesses and start to think about myself in a professional environment as well as get to know everyone.

After the camp, I interviewed with three companies – this was my first experience with professional interviews, and Co-NNECTIONS ran me through a crash course for interviews before I went for them which really helped.

From here I was fortunately offered an 8-week placement with a consulting firm called Advisian. I worked five days a week for 8 weeks and got to be involved training sessions and
professional development. Upon completion I gave a presentation about my experience in front of the office.

A few weeks after my placement had finished myself and everyone in the program had a de-brief session to share experiences followed by a celebratory dinner. I’ve been working part-time with the company ever since.

What has been the highlight for you?

Honestly, the whole program has been a highlight for me so far and it is hard to choose a single one thing, but I would have to say the end of placement presentation was a really rewarding experience. The presentation was about what I had gained from this placement and the company seemed really interested in how this can continue for future students. The presentation was in front of the office, which was certainly a little daunting, but having the Co-NNECTIONS staff attend was really supportive for me.

How has the experience impacted you/how have you changed?

This experience has had a huge impact on me. Now I have a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities that I will be able to carry into other employment situations and I also feel more comfortable conducting myself in professional settings.

I also have a clearer direction about where I want to go career wise – consulting was something I had always been interested in and having a placement in a consulting firm meant I was able to see how I work in that environment.

Do you have any advice or tips for other Indigenous students in the early stages of their degree?

My advice would be: Look for opportunities (like Co-NNECTIONS) as soon as you can in your degree and allow yourself to have an edge early on – don’t wait until you are nearly graduated to start looking at industry experience. Give it all you have got and show them how deadly you are!