When you’re studying for your degree, there’s no better way to get your foot in the door for your work life after uni than actually working in the industry.
That’s the situation Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of International Business student Gabrielle Hows found herself in when working towards her degree.
Always on the lookout for opportunities, Gabrielle noticed a job advertisement for a position at Westfield Helensvale with Scentre Group on the Griffith University Careers board. She says she just had a funny feeling she needed to apply.
“All the skills they wanted, I already had through previous work experience so it seemed like a great fit!” Gabrielle explains. “I was really excited when I got the job, but I just had that funny feeling, you know? I just felt like everything they were looking for I had. They were looking for exactly the type of person I am, so I just knew!”
The part-time position was the result of an emerging partnership between Scentre Group and Griffith University to provide students with real-world, paid workplace experience to complement their studies. At the same time, the program benefits Scentre Group by giving them direct access to Griffith’s best and brightest in a process facilitated by the University.
Marketing Manager Kristina Mangan and Centre Manager and Griffith Alumnus Fiona Papworth agree that their organisation has definitely benefited from the experience. As key stakeholders in the partnership, they’re thrilled with the way Gabrielle has seamlessly slotted into their organisation.
“Gabrielle impressed us because she is a real go-getter and you can see that from her resume,” Kristina explains. “She’s out there and is seeking opportunities.”
Fiona agrees, and says a really great first impression helped Gabrielle get the job. “She demonstrated in the interview process that she’s collaborated with peers but also sought guidance and information from lecturers and tutors, which was really important to us,” Fiona explains. She says that one of the most crucial behaviours Scentre Group seeks is demonstration of the ability to work effectively in a team. “We’re cross-divisional and it’s really important for all our team to collaborate. The job requires a team player, which Gabrielle certainly demonstrated, and has proven in her time working with us.”
Since she started, Gabrielle has been really proactive with her work, and even overseen entire projects from start to finish. One of those was a reward program Westfield Helensvale had been trying to get off the ground for a while. With Gabrielle overseeing the operation from conceptual design, including stakeholder engagement and finally execution, the centre now gives selected shoppers and retailers a free hot beverage as a way of giving back.
“It’s something that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have Gabrielle on board,” Fiona says.
Gabrielle has also recently taken ownership of revamping Westfield Helensvale’s charity initiative, which gives local non-profit groups the opportunity to raise money through the brand’s profile. It’s a project that really speaks to Griffith University’s mission to create globally responsible leaders. Gabrielle agrees: “It’s a really rewarding project, knowing that it makes a difference to people’s lives,” she says.
What’s more, the proud Griffith student knows her job has had a positive effect on her studies and her job experience. “I’ve been able to use lots of the organisational skills I’ve learnt at uni at my position with Scentre Group. Every semester my knowledge has been built upon and I’ve been able to take that to work experience and vice versa,” Gabrielle explains.
“When you have study and do work experience at the same time you can put the knowledge you learn together to understand each of them a bit better.”
Both Kristina and Fiona are really impressed with how the partnership between Scentre Group and Griffith has worked so far and are excited to see where it can go. As both an alumni and an employer, Fiona is aware of the value a Griffith student can bring to an organisation.
“We interviewed a number of Griffith students for Gabrielle’s position and there were a lot of similarities among the students. What impressed most was their professionalism and pride in personal presentation which I really value as an employer,” Fiona explains.
“I certainly hold Griffith in a very high regard… it speaks volumes when I see they’ve completed a degree or are currently studying.”
Kristina thinks they’ve only just scratched the surface with how far their Griffith partnership could take them. “Our business has so many different divisions so there’s plenty of opportunities for many students to be able to work with us in the future,” she says.