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Watch: How solving social problems can inspire your business career

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Amid claims that narcissism is on the rise, the ability to practise empathy is fast becoming a stand-out career skill. And according to Rafiuddin Ahmed, a PhD candidate researching social business and innovation at La Trobe University, it’s a skill you’re never too young to learn.

In partnership with his supervisor, Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, Rafiuddin has founded a start-up to teach social entrepreneurship to children aged 8–12. The weekly lessons combine ‘active compassion’ with basic business marketing. Children are introduced to social issues, like poverty in other parts of the world, and learn how to do something practical in response to the moral outrage they feel.

If you’re passionate about making a positive social impact through your career, watch our video to discover how social business has inspired Rafiuddin to become an ethical entrepreneur.

Start your social business with a Master of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) at La Trobe University.

LBS School Manager Donna Burnett receives 2017 Award for Excellence in School and Faculty Management!

By Donna Burnett

The ATEM Best Practice Awards for 2017 was held at the Arts Centre, with over 150 staff from Tertiary institutions throughout Aus and NZ.
Recognising professional management and administration in the Tertiary Education sector is fundamentally important not only to the staff recognised, but to the industry as a whole.

Whilst ATEM has worked extremely hard for 41 years to promote a culture where professional managers work to partner academics in the education enterprise, Universities in general still have a long way to go to achieve the same goal.

This award has sought to show that we are equal partners in the profession.

I have received an incredible amount of support from the Leadership team within the LBS and support from Managers within the College. This support has enabled me to grow and flourish in my role and has treated me as an equal partner in the operations of a large and multidisciplinary school.

Working together without hierarchical boundaries has enabled effective School Management, but has also broken down many barriers and allowed professional staff to have a voice in an Academic world.

 

To see is to believe, and to believe is to see. Malcom Roberts’s recent citizenship troubles betray his double standards.

LBS Business School Lecturer in Management Dr Angela McCabe and Dr Tom Osegowitsch from the University of Melbourne have published an article in Crikey contrasting the standards of evidence demanded of scientists by populist politicians, and those they adopt for themselves.

Read the original article on Crikey, here.

“Malcolm, you are hearing the interpretation of a highly qualified scientist and you’re saying, “I don’t believe that” — is that right?” an incredulous Tony Jones asked of former One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts during a recent Q&A episode. The senator had demanded incontrovertible proof of anthropogenic climate change from fellow panellist Professor Brian Cox, and made wild allegations about evidence having been manipulated by NASA, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and others.

Last Friday the High court declared five current senators ineligible to sit in the Australian parliament. Among them was Malcolm Roberts, who came in for particular criticism.

The former senator’s citizenship evidence to the court was summarily rejected. He was chastised by Justice Patrick Keane for his “reliance on his highly subjective appreciation of the importance of commonplace incidents of his familial experience”.

Specifically, the ruling highlights that “there was no rational basis for the belief that he was always and only an Australian citizen. The absence of any rational basis in fact for that belief meant that Senator Roberts was driven to support his position by reliance on his highly subjective appreciation of the importance of commonplace incidents of his familial experience.” Crucially “Senator Roberts equates feelings of Australian self-identification with citizenship, and so confuses notions of how a person sees oneself with an understanding of how one’s national community sees an individual who claims to be legally entitled to be accepted as a member of that community.”

His own barrister, Robert Newlinds, said of Senator Roberts that “He’s talked himself into a different belief about that [his possible UK citizenship].

The former senator has made a name for himself challenging scientists and scientific institutions. Ostensibly he was holding them to a higher standard of evidence, although the same rigour clearly did not apply to his own, personal situation.

For years, Malcolm Roberts has been bombarding scientific institutions, individual scientists as well as journalists and parliamentarians with strong claims rejecting climate change research. He has also made severe allegations of scientific misconduct against individual scientists, which have been dismissed after due consideration.

Roberts routinely challenges climate change scientists to produce “any empirical evidence”, defined as “observations in the real world, it’s measured real world data.” When challenged by scientists such as Brian Cox insisting that there is strong empirical evidence, most prominently global warming trends, Roberts likes to maintain that the data are manipulated, by NASA and the Bureau of Meteorology, abetted by the political establishment.

Robert also criticises existing climate models, questioning their projections. These “models have already been proven to be inaccurate and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has recognised that and admitted it.” Yet climate change predictions have worked well, tracking overall climate trends.

At the heart of his rejection of the science establishment and its conclusions lies a vast climate change conspiracy, aided by both major parties as well as the Greens, reaching for “massive over-government” (p.132). Not confined to Australia, “The UN, on behalf of international bankers, wants to end national sovereignty and individual freedom (p.134) As a result, “People in developed nations are being enslaved to international banks.” (p.133)

The denialist traits in Robert’s thinking have previously been document. The cherry-picking of evidence, the impossible expectations raised (for instance in terms of predictive accuracy and scientific consensus), and the underlying conspiracy theories are just some of the hallmarks of denialism.

Similar to democratic politics, science can experience gridlock, detours and errors. Progress often is painstakingly slow. In recent times we have also become aware of a number of serious shortcomings in the scientific process.

In modern science, the process for establishing valid knowledge, or rather knowledge “warranting belief”, hinges on peer review and professional reputation. In recent times, the process has come in for sharp criticism on account of a number of practices undermining scholarship.

The pressure on academics to publish (“publish or perish” in the vernacular) makes them more reliant on the scientific institutions and their gatekeepers, such as journal reviewers, editors and tenure committees. These then direct researchers by effectively sanctioning the acceptable (and therefore permissable) research methods, research questions and available data.

The pressure to publish in order to secure tenure and promotion may also lead to an inflation of “Type 1 errors”. A Type I error (also known as a “false positive”) is the mistake of erroneously believing something to be true when it is not. Scientific journals tend to cherish surprising results. As a result, scientists may test more frequently for contrarian hypotheses and produce more (erroneous) chance results. As reported by Scientific American magazine a number of fields of scientific endeavour may be plagued by a significant proportion of false positives and exaggerated results.

Equally concerning, studies that fail to find novel results may not even be reported by the authors, effectively censoring the publicly reported evidence. A variety of fields such as medicine and psychology have in recent years been hit by an apparent crisis of reproducibility and experts have pointed to the elevation of a disproportionate number of false discoveries.

In the social sciences, some of these biases and problems may be even more egregious than in the natural sciences.

Overall, such institutional biases are casting a shadow over science, slowing scientific progress. But scientists are increasingly aware of these issues and gradually the scientific process is responding. Initiatives such as the appearance of ‘minimal threshold journals’ and article retractions or campaigns to report all trials and results attest to the (albeit slow) self-correcting capacity of science.

Scientific knowledge is sometimes characterised as “warranted belief”. But what exactly warrants belief? What constitutes valid knowledge? How do we believe in the authority of a particular theory, given that few of us, even scientists, are in a position to verify them independently? We do so by trusting in the institutions tasked with producing valid representations of the world around us.

In light of the inevitable shortcomings of the scientific process, the scientific community as well as the wider community need to maintain a healthy degree of scepticism about scientific findings and scientific evidence. But scepticism can sometimes degenerate into paranoid denialism. Seemingly “common sense” explanations, or conspiracies can provide a degree or comfort when complex and less-than-perfect expert opinion abound.

In the word of philosopher Brian Keeley “Social trust is fundamental in making scientific knowledge possible. Without social trust — not blind, unwarranted trust, but trust, nonetheless — […] scientific progress screech[es] to a halt.”

Like democracy, science, and the scientific process, are flawed. But they are still preferable to all the other forms of generating valid knowledge that have been tried, including Malcolm Robert’s.

Want a robot-proof career? Become a social entrepreneur.

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

The chance that your job will be impacted by robots is fast becoming reality. Swift advances in technology are changing the labour market and almost half of Australia’s jobs are at high risk of being affected by automation. So how can you prepare?

Futurists believe that robot-resilient careers will rely on human-centred skills like empathy, creativity and building complex relationships with people. These skills are often associated with caring professions, but they’re also core to social entrepreneurship – an ethical approach to business that maximises profit while achieving social goals.

We spoke with social entrepreneurs Rafiuddin Ahmed (Rafi) and Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, who lead La Trobe’s Yunus Social Business Centre, about how to turn a social business idea into a clever career for you, and for others.

Find the social problem you most want to solve

Like all innovators, social entrepreneurs start with an inspiring business idea. What makes it ‘social’ is its aim: to solve a social problem.

“If you start any social business, then you’re employing yourself, you’re solving some sort of social problem, and you’re engaging others as well,” Rafi says.

Rafi’s chosen social problem is unemployment. According to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, 470 million jobs are needed globally for people entering the labour market between 2016 and 2030.

If everyone follows the motto ‘I’ll be a job seeker’, then who will actually create these jobs? Rather than waiting for someone to provide for a job for you, you can create them,” he says.

Develop an entrepreneurial mindset

Inquisitiveness, optimism and the flexibility to bounce back from failure are all characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset. As a social entrepreneur, using these skills can give your social start-up the best chance of success.

Rafi applied them to finding the ideal audience for his PhD project, which aims to build a new generation of young social entrepreneurs in Australia. Initially he’d planned to teach social entrepreneurship to university students. But this changed when he realised children of primary school-age were less busy, less cynical and more open to having fun with the entrepreneurship curriculum.

In response, he and Gillian founded a social business start-up called Innokids to teach social entrepreneurship skills to children aged 8-12 years. They launched their idea at Bundoora Primary School in 2016, training grades five and six students for one hour each week.

“It’s a good thing to set up with this age group. The kids can choose to solve any social problem that challenges them. It opens up higher-level thinking by asking ‘What can we do about this?’ and it allows them to develop their maths skills in an extended problem-solving format,” says Gillian.

As part of social entrepreneurship lessons, Bundoora Primary School students learned to make and sell products and donate a share of their profits to a school in Indonesia. Image credit: Rafiuddin Ahmed.

With Innokids’ training, Bundoora Primary School students generated $2,500 profit by making bird feeders and selling them at local markets. They gave 50 per cent of this profit to an Indonesian primary school, which was used to buy wheelchairs for students with a disability. This combination of empathy and business is core to Innokids’ curriculum.

For Rafi, adjusting his social business idea to meet the needs of a different audience has opened up vast possibilities.

“It really works, so we’re trying to extend it to have a larger social impact. We want to expand Innokids to regional Victoria, then roll out to other parts of Australia. And our future plan is a ‘school in the cloud’ where, instead of coming to us, our school can go to others via online.”

Tap into start-up funding and mentoring

Like any entrepreneur, you’ll need help to accelerate your social start-up. Universities play a growing role in upskilling entrepreneurs – around one in five start-up founders have benefited from an accelerator or incubator program, over 100 of which are on offer at Australian universities.

Rafi and Gillian leveraged the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP), a 12-week intensive that gives you up to $20,000 funding (equity-free) to fast-track your business idea, plus access to mentors, resources and workshops to help you get to market. The program has helped Innokids create a market strategy, connect with primary school leaders and education decision-makers, and pursue a lean start-up business model.

La Trobe’s Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, Bundoora Labor MP Colin Brooks, Bundoora Primary School Principal Ms Lee Pollard, and PhD candidate Rafiuddin Ahmed.

Rafi also recommends La Trobe students apply for the Hult Prize, a global platform where university students can create and launch for-good, for-profit start-ups with the help of an annual $1,000,000 prize. To kick-start social businesses at La Trobe, he and Gillian are offering help and advice to interested students.

“As Professor Dr Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, says: ‘I believe everyone is a born entrepreneur’. You just need to find out who you are and what the opportunity is within you,” Rafi says.

If you have an idea, come to Yunus Social Business Centre to fine-tune it. The initiative shouldn’t come only from Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk – it should come from you as well.”

Whether it’s your sole income or a side hack, becoming a social entrepreneur is a great way to unleash your ideas to help others and create a positive impact beyond your business bank account.

Save your career from robots with a Master of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) at La Trobe University.

LBS alumni event a huge success!

On 25 October, La Trobe Business School welcomed Dr Fiona McKenzie from the Australian Futures Project for the school’s annual Alumni Event.

Dr Fiona McKenzie was welcomed by La Trobe Business School’s Head of School, Professor Paul Mather. Event attendees included LBS alumni, university and industry stakeholders.

In her speech, Dr Fiona McKenzie spoke about how businesses today are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This trend has often caused businesses process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

La Trobe Business School would like to thank Dr Fiona McKenzie for attending!

Will robots take our jobs?

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Technology advances are rapidly changing the world of work as we know it.

PwC predicts 44 per cent (5.1 million) of current Australian jobs are at high risk of being affected by computerisation and technology over the next 20 years. ‘By “high risk”’ the PwC report clarifies ‘we mean there’s a greater than 70 per cent chance the job could be automated by technology’.

La Trobe Futurist Dr Fiona McKenzie discusses the challenges and opportunities of digital disruption in the future workforce, and how we can adapt.

What jobs will become automated?

The 2015 PwC report says jobs most likely to be affected are those where computer learning systems or robotics are able to perform simple and routine tasks faster and more accurately than humans. ‘These typically include unskilled or low-skilled activities in offices, factories and shops,’ it states.

Dr McKenzie says we’re already seeing the seeds of automation in our neighbouring countries. ‘There’s change happening in the manufacturing space with automated robots and co-bots (collaborative robots), which are potentially going to totally change the garment industry and affect employment for millions and millions of people in Asia.’

‘What’s interesting,’ Dr McKenzie further points out, ‘is that people in mid-level jobs are now starting to feel the pinch too.

‘People thought skilled-labour would be safe from automation but in actual fact there are developments where relatively sophisticated tasks can now be automated too.’

Dr McKenzie says ‘I’m hesitant to say whole sectors’ will be automated or safe from automation. Rather, ‘there will be chunks of every sector that will change.’

Roles that require creative thinking, emotional intelligence, intuition and ‘all those things that humans have the advantage on’ will be safe in the near future. As will jobs that require human, face-to-face interactions, such as those in the healthcare sector.

What opportunities can digital disruption offer?

‘We tend to fear that what we don’t know, but automation creates a whole opportunity for something else to be augmented,’ explains Dr McKenzie.

For example, a nurse whose job is to deliver food to patients may find there’s an automated delivery cart that can soon do just that. ‘This can create the opportunity for the nurse to spend more time sitting with the patient, measuring blood pressure and providing better care,’ Dr McKenzie says, ‘and in fact Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital introduced automated guided vehicles to move linen and food back in 2012’.

The advent of the internet and the ability to instantly connect with others across the globe has also enabled the rise of ‘digital nomads’ and freelancers to work from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world.

CSIRO’s recent report into ‘Tomorrow’s digitally enabled workforce’ ‘identifies plausible [future] scenarios via which the many – possibly most – Australian workers become portfolio workers and freelancers’.

Dr McKenzie says, ‘There’s a huge cohort that will be highly skilled, in demand and able to shape their future – and they’ll flourish in this environment.

‘There’ll be lots of opportunities in terms of entrepreneurialism, portfolio work, creating your own identity, being able to work around the world and doing work you’re interested in rather than being tied to one job.’

The rise of portfolio work and the gig economy could mean people can choose flexible work like nights, weekends and part-time, which could be particularly beneficial to parents.

It could also open up more doors for rural dwellers to work remotely for urban and international companies.

The dark side of the precariat workforce

The flipside of the rise of the precariat workforce – that is a working class characterised by ‘precarious work’ – could be that lack of job security increases stress and anxiety for some.

‘The precariat, that concept of “the new vulnerable” in the workplace is important to pay attention to because it is potentially a large cohort of people, says Dr McKenzie.

‘People may feel unsafe, they may feel insecure and like the economy is not ticking along. That plays out in all sorts of ways in politics and society and mental health.’

Dr McKenzie also wonders: ‘If we’re all working in a gig economy, what happens if we don’t have employment contracts and super?’ There’s talk of basic universal income, but we’re yet to know how that might play out.

Similarly, for an aging workforce expected to work into their 70s, Dr McKenzie says we might need to challenge assumptions and paradigms around retirement. People in this age-group might work on a semi-retired basis, they could work as business mentors, or perhaps unpaid roles like childcare and volunteering that this cohort regularly partake in will become financially rewarded roles.

The blurring of work boundaries that means we can potentially work remotely for overseas organisations, could also mean a lot of home-grown jobs are taken offshore.

In 2012, every third adult in OECD countries had a tertiary degree reports CSIRO. ‘That’s a massive cohort of young people coming through with higher education degrees worldwide, and what does that mean if work is more mobile?’ asks Dr McKenzie. Answer: competition for work increases.

How can we prepare for the future workplace?

To make the Australian economy and Australian workers competitive in the future, Dr McKenzie says we need to look at ‘how we can be the best in the world at the different industries we have and make sure we are winning jobs as well.’

Ultimately, Dr McKenzie says it’s less about the pace of digital disruption, and more about how quickly we respond to it. Dr McKenzie asks whether governments and others ‘will choose to be leaders on this or wait to react.’

‘The important point is that it’s not small. If you think about the Great Depression, unemployment was only around 25 per cent and here we’re talking about 44 per cent of jobs at risk.

‘We’re at six per cent unemployment and it doesn’t take a big shift in unemployment for people to really feel the impact. I hope we’ll all be proactive on this one.’

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

 

LBS Alumni Event: The changing nature of work

We are living in a time where businesses are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This often requires entire business process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

Join us as leading expert in the changing nature of work Dr Fiona McKenzie, discusses how business leaders can prepare for the future, and the skills required to take advantage of new opportunities.

About the speaker

Dr Fiona McKenzie, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, Australian Futures Project: Dr Fiona McKenzie is a human geographer with a PhD on innovation and expertise in both public policy and academic research. At the Australian Futures Project, Fiona has led the design and implementation of a range of unique programs, including social innovation labs.

Panel Event

Date: Wednesday 25 October 2017

Time: 5:45pm – Arrival, 6:00pm – Presentation, followed by Q&As, 7:30pm – 8:30pm Networking, canapes and drinks

Venue: La Trobe University City Campus, Level 20, 360 Collins Street, Melbourne

Cost: Free

Register: Please register via the corresponding event page. Please RSVP by Friday 20 October.

“Where will the tax jobs be in 2020?”

Mark Morris La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice
By Mark Morris

It’s a vexing question for those planning a career in tax.

In my 30 plus years in the profession I have never seen it face so many challenges simultaneously.

The most obvious change is of course digital disruption.

In part this is because the automatic exchange of data is about to balloon as information is transferred in real time as computers talk to each other in a common language using standard business reporting.

But it is also because of the investment being made around the world by Governments and business to effectively leverage their use of big data to make more informed decisions. This is even extending to the development of cognitive computing systems such as IBM’s ‘Watson’ system which can be applied to analyse unstructured data to provide answers to specific questions.

As a corollary much of the traditional tax compliance and process work will gradually diminish as data is collected, exchanged and analysed differently.

However, there are an array of other impending changes including, amongst others, a more informed and savvy public; greater cross border transactions as part of a more integrated world economy; increased offshoring especially of compliance work; more complex tax laws to prop up increasingly competitive tax regimes; a growing reliance on consumption taxes worldwide to provide a more stable revenue base; and an evolving international digital economy where labour, finance, and knowhow are mobile to an unprecedented degree.

Given this mix no-one can predict with absolute certainty where the tax jobs are going to be in 2020.

Nonetheless I believe there are some clear pointers as to how you can best plan a career in tax.

Firstly, the importance of being able to analyse big data in a meaningful way is becoming rapidly crucial to both revenue authorities and professional firms of all sizes.

From the ATO’s perspective it is their growth area as witnessed by the recent creation of their Smarterdata business unit which is not only focussed on analysing data but challenging paradigms as to how the ATO conducts its operations.

Increased globalisation has also heightened the need for businesses of all sizes to be transfer pricing compliant and develop defensible positions based on finding the most comparable data.

Accordingly, tax professionals wishing to augment their tax technical skills by developing business analytics expertise could well consider enrolling in a course such as the Master of Business Analytics and Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics run by La Trobe University’s Business School as the combination of such skills will be in high demand in coming years.

Secondly, if compliance work goes down rest assured the taxation laws will not become any easier.

Whilst many talk about deregulation the tax rules have only become more complex especially for governments worldwide struggling to plug a revenue shortfall.

One only has to witness the complexity of our general anti-avoidance provisions to realise how inordinately complex our tax system has become particularly the recent amendments which will supposedly crack down on international profit shifting.

Going forward what clients will require of their advisers is the ability to work with them in disseminating such complexity and providing viable commercial solutions.

Accordingly, the way in which tax is taught at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level must radically change so that students not only absorb the complexity of the tax law but develop the interpersonal skills to service clients and build referral networks in a more global economy.

This is one of the key reasons why blended learning is being introduced by the Business School as it is encouraging students to not only develop better analytical capacities but also to work in teams to collaboratively resolve issues just like they will be required to do in the workplace.

Finally, whilst the future is daunting in some respects it is critical to remember that accountants repeatedly top the list of most trusted adviser to clients. If you are overwhelmed with change so are your clients and if you need to adapt to changing circumstances so will many of them.

Keeping your clients close will be more important than ever before as will the need to provide timely, accurate and value added services and the willingness to be adaptive and agile.

Mark Morris is a Professor of Practice in Taxation at La Trobe University’s Business School where he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate taxation and actively contributes to broader industry engagement initiatives between the Business School and the tax profession and other key stakeholders.

Mark also Co-Chaired the ATO’s ‘Future of the Tax Profession 2016’ working group with Colin which comprises senior representatives from the ATO, professional bodies, software developers and practitioners concerning the implementation of the ATO’s standard business reporting initiative.

He has over 30 years experience in senior tax roles in chartered accounting, industry and professional bodies including his former long-term role as Senior Tax Counsel with CPA Australia.

 

Vietnam Hospitality tour: A student’s perspective

Study tour group

By Natalie Carri

Deaf Cafe “Reaching Out”

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Paul Strickland for providing me with the opportunity to participate in the 2017 Vietnam study tour and campaigning for me to be one of the Recipients of the New Colombo Mobility grant. I would like to also acknowledge Monica Hodgkinson and the Equality and Diversity Centre for providing me with Celeste & Jasmine who were my interpreters for the entire duration of the tour and guided me throughout. I owe a deep sense of gratitude to Paul for campaigning for me to be fully supported by the qualified AUSLAN interpreters. I was fortunate to have shared this unforgettable experience with a great group of students. I am proud to have been the first deaf La Trobe Uni Student who went on this Study Tour and thank you for believing in me to help me achieve this once in a lifetime opportunity which truly was a morale booster for me.

I’ve always been challenged throughout my entire schooling life, but it’s always humbling to know that La Trobe University prides itself on supporting students with disabilities to help overcome the some of the barriers they are faced with. I have consistently been dedicated to bettering myself throughout my schooling and being a part of this experience has helped promote self growth and has pushed me both academically and socially.When I found out about the Vietnam study tour, I was interested from the very first moment as I knew it was going to be a valuable learning experience for me. I am immensely grateful that I was accompanied to Vietnam with such experienced staff members and if I wasn’t given this opportunity by the University, I don’t think I would’ve ever ventured to Vietnam on my own. This study tour gave me the opportunity to explore Vietnam and its beautiful surroundings with such a welcoming group of students with whom I have developed close friendships with. Sharing this experience helped connect us through those testing moments where we all felt home sick, frustrated with the humidity/heat or longing for a home cooked meal. This study tour offered the chance to be exposed to the hustle and bustle of city congestion, sample signature Vietnamese delicacies, enjoy popular street food, visit War battlefields that were used during the Vietnam War, participate in authentic cooking classes and participate in guided tours of historical temples and iconic landmarks throughout the beautiful towns of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and UNESCO World Heritage Ha Long Bay. This was a valuable learning experience and by being immersed in the culture gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of Vietnam. Everywhere we visited we were always greeted with a warm, welcoming friendly smile from the locals and our three tour guides were always keen to share many informative stories with us.

Thanks to ‘Reaching out’, I got to meet some amazing deaf Vietnamese locals. This was by far one of the most rewarding encounters. I was fortunate enough to visit a Deaf Cafe known as the ‘Reaching Out Teahouse’ which is run & managed by hearing & speech impaired people. The Teahouse is also an art & craft shop which practises in accordance to The Fair Trade principles & helps support people with disabilities and integrate them into the community. Although I found this to be a wonderful cultural experience, it proved challenging not to be able to communicate because AUSLAN differs greatly to the Vietnamese sign language. However, with patience and perseverance, we were able to overcome this by communicating with each other through the use of gestures and mime. I was inspired by the set up and felt that we could learn from The Reaching Out Cafe, and apply some of its principles to the already existing Trade Block Cafe located in St Kilda, VCD (Victorian College for the Deaf) which is run by deaf VCAL students.

I have learnt a lot about myself from this trip as it has allowed me to open my mind and embrace opportunities that require me to take more risks. I have gained so much knowledge through this experience and I cannot emphasise enough the importance of not allowing my disability hinder such an opportunity. Having Celeste and Jasmine, the two amazing interpreters interpret for me during this trip, ensured that I didn’t miss out on any details or information and I was privileged to have been given this wonderful support and funding.

This study tour will stay with me for years to come and has opened doors to new possibilities by being immersed in a culture so diverse to mine. The two weeks that I spent on the study tour helped me acquire greater knowledge of Vietnam’s rich history and culture and I felt that my independence and confidence grew and strengthened during this trip. Receiving this has definitely motivated me and I look forward to giving back to the community beyond my studies. I would highly recommend this enriching experience to all students at the University and in particularly encourage deaf students to broaden their knowledge to embrace a new culture and diverse experiences if given the chance.

 

Game on: life as an intern with the Melbourne Rebels

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a professional sports game?

La Trobe student John Tran did, and this curiosity led him to an internship with the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Club.

A dream come true

John Tran is in his final year of a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management). As part of this course, students are required to find and complete an internship at a sports club.

When his sports practicum coordinator posted an internship with the Melbourne Rebels on the student noticeboard earlier this year, John, a lifelong sports fan, jumped at the opportunity.

‘I watched a lot of sport as a kid and I always wondered what went on behind the scenes,’ he says.

‘Obviously a lot of people are just focusing on the game, but I’ve learned that there are a lot of things that need to happen for the event to run properly.

‘It’s pretty hectic behind the scenes with everything that needs to be set up and packed down. Among other things, we have to make sure the media are sorted, and that the sponsors’ expectations are being met.

‘As a business, we need to make sure that the sponsors are satisfied with the signage that goes around the stadium and so on.’

While it’s an exciting position for a young sports fan, it’s also a demanding one. Luckily, John was well prepared by his sports practicum coordinator.

‘Before the internship started, we had classes about what to expect, what to do, and how to do it, so that helped a lot. I was also able to put into place a lot of the theory that we learned in sponsorship and events management, two earlier subjects for this course.’

A typical day at the club

In addition to his studies and part-time job, John spends up to three days a week at the club. On a weekday, he’ll be there from 10 am to 5 pm, preparing for game day.

‘We do operational activities, so things like contacting sponsors and making sure they have everything they need,’ he says.

‘We’ve also got to make signs for the locker rooms, so that players know where to go, and signs so officials know where to go, and where to sit, and so on.

‘Then there’s fan activations. For example, there is a Land Rover one where fans come and throw a ball at a target, and we’ve got to make sure that it’s set up in a place where the ball won’t go on the street and is easily collectible. So, I have to use what I’ve learned about OH&S for that!’

This weekday preparation all helps relieve some of the pressure on game days, which are full on. While kick-off is usually in the late evening, John gets to be there behind the scenes much earlier.

‘On game days we’re there from 11 am setting up. We set up, we pack up, we supervise kid’s activities… Timing is critical, so we have our running sheet that says what we need to do and when, and we’re constantly checking things off as we go. It’s a full on, exciting day, and we don’t really get to stop!’

Graduation and beyond

With just one subject to go next semester, the end of John’s degree is well within sight. He hopes his internship with the Melbourne Rebels will be a stepping stone to a graduate position.

‘I think that I will have a lot of connections at the end of this, and I’ve got a lot of experience learning from a professional sports club,’ he says.

John ultimately hopes to use his newfound connections and experience to obtain a job at the end of this year in an events role with a professional club.

‘But just getting the connections and having the experience is the main thing, and this internship has definitely helped me to achieve that.’

Looking to bolster your real-world experience with an internship? Look no further.

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