‘Lucy’ prepares women for careers in business, law

Published 19 March 2008

The University of New England is joining an innovative program that prepares women who are students of business, finance, accounting, economics or law for their entry into professional life. The Lucy Mentoring Program, established in 2004 by the Office for Women within the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, matches each participating student with a mentor who is a working professional in either the public or the private sector.

UNE joins the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales, Western Sydney, and Newcastle in the program, which has already increased employment opportunities for more than 240 women students across the State.

An information session at UNE on Wednesday 26 March will introduce the program to potential participants, and the program itself will operate between May and October this year. It involves a “work-based activity” totalling 35 hours in the mentor’s workplace, and professional-development meetings with other “Lucy” students and staff of UNE Student Assist.

Those eligible for the program are undergraduate women studying business, finance, accounting, law or economics who live in the region, have been performing well in their studies (averaging a credit), and have gained at least 96 credit points towards their degree.

Airlie Bell, a UNE Careers Officer, said “Lucy” was designed “to inspire and motivate students about opportunities for employment in business and law, and to assist them in building professional networks both inside and outside our region”. “It’s particularly important for us to involve students who may – for a number of reasons – feel diffident about entering a professional career,” she said. “They may come, for instance, from a family with no experience of such a career, or from a non-English-speaking background.”

Those interested in participating in the program, or attending Wednesday’s information session – at 4pm in the Lewis Seminar Room in the Economics, Business and Law building – should contact Ms Bell or her colleague Julia Perryman at Student Assist on (02) 6773 2897 or Lou Conway in the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy on (02) 6773 3919.

Ms Bell said that some local businesses and government offices able to provide mentors had already been identified, and that mentors would be matched with the participating students. “At the end of the program there will be a formal ‘graduation’ event attended by officials of the University and the Premier’s Department, during which the students will report on their ‘Lucy’ experiences,” she said.