Nine young women about to begin their professional careers have gained confidence and experience through a mentoring program made available to them at the University of New England.
This is the third consecutive year that UNE has taken part in the Lucy Mentoring Program – an initiative of the Office for Women within the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet that aims to prepare women students for their entry into professional life in the world of business and law. It links each participating student with a mentor who is a working professional in either the public or the private sector. The program at UNE has been developed through the collaborative efforts of Dr Lou Conway from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy and UNE Careers Counsellor Airlie Bell.
This year the UNE students – all in the final year of their degree programs in the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy or the School of Law – began their involvement in the Lucy program in May and graduated from the program at the end of October. During the graduation ceremony in UNE’s historic “Booloominbah” they each gave a five-minute presentation on their experiences in the program. “Their personal reflections were amazing,” said Professor Alison Sheridan, Head of the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy. “They demonstrated the confidence – and the understanding of workplaces and workplace relationships – that they had acquired.”
“The Lucy program graduation represented the coming together of the knowledge they have gained through their degree programs and their personal development,” she added. “Although the program coincided with their final semester of study, they were able to fulfil all its requirements. And they all said it was an opportunity they wouldn’t have missed.”
The organisations that provided mentors for this year’s Lucy program at UNE included Community Mutual Group, the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Telstra, Abbot Pardy & Jenkins, Red Cross Blood Centre, AusIndustry, and Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.
As well as spending 37 hours with their mentor, each of the students attended professional-development meetings with the other “Lucy” students and with staff of UNE Student Assist.
One example of the students’ varied experiences is that of Emma Johnston, who recently co-curated an exhibition at UNE’s Dixson Library. Her mentor in the Lucy program, Dr Leigh Summers, the Curator of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, said that Emma had been “very motivated” and was “off to a brilliant start” in the world of museum work. Dr Summers added that she had enjoyed being involved in the “impressive and useful” Lucy program at UNE.
Clicking on the “Lucy” image displayed here reveals a photograph of one of the student participants, Natalie Prisk, with her mentor, Gayle Moses (an independent businesswoman from Guyra).