SCU alumni provide internships to students

Published in Issue 4 - 2016

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Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson

Southern Cross University business and tourism students are reaping the benefits of industry placements under the guidance of successful alumni with the partnerships benefiting both the students and host companies. The Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program provides students with valuable ‘hands-on’ skills and experience.

Elizabeth Johnson, a third-year Bachelor of Business in International Tourism Management student, recently completed her internship with InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, where Monique Harmer, the School of Business and Tourism’s 2016 Alumnus of the year, is the general manager.

Elizabeth, 20, said it was a rewarding experience putting her theoretical knowledge into practice.

“It was challenging and I learnt so much, particularly about marketing,” Elizabeth said.

“I learn best with hands-on practical experience and I was mainly working on collateral for in-house use and the public, designing brochures and posters and an infographic for staff members.

“I had to stick to strict advertising guidelines, while also being creative and I liked how that challenged me.

“I definitely want to work in an international hotel chain, possibly in human resources, or staff training and consultancy, but I’m so glad I gave marketing a go because I really loved it.”

Sanctuary Cove InterContinental General Manager, SCU alumnus Monique Harmer, said Elizabeth worked with the marketing team and although she was based at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, was able to work with the Sydney marketing team as well.

“The feedback about her was fabulous – she’s creative and really passionate,” Monique said.

“Elizabeth had accountability for the project she was working on, and she reported to the director of marketing and digital executive, who supported her remotely.”

Elizabeth spent three days a week at the InterContinental for four months and was mainly involved in digital marketing and conducting research.

“She was really good at bringing it all together and bringing it to the team. She had the opportunity to be quite hands on and active,” Monique said.

Monique graduated with a Bachelor of Business from Southern Cross University in 1997 and has enjoyed a challenging and diverse career in the hotel industry, working in senior management roles with current employer IHG since 2003.

She has won many awards at IHG and within the hotel industry – from the early-career award ‘Most Outstanding Crowne Meetings Director’ in 2005 for IHG Asia Pacific, to the Gold Plate Award ‘Best Function/Event Caterer’ at the Australian Hotels Association NT Awards in 2012. Monique has held the GM role at Sanctuary Cove for four years.

“It was actually the internship aspect of the course which attracted me to the tourism degree at SCU, which I completed at the Pullman Cairns International,” Monique said.

“It provided me with some really great skills that enabled an easier transition into the workplace rather than doing three years of pure study.”

Monique is chair of the Tourism Advisory Board for the Southern Cross University School of Business and Tourism, reflecting her career commitment to participating, leading and engaging with tourism initiatives.

“We absolutely want to facilitate students and have been talking about different ways to increase that in businesses locally,” she said.

“The Gold Coast is such an amazing place to live, with the climate, beaches, hinterland, rainforest – it’s very liveable and has great free community events. The food and bar scene is really starting to take off here, with cool places popping up all the time that have a very Gold Coast feel to them, so it’s great for students to be able to gain some traction in that space.

“Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus is a testimony to the great work happening across all areas of the uni and its ability to attract students across three campuses.

“Having an expanded range of curriculum units on the coast makes sense as there is such a strong focus on business and tourism here and this is where partnerships with industry thrive.

“Developing that pathway is really important to provide students with the opportunity to be in an environment where they gain practical skills and experience which supplements and supports their university, and puts into practice their theoretical skills.”

“The benefit for us (at InterContinental) is having someone fresh and highly skilled in a particular area, who is talented, young and ambitious.”

Elizabeth has gained full-time employment as the Engagement Officer at the CoastRs Student Association at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus where she will be responsible for events and marketing, implementing what she learnt while on placement.

Alumni interested in offering internships to SCU business and tourism students are invited to contact the Work Integrated Learning Coordinator Julia Caldicott.


Monique Harmer, SCU Alumnus and General Manager InterContinental Resort Sanctuary Cove

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