23 August 2010
Public sector snaps up PR grads
Public Relations graduate Jillian Dent has been working in the PM’s office.
Natalie Gibbons is relishing her role with the Department of Justice.
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Experience gained from intensive work-integrated learning placements is giving RMIT University’s Public Relations graduates a distinctive edge, with several alumni making their mark in government communications.
Work placements are formally assessed and fully integrated into RMIT’s Public Relations programs, with final-year internships giving students 160 hours’ practical experience with a host organisation or agency.
After graduating from the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) last year, Jillian Dent, Jessica Thirwell and Natalie Gibbons have each secured highly sought-after positions in State and Federal government graduate programs.
Philippa Brear, Program Director of undergraduate Public Relations at RMIT, said there was a growing trend of employment for PR and communication graduates in the public sector.
"More of our students are completing their final-year internships in government departments and agencies, and that’s translating to securing roles in sought-after graduate programs," Ms Brear said.
"One of the factors, we believe, is that our degree equips our students with a broad range of knowledge and skills, in addition to their PR studies."
Ms Dent, who undertook her final-year internship in a Federal Government department in Canberra, secured a placement in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Working with the Prime Minister’s speechwriting team was among the duties scheduled for her 10-month placement.
"In my first rotation I have been placed in the ministerial support unit and my work involves writing a range of documents, including briefings and speeches for the Prime Minister," she said.
Ms Dent said the skills developed during her RMIT studies had already been tested in the workplace and she hoped to gain more experience in government, eventually developing skills in political communications from both inside and outside government.
Ms Thirwell is another successful 2009 graduate who has moved to the nation’s capital, working in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
While she admitted Canberra and politics was not where she expected to begin her career in PR, she has been delighted with the many opportunities it has presented.
"For one of our projects I am liaising with PR and Advertising consultancies on a communication program," Ms Thirwell said.
"It was good to view the pitches from the other side, which was useful after the many presentations we did as part of the RMIT degree."
Ms Gibbons was successful in her application for the State Government’s graduate program and has been working at Victoria’s Department of Justice, in a role that matches her interests in politics and government, which she pursued during her studies at RMIT.
Applicants for the Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) must undertake the Public Relations Entrance Test (PRET) at RMIT’s City campus on Friday, 3 September.