Education and Arts

Career Building and Community Engagement

In the National School of Arts we know that most undergraduates don't arrive at university with a complete understanding of what they would like to pursue as a career. We also know that coming to a decision about a career direction requires knowledge about the range of possibilities out there, knowledge about your own interests, strengths and passions, and experience and experimentation in real-world work contexts. These experiences not only work towards consolidating your own views about a meaningful vocation, they also equip you with knowledge, skills and a track record 'in the field' that can give you a significant head start over graduates with little to no practical experience.

We have put a great deal of time, thought, effort and expertise into developing processes and opportunities that can facilitate meaningful career outcomes for our Arts students. This starts in the classroom, by having teachers with academic expertise who are also industry professionals and recognised practitioners in their fields. Our Learning and Teaching Centre leads workshops for teaching staff to instil, for example, the principles of Authentic Assessment, which revolve around the creation of 'real-world' assignments for students. So even while completing your assessment tasks you will be developing the skills and capabilities demanded of professionals in the field.

ACU also has dedicated careers advisors based on every campus. In addition to delivering the career-development elements of subjects like our Arts Advantage (see below), advisors are also available for one-on-one interviews with students seeking support and guidance.

The TSAR Project

As part of the National School of Arts concern for producing graduates with clear career pathways, we implemented the Taskforce for Student Achievement and Retention (TSAR) project with the aim of embedding career development activities and resources into core Arts units. These initiatives support our objective of focusing on students' career path development in a systematic, deliberate and sequential manner, in tandem with their accumulation of academic knowledge and skills. Read about the innovations in our core subjects below.

Arts Advantage (HUMA111)

Arts Advantage is a compulsory subject that stimulates Arts students to begin thinking about work readiness and the attributes sought by employers from the very beginning of their degrees. Students develop academic skills by engaging with relevant contemporary issues and exploring ways in which to research, debate and present well-argued oral and written submissions in response. The practical engagement with the process of influencing policy development consciously allows students to identify and demonstrate important transferable skills for the workplace.

A specific focus on career development is now an important strand of HUMA111. Students come to understand the sequential stages of career development (Assess, Explore, Pursue and Launch) and participate in workshops delivered by ACU's career development staff. Weekly videos on various aspects of professional development are also made available via LEO, ACU's online learning environment.

Community Engagement and the Civic Professional (HUMA247)

HUMA247 is a compulsory subject in which students undertake 70 hours of voluntary service with a not-for-profit community organisation. Professional staff are available to help students think more broadly about their options and seek a placement that will both advance and respond to their particular interests.

Past experience has taught us that many students find their thinking constrained to mainstream charitable organisations when considering potential placement options and (while these are no doubt valuable social resources) may not have considered other not-for-profit ventures such as community theatre, community radio, museums, festivals and other more academic non-profits such as the Australian Historical Association.

We help students make a considered choice and ensure that their community engagement experiences offer the maximum mutual benefit for both student and host organisation.

What our students say:

"This experience has enabled me to interact with a community of like-minded people, build networks with industry experts, such as curators and academics, enhance my employability in the heritage sector by gaining new skills and insights, as well as broaden my horizons..." Phillip Jaworski, now undertaking BA (Hons)

"I loved the opportunity to work with young people in an exciting reimagining of a very seminal Shakespeare text. I was heavily involved with the project towards its completion, and as it's been renewed for a second season, I've been asked to stage manage." Luke Cignarella, now undertaking BA (Hons), on his experience working with a youth community theatre group

"Undertaking a placement at the Caroline Chisholm Centre for Social Justice was an amazing learning experience for me. I was given the opportunity to work with vulnerable clients from all walks of life and hear their stories. It really opened my eyes to the poverty that exists in my own backyard.I feel it provided a safe and supportive environment for me to apply the knowledge I have gained through studying psychology. I hope to continue working with the organisation." Jezreel Besterwitch, BA (Psychology)

"Today was my last day volunteering for this organisation... However I've told the organisation that I would like to continue working with them and continue volunteering for as long as I can. It is bittersweet thinking about it. I went in today preparing to say goodbye but I couldn't." Stefanie Inthachack, BA, on her experience with Uniting Care, Lilyfield

Community Internship (ARTS330)

All students in the Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design are required to complete a Community Internship unit. This unit enables students to contribute to the profession and community in tangible ways, by undertaking an internship as a volunteer in areas around visual art, graphic design, cultural criticism, art historical studies, crafts, museums or gallery operations. The unit provides an ethical and professional focus for students as they prepare for a diversity of careers in visual arts and design. A person within the chosen organisation functions as a mentor, and the student's work proposal must be approved by both the University and the mentor prior to commencing the internship, which runs over the course of three weeks full-time or equivalent part-time.

Professional Engagement and Internship (MEDA300)

In this unit students work in an assisting role within a media organisation, or a communications role within a broader organisation. The internship provides a vocational focus for students as they prepare for a diversity of careers in media and communications and encourages them to view their professional practice and experience in the context of their degree studies. Students are encouraged to reflect on the changing work patterns and technologies they observe in their placement and to develop an awareness of their individual strengths in media and communication. The internship runs over the course of three weeks full-time or equivalent part-time.

Media Production and the Community (MEDA303)

This unit introduces students to the production of media appropriate for the needs of community groups, with an emphasis on promotion of social justice issues. Students produce media suitable for broadcast on television, radio and the Internet in conjunction with partners both internal and external to the university, to promote community engagement.

Walk in my Shoez

Together with CH31 and two media professors, ACU media students have created a show that highlights the positive change that shapes society.

Walk in my Shoez is now in its third season! Find out more.

Field Placement (YSED202 & YSED302)

The youth work practicum offers second and third year students in our Bachelor of Youth Work the opportunity to engage with the youth sector in a practical, meaningful and purposeful way. Students undertake 200 hour and 300 hour placements in various youth work agencies across the sector.  Host agencies benefit from having students contribute to the vibrancy of their organisation, and our students learn valuable ‘hands on’ skills that complement their classroom learnings.