Use your networks strategically

It showed me how my research skills can be applied in a different context and built confidence in my professional and transferrable skills.

In 2018, School of Psychology PhD candidate Zoe Papinczak undertook a placement with local Brisbane firm Siggins Miller Consultants. The company has a very good reputation for the completion of large, influential projects spanning government, industry and higher education sectors. Siggins Miller has since offered Zoe paid casual employment while she completes her PhD.

We asked Zoe some questions about how her placement came about, and what it was like for her.

What was the motivation for you to do a Placement?

I wanted to improve the likelihood of securing employment after completing my PhD, and gain experience working in industry. I also wanted to explore the application of my research skills in industry, and create professional connections with people in industry.

I am completing my PhD in psychology. The nature and scope of the projects I completed during my placement with Siggins Miller Consultants were well suited to my background. I felt the company was a good fit for me and gave me an opportunity to put my skill set to good use.

How did you source this particular opportunity?

I had previously reached out to the company Director to ask her for career advice. About six months after meeting her, I learned about the Graduate School’s placement program and contacted the Director to see if I could organise a placement at her company.

Siggins Miller Consultants specialises in evidence-based health and higher education program and policy design, review, research and evaluation. With more than 23 years in this area, the company has completed many large and influential projects for government agencies, national universities and non-government organisations. I was keen to have the opportunity to contribute to such projects.

Logistically, how did you organise and manage a placement with your PhD research commitments?

Once I contacted the Graduate School regarding my placement, it took around three months for everything to be in place. I undertook my placement part time at two days a week, over 15 weeks. This way, I could manage my time to ensure the placement did not interfere with my studies.

What did you actually do while you were on the placement?

I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects that researched, evaluated and/or reviewed government and non-government programs, policies and systems in the health, education and human services sectors. For example, I assisted with an ongoing project which involves the development of the Australian Government’s next National Tobacco Strategy.

I performed a range of tasks to assist with these projects, including literature reviews, analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, report writing and editing, designing research and evaluation materials, along with general administration work such as data entry and transcription of stakeholder interviews.  

How would you sum up your placement experience?

This experience was very valuable. It showed me how my research skills can be applied in a different context, built confidence in my professional and transferrable skills, allowed me to form relationships with people in industry, and taught me about the sort of job opportunities that are available to me.

Interested in undertaking a placement? You can read more on our placements page.