Aimee (L) & Elsyse (R)

Honours students graduate and find employment success

In December 2018 Honours graduate Aimee Marchesi received a Graduate Position with Comcare and Honours graduate Elyse Kambisios received a Graduate Position with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Tobacco, Alcohol & Other Drugs Unit, Housing and homelessness Group).

Testimonial from Aimee Marchesi, PowerLab honours student 2018

What research did you do while you were in PowerLab?

Whilst I was in the PowerLab the primary research I completed was on my honours thesis topic, this was “What feature(s) of green space can we improve to create environments which benefit both young boys and girls equally?” This research investigated whether green spaces i.e. parks of a higher quality resulted in a greater number of children present and participating in increased levels of physical activity compared to parks of a lower quality.

When did you graduate?

I graduated from UOW in 2017 having completed three years of my Bachelor of Public Health degree majoring in Epidemiology. I continued my studies to complete my honours with the PowerLab, finishing this in 2018.

What was your involvement with PowerLab? eg. Role, how long you were involved with PowerLab.

Initially I started in the PowerLab as an Intern which commenced in January 2017. After the Internship I completed one of my research placement subjects in my final year in the PowerLab. From here I continued my studies and explored more in depth research by completing my honours. After completion and submission of the honours project, I began to work for the PowerLab as a Research Assistant, co- managing data collectors and contributing reports towards a larger body of work.

What were your experiences like while you were in PowerLab eg Roles, activities?

I was able to experience a range of roles, from being an intern, a placement student, an honours student and then an employee which all allowed me to undertake many different activities throughout my time in the PowerLab. Some of the key activities were learning to use the statistical software program, STATA, building on my knowledge and use of Excel, conducting research and writing literature reviews and learning how to present data and key findings to the other members of the PowerLab. One highlight was taking part in and supporting the PowerFest’18 Conference, as well as attending PowerTalk seminar’s, to hear from guest speakers in the field of Public Health and see what others have achieved in their Public Health research careers.

What motivated you to get involved with PowerLab (career aspirations?)

I was drawn to the research undertaken by the PowerLab, as the name implies, on Population, Wellbeing and Environmental research. Two of my key interests are research and data analysis and I was able to explore both interests in the PowerLab while exploring research in the field of Public Health.

What have you been doing since leaving PowerLab and how did you come about this opportunity? Since leaving the PowerLab I have moved to Canberra to take on a Graduate Job with Comcare. Comcare’s work is centred on key strategic priorities that ensure safer and healthier workplaces. I am currently working in the Workforce Strategy team, where my role consists of analysing workforce data and reporting on the outcomes. I came across this job opportunity through the UOW newsletter.

How did your experience at PowerLab help prepare for this next step in your career?

The PowerLab helped me to be more confident in effectively communicating the research I had undertaken and had given me the opportunity to be a part of a lot of different activities that helped to develop me professionally and academically. The PowerLab also gave me insight into what working in a professional office is like and I continue to use this as a base to continuously push to learn more and acquire new skills.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I can see myself staying with Comcare over the next few years and in this time, I would like to experience some of the different areas of work within the agency that have expression of interest spots available.

Would you have any tips for other students interested in Public Health?

If you are interested in Public Health, I would say to just get involved with any upcoming Public Health events, this will show you how broad and how many different career opportunities are out there that are relevant to the field of Public Health. It is very interesting and rewarding to be contributing to and having an impact on community health outcomes, whether this be through public health research, working on public health policy or through epidemiology, analysing trends to determine patterns in health outcomes. Everyone’s career paths are unique, each step along the way contributes something valuable to help you reach your career goals, all the hard work will definitely pay off.

Elyse Kambisios. Intern, Honours Student, Research Assistant

Elyse reflects on working at PowerFest18

What was your involvement with the PowerLab?

In 2017, I commenced an internship at the PowerLab. Following this, I remained at the PowerLab to complete a research placement project as part of a final year subject. During this time, I gained valuable skills in conducting research, analysing data, report writing and presenting findings. The support and opportunities I received at the PowerLab motivated me to complete a Bachelor of Public Health (Honours). My thesis explored the research question ‘Does social capital have the potential to negate the effect of socioeconomic disadvantage and thereby narrow down inequalities in mental health?’. The aim was to investigate whether an increase in social capital could help to narrow socioeconomic inequalities in mental health. After completing my thesis, I worked as a Research Assistant at the PowerLab to co-manage the data collection of park quality scores in Wollongong and Sydney.

What was it like attending the PowerFest18?

Attending the PowerFest18 conference was a very rewarding experience, and was definitely one of the highlights of my time at the PowerLab. During the PowerFest18 conference, I was responsible for helping with registration, assisting the set-up of the event and facilitating question time at the end of presentations. Throughout the day, we listened to a series of presentations and engaged in discussions about urban greening and health. It was great to be a part of the team, and to learn about some of the latest trends and upcoming research areas taking place at both local and international levels. One of the main highlights of the conference was the opportunity to connect with a wide range presenters and audience members, and ask questions about their experiences working in the field. I also built confidence in my ability to reflect upon and share my own research findings to people outside of my immediate work environment.

What benefits and experience did you gain from attending and working at the conference?

The insights, networks and knowledge that I gained from attending and working at the PowerFest18 conference were invaluable, and have continued to support me in my current work environment. In my role at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, I recently worked on a poster about pharmacotherapy treatment in Australia that was displayed at a conference I was attending. I was able to reflect on my experience at PowerFest18, and particularly the posters presented by PowerLab’s PhD students to inform my approach to this task. This was a great opportunity for professional development.