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Universe lines up dream internship for mature-age student

15 April, 2020

Laura Thorington-Jones was getting red dirt on her shoes in Karijini when she received her internship offer from the McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

The University of WA Human Resource Management student said she was thrilled to learn she would be interning at Wungening Aboriginal Corporation.

“It just felt like the universe had lined the whole thing up,” the Morley resident said.

“To be given the opportunity to work at an organisation within the Aboriginal community was just amazing.”

Ms Thorington-Jones was among five student interns shortlisted in the Centre’s inaugural Outstanding Intern Award 2019.

The mature-age student helped design an ‘employee experience model’ to guide Wungening’s engagement with its staff.

For the final presentation of her intern project, she tied key suggestions to the six Noongar seasons. 

Wungening Special Project Officer Niall Rhatigan said the project supported a major initiative of the Wungening Strategic Plan 2019-2020.

“Laura brought an exceptional attitude to the work at Wungening,” Mr Rhatigan said.

“Engaging with our staff and clients in a meaningful way, however brief the placement, is so important to everything we do.

“We deeply value our relationships and Laura understood this from day one. In terms of the work, most importantly, Laura challenged many of our assumptions about how we would go about the engagement process, and set about listening to our incredible staff with real empathy.”

“From the very start, something told me that this was not the kind of project that you just build a survey and send it out to everyone,” Ms Thorington-Jones said.

“I needed to have one-on-ones with the employees and build trust in order to give a really honest representation of what their employee experience really was.”

Ms Thorington-Jones, who worked in hospitality for 18 years prior to starting her university degree, said the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship was an opportunity to give back and be of service to the community, while also “getting her feet wet” working for a not-for-profit organisation.

“You get back what you put in,” she said.

“The stories that were shared with me and the understanding and knowledge that I had never experienced before was so valuable.

“Everyone was so genuine. I came in with that authenticity and I received it in return.”