Aspiring entrepreneur fast-tracks side hustle into dream job

Launceston CBD

What began as a hobby for Michelle Lutan has quickly evolved into an exciting career that’s positively contributing to the State’s entrepreneurial community.

The 20-year-old marketer is among the first cohort of students to complete the University of Tasmania’s Accelerated Bachelor of Business which is offered exclusively in Launceston.

The fast-tracked course can be undertaken in as little as two years, supporting aspiring professionals to pursue a career in the workforce much sooner.

For Michelle, the perks paid off long before she finished the degree, securing work with her current employer after a ‘real-world’ encounter during a first-year unit.

“My current employer was a guest speaker on a panel that was all about networking,” Michelle said.

“So afterwards, I introduced myself, and our conversation led to a paid internship with the Van Diemen Project which provides free mentoring, business advice and support for local entrepreneurs and businesses.

“That work has since grown into a Marketing Officer role where I’ve worked on projects which have ranged from designing an ideation workbook for people wanting to start a business, to illustrating the resources for City of Launceston’s Social Enterprise Toolbox (SET) that aims to empower community groups looking to start their own social enterprise.

“I’ve also worked on planning and promoting events and workshops delivered by The Van Diemen Project for local, State and the Australian Government, under several programs, including Entrepreneurship Facilitators Initiative and Australian Small Business Advisory Service program.

“I now do everything from in-house graphic design, social media management and email marketing, to managing events and admin. Every day is different, and in my spare time, I use my skills to support others, volunteering as a social media manager and graphic designer for small businesses in Launceston.”

While engineering had been Michelle’s initial career of choice, graphic design was a rewarding hobby that quickly grew into a side hustle she was keen to pursue.

“I began freelancing and was able to build a portfolio, so I wanted to do a degree that would allow me to continue graphic design and decided marketing and business would go hand-in-hand,” Michelle said.

With the help of a scholarship to support her living expenses, she made the move from Jakarta to Launceston in 2019 to further her education and career goals.

“Money was an issue for my parents, and I didn’t want them to pay for my tuition. So, I looked into what courses and scholarships were available at different universities while weighing up things like safety and the cost of living,” Michelle said.

“The location of the accelerated business degree in the CBD was really accessible for my circumstances. I don’t drive, so it was easy for me to study centrally then walk to work afterwards.

“The course helped me prepare for the workplace through assignments which involved presenting, group work, and lots of opportunities to meet and hear from industry professionals from across Launceston.

“My experience here has been a breath of fresh air, offering a different lifestyle to what I’m used to – I have never been an outdoors person until now. I definitely want to stay in Tasmania and hope to apply for permanent residency in the next couple of years.”

In addition to her studies, Michelle also took on the role of Peer Support Leader, providing advice and mentorship to students studying with the University’s Tasmanian School of Business and Economics (TSBE) by distance from Indonesia.

Executive Dean of TSBE, Associate Professor Stuart Crispin, said it was exciting to be celebrating the success of the first accelerated business degree cohort.

“The course is a testament to this region’s strengths as a thriving entrepreneurial centre with a vibrant business community at its heart,” Associate Professor Crispin said.

“It provides students with unique learning experiences and opportunities that connect them with local professionals, allows them to study in a simulated workplace environment, and supports them in becoming job-ready.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Launceston) Professor Dom Geraghty said the course had been the catalyst for the University’s new style of offering, driven by the Northern Transformation Program.

“This degree was developed in partnership with industry through our commitment to offer more regionally-distinctive courses that leverage local strengths, and help prepare and position students to make rich contributions to their communities,” Professor Geraghty said.

“We teach nurses and doctors in hospitals, and teachers in schools, so teaching business in the CBD makes perfect sense.”

A celebration event marking the first cohort’s completion of the course will be held at Henty House on Friday, 26 March.

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