Image: Maxine Patterson and the team at NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet with Stepping Into intern Hannah.
Maxine Patterson from NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet is a committed believer that driving a positive culture in the workplace and raising awareness are key when it comes to true inclusion. So, when she was given the opportunity to host an intern through Australian Network on Disability’s (AND) Stepping Into internship program, it was a chance to offer valuable experience to a student with disability, and also to improve team culture and support the Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
The Stepping Into program is a paid internship program that matches talented university students with disability with roles in leading Australian businesses. For students, it’s an opportunity to gain vital work experience during study. For businesses, it’s a talent pipeline that helps cultivate an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.
Maxine’s team was matched with Perth Psychology student, Hannah, who was attracted to the program as it gave her the chance to gain meaningful, industry-related work experience that fitted in with her full-time studies. She was excited at the opportunity to travel from Perth to Sydney to work for such a high-profile organisation with offices in the city’s bustling centre.
Hannah quickly became an integral member of the People and Culture team at the Department. Maxine and the team filled her schedule with meetings, research and user testing, and encouraged Hannah to give feedback and recommendations on various data and sources related to learning.
“Hannah added real value to the team, offering a fresh new perspective and working competently across several projects at once,” said Maxine.
“But her true value wasn’t just in productivity. It was simply having her there playing her part, and the team recognising her contribution. That’s what builds inclusion and contributes to a positive workplace culture”.
Stepping Into interns frequently say they get a significant boost in their confidence as an unexpected benefit of the program. For Hannah, the whole experience, from the application and interview, travelling to Sydney, being integrated into the day to day operations of a busy team, ‘worked wonders’ for her confidence.
“Stepping Into gave me so much more than I even expected, with endless opportunities to input and take part in important work that makes a difference” said Hannah.
“As well as confidence, the experience also gave me clarity in my career path, allowing me to broaden my horizons and consider different careers that could fit with my studies in psychology”.
Hannah is now happily working for a disability employment service, helping other people with disability to find work and breaking down barriers to employment. When asked what advice she’d give other people considering participating in Stepping Into she says:
“Be bold, be open and put yourself forward. You never know where it will take you”.
Maxine and the team at Department of Premier and Cabinet are delighted for Hannah and look forward to hosting their next Stepping Into intern in June 2020.