Bringing First Nations perspectives to corporate Australia: CareerTrackers

14 Mar 2024

In her role as an Advisor at CareerTrackers, Sarah Harvey builds bridges between boundless opportunities and bright futures.

Based in Adelaide, the South Australian arm of CareerTrackers supports between 40-50 pre-professional First Nations university students in paid, multi-year internships with employers operating in their specific field of interests. 

“We’re a not-for-profit First Nations-led, Supply Nation registered organisation that aims to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students entering corporate and professional Australia,” Sarah explains.

“By doing that, we’re not only helping those students successfully transition into the workforce but bringing First Nations perspectives to corporate Australia.”

CareerTrackers is building the largest network of First Nations professionals in the country, with more than 600 internships currently in place nationally.

The organisation’s impact has been significant, with CareerTrackers students completing university at higher rates than their non-Indigenous peers. Armed with industry experience, eighty per cent of CareerTrackers students find full-time employment within three months of graduation.

“We’re opening the door a lot of First Nations students find a tricky thing to tackle by themselves,” Sarah explains.

Sarah liaises with students, their tertiary institutions and employers including The Wyatt Trust which has hosted three interns.

Students participate in a structured program and receive monthly check-ins from their advisors which cover three avenues: their personal life and anything that might affect their ongoing involvement, their university studies and their internship.

“We really take the cues from the students and what they need,” Sarah says. “We spend a lot of time talking about how they can leverage this experience for success.

“It’s like having one more person in your corner when tackling this big transition.”

Participants also benefit from the strong alumni community and former students who frequently come to events to share their knowledge with current students.

Internships span practically every profession, Sarah explains.

“Some of the bigger employers like BAE Systems here in Adelaide take many different types of students including finance and law, engineering and aerospace, and they all receive really strong support from staff there.

“Another one of my students has an archaeology degree and is working for a contracting company in North Adelaide in an area that’s being developed,” Sarah says.

“She’s working on a story mapping project to identify the histories and important places and stories attached to that area so that when construction starts, they can honour that and understand the place where they’re working.”

Creating welcoming spaces is key to opening up conversations and CareerTrackers has used Inparrila’s office and event spaces to host formal and informal get togethers. Inparrila’s open and friendly atmosphere creates a warm welcome, Sarah says.

“The space at Inparrila is fantastic,” she says.

“When students come to Inparrila they see the space has an Aboriginal name, they see the First Nations artwork on the walls, they meet the people who work here and everyone’s culturally informed, and they see other Aboriginal people coming in. The students are comfortable because it feels like a bit of a meeting ground and that’s very fitting.”

CareerTrackers South Australia is currently on the lookout for new internship opportunities.

“If anyone wants to think creatively out of the box, they’re often the best place to start a conversation,” Sarah says.

“The internship experience can be transformative – not just of a student’s life but also of an organisation’s work.”

Interested organisations can reach out to Sarah via email:

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