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RMIT Training recognised for supporting student employability
Hunjung Lee serving a customer at the coffee cart.
RMIT Training has been nominated for its student barista internship in the Excellence in International Student Employability and Career Development category at the Victorian International Education (VIE) awards.
This category recognises Victorian education providers, businesses or not-for-profits that have demonstrated excellence or innovation in employability and careers services to international students.
In 2017, RMIT Training formed a partnership with non-profit social enterprise, Coffee Cart Changing Lives, which supports youth homelessness in Melbourne by training vulnerable youths to become baristas. A coffee cart was established in RMIT Training’s student café as part of the venture and a barista internship program soon followed.
The internship was created for students to help them develop employability skills and to build on the English language skills they learn in class. Students who participate in the program have an opportunity to practise their conversational and social skills, while building their self-esteem and knowledge of workplace behaviour and operations.
RMIT Training was represented at the awards by Rachel Holthouse, CEO; Gail Parker, Pathways and Test Operations Director; and Matt Cox, Student Experience Specialist. Ms Holthouse shared how the coffee cart makes a positive impact on the students' lives and the broader community.
"The opportunities the barista internship offers extend far beyond learning hands-on hospitality skills, it also has a significant impact on trainees’ long-term career goals and future outlook," she said.
"Students are provided with an opportunity to practise their English skills and to immerse themselves into our Australian culture while supporting and interacting with the broader community.
"It really is a privilege to offer a service like this, that is loved by students and educators, and that makes such as valuable contribution to the lives of others. It’s a win, win for everyone."
The ten-hour program runs over four weeks and offers interns a chance to simulate the experience of preparing a resume, the interview process and part-time employment. The self-directed learning approach allows students to practise self-reflection as they progress, resulting in a more confident young person.
Students are supported and coached throughout the entire internship, with graduates commenting how they feel better prepared and ready for work-life as a result of the program.
One of the most recent initiatives to support the internship involved a previous intern, Hunjung Lee, coming back as a trainer.
"First of all, I have never taught someone in English which is not my first language,” Mr Lee said.
"Due to the small workspace, I need to do and know all the tasks in the coffee cart such as customer service and general management.
"I now know I want to run my own business, which is a combination of a coffee shop and design studio in the future, so this kind of experience will help me get there."
The presence of Coffee Cart Changing Lives on campus offers students an inspirational business model to aspire to. Sales from the Cart go to Launch Housing, one of Victoria’s largest providers of housing support for homelessness.
The VIE awards, a Victorian Government initiative, focuses on supporting the international education sector and raising awareness of its contribution to the broader community.
RMIT Training delivers pathway programs that enable students to articulate into Bachelor programs at university; these include Foundation Studies and English language programs.