Gaining new skills while serving the community

NORTH Link’s Northern Industry Student Placement Program didn’t just give Elisabeth Hare the opportunity to complete a rewarding project. It improved her employability, increased her confidence and gave her a great introduction to life in Melbourne.

Best of all, it led to a casual role with one of her client businesses.

Elisabeth is studying a Bachelor of Applied Business online through La Trobe University-Didasko.  As part of her third year, she decided to undertake a Service Learning in the Community project. This subject provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to undertake 80 to 100 hours of volunteering placements for a not-for-profit organisation of their choice.

The project Elisabeth chose was researching and writing a corporate document for the Northern Councils Alliance and NORTH Link. The NCA delivers programs for the seven local governments in Melbourne’s north and NORTH Link is the economic development organisation for the region.

“I wanted to pursue a community based project in Melbourne and I was attracted to the research elements involved in this project,” said Elisabeth. “Most importantly, I wanted to ‘connect the dots’ and apply all the knowledge I’ve learned throughout my course.

The NCA-NORTH Link project was a perfect fit, incorporating research, writing, design and problem solving skills. NCA Executive Officer Melissa Atallah was very pleased with the result.

“We needed a document to showcase our region, but none of the stakeholders had time to spare. A student placement was the perfect solution and it worked incredibly well,” said Melissa.

“Elisabeth was motivated and keen to learn. She was able to work independently and showed progress at each of our weekly Zoom meetings. It was a big task but she persevered and we are very happy with the result.”

Students interested in embarking on a volunteer placement via Service Learning in the Community have the opportunity to pursue a placement that is outside of their discipline. For students already volunteering in the community, this elective may be suitable for them to gain academic credit while doing what they love. In Elisabeth’s case, her placement specifically related to her studies.

“My subjects included statistics and economics, and this project showed me the social connection between learning and reality,” she said. “It helped me see things through a broader lens and I realised how important statistics are to real communities. It put everything in perspective.”

She explained that other factors also impacted on the success of her project.

“I enjoyed the fact that the client gave me clear guidelines. Our weekly meetings maintained my motivation and kept me on track. At the same time the client listened to my ideas and encouraged me to contribute. That gave me the confidence to put my ideas forward and push my boundaries.”

“I also learned more about communications, time management and how to move the academic into the business environment,” she added.

NORTH Link was so impressed with Elisabeth’s work that she was offered a job as a communications and events officer, a role that works in well with her study commitments.

“This project will be a great addition to my resume and pave the way for my further studies. And I’m thrilled to have gained a job in a field I’m really interested in,” said Elisabeth.

“In the future I’ll keep looking for other opportunities to provide value to the community and build my skills.”

Elisabeth is a high achiever, having recently received a College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce Provost’s Commendation and the Pritam Dass Bursary for Service Learning in the Community.

For more information on Service Learning in the Community, visit Service Learning in the Community – LTU2SLC, Careers and Opportunities, La Trobe University or contact Diane Micallef, email

For more information on NISSP contact