Year 10 student Isabella reflects on her work experience placement at gemaker, where she learnt first-hand what it means to work on real-world problems every day.

The week I spent working in STEM at gemaker was probably the most interesting and educational work experience placement I’ve been on. Unlike other students, I didn’t have to photocopy paper all day! In the beginning, I had no idea what gemaker was all about. I read their website, but the day to day experience was a real eye opener.

From the first day, I attended client meetings, investigated potential new clients and helped to maintain existing customer relationships. Some of the customers had amazing products and led really interesting careers. Each day I gained a better understanding of how gemaker helps their customers communicate their innovations to many different markets.

Who is gemaker?

I’ve learnt that gemaker is a company that connects scientists, small businesses and the marketplace, and helps each of them grow by understanding what they require to make the most of their expertise and services. For a student like me, this was a lot to take in! gemaker is there to help guide and communicate the needs and opportunities of both science and industry.

What did I get up to during my work experience placement?

Initially, I got a call from Natalie stating that she works startup hours. This meant beginning her work day early in the mornings and working very long days. I found this gave me the best work life experience.

During the week I had the opportunity to attend the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to to take part in a program that helped researchers pitch their work. This gave me first-hand experience observing scientists present their research and their knowledge to me. Afterwards, we were invited to provide feedback to help them improve their presentation style.

Looking back, I can see that I learnt a lot. I was impressed that gemaker had created this program specifically to help researchers communicate to the market and to guide them towards specific needs of the market. This program helped the researchers deliver a pitch to a particular industry. The other researchers and myself played the role of industry members, and gave feedback to help them improve for a real life pitch.

What does it mean to support women in the workforce?

I was very interested in why Natalie started this company. She explained to me that she had been doing research in past jobs to help people in a similar way, and then decided to start her own company. The other reason was that she had experience being a woman in the workforce, and had witnessed situations where some people wouldn’t hire you just because you are a woman, or where you were treated differently because of your gender.

I asked Natalie why this was so. She impressed upon me that companies do not want to train someone for a job, then have that employee leave for a year if and when they become pregnant. I see both sides of the argument and understand why they feel that way, but I do not agree.

Natalie started gemaker to provide better opportunities for women in the workforce by offering employment opportunities to professional degree-qualified women seeking fulfilling work on a part-time basis that suited their needs as mothers. Natalie stands up and accepts these women and their available time. She accepts flexible hours and understands that it’s hard being a mother and a working woman.

“It doesn’t matter how you get the job done, as long as you deliver the client’s brief on time,” she says.

Natalie values your contribution, personal responsibility, productivity, knowledge and experience. It doesn’t matter to Natalie if your child has a dance rehearsal that you want to watch or an orientation day, as long as the work is done.

What else does gemaker do?

Scientists and researchers need to sell their ideas and solutions, but sometimes the market doesn’t want what they are experimenting on. What gemaker does is help scientists and researchers better direct their research towards companies that are looking for what they are researching. Also, if companies are trying to find someone that could research and help the company grow, gemaker is the connection and helps that company find someone suitable. gemaker is there to guide and connect the researchers and people in industry.

Overall, what did I learn?

Well, school is definitely better than work… and I will never complain about school hours again! There is a lot of pressure in the real world and you have to juggle everything at once. Everyone around you knows what work life is like and they all want to improve just as much as you do. I also learnt how meetings work and how it is your responsibility to be there on time or even beforehand. Companies handle things very professionally, which brings people closer together.

I think I don’t want to grow up for a long time, but sadly I know my time is coming. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do this work experience placement – it will definitely help me in my future.

– Isabella, Year 10