Yvonne Oberhollenzer started working in the Faculty a few weeks ago as the Manager (Student Futures) with a focus on developing employability and student-facing initiatives that enhance future opportunities for HASS students.

Tell us a little about your background.

Having graduated from UQ with a BA in International Relations and Spanish, I spent over ten years travelling and working in Australia, Vietnam, the United States, Uganda and Ghana. Most of my work focused on education policy development and project management for government agencies and non-profits.

Probably my most memorable experience was working in Kampala with a small youth organisation focused on entrepreneurship and leadership education. In this job, I would regularly head out to the Ugandan countryside in a 4WD to visit remote schools, talk to students about their experiences in the program, and seek to improve the curriculum to ensure it met their needs and interests. During this time, I also learnt about the difficulties of studying a Master of Educational Leadership online without consistent internet!

I’ve now come full circle and am back in Brisbane at UQ. After a couple of years working with the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, I’m excited to now be working with HASS.

What do you think are the biggest challenges you face in this role?

I had the pleasure of working with Tim, Julie and many other HASS staff and students last year on a project to explore undergraduate student retention and employability using a ‘students as partners’ approach. We learnt a lot about how students experience their studies, with many saying that they felt confused about their study choices and worried about their career prospects.

A challenge that I’m keen to tackle is how to provide ‘just in time’ support that builds HASS students’ confidence in their study choices and future pathways, and helps them articulate their value proposition to community leaders, investors and employers. I’d also like to start a conversation with alumni and industry leaders about the benefits of working with HASS graduates.

How do you think student life has changed since you were at UQ?

The university has grown significantly since I studied at UQ. Central career services existed, but I don’t recall being invited to any discipline-specific social or career events, or having access to mentorship opportunities – these sorts of opportunities are now much more readily available to students. That being said, I still got involved in student clubs, applied for internships, and volunteered in schools and hospitals. UQ offered, and still offers, many opportunities but sometimes they’re not that obvious and I think students often need to proactively go out and find them. 

What are the priorities for you in this first year of the role?

My top priority is to build connections across the Faculty and Schools, so that I can learn about the many innovative employability and student support activities already underway, and find ways to collaborate and support you with these activities.

In particular, my future team and I aim to assist HASS Faculty and Schools by:

  • Working in partnership with students to organise peer-led activities and events that help students prepare for their future after graduation;
  • Coordinating welcome and induction activities to foster a sense of belonging for HASS students;
  • Collaboratively creating employability opportunities within and outside courses and programs; and
  • Creating opportunities for alumni and industry partners to get involved with student-facing activities.

Yvonne can be contacted on 07 336 59163  or via email: y.oberhollenzer@uq.edu.au