An innovative fundraising project helped Mathilda Hill-Smith land a full-time PR and marketing position at Rolld Australia. She shares her study journey.
Tell me about your background and why you decided to study Public Relations.
I originally studied fine arts in Melbourne and then New York City and was working in hospitality. I realised I was food and wine obsessed and wanted to work in that world but more in the Public Relations (PR) or Marketing sphere.
How would you describe your program to someone who was considering doing it?
The Advanced Diploma of Business (Public Relations) is very hands on and practical. Vocational Education is all about preparing you for the workplace and that is exactly what you’re doing. Writing press releases, gathering primary and secondary research, Gantt charts, communication plans, pitching - the lot!
What support did RMIT provide to assist with your studies?
The teachers are very invested and really want to see you succeed. We were always being told about internships and different industry opportunities that really stand out on your CV. We also worked on projects involving real life clients which makes a huge difference.
What are some of the highlights from your time at RMIT?
I really enjoyed my time on the Student Staff Consultative Committee. Also, last semester we put together an internal communications plan and video for Metro Trains and after pitching to the client they decided to go with our plan which was so exciting!
You recently organised a fundraiser to support the Blue Dragon orphanage - can you tell us about that?
A group of 20 marketing and PR students were heading to Vietnam as part of a Global Work Integrated Learning (WIL) project and I saw this as a great opportunity to do some fundraising for a local Vietnamese organisation. I contacted Rolld Australia as I thought they would be a great fit given that they are a Vietnamese retail chain and they have a store in RMIT’s Swanston Academic Building.
We organised a fundraiser where profits from the RMIT store went to Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. Blue Dragon is an Australian Charity based in Vietnam founded by teacher Michael Brosowski AM. Blue Dragon kids are street kids, children with disabilities, children from rural families living in extreme poverty, and victims of human trafficking and slavery.
While on our study tour in Vietnam, we dropped off a number of items to Blue Dragon including a cheque worth over $1,800, more than 40 stuffed toys and board games, 50 toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes and 15 musical instruments.
You said you were able to visit the orphanage when you were in Vietnam. What was that like?
We were taken around the building in Hanoi which offers services such as counseling and legal help and has facilities for children to come and shower and spend the day. There is also a gym that has been donated by ANZ. On the roof, there is a vegetable garden which is used as a way to ease homesickness as many of the children have relocated to Hanoi for various reasons.
We met with three children who have all found housing in Hanoi through Blue Dragon. Two of the girls who have been in the program for six years are about to graduate university and one young boy is taking English lessons in the hope that he will one day become a tour guide for English speaking tourists visiting Vietnam. Our experience was extremely rewarding and we all left amazed with the work that the orphanage is doing.
Visiting Blue Dragon and meeting the children they support was a very humbling experience and shows how fortunate we are to live in a country like Australia and have the opportunities that we do.
You have now secured a full-time position at Rolld, what will the role involve?
My title is Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator and I’m responsible for managing PR activities for Rolld and Mama’s Buoi and for assisting with the marketing for Mama’s Buoi. We are about to open a new Mama’s Buoi in Sydney and are in the middle of our five year anniversary campaign for Rolld so that is taking up a lot of my time at the moment.
What are your career aspirations / where do you see yourself in five years?
I definitely want to be in wine/food/hotel marketing space and would love to live in London!
What advice do you have for students who are making the transition from high school to higher education?
I have so many friends (myself included) who rushed into higher education only to decide half way through their course that it wasn’t for them. My advice would be to take the time to travel or work first or to start with a shorter course like a diploma before you commit to a three or four year university degree. It makes such a difference to your grades if you actually want to be there and are motivated!
Story: Ainslie Logsdon