What’s after uni? Where Nicole took her Communication degree

Nicole Quinn shares her experience building a career in community relations.

We catch up with Nicole Quinn who is building an amazing career in this sector while getting out of the office and hands-on with Queensland’s largest infrastructure project – the Cross River Rail project.

Can you sum up in one or two sentences what you do in your job?

Working on major infrastructure projects to manage the reputation and external relationships of the project, client and my employer (the contractor).

What made you choose this career/organisation?

I fell into community relations by accident. When I graduated from QUT, I was initially attracted to the ‘glamour’ of media relations, however my favourite part of my job was anything which involved being on the ground and talking directly to our stakeholders. An opportunity then came up to work on a big road upgrade project in Brisbane, and I jumped at the chance to get out of the office and have never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The satisfaction I get from seeing the benefits of a major infrastructure project realised, and knowing that the short-term pain that can be caused is outweighed by the long-term benefits for the community.

What are some of the major projects you have been involved in/career highlights to date?

Career highlights include my team finishing our section of a big road upgrade project ahead of schedule with positive outcomes for the community, and writing the community relations tender proposal for a highway upgrade project which won, with feedback from a major government client that it was the ‘best community relations plan they had ever seen’.

What are your future goals?

To grow my career and develop my reputation as a best-practice community relations practitioner in the Brisbane infrastructure industry. One day I’d love to run my own community relations consultancy.

What courses/majors did you study?

I studied Business (Public Relations) and Journalism graduating in 2014.

What made you choose QUT?

I had previously studied journalism at a different university and was disappointed that the course was very theory-based. I had friends who had studied at QUT and really enjoyed the practical elements and the QUT ‘way of life’. I was attracted to learning from real industry practitioners who could bring their experience into the classroom.

What did you find most beneficial, or particularly enjoy about your experience at QUT?

The most beneficial part of my studies at QUT was the relationships I formed with my lecturers and tutors, which helped me to launch my career and are still valuable relationships to me today. Most of them worked in the industry and offered invaluable insights into how the theory we were learning applied to the real world.

During your course did you have the opportunity to develop industry contacts or gain experience through events or internships?

Absolutely. I made many industry contacts through my lecturers and tutors, and also through faculty-specific networking events. In my last semester at QUT, I was awarded a scholarship to complete a two-month internship in London, working at a fashion and lifestyle PR agency. Although I chose not to continue with this career, this experience definitely gave me an edge when it came to looking for my first job out of uni.

How did your learning at QUT prepare you for career challenges or help you get to where you are today?

Learning from real case studies and applying the theory to practical scenarios throughout my studies meant that I started my career feeling well-equipped and confident in my knowledge of the industry.

If you’re interested in a diverse career like this check out the QUT Bachelor of Communication which allows you to choose from one of five majors. Alternatively, you can also study a communication double degree with business, information technology, justice, law, science or public health for greater career flexibility.