You may not know their faces but most Griffith students will be familiar with their events when deciding their future career path. Most of us have attended the Tertiary Studies Expo (TSXPO) which is Australia’s largest careers expo offering study options from over 250 representatives. Interchange Consultancy is the brainchild of couple Shane Lynch and Hedy van Hofwegen which started in 1997 with their first careers expo for the Gold Coast region. An interesting correlation to this story is that Shane and Hedy are Griffith graduates who studied Business and Science respectively.
Shane’s previous experience in HR, training colleges and attending hundreds of expos as an exhibitor gave him the inside edge into educational expos. “I got the feel of what it was like on the other side of the booth. I used to make a few little notes about what was good about it and what I didn’t like about it,” he explains. From there, it ignited a business idea which is gaining momentum every year and now covers six major careers expos.
“When we took on the Gold Coast Careers Expo, a lot of organisations liked the fact that we actually had worked in the industry so we knew what they went through as exhibitors and what they were looking for,” Shane said.
Hedy, Shane’s wife, manages the accounts and helps oversee the careers expos and she admits her past experience of working in schools provided a training ground for her love of events. “My first degree was Human Movement so that involved organising a lot of kids within schools. I come from an education background, organising a lot of sports days and out of school activities and it required a lot of hands-on organisation and planning.”
While Hedy may no longer use the chemistry knowledge she acquired in her Griffith Science degree , she uses the attention to detail she developed every day when planning, preparing and making sure not even the tiniest detail is forgotten.
It’s always a team effort to produce such large, high quality events. Hedy acknowledges how each member of Interchange Consultancy contributes to their successful events, commenting that, “we all have different parts to play. There are people with big picture views and others who focus on little details. I think together that gives us a full spectrum of skills.”
Keeping the Griffith theme going is the third person working behind the scenes, Renee Gardner, who graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Event Management and Marketing) in 2008. Renee feels very fortunate that she was able to go straight into a role with Interchange after graduation and credits her work experience as a key reason for getting the role.
“In my degree, we did a lot of hands-on work. We were encouraged to go out and get work experience and I would really encourage anyone to go out there and get the hours in the industry.”
So what’s it like to actually organise the largest careers expo in Australia? “It’s really about getting it all together to make sure it all runs smoothly on the day. Even though we have done it many, many times you can never afford to rest on your laurels,” Hedy explains. Whilst there are many aspects to delivering events, Renee admits there is a sense of satisfaction seeing people attend the event that you have put your heart and soul into. Shane agrees with the fulfilment of seeing an event come together. “About six years ago, I was at TSXPO and looked out and there was a sea of people over the whole hall and you couldn’t even see the carpet,” he describes.
So as people across Queensland start to seriously consider their degree preferences for university for 2015, what are the top tips the gang from Interchange can provide to prospective students?
- Always strive to be honest and ethical in your dealings
- Promise less and deliver more.
- Use the skills you have learnt and be open to the practical reality because sometimes the two are not a perfect match.
- Be creative
- Get out into the industry as much as you can.
- But most importantly, make sure you can put in a little bit a laughter and fun into your day. At the end of the day that philosophy applies to all of us.