ACEN is delighted to announce “Together we WIL”, a student-written newsletter column.

We are currently seeking contributions to the column, which will feature students’ interviews with their WIL mentor.

ACEN Board Members will provide guidance on how to do the interview, what questions to ask, and how to write up your short piece for the Newsletter.

Interested? Please contact Professor Susan Rowland at to get started.

Work Integrated Learning in Science 

Host: Thomas Millar, CEO of Beyond 700, a start-up medical device company in Sydney

Student: Samuel Suresh, 3rd Year BBus/BSc at Western Sydney University.

Why did you decide to host a WIL student in your organisation?
Thomas: I am a science academic and was ignorant of how businesses functioned until I started my own business. It became clear to me that we had to take the education of our science students beyond the knowledge and skill sets provided in their courses.

What can you give to your WIL student?
Thomas: Several things: the culture of the business is paramount and it has to suit you if you are to be happy; everyone in the business is part of the business and they all have roles and responsibilities; there is a big difference between leadership and management; a need to understand the measures of success of the people you are dealing with; and a wish to work with the best people in the world.

What did you learn for your WIL?
Samuel: I saw WIL as a chance to gain valuable experience in working professionally in a business. My biggest realisation was that work in the professional environment is significantly different to the academic life of a student. You are not an expert in everything. You have to work with other people, and depend on their expertise. Thomas showed me that leadership is more than just delegating tasks to team members. It’s about creating a culture of responsibility that is built through trust. This starts from the top of the company and works its way down. This is a philosophy I’ve tried to implement in all the groups I’ve worked in since my internship.

What are you especially proud of in your WIL experience?
Thomas: Giving the student opportunity at a an early stage in their degree so that they could reflect on what their professional future might look like and hence choose units and challenges that would assist in their goals.
Samuel: How I’ve been able to take lessons from the mistakes I made in WIL, and let them shape the way I conduct myself and view my work as a university student. I have built a relationship with my mentor, that has enabled the WIL experience to continue well beyond the official internship.

What did you appreciate about your WIL student or host?
Thomas: Samuel’s willingness to learn, his honest openness and his keenness to take up challenges well out of his comfort zone.
Samuel: His understanding of my limitations as a student, and how he didn’t just get me to complete a task, but to reflect on the experience and gain new insight. This was where real learning occurred.

Describe one thing that really surprised you about the WIL.
Samuel: I thought I was prepared for the internship, however I made plenty of mistakes. The bigger surprise was that my biggest lessons came from reflecting on those mistakes!

How has WIL changed your organisation for the better?
Thomas: I think that all of us feel younger and it brought the members of our team closer together to be able to discuss a common factor – the student – rather than just business matters.