“The first day we came into class, we had a non-disclosure agreement to sign,” recalls Bachelor of Technology and Innovation (BTi) student Sophie Hawkins. “When we saw that, we thought, ‘Oh, this is real – this project can’t be done overnight’.”
It’s not every day students sign up for a subject where they’re working with real data sets from real companies. But that’s exactly what happened to Sophie and her classmates in the Data-Driven Design Challenges subject.
Their challenge was to comb through JobGetter’s data to find insights, improvements and new ways to engage users. JobGetter is one of Australia’s leading recruitment and job-finding services, with more than 1.5 million users and 2 million job postings.
Working in groups to pitch, develop and deliver these real-world changes made up the entirety of the teaching session’s content, with other subjects covering the tech skills and theory needed to complete the work.
Sophie says, “The whole purpose of this course is that you develop soft skills, rather than just your hard, technical skills. So, you'll develop skills with teamwork, leadership and problem solving.
“The subjects we do are teaching us about different methodologies like design thinking, but then we also learn a lot about the world of tech – like data and coding and emerging technologies that are just coming out, like in the biotech space or robotics.”
The BTi students came up with six pitches for JobGetter which focused on improving the user experience and the company’s data management. One group came up with an app design that landed them internships with JobGetter. Sophie’s group used the data to enhance the initial sign-up phase so people with a disability or special requirements were better supported by the service.
The team interviewed people with a disability, conducted co-design workshops and established what questions people are generally comfortable answering. From this, they proposed additional questions to JobGetter’s profile pages so registered users can now indicate if they have a disability on their profile, and for the employers’ side, there’s now extra information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
That’s what Sophie is most interested in, she says. “Working with real data to help real people. We wanted our work to actually help people and improve upon things, rather than just be creating for the sake of it.
“I have an Indigenous background and I see how people can be stereotyped,” she adds.
Sophie’s ultimate aim, she says, is to work in the field of human-centred design or health and data science to continue helping people.
She says, the lack of formal lectures in Data-Driven Design Challenges, has been a revelation. "It’s not until you actually start doing that real-world work that you see how much you’ve changed!
“You find yourself actually knowing how to go and do interviews, knowing how to do presentations, knowing about human-centred design methodologies and even basic coding.”
Her advice for others looking to enrol in the BTi or any other uni subject? “It’s not what you expect, and it’s okay to take risks and fail!
“These days, it’s not about the work at the end of the degree, it’s about learning and experimenting. This course has taught me that even when technology experiments don’t work, if I can express what I've learned and how I might improve it next time, that's enough.”
Marketing and Communication Unit
Photographer: Courtney Tong