From agriculture and design to marketing and agtech, four very different businesses have one element in common: they all benefitted from CSIRO’s Generation STEM Links program.
Generation STEM Links helps tertiary students gain workplace skills and transition into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) jobs. It also aims to build a pool of STEM-capable professionals for the future of local STEM industries.
The high‑quality internship program has contributed towards growth and professional development, with internships being a valuable and cost-effective way for businesses to access innovative thinking, upskill employees, and reach new talent.
Read to learn how Generation STEM Links can help your business thrive.
Hiring interns: 4 businesses share their experiences
Yenda Producers Co-operative Society: Reaching regional talent
Adam Signor is the purchasing manager at Yenda Producers, a farmer owned co-operative with stores in Griffith, Yenda and Leeton in New South Wales, and Baranduda and Wangaratta in Victoria. The organisation got involved with Generation STEM Links after being referred by RDA Riverina’s Grow Your Own initiative.
“We were searching for young talent, directly communicating with universities but without luck,” Adam explains. “I believe working with CSIRO gave us a way of attracting the talent professionally and credibly.”
Adam further explains that programs like Generation STEM Links are invaluable in attracting young talent to regional areas.
“Our collaboration has led to the employment of a graduate who has joined our horticultural team,” he says.
“We’ve been able to invest in young individuals to develop their skills and provide shareholders with valuable advice for their business.”
Further, the organisation’s broad acre agronomy team has 10 members, three of whom are graduates. Likewise, the horticulture team includes seven members, with one graduate.
“Many of our experienced team members started as graduates and were nurtured through our system. This shows how important young talent is for building the future of regional businesses,” Adam confirms.
Cureative: Empowering interns and staff
Wayne Brown is the managing and design director of Cureative, an integrated design studio in Sydney’s inner south. A first-time participant, Wayne says Generation STEM Links has allowed team members to step into more senior roles, providing growth opportunities across the business.
“I have enjoyed watching the interns and colleagues learn and grow. We’re helping young people start their careers and learn the fundamentals of design practice and work ethic,” he says.
Grants are also provided through the program, meaning that the business only contributes 50% to the placement, allowing Cureative to hire staff at half the cost while providing training and development opportunities. “The team also ensured that our needs are met whilst providing essential support for our business across every step of the process,” Wayne adds.
“Generation STEM Links will play a pivotal role in ensuring that young talent get the opportunity to learn whilst they earn,” he says. “This gives the individual invaluable practical experience and life lessons within the workforce, hopefully supporting the Australian economy and labour market.”
DesignStreet: Building skills and business synergy
DesignStreet, a boutique marketing agency in Sydney, is a 25-year-old business specialising in digital, EDMs, website design, email strategies and print.
CEO Jonty Hardy, who learned about the internship opportunity through one of the agency's partners, was highly motivated to participate. He recalls the partner's positive feedback, describing the program as seamless.
The relief from HR and advertising-related concerns sealed the deal. Jonty says, “Recruitment can be incredibly time-consuming, especially for a small business. Even after multiple rounds of interviews, it's challenging to guarantee the perfect fit right from the start.”
While DesignStreet is a first-time participant in this program, the agency has previously hosted university students as interns. Jonty emphasises the company's willingness to support individuals who aspire to make a difference, learn, and gain insight into the industry.
He also acknowledges the reservations some businesses may have when considering interns, which are often regarding resource allocation, time, and effort. However, DesignStreet’s positive experiences have effectively curbed any apprehensions.
“These students can learn your business process and grow into it,” Jonty says. The other benefit is being able to test the talent.
“Are they enjoying it? Are you enjoying having them there? If it makes business sense, it’s great for both the intern and business,” he adds. DesignStreet, for example, found that it indeed aligned with their business strategy. The company recently offered their intern an opportunity to continue after the placement.
“In Australia, there's a popular saying – 'Have a go.' It encompasses the spirit of giving the younger generation a chance. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by their commitment, dedication, and eagerness to learn,” Jonty says.
“From a business perspective, hosting interns allows you to tap into the world of new technology. These students are immersed in AI and cutting-edge software technology, ensuring your business stays attuned to the latest innovations.”
Agscent: Addressing business needs
When it comes to innovation in agriculture, Agscent is leading the way toward a brighter and more sustainable future. Their journey began on a sprawling 5,000-acre cattle and sheep property, driven by the need for advanced cattle management techniques.
Traditional pregnancy testing methods proved invasive and often too late for effective decision-making.
Entrepreneur Bronwyn Darlington, Agscent's founder and managing director, had an idea—to adapt breath diagnostics technology, designed for humans, for animals.
By collecting and analysing animal breath samples, Agscent could detect pregnancy, diseases, and more. This concept gained momentum with the support of NASA and their ENose sensors.
Agscent's pursuit of innovation led them to the Generation STEM Links program. They sought a talented individual who could bridge the gap between agriculture and data.
Their current intern works remotely, using her skills to enhance Agscent's scalability, making the product and methane measurement accessible to more farmers. This assists in informed decision-making regarding management and sustainability. “She’s making sure it all works,” Bronwyn explains.
Amelia Unthank, field and technology officer, notes the importance of programs like Generation STEM Links in attracting new talent to agriculture. "For recent graduates or students, there's a lack of support for developing specialised skills in agriculture," she says. "Bright students are often directed toward fields like medicine or deep technical subjects, while agriculture remains underrepresented."
Greenhouse gas lead Daniela Carnovale stresses the program's value in streamlining recruitment, and onboarding, allowing the team to concentrate on innovative problem-solving. Collaborating with interns also injects fresh talent and diverse perspectives, bolstering Agscent’s capabilities.
Bronwyn adds that agriculture has changed. It’s now about precision, digital technologies, biology, and nanosensors.
Agtech is at the forefront of addressing global challenges like reducing methane emissions and ensuring food security.
“The future is rapidly unfolding, and no single generation has all the answers,” Bronwyn says. “We must inspire young individuals to embrace STEM plus agriculture. We need to save the planet, right? So, who has a greater vested interest than the next generation?
“It’s imperative for businesses to engage young individuals capable of bringing fresh perspectives and innovations beyond their current scope of imagination. Fortunately, Australia boasts outstanding educational facilities. Our task is to bridge the gap to industry,” Bronwyn concludes.