A student’s journey: reflections on a year at SMCT

14 February 2023
Communications Officer, Tim McGrath, participating in a team meeting

During my placement year at Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT), I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. While it’s difficult to condense all that I have learned into one concise summary, my biggest takeaway from a year as a Communications Officer at SMCT is how it’s changed my perspective on the things that matter most in my career.

The people matter most

As a newcomer to SMCT, I have had the opportunity to witness the impact of individuals both within my own team and throughout the organisation. Upon starting my first full-time role in Communications, I was relieved to find that I would receive full support and guidance from my immediate team. I soon learned that working in a fast-paced and unique organisation like SMCT is not intimidating, but rather a nurturing environment filled with caring individuals who aim to bring out the best in themselves and their colleagues.

Throughout the year, I was lucky enough to conduct numerous employee interviews and craft profiles of team members from various departments within the organisation. These profiles shed light on the wealth of talented and dedicated employees at SMCT. The most common theme among them was their shared appreciation for the exceptional people and the team-oriented culture that sets SMCT apart from other places they have worked.

The joy of making a difference

I never thought I would end up working at a cemetery, and I know that many of my colleagues share similar sentiments. However, after being a part of an organisation that provides support to people during one of the most difficult periods of their lives, as well as interviewing team members and witnessing their passion for their job, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the significance of working for an organisation that makes such a positive impact on the community.

Being part of a team that makes a difference, and being surrounded by individuals who are driven to bring about positive change, creates a motivational energy that is contagious. Regardless of your role or responsibilities, every contribution helps to support an organisation that truly cares for the people it serves and leaves a lasting impact on the community.

Now that I’ve worked at a place like SMCT, where the people care and the work truly matters, working somewhere where these things don’t hold true just wouldn’t give me the same satisfaction every day.

Looking to the future

As is the case for many students, I began my placement with the intention of setting up my career path in the coming years. Do I want a career in communications? What about journalism, or marketing? To be honest, I am still uncertain about what my career holds after university.

Many of us are told to spend our years of education trying to decide, with confidence, exactly what we want to do for the rest of our lives. However, this is an unrealistic expectation for the majority of people. According to a SEEK study, 57% of Australians are considering making a career change in the future (of which, 43% will look to change careers in the next 12 months).

‘As long as it’s something you don’t hate doing, you may find yourself very satisfied if you have a good supervisor, like your coworkers, and are treated fairly by your organisation’ said Levin Hoff, a researcher from Houston University.

While I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing down the road, my experience at SMCT has led me to a significant realisation – the most crucial aspect of my career is not my job title or even the industry I'm in, but the organisation where I work and the people I work with.

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