Larissa, a Torres Strait Islander student in her second year of a Bachelor of Business degree in Supply Chain Management at Central Queensland University, recently finished a 12-week placement with Shell. She shares her story.

Thanks to a programme called CareerTrackers, a non-profit organisation that creates private sector internship opportunities for indigenous university students and provides a wide spectrum of support to help prepare students for leadership in the workplace and the community, Larissa could make her mark in Shell.

“I was looking for an internship with an oil and gas company because my father has been in the mining industry his entire life and I have always viewed this as a secure industry. Working with CareerTrackers has made the internship experience so much easier, and they have provided me with support throughout my internship.

As a CareerTrackers intern I had to go through the same process as any other intern but I had the added bonus of a student advisor who assisted me with workplace facilitation and weekly support on any challenges or issues that interns may come across. It was like having my own HR person,” she said.

“My internship placement was in Shell’s Logistics team and looking back on the experience, I think I learned much more than I could have anticipated. My job included a lot of work with SharePoint and a variety of mobile applications. I also helped with the Logistics team’s weekly report, moving it to a SharePoint platform and helping the team to prioritise tasks. I thoroughly enjoyed the role and felt challenged by the multiple projects I was involved in. Once something was finished, I was able to pick up something else – the opportunity to learn something new was never-ending.”

For Larissa, the most enjoyable experience was the chance to grow as a person and prove herself. “I was tasked with taking an existing idea and work practice and creating something that would be more efficient and better designed to ensure take-up and continual use by the team. I suggested the new way of doing the weekly report and it was rewarding to see that the team embraced it,” she said.

“I also had weekly meetings with my direct manager, Franz Sommer, who mentored me and offered constructive feedback to assist with my development. Thanks to him, I’ve learnt to try different approaches. The rest of the team was equally supportive, answering all my questions and helping me to learn more about Shell as a company.

“The Logistics team is so culturally diverse and having the opportunity to work alongside colleagues from different cultures means you can grow within yourself, too. I felt welcomed by everyone and was blown away by how well the company operates and how efficiently people work.

“I also had the opportunity to do a presentation for my team and a few HR team members about Torres Strait Islanders and Indigenous People. It allowed me to provide more background about myself and my life experiences. Overall, the presentation was a great way for people to better understand Indigenous Australians and how they wish to break negative stereotypes and be successful in the private sector,” she added.


Another perk of life as an intern at Shell, was the social aspect. “Every morning, a few people from the team would go for a quick coffee and an informal catch-up. Professionally and socially, it was awesome. We made sure our work was done but we also had the freedom and flexibility to go for lunch or coffee with others to really get to know each other and learn more about Shell’s business. Shell really fosters an environment where people not only work together, but actually become friends.”

Even though her internship ended a few weeks ago, Larissa plans on returning to work at Shell in the future. “My whole experience there was incredible. I enjoyed telling my mum about how I was being challenged and given chances to excel. There was never a sense of professional ranking; your job title doesn’t matter and everyone is treated equally.

“I’d love to work with the Logistics team in future and perhaps even travel for work. Germany is definitely on my list of places to travel to and I have always wanted to speak German. The fact that my manager Franz is German has definitely encouraged my interest in the country and its history, culture and language.”

So what is the biggest lesson she learned? “Don’t ever doubt yourself or be afraid of who you are. On my first day at Shell I was constantly worried about little things. It was refreshing to realise that everyone is accepted for who they are. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not – at Shell it’s all about being yourself.”

More about Larissa

  • “I’m from Waibene on Thursday Island. My indigenous nickname is Roo Roo.” 
  • “While studying Law, I won the NAIDOC award for Year 12 Female in Cairns after I established the Tableland Schools Moot Court (TSMC) in 2012. This was recognised through the Law Society and is also recognised as part of Law Week with James Cook University in Cairns. TSMC still continues today.”
  • “As a child, we moved a lot. It has made me really sociable and outgoing and has taught me to talk to all kinds of people. These skills are really valuable in any job.”
  • “Growing up, I dreamed about being the CEO of a company. I wanted to build, operate and maintain a business to work at its full capacity. I want to build a really good reputation for myself and become known as someone who can make a positive change.”
  • “I love coffee! I don’t mind the occasional iced tea or a bottle of water but a morning coffee is essential.”

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